As part of the countdown to our adventure to the U.S that kicks off in only a few days time, I thought I’d share some simple travel tips. All of these are extremely simple:
Dress For Airport Security. No, not because you’re trying to impress the security guard doing his best impersonation of the Hulk. It’s because you’re likely trying to do the complete opposite. Blend in. Stay invisible. Wear pants that don’t require a belt. Wear flip-flops or slip on shoes that are quick to take off if you have to. Don’t wear clothes that have metal studs or buttons. Keep your pockets empty of coins and other useless items that are only going to set the panicky metal detectors into a spin. This also extends to double checking your carry on for any water bottles you forgot (guilty) or anything similar.
Wet Wipes & Earplugs. For the plane. Need I say more?
Send Your Dirties Home. If you’re going on a long trip and your suitcase is starting to sag under the weight of all your souvenirs, let your poor suitcase breathe and post some of your stuff home. Don’t want to risk your souvenirs getting damaged? Then send some of your dirty clothes and underwear home instead! Obviously this only applies towards the end of a trip, but are you going to lose sleep if your dirty socks and jocks get lost in the post? Probably not.
Localise! Get out and talk to locals. Mingle mingle mingle! Go to local restaurants and shopping areas. Leave the comfort of your hotel room or tour bus and be one with the city you’re visiting. You might make a lifelong friend, visit a secret attraction, or even just stumble across the best burritos you’ve ever tasted in your life. And when’s the last time you had an awesome burrito at a hotel? Mingling with the locals also gives you a finer appreciation of the culture. How do they feel about world events compared to people in your own country? What’s important to them in life? Keep an open mind and enjoy a different culture, even if you don’t fully agree with it.
How Much Does Paper Weigh? Next to nothing! So print out your confirmation slips and tickets and have them ready to go. At the airport, at the hotel, at the next tourist attraction. It’s much easier for you, the desk clerk, and the long snaking line of customers up your backside if you just present your confirmation slip, instead of demanding to be let in because you booked something 4 months ago and they should just know who you are.
Chewing Gum. Again, for the plane. When you feel like your brain matter is about to burst all over the poor passenger beside you because of the pressure on your delicate eardrums, furiously chew some gum just as the plane is taking off. Keep chewing until the seatbelt light goes off. You jaw might be a little sore but your ears will be grateful.
Edit Photos On The Go. Can’t be bothered going through 6,872 photos after you get home? No, neither can I. That’s why I take my laptop and use any spare nights to go through my photos. You don’t have to spend hours, but just enough time to delete some crappy shots and pick out some of the better pics. It’s nice to get home and have your photos already edited and organised, ready to show your jealous friends and family the adventures you got up to while they were back home working. On that note, make sure you do take 6, 872 photos – you may only go there once.
CHILL OUT. This really should be at the top. There are so many things that can, and do, go wrong when you travel. It is almost inevitable that you will get delayed somewhere, and it’s more than likely that something else won’t quite go to plan. Plan as best you can, and then deal with things as they happen, preferably with a laugh or at least a faint smile. There’s no use getting stressed and anxious, especially for all those things out of your control. And hey, if you want to be able to look back on travel mishaps and laugh, then those mishaps actually need to happen!
Hug That Foreign City. Embrace where you are. Don’t fear the unknown. It doesn’t hurt to read up on general security tips before you leave home, and keep your eyes open, but don’t be afraid of where you are. You’re visiting that new city to experience everything the city has to offer, and you can’t do that if you’re too afraid to embrace it.
Keep An Open Mind At ALL Times. This applies to planning, visiting attractions, trying local food, meeting locals. Everything! Keep your mind open to everything and you’ll likely find that some of your best experiences were those you hadn’t even considered before leaving. If you spend too much time sticking to a schedule and worrying that you haven’t seen the Lonely Planet’s top 3 attractions, you’re likely to miss out on something even more amazing.
ITUNES. Download music, podcasts, television shows and movies. Load up your iPad, iPod, or other iDevice and all of those in-between bits, such as sitting on a plane for 12 hours, suddenly become *almost* enjoyable!
So with that… are you all packed and ready to go?