It’s been a super tiring day of travel - a long layover and two flights later you finally arrived in Colombia and you are ready to just drop your head on your pillow and SLEEP. But then you realize the trains aren’t going anymore and finding an actual taxi rather than a scam taxi is hard. By the time you finally found a taxi, paid about double what you should, and got safely to your hotel you run into the next frustration - Check-in isn’t until 4, and it’s only 12. How is it that check-in times seem to be getting later and later?
When you’re tired from travelling, in a country you’ve never been before, and are lugging around heavy suitcases and backpacks, frustrations that would normally not bother you might feel about a million times bigger.
But there is also some good news - many travel frustrations are easy to prevent, and preventing an issue to begin with is always better than solving one after it happened!
I remember my first road trip to the states - it was in April 2016 (yes a LONG time ago!) Will and I drove from Boston all the way up through Vermont to Niagara Falls, went down to Detroit, Chicago, and all the way to Memphis, New Orleans and eventually through Florida back up to Boston. It was two weeks of intense driving, and weather varying from quite literal snowstorms to bikini beach time on Pensacola Beach.
My luggage? A mere carry-on rolling suitcase. Somehow I managed to squeeze everything I needed in this tiny little thing of a suitcase and to this day I sometimes wonder how on earth I did that.
One thing I learned back then and I still do to this day is create a capsule wardrobe before trips. I lay out all my options and make sure that apart from the odd colored piece, everything matches together. This way with 3 bottoms and 3 tops I can create at least 9 outfits - add a single layering piece to that and it easily goes up to 18 different outfits! That’s a lot of bang for your buck.
Make sure every piece in your suitcase has a use - and you have a layering option available for each climate you are in. In the example of my American road trip - I packed 2 pairs of long jeans - one of which I was wearing, shorts, a skirt, a nice dress, pantyhose for colder weather, 2 cardigans of which one I was wearing, a tank top, two t-shirts, and a gym outfit and I think that was about it!
Carrying around bulky luggage in between stays is a pain - and I am so over it. Where most hotels offer luggage holding during the hours in between check-out and check-in, Airbnb’s often do not have the same luxury, so you’re stuck with your bulky backpacks and suitcases. Not ideal!
Some solutions for this frustration are available though! A lot of cities have luggage holding facilities in multiple places, that are easy to find and reserve online. Obviously it is also always handy to check with your host or hotel if you can simply store your luggage there. Another option is to leave your luggage in a luggage storage at a bus station, train station or airport. Some hotels also offer luggage holding for a fee. Aka - as long as you research your options in advance, there are plenty of options available to prevent hours of lugging around heavy suitcases!
It happens - the train doesn’t show up, or the airplane is delayed, maybe even cancelled, and unfortunately this is one of the few frustrations where there’s not much you can do to make it any better.
Avoiding travel delays are not really something you can do - however you can make sure that you have other options if needed. Flying out? Make sure you know nearby hotels in case your flight gets cancelled, make sure you have some food and water on hand to keep you satisfied. Going by train, taxi, or bus? Look up alternative routes in case it goes wrong so that you know where to go if things do go wrong. Make sure you have the local apps or websites for public transit so that you can keep an eye on any delays or cancelations in advance as well, it’s so helpful!
I have to admit - I do not think I ever had the need to go to a money exchange. The only people I always see at the exchange are American travelers, and my biggest tip to them would be - don’t. You are not getting the best exchange rate. Most of the time the best exchange rate is given by simply using your debit or credit card or by pulling some money out of the ATM.
Look up online which local banks have a deal with your personal bank, this way you can see exactly where you will get the lowest amount of transaction fees when you pull out money. Very useful! And please - always stay away from airport exchanges, they are SO EXPENSIVE!
Mexico - Oh my goodness. Even after over a month of eating the local food and being super careful I STILL was not feeling well. My stomach was so upset all the time, it was a pain. How do you know what you can and cannot eat abroad and how do you keep your stomach settled?
Well - I have to say in some countries it is just not possible and it might simply not sit with your body well - Mexico was that place for me. Even with all the precautions (not putting my face under the faucet, brushing my teeth and washing my face with bottled water, no ice, no salad, barely any meat, no street stalls) it still didn’t sit right with me. So I just started eating all the things.
Overall - I do not drink tap water unless I am in The Netherlands or Iceland, bottled water is available almost anywhere so just be prepared and as soon as you spot a shop stock up. I do eat almost all local food - what I have noticed over time is that local people know how to cook their local food best. If you keep on going to pizza places in Peru, or burger joints in Jordan, you are bound to get an upset stomach. It’s not the food locals mainly eat. Instead - eat the local foods. Go for all the bread and cheese in France. Eat all the hummus in Israel. Indulge in Cambodian Amok, Street tacos are BOMB in Mexico, and Mansaf in Jordan is the freaking best.