Matilda Woods is a part-time digital nomad and aspiring minimalist.
3 Travel Tips I Wish I Knew From the Start
Travelling is easily the most rewarding thing I've ever done, but it is also the hardest thing I've ever done—by far. Sometimes, I wish I had one travel guidebook that could cover every circumstance, a book to tell me what to do!
While I know that I am not going to find a book that covers every situation I come across, I think that I have found three rules that, if followed, will solve most of my travel woes before they even happen!
So, what are my three golden rules of travel? Read on to find out.
1. Pack as Lightly as You Possibly Can
Seriously. As. Lightly. As. You. Possibly. Can.
If you think you've got your packing down to the bare minimum, pare it down another 20%. On every trip I have taken, I have cut down the amount of stuff from the previous trip significantly. I am down to 40L or 12kg and next time I am planning to bring it down to 36L and 7kg.
There are so many reasons to pack light, from saving baggage fees to avoiding potential thefts, but if you have ever lugged a 60L backpack or beast of a suitcase through even one month worth of train stations, airports, hostels, and homestays on cobbled, broken, or nonexistent sidewalks, you understand why it is ESSENTIAL to pack light.
I relearn this every time I travel, and I'm hoping this time it sticks.
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2. Research, but Don't Overplan
Honestly, I didn't figure this one out until I started writing this article. I struggle with anxiety and, for me, part of that is needing to have every little thing planned out when I travel. I almost never feel satisfied until I have the entire trip planned, and that is usually about the time I'm heading home.
You can see my problem. Or maybe you can't, because I sure couldn't. My problem is that I am obsessed with being the wrong kind of prepared. I constantly lose out because my schedule has no flexibility and I spend way too much travel time on research.
What I should be doing is as much research as I can stand ahead of time. If you know everything there is to know about the tours, tourist attractions, accommodations, and local transportation, you can make an informed decision at the last minute. Similarly, if something actually needs to be booked ahead, you will already know that and be able to plan accordingly. Eureka! Schedule flexibility may be in my future!
On my next trip, I'll make sure to put this into practice and give you an update.
3. Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints
This one is an oldie, but a goody. In essence, have respect for the places you visit.
Think about what your impact might be wherever you travel—whether environmental, cultural, or social—and make sure that it is a positive one. It's easy to be careless with a place when we are not the ones who will be around to clean up the mess, but remember that our vacation destinations are always someone's home.
On a larger scale, keep in mind that travel is a carbon-heavy activity. Consider how you can keep your footprints light on the Earth in general; it's everyone's home!
Now, If Only I Could Follow Them
All of this is easier said than done, right? I always want to pack that last pair of sandals and enough sunblock to supply everyone on my flight, but I try to hold back.
I think it is helpful to narrow down our many travel dos and don'ts to a few simple tips; it's always better to keep it simple, right?
But, if I had to add one more travel rule to this list, I would make it a cliche: Better safe than sorry. Have fun, but remember to take care of yourself out there!
What Do You think?
© 2019 Matilda Woods