It's important to stay safe and healthy while on the road. Here's some tried and tested tips to keep in mind when traveling!
1. Take Copies
Store all your confirmations, plans, and documents in multiple places. Be able to access them through the websites of the companies you booked with, archive them in your email, save them onto your mobile device, or heck, even print them out with old fashioned paper and ink if you want to. Just make sure you have several ways you can access important numbers, contacts, bank or id info. Be careful. Losing stuff like that can really ruin your day. At most international immigration, in addition to showing any needed visa documentation, you can also be asked to show proof in income, proof of travel insurance, proof of accommodation, and proof of onward travel. Having it all ready to go saves tons of time.
2. Take Spares
You can buy many essentials on the road, so only pack important things that would be hard or impossible to get, such as prescription medications, extra contact lenses, a spare pair of glasses, a spare battery or memory card. Take extra of whatever you can't live without. Don’t go crazy- you don’t need 18 memory cards or external hard drives weighing you down, but maybe a spare lightning cable or earbuds? Brilliant. You'll be quite popular, too. And, it's a good idea to keep gadgets charged for airport security because they can request you turn them on to make sure the batteries aren't explosives. If they're dead, you just may be leaving them behind. And don't forget to get a global SIM card if you're traveling internationally. Makes it way easier to stay connected!
3. Take Cash
You may want to change your attitude about cash when traveling. You'll need cash for most daily purchases. Most people and businesses you'll be supporting will only take cash. Don't expect that street food cart to have a credit card machine. It's a good idea to keep an extra cash stash somewhere on you or your belongings in case of an emergency. Have enough for a day or two of food and shelter at least. And remember that, with most banks, you'll pay quite heavily in ATM cash withdrawal fees for foreign transactions.
4. Go With The Flow
Have a plan but not a crazily detailed plan. Depending on your level of comfort and travel style, you’ll either want to plan everything or totally wing it. I recommend trying to go with the flow, but having at least a vague idea where you’re going to sleep at night, and maybe even a backup vague idea. If you’re traveling by air, you’ll be booking ahead, but most ground transportation can be bought locally (and usually cheaper). The less concrete plans you have, the more you’re free to do whatever you want whenever you want.
5. Open Up
One of the great things about travel is that it gets you out of your comfort zone, in almost every way. You’ll be in new places, doing new things, eating new foods, and meeting new people. Open your mind to new conversations and new relationships. Don’t be Judgy McJudgerson. You'll likely meet great friends along the way, that you'll already have a ton in common with, because they're also out there doing what you're doing.
6. Slow Down
It’s easy to get over stimulated when you’re in a new place and develop a serious case of FOMO. But take it easy. You don’t need to do every single activity, eat at every restaurant, or see every sight the guidebook says is a ‘must-see’. Take time to absorb and appreciate where you are. That’s why you’re there. Cliched, but really, stop and smell the roses.
7. Embrace Your Inner MacGyver
When you’re on the road, things will go awry. Things will rip, break, snap off, fall apart, unravel and sometimes plain old just grow feet and run away. That's just your chance to be creative and think outside the box to do some alternative repairs. Most importantly, don’t let it bum you out. Things break and get lost. Such is life.
8. Embrace Your Inner Minimalist
You will almost always need less than you take. You’ll need less clothes, shoes, and toiletries. Carry on your bags and learn to love the 2 ounces or less liquid rule. Remember to check your airline's size and weight rules and restrictions. Anything you forgot, you can find along the way, sometimes along with a great story. When you’re done with things, don’t keep them 'just in case'. Donate them to another traveler or leave them in a free box. This can apply to everything from jackets to paperbacks. Traveler karma is your friend. Stay light. Minimalism is your friend. See what I carry.
9. Keep Clean
We’ve all been on camping and backpacking trips, as well as chucked our old daily beauty routines out the window after the first few miles on the road. However, remember to get a shower in when you can and wear deodorant if you need it. Travelers spend a ton of time being packed in like sardines in trains, cars, buses, planes, boats and hostels (and, really, anywhere else with extremely limited air circulation). So, pay attention to your personal hygiene. Nobody likes the smelly guy. You can easily make personal care products. Learn how to clean everything you own. Sink-laundry is somewhere between an invaluable skill and an art form.
10. Stay Healthy
Traveling immerses you in different schedules and environments with all kinds of yummy and interesting new foods. If you're anything like me, you'll be happily eating your way around. It helps to try to keep a balance of food intake to physical activity. For example, if you over indulge on food one day because you found a fantastic local restaurant, or two!, try to get some hiking in the next day. You’re traveling to experience all life has to offer, but you also don’t want to overeat, overdrink, blow your budget, or get sick. Balance is key.
11. Don't Live In A Lens
We all love to document our travels, whether by writing about them, taking photos, or smothering them in social media. Remember to sometimes put down the gadgets, live in the moment, and experience it for what it is. Studies have shown that the act of recording your perception actually changes what your brain stores in long term memory. Try to be present in the moment (and maybe just Instagram it after).
12. Have Fun
Remember, you're traveling! You're doing what you love! Yay, you! There will always be something to worry about or something to what-if about. So cut yourself some slack and relax. Do what makes you happy. And go travel the world!