I travel quite a bit. (Not that you would really know, since I’m terrible enough at blogging that I never post about it.) I’ve traveled enough that I feel comfortable sharing a few tips I have for making your travel experience just a little bit better.
Before You Leave
Clean Out Your Fridge
I know it seems a weird thing to point out, but if you’re leaving for more than a couple of days, clean out your fridge. Spend the week before your departure using up items in your fridge – it gives you a chance to get creative! – or bring perishables to a neighbour or friend. Nothing is worse than having to come back from a trip and having to clean out your fridge then. Make it a point to do so before you leave.
Make a List
This may not work for everyone but I find that lists help me keep track of what I need to do before I leave and what I need to pack. It helps me to not forget important items that I’ll need on my trip. This is especially helpful if you have gifts that you’re bringing for others! I find those are the easiest things to forget.
Strip Your Bed
How often does your bed get a chance to air out? I’m not even 100% sure how good it is to air things out, but man does it feel incredible to come home to a mattress that’s been airing out for a few days and then putting on fresh sheets. It’s probably all in my head, but it seems so much fresher.
On Your Way
Wear Something Comfortable
This is really common advice, but it’s so good that I have to state it as well. I still see people in what looks like uncomfortable clothes fairly often, so either they have very different ideas of comfort or they don’t know how much more enjoyable travel is when you’re comfortable. I suggest comfortable jeans or yoga pants, a shirt that you find comfortable, a lightweight jacket or hoodie (planes can get chilly!), and shoes that are easy to slip on and off, but still require socks (I will never put my bare feet on the floor of an airport if I can help it).
Bring Multiple Ways to Entertain Yourself
As much as you promise yourself that you’ll have everything charged for your trip, sometimes it just doesn’t happen and the worst thing happens – your phone/ipad/ipod/kindle dies. It happens to the best of us. I always recommend one or two tech ways to entertain yourself and at least one thing that doesn’t require any charging – like a book or a couple of magazines. My standard is my Kindle and iPod, plus a book.
Bring an Empty Water Bottle
I like to stay hydrated but also get irritated at the prices of water in airports. Since you can’t bring that much water through security, I’ve taken to bringing an empty water bottle with me through security. I know there are collapsible ones available, but I stick with an empty bottle of water I bought a while ago – that way if I leave it somewhere, I’m not upset. Water fountains are available in most airports, so you can just fill up your water bottle once you’re safely past security.
While You’re There
Upload Pictures When You Can
I’m terrible for sharing pictures. Just really awful at it. (I know, you must be surprised, what with how well I am about blogging!) I’ve found that the best way to not be so terrible at it is to upload pictures of my trip as I go. Usually at the end of the day, when I’m in my hotel or hostel, I’ll use their wifi to upload my pictures from the day to Facebook or Instagram or wherever. It’s easier to do it as you go. This doesn’t always happen, of course. Sometimes I’m too tired from the day or it’s just so late when I return that it’s just not going to happen. On those days, I at least check that my photos have been backed up on my Google Photos cloud (is that the right terminology? I have no idea), so that even if I lose my phone the very next day, my pictures are still recoverable. I actually have it set to automatically back up all my photos into the Google Cloud (is this the more correct terminology??? Tech terms aren’t my forte).
Take Pictures But Don’t Get Carried Away
So you’re trying to get a photo in front of a popular landmark but all these people keep showing up in the shot……what’s a person to do? Take the picture! Don’t expect perfection from your shots! Yes, it would be nice to have a picture of just you and that landmark without any of those pesky tourists in your shot, but that’s life. It looks less photoshopped when the others are in the shot. It’s how it was when you were there. But do take care to still take photos and do your best to make sure they aren’t blurry. You want to be able to look through these photos later and remember what they were and what you were doing. I’m a little too laid-back about photos and tend to end up with blurry pictures. I’m trying to remember to take more care, but we’ll see.
Leave Room for Adventure
When traveling, it can be easy to fall into the trap of scheduling your time tightly in order to see as much as possible. However, some of the best times I’ve had while traveling have been when I was just wandering. You can really get a feel for a city by just wandering its streets, picking a cafe or pub or museum at random and just going in. I don’t think you should spend an entire trip this way – pick a few things that you feel you absolutely must see and leave plenty of time for random wandering. Or build it into your journey to and from your hotel and your thing you must see. Get off the transport a stop or two early and walk to your destination and see if anything strikes your fancy. The easiest way to do this is by taking a hop-on/hop-off bus tour and just getting off the bus whenever something sounds good, all the while knowing that you’ll get back on to see whatever it is you truly want to see (the big attractions of a city are always on the routes of these tours, making it easy to still see what you want while allowing for spontaneity).
Enjoy your time when you travel! Don’t push yourself too hard to do things you feel you should do instead of things you want to do. If you don’t enjoy musicals or theatre, don’t feel like you have to go to a show in London’s West End. If you find museums boring beyond belief, don’t go simply because you feel you should while you’re in a city – or go to a free one for half an hour if you desperately feel the need to cross it off your list. If you aren’t an early riser, don’t feel like you need to wake up super early every day in order to get as much out of the day as possible. (I mean, maybe don’t sleep until noon every day either – find some balance.) You want to enjoy your trip, not be miserable.
I hope this helps at least one person a little bit. I’m always open to questions as well if there’s something I didn’t cover! (There’s a lot I didn’t cover, to be fair.)