Is exploring our planet and meeting its many inhabitants (human and otherwise) as important to you as it is to me? Tasting and experiencing new foods, landscapes, languages and customs -- do you consider it all part of living a healthy lifestyle? I think so. Travel can be mentally expanding, stimulating and inspiring and provide a varied outlook to life. I wrote a bit about it here.
I also covered some practicalities of packing a great carry-on and avoiding jet lag but if traveling is important to you as it is for me and my family, I have compiled a few other tips that my family and I adopt when we embark on our travel adventures.
More Travel Tips
Consider some of these tips to make your travels run smoother and get the most our of your journey. Although most of these tips pertain to international travel, many of them can be applied to domestic travel as well.
Pack your healthy habits. Routines can be a bore, I know! Fully experience your destination, and that may include indulging sometimes. After all, isn't that part of the reason you are traveling -- to expose yourself to new ways? But, if you veer too far to the left or right of your healthy eating or exercise regimens you can feel bloated, nauseated or worse and ruin your trip. Then, when you come back, it is a longer road ahead to get back on track or even button your pants. There may be several health habits you do at home that help you feel your best that you can easily incorporate into your travels. So, think about that and just keep your indulging in check is all.
Eat well. You can travel well and eat well on a budget. Here's how to hit all three:
- Limit the fancy restaurants or just splurge here and there.
- In between, check out the local taverns and cafes where the locals go for a more authentic and less expensive option to the area's cuisine. Even better, book dinner at some of the smaller villages or towns nearby to get a real feel for how the locals really live and eat.
- Some of the street fare, open markets and food at festivals can provide wonderful memories, too. Markets are loaded with fresh fruit and vegetable options as well.
- Eating one bigger meal and one or two smaller ones helps keep costs down with a healthy snack you packed to fill the gaps.
- Research restaurants a bit on Trip Advisor or other sites where to go so that you have some suggestions in your pocket already.
Preparations can bring relaxation. Just do these before you go and you will rest easier:
- Make copies of important documents, prescriptions and phone numbers, etc. and keep them in one large waterproof zip lock bag. Once you arrive, keep it in your room safe or on you. These papers would include copies of your passports, your credit card company names and contact information, or important prescriptions. We also always leave an extra copy of all of these at home with our itinerary so that whomever is checking our house can always fax us the information, if necessary
- Familiarize yourself with the maps of your destinations. You will be able to visualize everything better and better gauge how far things are from one another if you spend a bit of time with local maps before you leave. Remember, Google maps or other devices may not work where you go. You may not need a compass, but you should brush up on some old skills like map reading!
- Pack a small amount of any medications you think you might need. It is awful getting sick while traveling and even worse in a foreign country. Having some comforts of home (i.e favorite headache remedy, basic first aid, etc.) can help ease the discomfort. I always eye the closest urgent care or hospital, too, when I arrive in a new place. A bit paranoid, maybe, but it makes me feel better.
Get some wheels. Rent a car. I know it can be costly in some countries but check before you leave for specials. We try to rent a car for at least a day to discover the surrounding area and we have had some of our most memorable and best adventures doing so. We discovered beautiful towns and friendly locals as well as lovely areas to swim without the crowds. And the scenery is to behold! Even the small things can be enlightening. While driving through France with our family many years ago and in Greece recently, I was fascinated by how others drive in other countries, what the driving etiquette is compared to the States and even what the local gas stations are like. In France, the food options at them were amazing, for example. We did not eat there, but many were!
Make a list or two. Think before you set sail on what you want out of the trip. Make sure your actions of how you are spending your time are in line with those goals. For example, if you have been working a lot and one of your goals for the trip might be more time to talk and bond with your children, make sure you are not going off too much by yourself. You may return from your trip with regrets.
Leave room for spontaneity in your schedule as some of those unscheduled times could be your best! Prioritize and don't worry if you don't get to everything. Just experience what you can and be present where you are.
On the more practical side, if museums and other events are on your list, many tickets sell out, so perhaps book transit tickets and museum visits in advance for savings and to get the best choices.
Find the current. If traveling internationally, the electrical currents can really vary and fry your appliances if you do not use the proper tools. (We lost a hair dryer in France using the wrong converter.) Familiarize yourself with power adapters and converters. (An adapter is a tool that "adapts" your appliance with a U.S. plug to "adapt" to the country's outlet in the wall. A power converter switches the electrical power current in your device to match the voltage from the outlet.) You will need both.
Bring comfy shoes. I am the worst on this (Ask my family), What can I say? I like cute shoes, but you will be walking. A lot. Packing a box of bandages for blisters is a good idea, too!
Learn the lingo. Read a bit about the customs of the country you are traveling to if traveling internationally and definitely learn at least a few basic words to get you by and to show effort. It can go a long way with the locals!
I know you must have many additions to this list. I would love to learn what works for you. Please add on in the comments!
map photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/35221084@N08/3432865665/">columnfive</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>
shoesphoto credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/jef_safi/809246756/">jef safi</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>