When you’ve traveled the road-less traveled more often than not, you learn a thing or two about what makes an adventure successful.
With every trip, you learn a lesson. And over time, you become a professional traveler (whether you’re getting paid to travel or not).
Are there any shortcuts? While nothing substitutes personal experience, you can learn from a vacation veteran what to do and what not to do during your travels.
Learn how to fit more in your bag
You may have an opinion on the rolling versus flat-packing debate, and so do I. I’ve given ample opportunity to each method, and I must say that I prefer rolling my clothes when I pack.
I don’t believe that rolling actually creates more space in the bag. I think it creates more USABLE space.
I’ve found this to be true with suitcases, duffels and backpacks, but it’s more obvious when you’re packing duffels and backpacks.
There are some other advantages to rolling clothes in addition to creating space:
- Rolling keeps your clothes wrinkle-free
- You can better organize your bags (e.g. it’s easier to remove a rolled garment and place it back without undoing your work)
- You don’t have to choose – you can roll some things and flat-pack others to optimize space
Get discounts on flight upgrades
Most veteran travelers are great at finding the best deal on travel, and that usually means choosing coach. But there are times when a little space and comfort are worth paying for. The last leg of a month-long trip may be a good example.
But instead of offering up your right arm for a first-class seat, find out whether you can upgrade at the airport. Some airlines will allow you to purchase an upgrade in the boarding area before a flight. Just keep in mind that some airlines still have dress codes for their first-class and business flights, so showing up in PJs isn’t a good idea.
Invest in a hair straightener
Even if you’re a man who went bald two decades ago, a hair straightener may help you on your travels. You can use a hot straightener to quickly iron clothes anywhere you can find an outlet. This is helpful for when you’re staying at a budget hotel, hostel or backpacking. It’s also helpful when you just want to get a few wrinkles out and don’t have time to break out the iron.
Pro tip: This works at home too!
Prepare in advance
There’s something to be said for spontaneity during a trip, but you’ll want some control over which adventures you choose. For example, if you’re planning a road trip, you should always know how to keep your vehicle running. Otherwise, you may have an adventure in being stranded. And no one really wants that.
This means understanding how and when to change your oil (even if that means employing someone to do it for you). You should also be able to check your tires for signs of wear. Worn tires are more likely to result in a blowout, which is an adventure of the worst kind.
No matter how experienced you are at traveling, remain humble. You will encounter many situations where you need help, and you may or may not be able to ask for it in the native tongue.
When things are going well, treat others how you’d like to be treated. And when you need help from someone, approach the situation with a humble attitude. If traveling teaches you one thing, it’s that you aren’t special. People are more likely to help you if they want to help you. This should go without saying, but we’ve all seen our share of entitled travelers who throw tantrums and anger everyone. Don’t be that person. No matter how tired or grumpy you are, remember to be humble.
Through travel, you’ll learn a lot about the world, but you may learn even more about yourself. Try to prepare for the trip as much as you can beforehand, so things can go smoothly. From packing to negotiating upgrades, you’ll need to calculate every move to get the most out of your experience. And if you encounter something unexpected, always approach it from a humble place.