travel tips – part 1

 

I travel quite a bit.

but by no means does that make me a pro.

I get lost more than anyone you know. I give into the cab driver who gives me a cigarette so that I don’t argue the inflated price. and even though I know you’re never supposed to catch a baby when thrown to you from a gypsy, I’d still probably give in and do it.

fortunately though, through the many years of many travel mistakes, I’ve come up with a hundred or so tips I’ve found along the way- which I’ll post a chunk of every now and then.

in no particular order:

– if you do suffer from RLS [which I do. which sucks.], get a note from your doctor requesting you be given an exit row. this sometimes helps in getting an upgrade.

– always travel with what you can carry on [photo – my entire life for 5-6 months]. no lost luggage and the first out of the airport while everyone else is waiting on their bags. save for Asia, most everywhere else in the world has cheap clothes your size.

– the back of a plane is the most uncomfortable. the middle of the plane has no view because of the wing. keep these in mind when checking in online.

– there’s no way of the airline proving you + 1 aren’t on your honeymoon. find a way to work this into the conversation when checking in.

– if you must check in you luggage, tell them to put a ‘fragile’ sticker on it. this means it will be loaded last which means it will be off the plane first.

– if you’re pushing the allowed check-in limit, keep suitcase/backpack on the opposite arm of the agent who’ll take your ticket on the way to the plane. it works.

– black suitcase with wheels? throw a colorful sticker or tag on it. nothing more uncomfortable than having someone ask for their luggage as you’re walking away.

– when dining alone, bring a small notepad to write in. you could just be catching up on your journal, but to a waiter/bartender/restaurant owner, you look like a travel writer who might just be from Lonely Planet.

– make your own business cards saying you’re from Lonely Planet.

– hide $1000 somewhere in your suitcase [not your backpack]. if things get funky, you can get a flight out of anywhere for $1000.

– when leaving valuables in your hotel room, stop kidding yourself that putting whatever you’re hiding in the pillowcase is clever. it’s not. and one of the first place a thief would look. I always travel with a few locks + cable. thieves will go for the easiest grab, so to walk in a room and see that someone has taken the time to strap their stuff to the wall/bed/toilet, they’ll most likely move on.

– the only thing more ridiculous than wearing a fanny pack/money belt is having to ask strangers for money. no one looks good when traveling, so don’t worry too much about style.

– always bring extra socks, large plastic bags and electrical tape. nothing ruins your day more than stepping in a puddle and sloshing around cold shoes.

– always carry tissue paper with you. I lost a good sock once in a toilet in Prague because I didn’t.

– bring a comfortable pair of pants/shirt/sweater for long plane rides. change into them once you’re up, change out before you land.

– traveling with jeans is ridiculous. they’re bulky and take ages to dry. cotton all the way.

– always bring your own headphones. some airlines are now charging for them to be rented.

– at the back of the plane on long flights are always water, snacks and booze. take as much as you want, but don’t ‘ding’ the bell.

– book a nice hotel for your first and last day. gives you someplace to acclimate in and something to help cushion that whole ‘last day of vacation’ mentality.

– if your passport is stolen, don’t freak out. it happens and it’s one of the reasons we have embassies/consulates everywhere. keep a digital copy of your passport in your email. it makes replacing a stolen one 100x quicker.

– if you are of the sexually-active types, do not sleep with the locals. sleep with fellow travelers. fellow travelers do not have fathers/brothers/boyfriends who will come see you at your hotel. all travelers family can do is send scary emails. emails you can delete.

– always keep a few cards from the hotel you’re staying at on you. you will get lost.

– travel with 100 feet of paracord – you’d be surprised to find how handy it can be. securing bags, keeping windows closed, etc.

– people love postcards. take half an hour out of your day to send a handful.

[end]

more soon.