Throughout my life, I haven’t really traveled a lot and I really regret it. I mean, I did see some nice places but I could’ve been on tour a lot more. For some reason, I always found excuses to not catch the next flight to somewhere awesome – too expensive, not the right people to travel with, no time, traveling alone is annoying, which by the way is sooo nice, etc. I am really glad that I have changed my mind about this and now, I enjoy traveling whenever I can. In general, I started saying “yes” more often in 2014 and so far it has been great. In the last 11 months, I’ve been on 17 planes and for me that is definitely a lot. Ever since I started working as an au pair, I’ve been trying to see as many places as possible and I will be on at least 6 more planes this year.
What I have noticed is that my whole way of traveling has changed. When I went to London last year, I was super nervous, completely stressing out about luggage regulations, I was afraid that I messed up the bookings for my best friend and me and I was just a little on edge the whole time. Now, I am a completely different person. I am still highly prepared and triple-check everything but I am a lot more relaxed. I also got a lot better and faster at packing. I just hope that they will never put my carry-on luggage on the scale because then I would be screwed, but other than that, I simply enjoy the whole experience. I’ve always loved airports and I was never afraid of getting on a plane. After all, I was only a few months old on my first trans-atlantic flight. It just gives me a sense of freedom and I feel so cosmopolitan, every time the passport is in my hand and my pink carry-on suitcase is ready to roll.
The key to a good travel experience is to be prepared and to have the right gear and system. It doesn’t matter if you travel by plane, bus, train or car, you should always travel as comfortable as possible. There is nothing worse than wearing the wrong clothes, not finding your passport or failing to fall asleep, even though you are endlessly tired. So here are some tips that will guarantee you a better travel experience.
1. Dress in comfortable clothes
Unless you have to rush to an important business meeting after you land, dress as comfortable as possible. When I travel, I’m always in leggings, yoga pants or sweatpants. Take a hoodie because it can get cold and wear shoes that you can easily take off. It’s usually the first thing I do and I always carry a pair of fuzzy socks in my bag, just in case my feet get cold.
2. Put together a travel kit
My best friend gave me a travel kit for Christmas and it was the best gift ever. It came with a standard interior and I added some things that can be useful. I can only recommend putting one together for yourself because that way, you have everything you need in one place. Furthermore, you don’t always have room to store your gigantic handbag near you, so it’s great to have everything in a small case that fits into the car door, the plane seat etc. Don’t choose one that is too big. Here is a list with some of the things I just need in my travel kit.
- Sleeping mask: I swear that it works wonders. Plus people actually leave you alone.
- Neck pillow: It doesn’t really fit into my travel kit but it definitely has to go on my trips. At first, the kit included one that you can blow up but now I bought myself an actual neck pillow.
- Headphones: I have an extra set because not all airlines provide you with some and my big ones don’t always fit into my bag.
- Medicine etc.: Sleeping pills, Tylenol, Calcium, anti itch cream, something against feeling ill, eye liquids and more. Yes, I carry a little drugstore with me but there is nothing worse than feeling bad while traveling.
- Necessities: tampons, hair band, tissues, gum, chap sticks, paper and pen, stain remover pen, perfume etc. And definitely band-aids, since I am clumsy as hell. As you can probably tell, I like to be prepared for everything.
- Blanket: I love to bring a blanket along on trips because I never know when I get cold and you don’t always get one when you are on a plane. The last time they handed some of them out, I just kept it because it easily fits into my bag.
3. Be organized
If there is one thing I love to do, it is to organize. It gives me a satisfactory feeling and it makes everything a little more safe. No matter what I do or plan, I want it to be perfect and without problems. I am currently putting together a whole travel month for a friend and me, which includes three flights, 9 cities, car rentals and more and it would never work if I wasn’t organized. I am a huge fan of travel wallet because it keeps everything in one place and I don’t trust technology. I still think it’s strange to scan your phone and that it works like an actual boarding pass. Another part of being organized is knowing where your things are. Everyone should know by now that you have to take out laptops, fluids etc. during security checks and it kills me to have people in front of me who take forever to get their things out of their bags. I mean, how hard can it be to pack in way that you know where everything is?! Trust me when I say that it will make your trip so much easier if you organize everything.
4. Make sure to entertain yourself
There is nothing worse than to be bored while traveling and there are a million things you can do to prevent this from happening. My carry-on luggage is never light for exactly that reason. I bring books, notebooks, my laptop (I got myself a tablet now so it will be a little less weight), maybe a Gameboy or Nintendo DS etc. And then many aircrafts have an entertainment system so I really don’t get how people can get bored. That’s what I love most about traveling – I have time to relax and do things I love and often don’t have time for. When I sit at an airport, I love to read a book and I get a lot of writing done on planes, and a round of good old Tetris never hurts, as well.
5. Buy yourself cute travel accessories
For a little shopaholic like me there is nothing better than to come up with reasons to buy more things. Now that I travel so much, I just keep buying cute travel accessories and I love to use them. Just seeing them makes me so happy. I should probably get a new passport cover because mine is really old but it reminds me of a nice vacation in Virginia, when my dad was still living there. I also love cute luggage tags, my pink carry-on suitcase and currently, I just buy everything that has maps on it, including travel journals and notebooks. So maybe you don’t need all of this but it makes traveling so much more fun. Always travel in style.