I have been a traveler since I was able to open my eyes and have traveled with students and adults for over 20 years. These are a few things that I have learned when traveling and continue to live by.
1. Always pack a hat.
No matter what the weather forecast is, I have a hat. They are small and take up very little room but will keep your head warm, protect you from the sun, and keep a bad hair day at bay!
2. Pack a first aid kit.
Even if it’s a small one with just a few essentials. Like my grandmother used to say, “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.” Like a Band-Aid for a blister or an aspirin for a headache. Who knows what the equivalent may be in the country you are exploring, so play it safe and have your own.
3. Buy that silly souvenir.
You will probably never see it again, even later in the trip so get it! Just make sure it’s a local or regional item so you are supporting the community you are visiting and it’s a genuine gift from that country. You don’t want to buy a flute in Spain made in some other country, what would be the point? Remember a GAP in Italy is the same as a GAP in the U.S.
4. Try something different.
Food, drink, activity, or experience. Just not shoes! Always pack your most comfortable, most reliable shoes. This is not the time to only pack those “oh so cute” shoes you have been waiting for an occasion to wear. THIS IS NOT THAT OCCASION! Trust me on this one.
5. Learn a few key phrases.
If you don’t speak the language in the country you are traveling to, try and learn these phrases before you go. “Please,” “thank you,” and my favorite “How much?” You will be amazed how appreciative the people will be that you are making an effort.
6. Always ask a local.
Of course be smart and safe. Ask a museum guide, a park ranger, a shop keeper, or hotel staff. They always know the best restaurants, sites and must dos in the area. This goes back to trying something new. Of course when you travel with New Worlds Emerge, we’ll take care of all that including providing multiple opportunities to interact with locals!
7. Always wear sunscreen.
I don’t care if you are in Norway in the middle of winter. Nothing ruins a trip faster than a sunburn.
8. Roll your clothes and pack fewer things that go together rather than 10 separate outfits.
By rolling your clothes you save space in your bag for my favorite reason, and that’s to bring home more goodies. Also, if you have never worn it before don’t pack it as a main piece. What if you hate the shorts and they are the only pair your brought or that bathing suit is so cute but now you realize it was a bit too small or big.
9. Sleeping in while traveling is totally fine if you have nothing else to do…. So sleeping in is never okay!
You could have slept at home for free and what’s the point of going somewhere if you have already done everything there is to offer in that place!
10. Finally and most importantly, always keep track of your stuff.
Never bring anything that you would be heartbroken if you lost it: jewelry, electronics, etc. and make copies of your passport – put one in your suitcase and email a copy to yourself. Chances are you will never need it but as my grandma used to say “it’s better to be safe than sorry”!