Travel tips are another one of those dime a dozen articles. Often chock full of advice that doesn’t quite make the cut for helpful.
However, recently my wonderful, brilliant, funny, talented and handsome nephew wrote down a series of his own travel tips. Trevor’s Travel Tips. I thought they were, well, brilliant.
A little history on this. Trev is a student at the University of Washington where he studies linguistics and Danish. Yes. Danish. For the next ten months he will be studying these things in a very appropriate place – Denmark. But the road to Denmark wasn’t all that smooth. In fact he hit some pretty big obstacles on the way.
Then he compiled what he learned into Trevor’s Travel Tips. I am reprinting them here (with permission) and adding my own commentary (you can see the original post here. Trev is writing his own blog about his adventures in the land of his ancestors, about his own time being a nomadic local – you should read it, that kid can write! And the pictures are pretty spectacular too.).
Why am I doing this? Because we all make rookie mistakes; some of us make rookie mistakes long after we can comfortably call ourselves rookies. So for all of you who are sure that you are going to screw it up, or you can’t do this, or that something bad will happen, take heart. I can almost guarantee that you will make some mistakes and that something not great will happen (bad is too subjective), but yeah, you really can do this. So without further ado:
Trevor’s Travel Tips – #1: Check your tickets weekly to be reassured of your flight date
Yes. This. It is unbelievably easy to get caught up in the excitement of your first ever trip abroad; or your first trip in a while even. It is easy to get a date in your head and know in your heart that it is the right one. Except sometimes it isn’t.
This goes for not just the date, but the time. I have nearly missed planes because I was absolutely sure that it left at 7:15, but really no it left at 5:15. So check those tickets – if not weekly, at least a few days before you are due to leave.
Trevor’s Travel Tips – #2: If you’re moving/traveling internationally, have all of your things packed 2 days (minimum) before your flight.
Your mileage may vary on this one, but I would say that at a minimum have a really good idea of what it is you want to take at least two days prior. This saves a number of headaches – like having to run to the store on the way to the airport or realizing you need to wash four of the five tops you were thinking of taking. I would base this mostly on how long you are going to be there, how much you intend on taking and how busy your life is.
Trevor’s Travel Tips – #3: Have at least an extra $1000 set aside for international trips.
Again, your mileage may vary. Having a reserve for emergencies is a must. How you do that is up to you – trip insurance, travel health insurance, credit card or cold hard cash. This is true for a number of reasons. You may need to get home because of an emergency, you may need to get another ticket because your flight was diverted/delayed/cancelled for reasons beyond the control of the airline (think back to the havoc the Icelandic volcano played on air traffic a few years ago), or any of a number of other reasons you can’t even imagine right now.
You probably won’t need it, but you will be glad to have it if the situation arises. Again, let me stress that Trev was heading to Denmark to live for 10 months and needed to get things on the other end – like food, and a hotel room, and even bedding. For most of us travelers, the kind who take a two-week vacation, having enough cash or room on your credit card for a ticket home or for a couple of nights in a hotel is a good idea.
Trevor’s Travel Tips – #4: If you find yourself in Iceland for any length of time, don’t stay in Keflavik where the airport is. There is nothing here.
Okay, yeah, this one is a bit specific; but it has universal applications. Airports are almost always on outskirts. Except maybe San Diego, which is unnervingly close to downtown. But mostly major airports are far away from anything, well, major. That means that there generally isn’t a whole heck of a lot to do there. Or near there.
Staying near an airport is a good idea in a small number of cases – such as if you have a very early flight out, if you have a very late flight in, or you are attending an event at a hotel that is near the airport.
This one is especially true if there isn’t much in the way of transit options.
Trevor’s Travel Tips – # 5: Don’t be afraid to make friends. They may get you out of a tight spot.
Another universal truth. Remember most of the folks you will meet be it in hotels, in airports, or on trains, are going to be fellow travelers. Don’t be afraid to make friends, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and don’t be afraid to render assistance.
The usual caveats apply – be careful, be sensible, listen to your gut (if someone is creeping you out, move along), in emergencies contact first responders, etc. But sharing a cab, asking for or giving directions, or hey – just chatting with the folks at the next table, go for it. You might be amazed at who you meet. I know I have been!
And to all of this I want to add my own:
Kathryne’s Travel Tip: Do your level best to keep your sense of humor – one day this is going to make for a great story.
It sounds trite, but it has always proven true for me. As I said in the beginning, we are going to make mistakes and things are going to happen that are out of our control. If you can relax a bit, breathe a bit and realize that with very few exceptions whatever you are going through is a problem, not a crisis, you might just come out the other side a bit better than you went in. You are going to be calmer and you are going to be more rational – always a plus in stressful situations. And hey, if nothing else, you are going to have a great story to tell and a confident, knowing smile to go along with it.