20 Tips for traveling ANYWHERE
What I have learned from traveling solo around the world for the last 8 years.
There's a lot to know about travel in a broader sense. From researching travel styles (refer back to my previous post here) to attitude and essentials needed for wherever is your final destination. The below tips are key to a smooth venture.
1. Declutter your life
The year is 2018. If you are still receiving paper statements, electric bills, cell phone bills and the other, stop now! Start by going through your accounts and saving your username and password, and guess what there's an app for that! Aside from legal papers, birth certificates, car documents and the like, the only other piece of paper you should have is a day planner. But you can have a digital day planner too, and everything gets backed up to whatever cloud you use.
2. Research before you go
This sounds like common sense and yet it is not so common. I've seen both the young and the mature act so incredibly inappropriate while travelling that I was embarrassed for them!
So you have the itch to go somewhere, it happens to be Egypt. It's far, exotic, different. Emphasis on the word different. Once you have a place in mind, look up daily life in Egypt, tipping customs, language, latest news and if you are a woman, PLEASE be in tune with the cultural differences.
I'm a true believer that anywhere in the world can be traveled to safely. However, I am also aware that there is bad in the world. Researching the place that you are going, from the public transportation near your hotel, to the cultural differences is key. Culture shock is sometimes inevitable but having some idea of what to expect will keep it from ruining your trip.
3. Things to pack- no matter where you go
It took me a while to get this list perfected. After staying in some nice places and some not so nice places, here are some essentials for wherever you are going:
· Ear Plugs- Pretty self-explanatory
· Antibiotics- Consult your doctor and explain your travel plans, they will have no issue in giving you a 10 day supply of Amoxicillin in case of bacterial infection while abroad.
· Anti-Diarrhea- Yes, we have all been there. The sweats and anxiety, having intestinal cramps under 104 degree heat. Ask your doctor about having a combination of Amoxi with Imodium if you get chills and fever. otherwise, Pepto-Bismol is a great way to coat your stomach before you eat and help prevent TD (Traveler's Diarrhea) altogether.
· Emergency heating blanket- Don't pack this if you are going to a place like India, but otherwise it's great to throw in your bag pack.
· Head light- Power outages happen anywhere!
· Snacks- protein bars can save your life in remote and exotic locations. Especially until you know where to go for food.
· Filtered water bottle- this can really save your life in certain locations!
4. Health insurance
First, call your current insurance provider. Chances are you are covered for emergencies anywhere in the world. If not, look at Aetna International or others online. This will give you and your loved ones peace of mind.
5. Credit/bank cards and cash
Call your bank and other credit card companies and let them know where you are headed. Otherwise you may be frozen out of your account while abroad.
6. The money pack
You know that really good looking slim fanny pack? Well, wear it!! It's a place for only your essential items: passport, cash and credit cards. It's slim enough that can go under a shirt or pants and it's protected against weather.
7. Copy of documents
Take a picture of your passport, and credit cards and send it to someone you trust. It's a great back up in case you lose them.
8. Plan not to plan
While you are being responsible and checking off this list, planning every day meticulously is a job for the tour companies! While you research your destination, make a list of what you want to see and do but not the days and times. Turning your travels into a detailed chore will quickly become a bore!
9. Have an open mind
You have arrived. You are excited, nervous, tired and a little lost. You are in a somewhat restrictive country. It's hot but you can't take off your sweater to a cleavage open top and walk the streets. You're hungry, and you see a window where the "chef" is touching his face and food and wiping his nose all with bare hands. The scale of differences between one country and another is nothing short of astounding. While you don't have to engage in everything a certain culture has to offer, you can observe, but most importantly accept the differences.
10. Get an early start
If you are anything like me, you will want to get up early and enjoy the place you are staying as much as possible. Starting early and seeing what the daily life is like will add to your experience too. You may even catch a sunrise or two.
11. Remember that you are human too
Embrace your humanity and remember that you make mistakes too. If you fall in front of a crowd, laugh it off; if you walk into a restaurant and pronounce a word wrong that becomes something very naughty, well that's freaking hilarious! Learn to laugh at yourself, remember we all eat, shit and sleep!
12. Smile goes a long way
Probably the single most important tip. SMILE IS UNIVERSAL! open the doors of conversation, be genuine. People will put aside their cultural differences if you approach them with a genuine smile. If there is no reciprocity, move on to the next. It will never fail you!
13. Interact with locals
Following the previous tip, interacting with the locals is key. Not only you will learn things that no tour company or Google search can teach you but you may open possibilities that you never knew existed.
14. Be simple but know when to splurge
Traveling is not cheap. Yes, there are tips to budget travel but no matter what it will cost you either in cash or barter work. Sorry guys there is no secret here! If you are looking to be a traveler not a tourist, follow where the locals go. No matter where you are; even in expensive places like Norway and Denmark, there are local places that are inexpensive. Get the taste of the real local life.
But yes, splurge too! You are brave and independent and you are here. Reward yourself. Nothing is out of your reach. Pay the big bucks to go to a spa for a day in Switzerland and eat at the fancy Italian restaurant in downtown Rome. If you are like most of us common men, you will appreciate it so much that you won't feel the need to do it so often. Trust me, even walls of gold start to look like bronze after a while!
15. Photos are the best souvenirs
Keep travel light and make use of your digital camera! Souvenirs will clutter your ambiance after years of travel, stay away!
16. Journal away
Journals are not for everyone. Whether you travel often or you are on a once-in-a-lifetime travel venture, writing can be therapeutic. Maybe you want to add captions to your online photos, maybe you want to read the journal a decade later. And finally, maybe you don't want anything at all, no photos or journal. Find what you want for you, not for others to see.
17. Don' sweat the small stuff
The key to a successful trip is knowing what you can control and letting go of what you cannot. This is applicable to day-to-day life too and needs to be remembered and applied especially when you are abroad. Things happen: Suitcases are lost, you get sick, flights are delayed. Ride the wave, have a laugh, a drink and know that you have done your checklist well enough that even in the worst case scenario, you will be OK.
18. Disconnect but stay connected
Staying in touch with people that love you and may be concerned is important. Don't be selfish. The best way to disconnect and stay connected is sharing information before you go and have some sort of a schedule to check in.
18. Party moderately
Bars are where I feel most comfortable anywhere in the world. However moderation is key. Not only it will add to your safety but it will also not ruin the next day for you. Have a good time but always be aware of when you are no longer fully aware.
19. Follow your gut
If you feel uneasy going into a cab, or eating a meal, follow your gut and step away. Don't worry about other's judgment and follow your gut. Staying safe and healthy to ensure you enjoy your vacation is key.
20. stay updated with the news
Before you go and while you are away. Google breaking news around the world once a day to stay updated on anything that might affect you. Avoiding surprises and knowing how to handle a situation will allow for smooth sails.