Travel is like anything else in life, the more you do it, the better you get. Well, that’s the theory at least. However, over the years there are many little tips and tricks, travel hacks if you will, that have helped me travel easier and with more comfort. You may know a few or not, but hopefully there’s something on this list that you will find useful to enjoy a better travel experience.
Don’t exchange money at home
I thought this travel tip had died out a long time ago, but I was saddened to read it again just recently. In 2017 this is horrible, horrible advice. If you exchange money before leaving home the rates are awful, there’s no arguing with that and there’s no need for it. If you want money in your pockets when you arrive, just go to the ATM at the airport. I have never been to an international airport anywhere in the world where they didn’t have plenty of ATMs. An ATM should always be your first choice for local currency; they provide the best rates possible. The same advice goes for traveler’s checks. You have to pay to get them and to use them, a senseless waste of money. Once again, ATMs are your best friend.
This is a tip I’ve been doling out since I started my web site more than 7 years ago, and it’s still one of my favorites. There are a lot of ways to quickly learn about new cities, countries and cultures but one of the best is to simply visit a local grocery store. You may not always notice them, but they’re always lurking, even in bustling city centers and spending a few minutes in them will teach you not just about the food habits of wherever you’re visiting, but what the locals value as well. Food and travel go hand in hand and it really is the best way to become a part of a new culture, rather than just a voyeur. Whether it’s seemingly endless rows of olive oils in a store in Madrid or the chocolate and dessert options in Australia, grocery store experiences have been very important in my own travels. They’re also a great way to stock up on drinks and snacks at the lowest possible prices or even to grab the ingredients for a fun picnic out on the town. You save money and have a better time in the process than eating at generic cafés all the time.
Long haul flights
This is my own personal way of coping with a long haul or ultra long-haul flight and it might work for you too. Thinking of a flight as one chunk of time is almost too much for our brains to handle. The idea of spending 15 hours next to The Snoring Guy or Miss Likes To Talk is a huge mental weight to bear. Instead, think of the flight in segments. First of all, eating will take a considerable amount of time. On a ten hour flight at least 2 hours will be spent waiting for or consuming meals. That leaves 8 hours. Watching one movie will take another two hours, leaving you with six. Figure on trying to sleep for at least 5 of those hours and you’re left with one hour to read, watch a TV show or stare aimlessly at the seat back in front of you. Or, you could divide your time between: eating, doing work, sleeping, watching a movie and reading equally. No matter how you decide to divide your time, it’s a useful mental exercise and will help make your long flight seem like less of a challenge.
Another very simple item, but one that I don’t travel without. Packing can be a chore, but so can traveling with a disorganized suitcase. Using a variety of different plastic bag sizes you can keep separate underwear, socks and even clean and dirty clothes. They also help in reducing the size of your clothes and make unpacking a breeze. At the end of the trip, instead of rooting through my suitcase to find the dirty items I just unload the Ziploc bags directly into the washing machine. The usefulness of plastic bags doesn’t stop with clothes, I use them to organize almost everything, from ‘extra’ items to ties, toiletries and carry on items. There’s a certain peace of mind when things are organized and when traveling this isn’t just a nice luxury but an important way to improve the overall experience
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