My 10 Best Travel Tips

by - Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Since we are only 36 hours from getting on that hell wagon the supershuttle, travel is looming large in my mind. I am not the best-traveled person in the world, but at this point I have spent my fair share of time in airports and trying to order food in a foreign language.

10. Work out your airport outfit- For me, I want to wear a long tank top, so I never have to worry about being the flight plumber. I wear layers, because airports are often hot and airplanes are always cold. I wear socks, because the security lines have to have some scary germ business going on. And I wear slip on shoes that are still substantial- I want them to come off easy for security and stay on in case of an emergency (the only exception of this is wearing boots, because it leaves more space in the suitcase. I always bring a substantial scarf, so I can use it as a blanket or a pillow, because every flight goes faster if you sleep through it. I know I often look like a homeless person, and some people can do it in a chic way, but the longer your flight, the more your ensemble contributes to your sanity.

9. Make a food list beforehand- One of the best parts of traveling, even if it is only to somewhere nearby, is to try the food. Simply knowing A. What you are looking for and B. What it is made of will make for an easier (and more delicious) trip. Since I am allergic to things, this is huge for me, and my whole trip to China would have been a lot less miserable.
8. Make copies and widely distribute your eggs- Carry your passport somewhere. Carry a copy somewhere else. Give your parents a copy. Hopefully, nothing will go wrong, but this one document can be a lifesaver when it does. You can also take a picture of yourself with your luggage to give to the airline if your bag goes missing. Don't put all of your clothes in one suitcase, and have at least an outfit in your bookbag or carry-on bag. If you are traveling with another person, split your clothes between suticases, so no one is SOL if something goes wrong.

7. Remember your trip is YOURS so you should do it your way- I personally hate to relax on trips. When I am somewhere new, all I want is to go exploring with The Boy and my Camera. Everything else is bonus. But when you try to get me to "relax" for a day on the beach, I get antsy. I want to see stuff! At the same time, I can happily recognize not everyone is that way, and you should basically do what you want. Every guide book will give you a big old list of things you just have to do. You have lived so far without doing it, you will probably be fine if you miss it (this is not true for Machu Picchu, btw).
6. Fly during the week- Tickets are cheaper on Tuesday- Thursday. It's just a fact. If you can do a Thursday red-eye, you are pretty much golden. The flights are often also less packed, and we all know the Holy Grail is only having 2 people in a 3 person row. Just Heaven.
5.  Be curious and take more pictures than seems necessary- Talking to locals is a good thing, though I am always kind of scared to do that. And just take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. And just go in that place that you think might be cool.

4. Have a plan, and then let it go- This might be my best advice for life. The act of making a plan is basically educating yourself on your options and picking your favorites. Every so often, it can save you money. Doing your research might help you find the mind-blowing restaurant (Hello, Fallen Angel!) or hotel that you would have never known about otherwise. It also can help you get a sense of the lay of the land.

At the same time, things go wrong, and the more you can be ok with that, the happier you will be. We learned this on our road trips. The most memorable things that happen take place when something is really not going as planned. The Boy has a hell of a time dealing with these moments, but the more you can have that flexibility, the more you can just enjoy the trip.

3. When in doubt, get the bread- Every country has bread, and it can be harder or softer, but it is basically bread. In some countries, you should drink pop or bottled water, because their water is janky.Sometimes, that is bad enough that you should not eat any vegetables that aren't cooked. Bread is always a safe bet. Most places have small shops of noodles or bread. Carbs are always a safe bet, and they can balance out an upset stomach. Forget your diet when you are traveling. That shiz is crazypants anyway.

2. Let it go, you are going to look like a tourist, but carry a bag that's hard to get into- You will not blend in, but you can make yourself less of a target by making things less easy to take from you. Part of this is blending into the crowd. Don't wear your Hawaiian shirt, unless you are in Hawaii. Wear things across your body so it can't be yanked off (for this reason, a fanny pack is a really bad choice ). Wear something that puts many clasps and zippers between somebody's hands and your money/ passport/ etc. If you are wearing a backpack, use hairbands or rubberbands to tie the two zips to each other.

1. Make a packing list, and then underpack- You know the great thing about pretty much anywhere in the world? There are stores there. It is one of the perks of global capitalism! If you need more of something, you can probably get it there. A pair of dark jeans, understated tennis shoes, and a black t-shirt will never do you wrong, and unless you are an epic sweater, you can wear them multiple days without anyone noticing. Except for button ups, you want to roll, not fold. You can fit more, and there will be fewer wrinkles.

Some of our never-forget items are- A pillowcase (works as a makeshift laundry bag, so you can keep the clean and dirty clothes separate).  A bathroom caddy. Chargers. Water bottles. Sunscreen.

Also, when you are making a packing list, organize it by activities, not by days. Have a good sense of what you are going to do, and pack for that. If you are gone for 10 days, the only things you need to actually have 10 of are socks and underwear.

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  1. “Have a plan, and then let it go” – Haha! This actually makes sense. Before the trip, making a plan can keep you busy and make you think that everything is under control. But once you’re there, being spontaneous is a great attitude to have to make sure you enjoy the whole experience. :D Shaun@AARC