Travel Month in Review

I’d say that out of all the months I’ve been doing my Happiness Project, I’ve learned the most in July, in which I focused on travel.  Not only did I learn about the countries, cultures, and people that we were exposed to, but I also learned how to travel.  Here are a few of the do’s and don’t’s that I found on our journey.  As this is my blog, they’re my lessons learned – they might not apply to everyone!  We were on a Mediterranean cruise, so if you backpacked in Chile or stayed in Tokyo for two weeks, you may have a totally different take on things.  If you have a tip to add or disagree with one of mine, by all means add a comment to the list.

Traveling Tips

  • Research, research, research the places you’ll be going.  Bring along maps, a list of sights to see and the stories behind those sights, currency conversions, the names of popular local foods, and general info you’ve learned about the place you’ll be traveling to.  Even if you don’t pull these items out of your bag on a regular basis, there’ll be times when you’re glad you have them.
  • Take plenty of pictures, but make sure to come out from behind the camera lens to enjoy the moment.
  • Make sure there are people in your pictures from time to time – they’re more fun to look at than landscapes (most of the time).
  • Pack lightly. Look at each item and decide if it’s something you want to bring or need to bring.  You’ll be lugging it every place you go, and even light items add up to a heavy suitcase.  As we found out, wheels on suitcases can and do break, so a rolling suitcase is no exception to the pack light rule!  You can always hand wash items to wear again – just give them plenty of time to dry!
  • On a day trip, bring as little as possible and instead buy what you need (food, drinks, etc).  It might be cheaper to bring four water bottles along with you, but they’re heavy to carry across town.  Pare down to the absolute essentials.
  • Find the ATM as soon as possible.  Many places overseas, especially restaurants, don’t take credit cards.  Both of our credit cards and debit cards charged for currency conversion, so you don’t really save any money by using credit cards.  Don’t take out so much that you’ll have to find a place to exchange the local currency back to dollars, though.
  • Practice your multiplication before going to another country.  It sounds simple, but trying to multiply 47 by 1.3 is easier if you know what you’re doing before you go.  Practice converting back and forth between dollars and the local currency before you leave.
  • Set an alarm clock. Then, set a backup alarm clock.  Then, arrange for a wake-up call.
  • Start preparing for a large time change a week or two before your trip.  You don’t want to miss out on something because you’re too tired from jet lag.
  • Don’t wear a security pouch around your waist. It makes you look like you have a huge gut in every picture.  Find a secure purse or another way to wear your passport.  (Does anyone have any ideas about this?)
  • Eat something every place you travel.  If possible, find out the local specialties before you arrive.
  • Get a really good house and pet sitter so you don’t need to worry while you’re away.  Ask them to e-mail an update or two during the trip in case it’s possible to check your e-mail.
  • Unless you are sure that your hotel room has an iron, invest in wrinkle releaser.
  • Call your credit card company to let them know you’ll be going overseas.  If you don’t, they might put a freeze on your card for suspicious activity.
  • Make a list of everything you’d like to do in a city, on the cruise ship, at your resort, or wherever you are.  That way, you won’t end the trip with regrets of things left undone.
  • Always ask if you’re on the right track – at the airport terminal, walking to the beach, trying to find a museum.  It might be embarrassing, but it’s better than missing a flight or wasting time being lost.
  • Travel with a partner (preferably the love of your life) – it’s just more fun.  Before the trip and at the beginning of each day of vacation, talk about your goals for the day.  It’ll go more smoothly if you make time for activities that you each enjoy.
  • Bring multiple cameras to each location you go.  If one dies or the memory card is erased, you’ll have photos of everything on both cameras.
  • Function trumps fashion. You’ll be able to enjoy your trip if you’re comfortable.  Don’t let a cute pair of shoes prevent you from walking to the beach.

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