Stepping outside your comfort zone is something that is a prerequisite for a successful travel experience. Although, it’s not always easy to prepare ahead of time for the inevitable differences between your ordinary world and the one you will be entering, a few tips will help make the transition both easy and enjoyable.
When traveling, always be prepared to have things stolen. Make advance photocopies of all of your important papers. You can even upload electronic scans of these documents for easy access while traveling. The local American embassy can assist you in contacting those at home who can wire you emergency funds or help in replacing your passport, but not much else.
If you pack electronics while traveling, either remove the batteries or flip them around. Some small electronics can be easily flipped on. You definitely do not want them flipping on in your bag during the trip. There is a good chance the battery might be drained by the time they are unpacked.
If you are traveling overseas or even to a part of the country you’ve never visited before, it’s a good idea to let your bank and credit card company know. Many credit cards are equipped with fraud protection, which could block transactions that the company isn’t sure the card holder authorized. Travelling far from home is an almost certain way to trip these sensors.
If you are staying at a hostel or camping while traveling, you may want to scout out other locations to use the restroom. Bathroom facilities at may hostels may be unclean to the point of disgusting, while the bathroom at the fast food joint down the street at least has to maintain a minimum level of sanitation.
Bring a bag-of-fun for your kids. Make sure to have enough supplies to keep your kids entertained for the duration of the flight. There’s nothing worse than an, “Are we there yet,” ten minutes into a three-hour flight. Card games, special coloring books, and puzzles work well and, if you can afford one, pick up a portable video player. The hours of entertainment value are well worth the cost.
Select a hotel in an older, more central part of town if your travel budget will possibly allow it. While these centrally-located hotels are usually more expensive, they are also much more vibrant and memorable. They are right in the middle of the action. Suburban hotels can be cheaper, but the hassle of their isolated locations often offsets your savings.
If you are interested in international travel but you can’t afford it, consider volunteering to work at with an international charity. Many charities will allow you to live for free at an overseas location, in exchange for your work at one of their facilities, such as a hospital, school or nursery.
Using a canoe can be a great means of travel for those who want to see waterways and national park areas. Apart from being quiet so it won’t disturb any animals or people around the paddling required to power the canoe is a good way to get exercise. Canoes make one feel more in touch with their surroundings.
Camping is a popular vacation pastime, but with the extensive equipment it requires it is not a cheap one. Before deciding to invest in all the gear necessary for extended camping travel, it is best to “get your feet wet” by making short day hikes at nearby nature attractions to see if the camping lifestyle really appeals to you.
Wear dark sunglasses throughout your entire flight if you want to be left alone. Most people will assume that you are either trying to sleep or nursing a migraine, and will behave as such. If you want politeness and courtesy, leave the glasses on. It’s an easy way to have a relaxing flight.
Travel “green” by traveling by train instead of by plane. Train rides not only offer scenic views, but there will be not long security lines or lost luggage. For example, if you are traveling to Europe or Asia, they offer great rail travel that will allow you to save money and explore multiple places one trip.
Travel insurance might be worth considering for a big ticket, non-refundable trip. The small price you will pay for insurance will be well worth it if an emergency medical situation comes up, or your baggage is lost, damaged, or even delayed. You will recoup at least some of the cost of your trip and feel some piece of mind as well.
If you are traveling with dogs, make sure to brush your pet before getting into the car. This will help to minimize the amount of hair that you have to deal with. Also, try to plan ahead by figuring out a few places to stop for potty breaks. Your dog will need to stretch and relieve himself every couple of hours.
If you’re going on a long car trip, make sure to bring a plastic bag that can be dedicated to trash. This way you will have a place to throw all of those fast food wrappers and used tissues so they don’t end up all over the floor of your car.
Carry a pillow and blanket when you go on a trip. This will make things more comfortable for you. Usually airlines have them, but could run out. By bringing your own, at least you know your blanket and pillow are clean.
Don’t make plans with the airlines the day you go or later. Instead, try calling them the night before to reconfirm your flight is still scheduled or to see if it’s overbooked. Give yourself at least a half hour to get to the airport. Also save time by checking in at home and pre-printing your boarding passes.
Now that you’ve gotten a few tips for making your travel experience a success, you can go forward with confidence. Apply these time-honored tricks of the trade and pass them on to those who may be accompanying you on the journey. Everyone will benefit from being more informed and aware.