I travel a lot. It’s an ongoing semi-joke among my friends and the authors I work with that with every few emails I send, I switch countries and have to explain that I’m in a new time zone, my emails come late, etc…
And yet I continue to forget the most basic things I pick up when I travel. I can spend three months on the go (as I did last year in the States) and learn this or that about my travel habits, and still forget what I learned the next time I’m on the road. It’s as though my mind resets itself completely.
So, for my own benefit and perhaps for yours:
My Top 10 Travel Tips for Myself in the Future
1. Don’t pack on the day you leave.
It will make your morning stressful. You won’t be able to relax. You’ll leave it till the last minute. You will forget at least a couple of things.
Instead, be finished with your packing the day before you leave at the latest, and tell yourself you must not open the suitcase again once you’ve closed it before bedtime.
2. Learn a few “portable” stretches.
I always forget this. Because I get a lot of backaches, travelling is one of the most physically unpleasant things for me. But I keep surprising myself with how difficult it is to do some serious stretches at night and in the mornings when your hotel room is much smaller than you imagined, or when you’re in the toilet cabin of an airplane and your legs are killing you.
Solution: Learn a few stretches you can perform in a tiny cramped area like a plane’s toilet cabin, so you have no excuse when you’re outraged at the size of the hotel room you’ve landed into.
Focus on hip flexors, lower back, neck and hamstrings, because those tend to hurt the most when you’re travelling.
3. Commit to doing a few bodyweight exercises every day.
Face it, Phil. You get stressed when you travel, more than most of the people you travel with. And bodyweight workouts are great because you don’t need to take anything with you, and they tire you out like a baby.
Push-ups, squats, burpees and stretches at least.
4. Use a debit card.
Only spend what’s on it. Don’t take a credit card with you at all.
5. Assume there will be at least one night with bad sleep.
The kids in the next room might spend the night screaming. The hotel doesn’t have air con and it really should. Whatever. Take something to help you sleep, because you’re going to go out looking for it at some point anyway.
6. After sun screen.
Pack it because you are laughably white.
7. If you are taking a train or bus in a new country, assume you will have at least one serious dickhead onboard who will make your life difficult. Prepare psychologically for an asshole bus driver who doesn’t care what your excuse for being foreign is, or some bitch who thinks having a kid entitles her to three extra seats (and the stupid kid sits on her lap anyway).
8. Make sure your bag is small enough to carry around easily. More importantly, since you’re not good at folding things even though you went to boarding school for 6 years and had to do it every day, make sure you don’t pack a full bag. You know you’re going to find it difficult to pack things for the return flight and all your clothes are crumpled and you’ve bought ten things you didn’t need.
9. Set up autoreply on your email service.
It’s not hard and there will be less explaining to do.
10. Don’t forget to switch off “data roaming” on your iPhone. Remember the time you had a $900 phone bill after 10 days away and you didn’t even realize what you were doing.