The summer travel season is upon us, which often means fighting crowds, negotiating plane delays, and crossing fingers that our luggage actually shows up at the same place and same time as we do. This year I think I’ll only have a total of 5 big trips, which is down significantly from years past when the total number could reach as many as 10-12.
Still, I’ve managed to learn a few helpful travel tips along the way (sometimes by doing the wrong thing first!) that I’d like to share:
1) Take a Travel Shawl: This tip is for women who have a long flight, especially if going overseas. I read about this right before going to Vienna and it was a God-send. I bought a relatively cheap but cute black and grey shawl that folded up into a tiny square, so was easy to slip into my carry-on bag. It then unfolded into a sort of lightweight poncho that worked wonderfully as a non-slip blanket during the overnight flight.
Along with my squishee pillow that goes everywhere with me, I like to think that this warm bit of material would provide some comfort if I ever got stuck spending the night in an airport. (So far I’ve avoided that!)
2) Check Lost & Found for a Phone Charger: I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they have either left home without their phone charger or managed to leave their charger behind in their hotel room. This common occurrence from the latter group is actually a benefit for the former group.
All hotels have a lost and found area, but they also have an area of stuff that they’ve held onto for a long time. And a good section of that area is taken up by phone chargers of all makes and models. Chances are that they have one that will work with your phone. And most hotels will allow you to borrow one free of charge for your length of stay.
3) Make Like a Tourist and Take a Bus Tour: Many people laugh off the idea of doing something “so touristy” but I try to do this first thing when I hit a new city. It’s a great introduction to a new place, it gives a nice summary of some of the local attractions, and it helps provide a visual map of the area to help you get your bearings.
Plus, after figuring out landmarks and how the streets are set-up, you can easily go off with confidence to discover more hidden-away treasures. Strongly recommend this!
4) Consider Renting Some Friends: When I was sent alone to New Orleans a couple of years ago to write about a medical conference, I went a few days early to check out as many sites as possible. This pre-conference time period coincided with my birthday and I was determined to NOT spend that night just ordering room service and watching TV in my hotel room.
So I found a night dining and walking tour, which included dinner at the gloriously delicious Tujagues Restaurant (to this day, the lamb there was the best meal I’ve ever had!), then some jazz and drinks on Bourbon Street, and finally beignets at Café du Monde. By the end of that fun evening, it felt like I really was with a group of old friends.
5) Always Eek Out Time to See the Sites: Even if you’re traveling for a job, make sure you carve out at least a little time to go exploring. There is nothing more depressing than to realize all you saw of an exciting new place was from a taxi on the way from and back to its airport.
I’ve managed to do this by slipping out for a few hours in the afternoon when I find some free time in my schedule, getting up early for a walk and breakfast outside the hotel, and — as already mentioned — booking night tours when possible.
Come on, you can sleep when you get home! I’ll publish 5 more quick and easy travel trips later in the week…