Everyone who knows me could agree on a few of my idiosyncrasies
- I love to talk.
- I have an opinion about everything.
- I know a little something about almost everything.
In that spirit, I have compiled a list of basic travel advice.
#1 – For the Airport
I think nothing is more important than fresh breath. Carry mints, mouthwash, toothpaste, and a toothbrush in your carry on luggage. You will always have that minty fresh feeling, regardless if you just slept overnight in the airport, or you got off that lovely 10 hour flight, breathing in that lovely recycled air.
#2 – Walk Faster than Everyone
Unless you are a pilot, stewardess, or frequent-flyer with the ability to skip the line, walking faster has some serious perks. On average, I pass about 30 people from the gate to the customs line. I believe on average, one minute per person, I save 15 to 30 minutes waiting in lines based on hustling and beating people to the queue.
#3 – The Best Mode of Transportation is a Bike
David Byrne has a whole book on why this is true. Some places are more bike friendly than others, but if you are trying to see as much as possible in a short period of time, there is no better way to do it than on bike. I recommend safety precautions like helmets, learning the basic laws of street travel in a new country, and if you are biking at night, lights. Most large cities these days have bike lanes, and in under developed countries, bikes get through the traffic a lot quicker than anyone else.
#4 – Cross at the Crosswalk, Cross when Green
This isn’t just about crossing the street, but observing local societal rules. In Germany, for example, there are signs everywhere informing adults that they set the wrong example for children when they cross the street at the wrong time. It is good to study up on any customs, rules of etiquette, and laws before you visit somewhere else and offend or upset someone. This also goes for tipping, formal versions of the word “you” in other languages, and especially saying, “thanks”.
#5 – Something to Read
In times of cell phones, I find this to be even more important. You can’t always get cell phone service, wi-fi, or plug your electronics in for a charge. Whether you are waiting for a train, stuck on metro, or simply want to relax in the sun in a park instead of walking around for an hour, a book is your best friend. I never leave for a trip without at least one.
#6 – Something to Write With & In
Someone recently asked me how I was going to write about all the places I have been previously. They asked if I had kept journals and notebooks. My answer: “I have too many journals and notebooks.” This isn’t entirely true, but my notebooks aren’t written in a linear fashion, from beginning to end. They are filled with ticket stubs, maps, cards advertising art shows and concerts, addresses of places I’ve stayed or wanted to visit, directions on how to take the public transportation from one place to another, anecdotes, stories, names of food and dishes I need to try, email addresses of people I’ve met, and of course, drawings and jokes. These are my most valuable souvenirs, because I never wanted to forget anything. The word souvenir actually means, “to remember”.
#7 – H2Oh YES! and Snacks
This is the most important rule for me. I always carry a water bottle with me to fill whenever possible, I’m aware water fountains aren’t always available, but if they are, I’m ready. I also try to take, fruits, and depending on the country, bread, pastries, or other treats to survive between meals. Sight seeing is exhausting and burns tons of calories, you don’t need to be hangry as well.
#8 – Your Favorite T-shirt & Jeans
I’ve packed a lot of suitcases over the years, and as much as you want to impress people wherever you go with how fashionable you are, there is nothing better than putting on your most comfortable t-shirt and jeans when you’ve been on the road for a while. That being said, the second best thing is clean clothes, so pack some travel laundry detergent and do some wash in the sink! You stink!
I’m constantly adding to and revising my own rules, and I’ve gotten better at accepting when I’m wrong over the years. Don’t be surprised if you see this list update or change in the future.