Traveling is a great challenge for your soul. When you experience new places and meet new people – especially if there is a language challenge – your brain gets excited. You remember details of each day of a trip. How often does that happen when you’re going through your regular daily routine?
To keep the challenge positive, it helps to be organized. Here are a few tips to help smooth out the trip.
- Plan – but get on the path. Things make more sense once you’re in a new place. Remember: The map is not the territory. And the less you have pre-booked, the more freedom you have to go to a new place someone tells you about along the way.
- Don’t be shy about asking for help. Most people are good, and kind, and are happy to help you.
- If you’re headed overseas, carry some cash in the currency of the country you’re going to. You can order currency in advance from your bank so you don’t have to deal with money changers at the airport.
- If you’re facing a language barrier, the Google Translate app is free and is great as long as you have WiFi. The voice function lets you speak in your own language and instantly translates into the language of your choice. When a person speaks in that language, the app instantly translates back into your language. You can also use this part of the app to practice a language before you leave. The camera function on the app works for printed materials. You can hover your phone camera over a sign, label in the grocery story, or menu and voila! You can read in your own language.
- Contact your credit card companies with your travel dates before you leave so they don’t suspend your charges.
- Make two photocopies of any credit cards you are taking with you as well as your passport. Leave one set at home and pack one set in a place other than where you pack your cards. And while you’re looking through your cards, weed out any that don’t need to make the trip – like library cards and discount cards for local shopping. I also take a photo of passport to have on my phone.
- If you plan on using your phone overseas for calls, texts or maps, contact your provider before you go to change to an international plan. Make sure to print out how to set your phone before you leave – then do the reset once you are in-county.
- Pack light. You know that. Don’t take all of your favorite stuff. Bring practical shoes. Color coordinate so everything works with everything. Bring layers v. bulky sweaters. Do laundry as needed v. overpacking.
- If you travel to a different time zone, believe you’re in the new zone. As soon as you are on a plane, reset your watch/phone to the new time zone. Even if you’re tired when you land, stay up until your regular bedtime. And eat at the appropriate times for that zone. Don’t keep figuring out what time it is at home! The quicker you believe the new time, the less trouble you’ll have with jet lag.
- PLANE ADVICE: On long flights, do your best to sleep on the plane is you are losing time (heading east). Eat before you get on the plane instead of waiting for the airline to feed you. The food isn’t going to be great; trust that you won’t be missing much! When you arrive at your destination, do your best to stay awake until a “normal” bedtime in the new time zone.
- Bring an eye cover. It’s amazing how much better you can sleep when it’s dark.
- Use earplugs. Same thing – silence helps you stay focused on sleep.
- Travel with a pillow from home. My pillow is down and squishes up nicely to fit in my carry-on. I put it in a dotted pillowcase to help distinguish it from any other pillows I encounter along the way. I use my pillow on the plane and wherever I’m staying.
- Don’t get sucked into watching TV or movies on long flights. Sleep!
- Bring socks . Taking off your shoes as you fly helps you sleep but your feet will get cold without some nice socks.
- Wear slip-on shoes. They help at security – especially if you are hurrying. And they’re great on the plane for quick trips to walk and to use the bathroom.
- If you can, book a window seat. The views are awesome – how many times in your life do you get that view! And the wall of the plane is a great place to rest your head – on the pillow you brought from home.
- If you are gaining time (heading west), do your best to stay awake on the plane. Now’s the time to eat on the plane and watch movies. Again – you want to go to sleep at a reasonable time in the new time zone so you want to be tired by bedtime.
Above all else, be kind and open to whatever happens. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. No exceptions. Happy travels!
2 thoughts on “Tips for efficient travel”
Great advice, including “the asking for help” part. I have found that asking for help can also initiate memorable conversations and friendships – connections I wouldn’t have otherwise made. And that is perhaps the greatest travel benefit of all.
You are so right! We were trying to figure out the bus system today in Siena, Italy and had apps and charts – and still didn’t know which bus to catch! I approached a young woman who was waiting at the bus stop and asked if she spoke English and could she help us. She said YES with a big smile and not only helped us figure out the right bus and where to get tickets, she also was on the bus with us and told us where to get off. When we told her she was our hero, she blushed. She made our day in Siena perfecto 🙂