In my last post I rehashed all all the yummy food I ate while I was in Spain last month. In this follow-up for holiday travel, my focus will be more on how to travel with as little stress as possible. While I’m no expert on traveling, I do believe that I have a few things down pat and wanted to share them with you, my wonderful readers!
What to Pack:
I’m generally a light packer when it comes to travel but my recent trips to Croatia and Spain have taken that to a whole new level. Because we take public transit quite often (subways, buses, rail) the last thing I want to worry about is lugging a large suitcase from city to city. I also like to save money whenever possible (or at least spend my money on more interesting things than checking a bag) so everything must fit in a carry-on. Here’s where it gets real tricky: my husband and I share a carry-on for our clothing, shoes, toiletries, etc. Here’s how this can be done:
- Bring only what is necessary – set out your outfits and then get rid of half. If you don’t plan to wear something three times don’t bring it along. Plan for inclement weather, even if the forecast says sunny and 70’s. We were hit with cold, windy, rainy days in Spain and I ended up using a beach towel for a scarf. Case in point:
- Bring two pairs of shoes. I say this because you never know if one pair will get wet or maybe cause blisters (although I never recommend shoes that might cause blisters in the first place…you never know!). Here are my “Alice Brady” shoes that were fun and functional.
- Pick a color palette, say blacks and grays, or browns and tans, and stick to that for your trip. It’s easier to plan outfits if you don’t need a brown belt and a black belt, and also ensures your shoes will go with everything.
- Throw your underwear away. Yes, you read that right, throw your underwear away! It might sound crazy, it might sound wasteful, but do you really want worn undies floating around your suitcase for 10 days? You can do this with socks as well.
- Pack and umbrella! My umbrella, Dot, has been to New York City, London, Dubrovnik, Madrid, Barcelona, and Pamplona. She almost needs a passport the way she’s been getting around. Here I am holding Dot and the umbrella my husband was too embarrassed to use in Dubrovnik last June. Note to all women: men will generally prefer black umbrellas, not lime green floral print umbrellas!What to Plan: Before you leave there are some things you can do to make traveling a little less stressful, especially if you’re traveling out of the country. Here’s what I stick to:
- Consider getting some currency ahead of time. We didn’t do this when we went to Englad, France, and Switzerland in 2009 but for Croatia and Spain we got our Kunas and Euros prior to leaving and it was really helpful. You might find that the exchange rate is better at your local bank and you also don’t have to worry about using the airport exchange center (extremely high rates) for a little cash for the bus or taxi once you get off the airplane!
- If you plan on using a debit card, consider using one that is connected to a separate account that holds minimal funds. In the event you lose your card or it becomes compromised, it will be connected to an account that has less money than your regular savings or checking.
- Wherever you’re going, think of two or three things you really want to do and plan to do them and let everything else come together as you travel. Sometimes the most fun you have is spontaneous! For example, my husband and I really enjoy visiting cemeteries and we stumbled upon a beautiful cemetery in Madrid where we spent some time walking around photographing our surroundings.
- If you’re traveling somewhere and don’t know the native language, learn some key phrases (you know what I’m talking about) before you get there. In Croatia there was no language barrier but I still tried my best when ordering food in restaurants and of course when saying my please and thank-yous!
- If you have a smart phone you can find apps for public transportation, like the Metro in Barcelona or Madrid, that will help you navigate through the city. This was extremely helpful when we were headed places far from the hotel. Other useful apps are currency exchange rates and of course, a translator app!
What to Expect:
- Expect some travel delays, a few cloudy and rainy days, and maybe a weird bus ride. If none of that happens, lucky you! But it will happen, so just kind of be prepared.
- Expect no one to understand what you’re talking about because you haven’t perfected your accent or they don’t speak English. I think too often we expect people to understand our language but in Spain there was quite a language barrier.
- Expect to buy some fun items so leave room in your carry-on!
- Expect bus rides to be long and made better by a good book and some kind of fun candy you’ve never had. So there you have it, my advice on how to travel as stress-free as possible. Stress isn’t always a bad thing; I kind of thrive off of the stress of rushing to the Metro or having no idea what I ordered in a restaurant but many people don’t do well under those circumstances. The best advice I can give you is to enjoy your time away from whatever it is you do on a daily basis and always think about the next place you might want to visit!