Introduction: 7 Easy Tips to Reduce the Stress of Travel
The modern age travel can be super stressful. From trying to find space for your luggage on a packed plane to trying not get pick pocketed at busy tourist spots. Here are some quick, easy and cheap tips on how to reduce some of those stresses, so you can have a more enjoyable, stress-free holiday.
Step 1: Keep Your Handbag Safely Locked
One of the biggest stresses of travelling is trying not to get pick pocketed. You can buy expensive bags that are designed for this, but they are pricy!
A cheap way to replicate a very effected feature of these bags is to clip on a small carabiner onto the strap of your handbag. If your handbag zip has a loop, you can clip the loop through the carabiner (second photo). If it doesn't have a loop, you can add a keychain ring onto the zip pull (third photo), then clip that onto your carabiner.
This doesn't stop a determined mugger, but it will put off most of the opportunistic pick pockets. I even had one in Florence who tried to open my handbag and gave up when she couldn't open it on the first go.
Step 2: Have a Plane/train Pouch for Easy Boarding
Have you ever seen another person on a train or a plane, who have found their seat, but won't just sit down? They take their sweet time pulling out this and that thing from their various bags and pockets, things they'll need for the journey. Everyone is huffing and puffing around them because you know, they want to get to their seats, and this person is taking up the whole aisle searching in their bags.
Let's not be that person by having a train/plane pouch. Keep everything you normally need on a journey in a pouch. When you get to your seat, all have to do is pull out the pouch and you are done!
In my pouch I keep a inflatable pillow, a kindle, a notebook, a pen case and a charger for my phone and kindle. Since I've started doing this, getting onto a transport and settling down in my seat has become a breeze :)
Step 3: Carry a Retractable Cable Lock for Luggage on Trains
If your trip includes train journeys, I highly recommend one of these puppies. The retractable cable lock will allow you to lock your luggage onto he overhead luggage space. This is so important as it's too easy for someone to just swipe your bag while you are distracted (this has happen to friends of ours and so we never put anything up there without locking them onto something.)
Step 4: Carry Two Wallets to Halve Any Loss
Another easy and cheap thing to do is carry two wallets. Carry the cash you need for that day in one, and use that wallet to pay for everything. Carry any emergency/back up cash in another wallet and never pull that out in public. They can't pick pocket something they don't know you are carrying!
This way, if the worst should happen, and you lose the main wallet, you will at least have some cash on you to get back to your hotel, etc.
Step 5: Pick Luggage That Zips Up Fully
When you go to select your luggage, try and buy one where all the pockets and compartments will zip up, and are able to be locked with a padlock. Then buy as many padlocks as there are zips on your backpack.
It reduces so much worry when you have to be on a busy metro that all your pockets are locked up and thus pickpockets would have a difficult time opening them without you noticing. It's a good deterrent to them and they will move onto someone who has easy opening pockets instead.
Step 6: Stick to 30 Litres for Luggage
This is a biggie and it is the hardest one to implement on this list, but bear with me on this one.
We've all heard the traveler's tale about how the less luggage you carry, the happier you will be on your trip? Well, after 18 months of travelling around Europe, America and Asia, it seems that 30 litres is the happy number.
Why 30 litres? That's way less than most plane carry on restrictions right?
First of all, boarding a plane has become extremely stressful nowadays because there's simply not enough overhead compartment space to fit everyone's maxed-out-to-the-limit carry on suitcases. So everyone is fighting for that converted space. However, a 30 litre backpack will fit under most, and even the most budget, airline seats. No more fighting for the overhead space, no more queuing for hours just to be the first one on the plane. You can take your time getting on the plane and know that there'll be space for your stuff. (Some airlines will also offer priority boarding for those who do not need to put stuff in the overhead compartment.)
Second reason is if you end up a train or a bus that's absolutely packed with people and luggage, you can comfortably have your luggage on your lap for he journey without the weight of the pack killing you. A much more comfortable ride :)
Also, if you are planning to travel on trains in Europe, a 30 litre backpack will fit on most overhead luggage space, whereas anything bigger quite often won't.
if the thought of carrying only a 30 litre backpack freaks you out, have a look at the second photo. My backpack fits all that, plus a travel kettle, and enough space to put my handbag in when I need to. That's actually a quite a lot of stuff!