The topic for this Top Ten Thursday is an easy one for me as we are so close to our big Winter vacation. Which is super awesome, I know, but also, a big brain drain as all I have been thinking about since our last getaway is this vacation. Being away…. Ahh, away. So …far, far…away. Sunshine. Daiquiris. Ahem, OK, let me get right to this list!
Here I thought to share some of my favorite traveling tips. The list can be used for almost all types of travel, intercontinental or international, really. So let’s go!
Valeria’s Top Ten Traveling Tips
- Copy and/or print ALL travel documents. In case you don’t have email access while away, or, anything gets lost, or, something happens to you. Have two copies of your documents. One copy stays at home in case of emergency and the other copy goes along with you, but separate from the actual documents. The documents to copy here are your passport photo page, travel visa, travel insurance, travel itinerary with hotel and car rental reservations and any pre-paid confirmations or anything else you can think of printing/copying. We like to take these along in a plastic envelope within our carry on so they are easy to grab if needed.
- Make a packing list. Let me start with I LOVE LISTS!! I like to keep organized, and lists are the best way for me to do that. A list also helps me realize what I need, and what to pick and choose, and, best of all it keeps me focused.
- Pack light. If your goal is to pack light, start with your list! Seeing all the items from your list together impacts your decision on what to bring before you take it out of your closets. It’s best to take travel sizes of anything you can, too. AND. Pre-plan your outfits. Clothes and shoes are the largest items most of us take away. My advice, pack smarter. Pull together outfits with interchangeable/repeatable pieces, lighter weighted materials and shoes, or one pieces like rompers or jumpsuits. Packing light actually worked out great for me in 2018. I gave myself a personal challenge to not check a bag, only to take a carry on and one large handbag, for every trip we took (and two of the trips were more than a week long)..and it was great. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything and yet it felt less stressful, somehow.
- ‘Where are we staying?‘ If you are anything like me, you may need some help remembering where you are staying after checking in. ESPECIALLY, if you are staying in an establishment that is in a neighborhood with many similar looking hotels that have similar sounding names. Which happens a lot when traveling abroad. My advice? Take a photo. Take a photo of the hotel front with the name of the hotel displayed. Take a photo of the closest cross street sign where the hotel is located. Or, take a photo of the address from one of the lobby brochures. It sounds crazy that I would need to do this, but you have no idea how many times it has saved me when we have left our paperwork in the room or my husband and I split up to go back to the room and I don’t have the info at hand to get back. ESPECIALLY, when all the roads look the same!
- Get lost! My husband and I travel a lot. In the 22 years we have been together we have gone from a couple traveling to a family of four traveling, and still to this day one of my favorite adventures is to get lost..intentionally. This all started when we went to Venice, Italy, in 2002, as newlyweds. What a beautiful city. But, the only drawback was the amount of people, namely tourists..haha. So, we decided to walk down an alleyway to another one, over a canal to another alleyway, and repeat, and repeat, till we felt disoriented and alone. We happened to find this great restaurant with local people hanging out. We got a prime table, ate some great food and drank beautiful wines, all as we were talking to our table neighbors about Venice’s history. It was from that night on we decided getting lost was our thing to do. Years have passed, we have gotten lost in some beautiful cities, and now in the era of smartphones, we can get lost but know how to get back to where we need to go with more ease.
- Talk to the locals! Take a second to learn some phrases to ask the locals about their hotspots. I am not saying to go up to complete strangers, well, I sort of am, but more like those folks you naturally will encounter along your trip.. i.e., a store clerk, front desk hotel assistant, waiter/waitress, taxi driver, patrons you sit next to at a coffee shop, etc.. They may even speak English. You would be amazed at how many people will give you great tips or advice. We have had such great experiences with people; like this one coming to mind now. A shop owner in Japan back in 2004, I asked for directions to an art gallery and he took me by the hand to walk down the street to it. We were smiling at each other while he was talking to me through my travel books. So, when he took my hand to walk me down the street, I was not surprised. He wanted to make sure I didn’t get lost..that I understood. And I was so thankful. There are some real selfless, and nice people out there. The more you talk to the locals, venture out to where they hang out, the more you learn their lifestyle.
- Always travel with cash. Travel revolves around money but it depends on where you go if you can get away with using a credit card the whole time or cash. In my experience, a lot of places are cash only, and other places I wouldn’t use a credit card. So, grab a money belt and plan on bringing enough currency to pay for anything you couldn’t book online beforehand and food/drinks.
- Plan for the unplanned. This covers so many turbulent aspects of travel. Just be flexible. Flexibility is key. Plans can cancel, people can flake or get sick, and the weather can change on a dime, just be prepared. Pack those extra underwear, grab that mini bottle of pain reliever, bring along playing cards, stash some granola bars along with your rain poncho. Also, as you are researching your destination, figure out what the area has to offer outside of what your itinerary entails in case your needs change. AND always pack these items in your carry on!
- Portable chargers, along with the cables for all of your family’s devices. I have saved myself lots of headaches from having a charger on hand. We got a set of chargers last year, that are life savers. They are by Ubio Labs, way cheaper this year than when we bought them. With one fully loaded charger it can load my iPhone four times. So you can imagine how handy they are for a family of four or when you forget to charge one overnight. They are slim and easy to charge. So slim that I normally carry both with two cables in a small-sized makeup bag in my purse.
- HAVE FUN! Take in the moments. Take in the sights right in front of you not through your camera. Watch the local kids playing in the park. Glance over at the elderly on their balconies gossiping. Sit for the local street band. Listen to the sounds that surround you. Look at the horizon. Savor the cuisine. Admire the couples. Take a minute to inhale the air, taste it, let it circulate your body. Let the beauty of travel sink in; you are somewhere special, and making sensory memories are way more important than your insta-memories.
Ah, what a fun list to pull together. But, I think I like number 10 the best. 🙂
What are some your favorite travel tips that you’d like to share? Let me know below or on FB!