Looking for some quick ways to make your business or pleasure travel easier? Look no further. These simple actions and attitudes can elevate your experience from the frustrating and mundane to the enjoyable and engaging. And best of all, they’re easy to do.
1. Half the Stuff, Twice the Money
Nothing hard and fast about this, but the principle is sound: You’ll need fewer items than you think you do, and it’s always handy to have a little extra cash in case there is an unforeseen need. A credit card may work, depending where you are, but cash is always best, so keep a little stashed away in a bag or room safe.
You can always buy an item in an emergency, but chances are, things will go fine. They usually do. On the other hand, carrying several extra items ‘just in case’ something goes wrong is usually a waste of space and energy. Just measure the extra efforts of hauling those items around for a dozen trips against the one time you needed something you didn’t have. The few extra quid to pick something up in-country is well worth it.
2. Go Digital
In the old days, people carried guide books, or maybe some key pages (photocopied or torn out to keep weight down). In this day and age, nobody travels without a phone anyway, so make use of it. A Smartphone is basically a mini laptop, Kindle, GPS and entertainment centre in your pocket… why not leverage its power?
Download a digital travel guide (don’t rely on online/signal access) and practice navigating it. No extra weight, and exponentially more functionality. Make sure you have a simple game on your phone too. That little time-killer can make the difference between festering over an hour’s delay, and the joy of that new high score. Download a book or magazine for your down-time as well. Netflix and other streaming services offer downloads too, so you can have a movie on hand to fill in the gaps when travelling.
3. Learn Some Local Niceties
Saying hello, goodbye, please and thank-you in the local language will instantly improve interactions with the locals. Just the act of trying – even if you’re no linguist – will show that you respect their culture and identities, that you acknowledge you’re visiting their home. It’s also good to know how to ask where the toilet is.
YouTube is a good place to learn a few phrases, and there are many free videos that teach the basics of a language. If you can, test your abilities out on a native speaker before you go.
4. Bring Ear Plugs
Bringing earplugs (or noise-cancelling headphones) can make the difference between many hours of unbroken din – and a cocoon of peace and quiet in the midst of your trip. This doesn’t have to be for those ear-shattering situations either (think construction site, Grand Prix track, children’s birthday entertainers). Working in a busy café, taking a mid-flight nap, or cutting out the chatter of passengers around you can make the difference between fast-rising stress… and a moment of zen.
5. Pre-Book an Airport Lounge
This will cost a bit extra, but your airport experience (often among the most stressful pain-points of a journey) will transform from dread to delight. Have a hot drink – or a cold one – a snack, and read a magazine. Recline and relax. When you’re ready to go, grab a couple of bottles of water for easy-access during the flight. The little you spent on the lounge fee will be some of the best value you get. Booking ahead will guarantee your spot too, so you won’t show up to a full lounge and be turned away.
6. Bring an Extra Shirt and Socks
This isn’t a tip for avoiding the embarrassment of accidental spills, though it can cover that contingency too, but rather a matter of comfort and confidence. Changing into a dry, clean top, with a fresh spray of antiperspirant, can revive your mood and give you that additional, positive boost to finish the journey strong.
The change of socks too, will make a big difference to your comfort level. Do it in the toilet, and fire a spray of antiperspirant in your shoes, too… you’ll thank yourself and so will those around you when you arrive and pull off your footwear.
7. Roll your Casual Clothes
More formal clothing and business attire will need more attention of course, but for your run-around clothing, rolling is a far more efficient way to keep things neat and organised than folding ever was. It’s easy, and will arguably prevent a few of the inevitable wrinkles of travel.
8. Split Up Your Cash
The process is easy. Instead of putting all of your money in one place, divide it among several: A trouser pocket, a money belt, an inside jacket pocket, even your sock.
Depending where you’re going, this tip can have more than one benefit. For one, in the event you are robbed or pickpocketed, you can lose one stash without giving up everything you have – which means a quick and safe means of getting back to your hotel is still open to you.
If you’re travelling in an area in which haggling is common, it can be a good trick to get the deal you want on larger purchases. Pulling out the amount you want, and showing an empty pocket afterward, can be the last bit of persuading that you need to close the deal. Careful though, once you make the move, it’s awkward to dig into that additional stash of cash!
9. Make the Trip Your Own
You know what you like. Non-stop in-flight movies? A massage after the flight? Whatever it is, make sure it’s part of the experience, and make a mental note that you have it. Actively enjoy it. This simple act of mindfulness – coupled with a simple pleasure – will stamp your experience with a positive note. Even the anticipation of it will make any inconveniences beforehand less powerful.
This is a big one.
You might have some plans, or an itinerary, or some preconceived ideas of what your trip or destination will be like. That’s inevitable, really. But as much as possible, be mindful of the need to let go of this in the moment.
Not only will this avoid frustration and undue stress when things go wrong, but it will also leave you open and positive toward opportunities to try new things. Doors open, once you’re on the ground, and if you’re in the state of mind to step through them, you’ll blow open the realms of possibility, making your trip exponentially better.
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