I’ve travelled for actually more than four years now, but the last four were the busiest. I flew planes many times, took coaches many times, sailed by boats and generally, even though I don’t quite fit into the mainstream perception of a travel bloger (as in constantly posting tons of „How-to“ posts with awesome advices and even more awesome photos), I kinda am one.
And I know there are tons of posts like this from all other fellow travellers, and I know that the best posts are the ones with more specific advices, but today I felt more like these general advices needed to be put on paper by me, too. There could probably be even more of them but I wanted to keep it short and readable.
I did post some more specific posts on this matter before but I think only in czech so plan to re-do them and translate. I am constantly learning and improving my flight routine, for example, so I feel like there is an article yet waiting to be posted on that topic. Maybe coming soon, who knows. Let me know your thoughts in comments.
1. It’s better when shared
Some people love to travel on their own, but I’m not one of those people. Simple sharing of moments make them much better, but when it comes to solving problems and crises that arise, to have a friend with you makes everything so much easier and even the worst situations so much more bearable. More minds come up with more solutions or they figure something out more quickly. Also an extra pair of hands comes handy at times. You might need someone to hold your stuff while you search for something in your bag, it’s nice to share a meal when you’re not really that hungry for a full portion (this way you also get to taste more different things – each one can order something different and then swap in the middle), you have someone to talk to, to take your pictures, to hug you when you’re a bit down and to cheer you up… etc. etc..
2. Research ahead
I get it, sometimes it’s fun to just go and explore, but if you learn to research some info ahead, it might actually make your trips much more interesting. I’m not saying plan every single minute, but it doesn’t hurt to read for example some tips on hidden gems in that area, places that locals love the most, most favorite quirky restaurants or free locations with the best view. You can google hacks on how to save money in that particular city, contacts for people who live in that area or blogposts of bloggers who visited it before you and what they suggest. You can download maps to your smartphone, check reviews on Tripadvisor, book hostels or get in touch with local Couchsurfers who’d like to meet up for coffee, you name it. Some people like to just jump into it and see what happens, but if you are not that person and you don’t strike yourself as the „I can handle anything as it happens“ person (although you never know, you might just surprise yourself), help your future self and do the research.
3. Prepare yourself for all sorts „what if“ cases
Always have your camera ready, have enough cash (preferably divided in different luggages) and a credit card, have spare clothes or a B plan, have a snack, always think of what if – some people are great in improvising but even if you are one of them, it can’t hurt to think of various possibilities that can happen, and what will you do then. It might give you ideas on what to bring, and you will learn that the best things to bring are those that can be used for multiple situations. That also rises the chances that you will use that particular thing – for example a sarong is good as a scarf but also as a blanket to hide under on an airconditioned plane, and in warm months it can also serve as a beach dress. And I’m sure those are still not the only uses, too. Win.
4. Pack light and have (multi)functional stuff
There are tons of tips and hacks on this subject and you can take a word of anyone who travels a lot for it – the lighter, the better. You don’t want to drag any excessive kilos or even grams with you, and you don’t have to. For anything that you want to take with you, there might be lighter versions of it, for any amount of clothing there is probably a chance that you won’t really need all of it, you can always substract and minimise, and you can also organize your luggage better to save space. You might need that space in case you want to bring souvenirs, after all. Check out the choice of multifunctional tools and clothing specially made for travellers. Don’t bring that huge fluffy jacket, instead get something that is more functional and not as bulky. Be clever and real about what you will and won’t need and how much of everything – clothes can always be washed and do you really need three pairs of shoes? Listen to your guts and learn from your past mistakes or habits. And often it also helps to open your mouth and ask ahead – if you will stay with some people or in a hotel, they can tell you what they have to offer to you, so that you don’t have to carry that – whether that be hairdryers, towels, plug adaptors or laptop chargers.
5. Little things make the difference
If you know you are never able to sleep on the plane, don’t be lazy and get yourself some natural sleeping/relaxing pills. If you hate how your hair gets oily on the plane and how dull you look after a long flight, bring a bit of dry shampoo and spend few minutes in the bathroom before leaving the airport to make yourself look and feel better. It’s so worth it for the feeling, and also it might help to ditch the make-up before flight. There is not much point to it anyway, you don’t have to impress anybody on that plane, you just need to be comfortable. I use many little hacks to make my travelling easier, sometimes it’s a little belt pouch to put the small neccessities in (like passport, earplugs, tic-tac and paper tissues) so that I don’t have to dig for them in a carry on or overfill my small pockets with them), sometimes it’s braiding my hair so that it doesn’t get in my face and doesn’t get oily. The point is to use your own previous experiences (or somebody’s), identify what you were missing the last time and putting an effort in making it better and more enjoyable this time. One of my most favorite hacks for airports is to bring my own bottle (if collapsible, even better) to fill up ones I passed the security check. Not all airports have drinkable water in bathrooms so I prefer to bring a filter, too. I also always have some snacks and Mana for if I get more hungry. It gets through security check easily (have it in original package) and then you can get water and mix it. No need to spend absurd money for airport or plane food.
6. Ask for help
Whether you are still at home or already on the way, there are lots of other travellers with rich experiences around you, but there are also just nice people who’d help you if you just asked. Don’t be shy and aproach whoever you see, if you are in a bad situation or just need an information. They might look not useful or even annoyed, but swallow your prejudice, because they will most likely turn out to be the opposite. Most people will give you directions or tips, some might lend you their cellphones to make a call, and you never know, some might even offer you to stay at their place overnight, if you are really screwed. People are not something to be scared of and you are not alone in the world, they might look like it maybe just because they had a shitty day but when they see someone who needs help, they will be glad to provide it.
7. Better safe than sorry
On the other hand, don’t be too naive and relying on your luck and make precautions to stay safe. You should always let someone know where you’ll going and stay in contact as much as you can, it’s definitely not good to abandon your luggage to go to the public toilet or to let everybody know you have a bag full of expensive tech and loads of money. If you do have those things, keep them safe and divide your money and other important things into different places so that if you do end up loosing some bag, it’s not the one where you had everything.
8. Mobile data can save your life
Some people do have internet in their cells, but some don’t. For those people it might be a great idea to actually get them, whether on your own phone or a local purchase sim-card. Not every place has a free wi-fi and there have been dozens of moments when me and my bf would have been screwed if he didn’t have data on his cell to find an answer to some question, or directions to our hostel.
9. Don’t miss a one-time chance because you’re too lazy
You might think you’ve seen enough already and you might be pretty tired so when you are suddenly passing some great location where you could take amaizing photos, you say „nah“ and miss the chance because you just want to go home already. Next time that happens, slap yourself, get up and do it! It could be your one and only chance to see something amaizing and it could end up in the best pictures or stories, you never know. Also don’t be lazy to put an effort in getting a better angle or weather, or get out of your comfort zone to talk to those awesome people you see and wish you could hang out with but you just better turn around or keep on going away because you think it’s silly to aproach them (it’s not!). Go see those cool places you always thought would be amaizing to visit, then you are close to them but you just wanted to sit down or have a nap now instead so you think „whatever, it’s not that important and I can live without it“. Of course you can. But wouldn’t it feel absolutely epic if you got your ass out and just for the moment you behaved like the person you wish you were? Because you have the power to be that person, noone is stopping you but yourself, and all you need is maybe five seconds of switching to the Berserk mode and just doing whatever your laziness or fear is trying to stop you from. That is when you make the best of your life, that is when you’ll be the most proud of yourself, that is when you create the best memories.
10. Save energy
Check out the options to rent a bike or a scooter and also public transport prices. We all love travelling on budget but sometimes it’s just not worth it, trying to save money so badly that you keep walking all over huge places like London. Little walk through nature is nice, walking through the city can also lead in you seeing some great shops or pubs, but sometimes it’s wise to just screw it and get on bus for once to save your strenght and time that you can then spend on something more interesting. I especially had this mind-shift with cities I’ve already walked over dozen times or on trips where time is somewhat limited and I’d like to see more things.
This is quite a generic list of advices but I felt like sharing them anyway. How about you? Do you have any other (general or specific) recommendations for making travelling better? Go ahead and share your own tips 😉