Tis' the season to travel? No. Traveling is for all year around, my friends. But during this time of year, airports seem jam packed with people of all sorts - some whom love to travel, and others who are already dreading the trip even before stepping foot on the plane.
To act as a sense of confirmation for the travel pros up in here, or better yet, to make it more bearable for those of you who would rather just stay at home, I have come up with a list of the simplest concepts that made the biggest impact in my travel experiences - whether that was when I have traveled alone, with family, and with friends, whether for a week, a day, or more than a month.
So read on, all you travelers. I hope these tips help you to enjoy every one of your journeys a little more.
10 Tips to Traveling Well
1. Pack accordingly and pack light. By this I mean, don't pack a bunch of workout outfits in hopes of working out every day, unless you know for a fact that that is exactly what you are going to do. (Learn from my experiences.) Don't pack things in hopes of being more prepared. Unfortunately, there is more of a chance that you wont do whatever it may be that you're packing extra for (sorry to pop your bubble on that one). BUT, if you do end up doing something that you could have packed that extra thing for, you will be so in the moment that your what you didn't bring will not make or break the decision of you doing that certain something (pro tip: if they it does make or break it though, there's always a good chance that someone around you will jump in offering to let you borrow whatever they have in order for you to be more prepared the situation. OR just run to a store or Goodwill real quick).
Do pack clothes that are useful for many occasions. I have found the that clothes I am most comfortable in at home are often my go-to's while traveling. Also, the more "plain Jane" your clothes are, the easier it is to match them with other clothing items for multiple occasions (without anyone even noticing.. shhh its my favorite secret). Honestly, only having one outfit for, lets say a night out on the town, is 100% acceptable, because chances are you are never going to see a lot of these people again. And if you do? Well, then they will understand that you're smart and underpacked instead of rolling their eyes at your indecisive over-packing.. Trust me on this one.
2. Pack a snack and a water bottle. There's nothing worse than becoming hangry on a trip, not knowing when the next meal will come, or better yet, where or what your only options may be when they do come. Don't become stuck in a situation due to lack of food. If you're not the only one with a stomach growling, then confide in discomfort with that person, jolt somewhere and get a quick bite, and then come back as great friends with a new adventure story and continue doing whatever it was you were doing before (food is such a social affair worldwide - use it to your advantage) Also, don't let yourself become dehydrated. That can get bad real fast on all kinds of levels.
3. Stretch often. I don't mean a downward dog, all out yoga sesh all of the time. This can just be a couple simple side stretches, calf stretches, or maybe even a little pigeon stretch on some grass to help out your hip flexors from all of the sitting or walking you're doing. Not only will this feel good, but it will help increase and/or stabilize blood flow within the body.
4. Pack a USB portable battery. Not only will this prevent you from not being able to take a picture of the coolest waterfall you just hiked to because all you have is a dead phone, but this will also make sure that you can call someone in case of an emergency. Be proactive, because it can save yours or someone else's life (no joke).
5. Put the phone down. At a bar, at a coffee shop, on the train, you get the picture. This can offer you a multitude of opportunities that simply having your phone in your hand and looking at it cannot. When you're in the moment, you become aware of your surroundings AND you become more approachable. (Plus it saves your phone battery.) Being in the moment while traveling has offered me many new friends, many cool conversations, and also, many experiences I would not have gotten to do if I was closed off and staring at my phone in my own world. Some of these times have become priceless memories.
6. Go with less plans than more. The best times are often unplanned. I have learned that as long as you know where you are staying at night, you can practically go anywhere for however long not knowing what you may be doing, and have an even better time than going with every little thing of every hour planned. Structure is good, but it also tends to close off room for opportunities to experience new things that may be outside of your comfort level, or even just things you may not have known you would have a chance of doing until getting there.
7. Say yes. Just do it, more than you may even be comfortable with. Saying yes to going sky diving with a guy you met at the bar that told you he was a paramedic while he was buying you and your friend drinks ( and yes, this 100% happened and we were going to go sky diving until he didn't message back after telling him neither of us were single a day before our planned time..mmhhmmmm. Ok.). Say yes and take up that offer from one of your new friends from Argentina, and stay on their couch when you visited them at their home, even if it was over a year later that you would. Say yes to going to a concert, even though you aren't familiar with the music or are super tired and it's late at night. Say yes to sleeping in a shared hostel room, even if it is shared with 15 people (great way to save money anyways). Saying yes and stepping out of my comfort zone while traveling has let me down less than a handful of time, yet often than so, left me on an energy high saying to myself "yes, I have got to do that again!".
8. Listen to what you need - and not what other people or you want. This is important because it can make or break the time that you have on your trip. If you need some quiet alone time, or a morning to sleep in, or food from a fruit and veggie stand versus the best ice cream sandwich in the town, go with your gut. Don't feel bad about it. Just accept that, in order for you to have the best time, you may need to take a break to re-energize or "do you", and that is 100% okay. (This is especially important if you are traveling over a longer period of time or with a big group of people. Seperate yourself for an hour or morning or something and re-group.)
9. Leave with a budget that is realistically low. When your'e on a budget, you are forced to make careful decisions on not just the things that you you will buy while traveling, but also where you stay, where you eat, what you do, etc. As many old souls often say: "the best things in life are free", and this is so true. Plan out a daily budget before you leave and do your best to stick with it. (Pro tip: before heading out to explore for the day, get an idea of what there is to do and how much things will cost. This will make you better prepared for the day, and, you may find some free events while you're researching.)
10. Open your mind and open your mouth. Begin a conversation with a stranger, and talk to people that you would not normally talk to. Walk around a city and go to a history museum - even if you hate history - and soak in the stories, the life lessons, the culture. You will never go anywhere in life if you sit in one place and talk to yourself. So do the exact oppisite, a little bit more than the amount that you are comfortable with, and see what things may present themselves.