Laughing hysterically, tears in my eyes as I am recalling my travel experiences, mistakes I have made and lessons learned. Chatting away on the most wackiest chaotic stories, I thought to myself today, why not make a list of things I have learned. As a traveler, you are always evolving. You always think to yourself at the end of each vacation “On our next vacation, I am going to do this! or I will avoid doing this”. We live and learn, and strive to make our next vacation the best it can be, stress free, and relaxing. So, I thought I would jot down a couple lessons that I have learned over the years.
*Pack Light*:Perhaps the most important lesson of all, no matter the situation, the best thing you can do for yourself is to pack light. Think to yourself at the end of each packing trial, “Do I really need this?”. It is probably the most important question you can ask yourself before you go on a vacation. Do yourself a favor and pack as light as you can. It takes time and effort, to pack light and somehow manage to bring enough clothing, items for your journey. Start about a month before, pack, and repack. The trick is to keep the things you think you will need first on top, rather on the bottom of the luggage. So you are not rummaging through the luggage, making a huge mess.
Try to get a hotel closest to the sights, attraction you are visiting: Believe it or not, just because you think its cheaper to go a little out of the way. You will wind up paying transportation fees, maps can be confusing, especially when you are in a foreign country. Transportation can be quite stressful, if its all new to you. Better to shell out the extra bucks in a nice hotel within walking distance of the attractions rather on transportation.
Note: The upside of staying off the beaten track is serenity, cute charming towns. Stay for a day or two, don’t expect to go to the next city and see the sights and come right back. Which brings me to my next lesson learned.
Don’t underestimate Travel Times: Just as important as the first lesson. No matter what you what destination, don’t assume the travel times. There could be traffic, map confusion, long travel times. Maybe the hotel isn’t that close to the airport as you originally thought it would be. You can’t think ” They say it’s about half an hour to the airport from the hotel, so we have the whole day to sight see!” That is not how it works. Usually count the travel days as one day, solely focused on traveling. Travel days take up the entire day, you have to pack, check out from the hotel, then find means of transportation whether it be trains, planes, or automobiles to the next destination. They are time consuming days, be prepared to take up the whole day traveling, checking in and out, managing the new city. You wont have time to sight see, even you managed to fit it in, it will be stressful because you have to make it to the next flight or destination at a certain time. Not fun.
Always have a Plan B(ee): You never know if the reservation for your hotel room/apartment rentals fell through. Best thing is to check out other possible hotels, or apartment rentals(craigslist). Jot them down on a piece of paper, or even email the list to yourself. That way you always have it. Make sure no matter what the situation is, have a plan B. It makes it so much less stressful, and easier.
OUCH! Never underestimate the power of the First Aid kit: This I learned when I was in Austria, I was involved in a bike accident that banged up my knee pretty bad. But I hardly brought band-aids or neosporin(which is the best thing you can possibly bring). It’s always a good idea to bring along some travel aids, such as band-aids, neosporin, and other first aid supplies. Don’t over do it though, unless you are taking a serious trek through the country, camping, backpacking, or taking a long trip even.
Be aware of your surroundings: It is always a must, whether you are at home or far away in some foreign exotic destination. On my previous trips, I have been mugged, and stalked, it is so critically important to be aware of your surroundings. Always be cautious, and of course, go with your gut instinct. If you get a funny feeling about a place or a person, best thing is to get out and get out as fast as you can.
Mugging Lessons: In the event of being mugged, what I have learned is to make copies of all of your important documents, visas, credit cards(front and back of the cards), Passports, Passport photos(make sure they are on a photo paper for the photos). Once this happens, call your credit card company, and cancel your cards right away. Having your bank numbers on your contacts in your phone is really handy as well. Keep your money in several different locations, In your purse, money belt(if you have one, if you do put your passport there too if you are seriously worried). That way, you have some cash with you, in case you do get robbed.
Laptop bugaboo: Laptops, (Only for the serious businessman) is something you can consider leaving home. If you do decide to bring it(I hope you don’t need to) make sure the Internet works, make sure there are no bugs, or viruses that can wreak havoc on your computer. It is bulky, heavy, takes a lot of room in your carry-on/suitcase, and higher risk of theft or damages. we brought a laptop on one of our trips, and it didn’t work, the Internet connection would not do anything. Turns out, we had to download a software specifically for that computer to work abroad. It was an old type of computer, that we erased the memory, wiped it clean except for the internet. Which is all we needed, the internet, and if it got lost, we wouldn’t be all up in arms about it. No big deal. But, we wiped out the software that makes the computer actually work, connect to the internet etc. It was a big ordeal, and we had to lug a huge bulky old laptop that didn’t even work the entire trip! So, the computer is best left to the Iphone. The Iphone is the the hardcore travelers best travel gadget. It has travel application, money converters, tip calculator, language translation, etc and of course it works abroad! Check At&t for their latest rates, and get your own Iphone. Believe me, it does what the laptop can do.
Each of these lessons, I learned the hard way. Believe me. I lost my apartment reservation, had no plan B, was in a bike accident, missed a flight because I underestimated the travel times. Whatever the situation was, I wished I had known all of these tips beforehand. It would have made a huge difference in my travel experiences! Nonetheless, I am glad that I got to experience them first hand, they made for great travel stories. I wouldn’t have changed them for the world! Get out there, be prepared, and have fun!