Because my children are adventurous, I’ve had the opportunity to take some great trips to visit them throughout North America and Europe in the last several years. I’ve been places I never imagined and places of which I’ve only dreamed. I’ve learned to travel for two weeks with a carry-on and a tote bag. Trains, planes, boats, buses and taxis – I’ve ridden them all. I’ve walked a bunch of miles on every kind of terrain. I’ve broken some shoes, and I’ve broken in some shoes. I’m a thankful, thankful girl.
I’ve learned a few things about packing for adventure, and since I’m off on vacation this week, Tim encouraged me to share these travel tips with you:
- Pack light. Two pairs of pants, five tops, one dress, two sweaters, and a trench coat. Everything goes with everything else and layers for fluctuating temperatures. No more than three pairs of shoes, plus house/shower slippers (I use flip flops.) I wear yoga pants on the plane for long flights since they make good pajamas for the rest of the trip. By dividing stuff into packing cubes, within your larger bag, arrivals and departures at various stops become much easier. Your phone, an ATM card, your passport and any prescriptions medications are all you absolutely must have with you. You can buy most of what you need when you get there.
- Get your phone unlocked if you are traveling internationally. Call your provider and ask for a “global unlock.” I got this confused with a global package and these are NOT the same thing. To most current models, you can add a SIM card at your destination with a data package much less expensive that your American carrier.
- Change money with your ATM card. It’s generally the cheapest way. Currency exchanges at the airport are generally the most expensive way.
- Take two ATM cards but don’t keep them in the same place. If you loose an ATM card, there’s no fast way to get it replaced and you have to cancel it or risk loss. If you have two separate debit accounts preferably in different banks, you can keep going without moving a beat. Credit cards are often not accepted off the beaten path, which is where all the fun is!
- When possible, take public transportation. It’s worth the trouble of figuring it out. It will save you money, and you’ll see new places more closely than you would from the back of a cab.
- Take care of your feet. Good shoes are better than cute shoes as much as it pains me to say this. Good socks help too. Get in shape before you go and travel light, so you can be responsible to carry your own stuff.(See #1)
- Don’t do the tourist stuff, but if you do, plan way ahead and invest. We went to the Eiffel Tower, and by spending a bit more and booking way ahead, we passed by all those waiting in line and got to see the City of Lights as the sun was setting from the top. We invested in a personal tour of Rome because we were only there a short time and wanted to see as much as possible. Those group tours move slowly and are not at all personalized. We made up for the expense with inexpensive meals and lodging.
- Photograph the food and flowers. These are the photos that become art when you get home. (See below!)
- Stay in apartments and guest houses by using AirBNB and www.booking.com. My daughter is a genius at booking the best places at the best prices. My standards are simple: Clean, private bath, and well located. If she ever becomes a adventure guide, you should totally hire her.
- If you can, travel with someone who’s been there before and/or speaks the language. Learn a few words before you go. I like the Duolingo app very much.
- Observe cultural cues. Be more aware of others than of yourself. Watch locals and see how they do things. Be a kind and considerate co-traveler.
I hope you get to have all the adventures of which you dream, and if you venture off to far off lands, I hope you find these simple tips helpful.