Travel should be energizing, not exasperating. Here are some travel tips to help get through the struggles and straight to the enjoyment.
1. Don’t Buy An International Phone Plan
Let’s be honest: None of us truly feel comfortable traveling without contact to our world back home. While it is an amazing feeling to disconnect for a while or take a break from things like social media, the truth is that we live in a world that more and more relies on internet connection. International plans can easily break the bank and add extra expenses to your budget that you wish that you didn’t have to pay. The average international plan for American phone companies look something like: 10$ a day every day you use It, or an EXTRA $60 a month on top of your already hefty phone bill! These kinds of expenses are something that you don’t always think about, but your bank account always cries over.
Thanks to my husband, I have found the solution. While traveling to New Zealand for our honeymoon, we looked into getting international plans, but realized how obnoxiously expensive they were. We decided to do something different. When we landed in the airport in Auckland, We got new SIM cards. Getting a SIM card in the country and popping it into our phones cost us about $20 each for more data than we could possibly use. This allowed us to abuse our trust of google maps and our love of Spotify as we drove over 2500km across both New Zealand Islands.
2. Don’t Over-Plan
I am guilty of this. I am very guilty of this. Because of my “Let’s do everything humanely possible and then some” personality, I tend to want to plan every second of the trip to make sure that we can accomplish absolutely everything. The more I travel, the more I have found that this can ruin travel. Some of the best moments of travel have been the unplanned moments: The pulling over on the side of the road because we see an amazing cliff, the taking time just to enjoy a nice meal or a drink in a funky restaurant or bar that you pass by, the ability to adapt to issues that arise (Because they will arise).
When I plan trips, I now keep only two things in mind when planning so that I don’t over-plan. I list everything I want to do during the trip and how long each thing takes (Including travel time). This allows me to realistically plan how much I can possibly fit into a day. I also make sure that I have about 4 hours of unplanned time every day. This accounts for things like: Accidental over-sleeping, rain delay, shopping, finding cool places to stop, and my annoying habit of pulling over to take every picture-worthy scene I see. Assume that you will need a nap.
3. Assume That You Will Need A Nap
While those who are well-traveled will tell you that the best way to beat jet lag is to stay up as long as you can the next day, I am going to be honest with you. It is not easy, and I don’t like it. When I travel, I always assume that my first day in country will be the most exhausting. Often, I am low on sleep and energy and struggle to make it past 1pm. Plan for this. Make sure that you plan a slow first day that has time for rest. If you choose to be the “I WILL win this war against jet-lag” kind of person, make sure you at least have time to sit down for an hour or so and just enjoy being there.
4. Get Global Entry
If you plan on spending a lot of time traveling in and out of the United States, get Global Entry. Global Entry is run by the entity as TSA Pre-check. It not only gives you automatic pre-check status, which allows you to skip to the shorter, faster security line in airports, it also allows you to skip the customs line when returning to the US! After a long trip and hours in an airplane, there is no better feeling than flying past the long line at customs, walking up to a machine and scanning your card, and heading straight home. This one little program can save you HOURS of excess travel-time. This is one of the best investments my husband and I have made.
5. Carry-On Baggage
Last, but not least, think strategically about your carry-on baggage. Because of my photography equipment and our drone, my carry-on bags tend to be bulkier and heavier than I would advise. This has caused many a moment of back pain, awkward movements down the airplane aisles, and struggles to find what I am looking for on the plane. Because of this, I worked until I found a solution because bailing on my equipment was a no-go for me. Now I always carry a personal item as well. In my carry-on bag (The larger bag), I carry my equipment, extra clothes, drone, etc. However, I now make sure that I bring a sturdy purse that can double as a backpack when necessary like this one. This becomes my day bag when walking around cities as well. In my personal item, I keep everything I will need for the plane: water bottle, headphones, snacks, laptop, these shoes, deodorant and touchup accessories (See my article about that here), etc. This has been a life saver because this bag fits so easily under the seat in front of me and allows easy access to whatever I need without digging through all of my equipment.