Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Odds and Ends: A Random Assortment of Travel Tips


Whether travelling within your city/state, across the country, or internationally, there are a ton of little tricks that can make your trip more comfortable, easier, more affordable, or just more fun. Here's a little mix of some obvious and not-so obvious tips for ya!

FLIGHT SCHOOL
  • Don't fret about flying economy! It's cheaper, but there's another advantage- less people are interested in sitting in the way back, so the chance of you having an open seat next to you is higher (and this is a valuable thing, especially on a long flight). This summer on a flight to Reykjavik, I was about 4 rows from the back with one empty seat beside me, and on my flight from Paris to NYC I was in the second to last row with NOBODY in my row. I piled up all the pillows, raised the armrests and laid down. It was luxurious (though I'm not sure if you're supposed to do this...).
  • Buy a silk sleep mask. You can get one for about 10$ on Amazon, and it will be your savior when the kid across the aisle opens the window shade and the direct sunlight shines right into your FACE. 
  • Same with noise-cancelling headphones. These are an investment. 
  • DRINK WATER, especially on longer flights.. I don't care if you have to pee 200 times during the flight, that's what the bathrooms are there for. It's good to stand up and stretch your legs anyway. Buy a 20oz water bottle after you go through security or bring your own, and ask for water every time the flight attendants come by. It will help your skin not dry out and keep you energized.
  • Ladies- don't wear makeup. Seriously. Again with the avoiding-dry-skin thing, plus mascara and a sleep mask never did go well together.

FINE DINING
  • Going out to eat for every meal is expensive. If you want to save money, buy groceries and eat in your hostel/campsite/hotel/Airbnb/at a park... You get the idea.
  • Always shop where locals shop. That's where you'll find the really good stuff. NEVER go where all the other tourists are going, because that is definitely not authentic cuisine.
  •  If you want great deals, look in Asian-populated areas. Especially in the US, Asian markets are always cheaper. You can get simple fruits and vegetables, nuts and eggs, for a few dollars and live off those for a few days.
  • Utensils are sometimes necessary. If you don't have any, grab some plasticware from a cafe or grocery store deli. Tinfoil is also bendy, and if you're desperate/have no access to actual utensils, it can work in a pinch!
  • If you're staying somewhere with complimentary breakfast, TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THAT SHIT. Most hotels, even cheap ones, will have things like bananas, apples, hard boiled eggs... you can stock up on these and use them for meals later in the day.

HYGIENE = SANITY
  • Conditioner can double as shaving cream.
  • Is your face super dry? Buy an avocado, smear it over your skin and let it sit for about 10 min before washing it off.
  • Is your skin dirty/clogged/acne-covered? Grab some sugar packets from your hotel or a coffee shop (not Splenda, real sugar!) and scrub over yourself to exfoliate. 
  • Baking soda sprinkled across scalp and brushed out = dry shampoo. Baking soda + water = toothpaste. Baking soda + coconut oil = deodorant. Baking soda = your friend.
  • Honestly, if you can't shower every day that's fine. Every other day or even every few days is acceptable as long as you don't reek.


YOU NEED WAY LESS STUFF THAN YOU THINK

  • Start with what you need, pack that, maybe a little more. If you approach it with "what will I NOT need?" you'll head out with way too much junk. I'm so serious about this one, guys. I've seen so many people get on a plane with three or four bags of various sizes. I'll think they're heading across the world but then they'll tell their companion something about, you know, "on Sunday when we fly home..." And Sunday will be a mere three days away. I've made this mistake too, and ended up literally just leaving my belongings in hotel rooms (on purpose) because it was too much crap to port around.  
  • Buy some GoToobs! These are lovely little refillable tubes so you don't have to waste money or harm the environment by constantly buying travel sizes of all your shower products
  • If you're bringing electronics, you can usually get away with fewer cords than you might use at home. For example, when I travel I bring a laptop, camera, phone and iPod. I have a wall charger for the laptop and can recharge everything else by using a single USB cord and plugging it into the computer.

DON'T BE A TOURIST

  • There's nothing inherently wrong with being a tourist. but don't be a dumb one. Be polite, talk to people, use the language of the country you're in and if you can't, at least try! Even if you are the worst language-learner ever, I'm sure you can learn to say "I don't speak language x".
  • Don't stare at a map for too long or people will try to get money out of you, whether it's by pickpocketing or coming up to you and begging for donations to whatever charity (to be honest I did fall for this in France).
  • If you know anyone in the area stay with them or at least get them to take you around. If you can't, stay somewhere that resembles a living space more than a hotel, like an Airbnb or a hostel.


THINK LIKE A BOY SCOUT AND BE PREPARED


  • If you've never been there, look up what the weather is supposed to be like when you're visiting, AND what it usually is that time of year.
  • Use sites like Kayak that will help you find the best deals on things like flights and hotels. They also have a super cool feature that allows you to enter the amount of money you have to spend on a flight and then shows you where you can go for that or less.
  • Know whether your money is worth more or less where you're headed and use that to your advantage.

In the end, remember travel is always more about making do and embracing the experience. If you spend the whole time fretting about little things, it's harder to focus on the present. I think tips like these are awesome because they can streamline your process and make it easier to do the experiencing, but they shouldn't take a lot of focus or energy.

Got your own tips/tricks to share? Comment below!

Happy travels, everyone! 

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