I’ve been traveling all of my life and have lucky enough to go all over the world and see many different countries and cultures. I have developed 5 cardinal rules that I live by no matter where I go. They have always served me well. I don’t mean the always keep your keys and medicine in your carry on kind, or try not to check luggage. Every one can figure that out after one trip to visit their aunt in Pittsburgh. I mean things you may not think of, but could make a big difference.
1. Always learn “please” and “thank you” in the native language of the country you are visiting.
I am really proud of the fact that I can say “Thank You” in 10 languages. It doesn’t matter where where in the world you go, manners will take you far. People always appreciate the effort of someone trying to learn please and thank you. I’ve gotten upgrades, free stuff, hot tips, and better service because of it. I promise your travel experience will be better, and if nothing else its just fun conversation!
2. Always keep a travel journal
Always keep a travel journal. Always. You don’t have to get touchy feely if that isn’t your deal. However, I can’t tell you how many times I went back to my journal to look and see what exactly I did later. Has someone ever come to you months after a trip and asked you where you stayed, where you ate, what you did, what company….etc? Keep a travel journal, also save those ticket stubs from random places you visit and glue it in the travel journal- Boom! Instant scrapbook.
3. Always do your research
Spending a few hours before you travel researching your destination, and the things you want to do there. Example: The first time I went to Rome, I was much younger and did no research, I wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. Well, I saw it, and pretty much nothing else because I stood in line all day miserable. Had I done some research, I would have seen that there are ways to NOT stand in line all day. When I went back- I learned!! ??. It literally saved me an entire day in line on my next trip.
4. If you are traveling far away from home, plan to deal with the jet lag.
So, so many people break this rule, then they are tired for days or their whole vacation. Some people can sleep on planes, some people can’t. Either way, make a plan. Here is the plan that has worked best for me no matter whether its Australia, China, Europe, or Hawaii. If the flight is over 6 hours I take an Ambien. If less, I read, try to sleep etc. When I arrive I eat a large meal, take a brisk walk and get a massage. Unless it is actually bedtime when you arrive- DO NOT GO TO BED. Get coffee, go shopping, do whatever, don’t go to bed until at least 10pm the first night or I promise jet lag will be that much harder.
5. Pack a flattened duffel bag in your suitcase.
I try really hard not to overpack. Sometimes I succeed. My weakness is shopping, and so I try to plan for it. When going out of the country, or a week or more, I have my oversized purse, and one checked bag. That’s all I allow myself to bring. However, I always fold up an empty duffel in the suitcase for the flight home for all those things I know I am going to find that I just can’t live without.
JUST GOOD SENSE:
*Try not to drink on your flight, especially if taking pharmaceuticals. Ive done this, it doesn’t have a happy ending.
*Try not to overpack- I’m totally guilty of this all the time, I am always the lone chick struggling, sweating, and cursing with a million bags ?
*Funny story about overpacking, before the liquids ban, I was coming home from a summer in Europe, and I had multiple suitcases, a rolling carry on and a large purse. It took me 1 hour fighting and arguing with the staff to meet the requirements before they would accept my bags- even with me paying hundreds of dollars in excess baggage fees. My rolling carry on was so heavy that I couldn’t lift it by myself. I had smuggled an entire case of wine and champagne in it, along with my purse. My purse only actually contained my wallet, passport, phone, and a book. I breezed through security ? and everyone just giggled at me. Those were the days folks….We drank like royalty for months on that stuff….??