The category “traveling tips” is a rather broad umbrella under which a great many birds have made a nest. The result is that there are a variety of more specific expectations we all have for the label “traveling tips” which differ widely.
For example, when I googled “traveling tips,” the first item on the menu was a blog post offering 61 of the “best” travel tips. However, the first line I read was not the blog name, but the beginning of the list: Always Pack a Towel.
Yes, that’s right. I can recall several trip
s that would have been a complete failure if only I had known that I’d forgotten to bring that most essential item. Alas, blissfully ignorant of my fate, I thoroughly enjoyed my vacation without a towel of my own.
The fact is, I was expecting travel tips such as: Never leave your passport in your hotel room. Always verify the license plate of the car scheduled to pick you up, if you want to really eat the local food don’t visit the touristy places on the front street, find a local resident to take you to the places where the locals actually go.
I was not expecting packing advice. I was also not expecting some of the other bizarre travel tips to be found on the internet such as:
Wear sunscreen every day
Take extra socks
Don’t be afraid to use a map
Wear flip-flops in the hostel showers
Don’t Plan too Much …… and, my personal favorite…..
Pre-plan all your outfits!
Lists like these, besides being overwhelming, vague, and sometimes contradictory, are generally compiled only for very specific kinds of travelers with specific needs. For example, there might be a list for solo-traveling, one for backpacking, etc. The concept of packing light is constantly preached along side reams and reams of “necessities” not to be forgotten. One individual even suggested bringing a roll of toilet paper. While this might be helpful for some destinations, for others, it will be completely useless and a waste of space.
Regardless of your situation, circumstances, and reasons for traveling then, I’m going to offer a few travel tips I’ve gleaned from traveling for several different purposes, and finding myself in many unique situations.
1. Make a List and Check it Twice
I’ve tried to perform the feat of keeping everything in my head and forgotten ridiculous things that I found important only when without them, such as athletic shoes or my glasses case. You know what you need; write it down so that you don’t have the stress of wondering whether you’ve forgotten something. Check this list while packing and check it again before you leave, it will save you many a headache.
2. Review The Official TSA Guidelines if You’re Not Sure
The truth of the matter is, that unless you’re traveling internationally, security checkpoint doesn’t even ask to see your liquids, and you can stretch the 3.4 ounce rule with no problem. However, it’s always a good idea to be on the level, and the last thing you want is to have to pay a fortune for a necessity because it got confiscated at the checkpoint.
3. It’s Really Not A Good Idea to Leave Your Passport in Your Hotel Room
The principle behind this is to be smart with your valuables. Expect honesty from people but always be prepared for dishonesty. Carry your money and important documents in places where it’s not easily filched or left behind, and keep them about you at all times.
4. Pack Your Way
I’m not going to give you any advice on what to pack because everybody’s different. There are things I pack that others would consider absurd, things I go with out that many deem necessities, and vice versa. When packing, I try to make as few deviations from my daily routine as possible. Meaning, I bring my normal clothes, my usual toothbrush and remember that I will probably end up wearing less than I brought, but that’s my style. Yours will be different, and don’t let any travel blogger shame you out of it.
5. Take all Travel Advice(including this one)With a Grain of Salt
When I travelled to Nashville for a conference and stayed at a resort the entire time, the idea of bringing my own towel, sunscreen, or toilet paper was ridiculous. However, these suggestions become surprisingly pertinent when one finds oneself planning a backpacking trip in the Andes. Don’t just take someone’s say so, plan your trip for your circumstances, think it through yourself, and remember that nobody has it all together.
In the end, what’s important is that you head off on your trip, well informed, and prepared to be surprised. After that, I might say that the best way to teach a duck to swim is to plop it in the water. For you, the best way to learn how to travel well is ultimately to zip up your suitcase and board the airplane.