Last year I went to Europe for 3 weeks. It was a great time, but I also learned a lot about travelling and discovered some great but lesser known travel hacks that would have really helped me along the way.
Step 1: Remember to Some Bag/purse You Can Carry Around the City
When I went on my trip I packed a suitcase and a carry on bag. On the airplane my carry on worked very well. It was big enough to hold my carry on for the plane, but was a little too big to carry around Europe. I had a lot of bag that I didn't have to carry around. I ended up buying a small bag that worked so much better. It was big enough to hold my money and any souvenirs I bought along the way, and I didn't feel like I was dragging around a huge bag around.
I would recommend packing one of those small drawstring bags into your carry on. They are small and flexible so they won't take up much space in your bag, and they are the perfect size to travel around the city.
Step 2: Speaking of Packing. DO NOT Initially Pack Your Suitcase Full.
When going to anywhere, plan to buy stuff along the way. Unless you are completely against buying things, you will probably end up bringing souvenirs and gifts home with you.
On my trip I initially packed my suitcase about 2/3rds of the way full with what I needed. By the end of the trip my suitcase was packed to capacity and was just at the weight needed to not pay overweight fees on the way back. By planning for the extra weight at the beginning of the trip I saved myself a lot of money on the way back.
Some options you can use to make your pack lighter
- Plan what you are going to wear each day before you go on your trip. - This way you won't pack any clothing you don't plan to wear.
- Plan to wash some clothes while on vacation - Often hotels have laundry services and you can get your dirty clothes washed and delivered to your room. If you want to go a cheaper route you can do some quick washing in the bathroom sink of your hotel room.
If there is no way around packing your suitcase full, plan on packing a flexible duffel bag or buy a duffel bag along the way. Then you can put all your purchases in the duffel bag and carry it on with you on the ride back.
Step 3: Bring a Travel Pillow
While thinking about what to pack along the way. I highly suggest bringing a travel pillow. You have probably seen those people on planes or buses sleeping with the pillow wrapped around their neck. It may look a little silly, but having one on my trip saved my sanity.
Travel pillows are small and comfortable, allowing you to sleep pretty much anywhere. I did a lot of my travelling by bus and train, and my travel pillow helped me get some well needed sleep before I reached my destination. Its much easier and much more comfortable than trying to lean on a bundled sweater against a window. By the time I reached my destination I was well rested and ready to enjoy the city instead of wanting to curl up in my hotel room and sleep.
If you want to make your own travel pillow I have an instructable for that.
Step 4: Travel Sickness Remedies
At some point during a trip someone is going to get car sick/plane sick/bus sick/train sick. It is uncomfortable and can ruin a trip almost instantaneously. It is very helpful to have some travel sickness remedies on hand just in case. Since my trip this is one of the things I always throw in my suitcase just in case.
Here are some remedies you can have on hand just in case
- Dramamine - Its a very common travel sickness medicine, but it also makes you very sleepy.
If you want something that won't knock you out there are other options
- Lemon - This is hard to travel around with, but sucking on a lemon helps settle a stomach.
- Ginger - eating some dried candied ginger pieces is a good way to settle a stomach.
- Hard candies - peppermints and lemon drops are great to have, and sucking on candy helps keep saliva production going, and the saliva will help neutralize stomach acid reduce the feeling of nausea. Chewing gum is also good for this reason
Step 5: AIRBORNE!!
Airborne saved my life on my trip! About a week before I left I was in the store buying supplies and noticed some airborne chewable tablets. I thought that they might be nice to have them on hand on the trip in case I started feeling sick.
I ended up taking them every morning before going out for the day. Everyone I was travelling ended up getting sick about the 2nd week of the trip including my roommate catching a really nasty flu. However, I never got sick during the trip thanks to my Airborne tablets.
If I could recommend anything I would suggest to everyone to buy Airborne and take it with you on your trip. Your immune system gets all bent out of shape when you travel, and you are around new people and new germs so the likelihood to catch something is much higher. Taking at least one chewable tablet a day will help boost your immune system so you can full enjoy your whole vacation.
Step 6: Enjoy Your Trip
The biggest advice I can give is to enjoy your trip. You have worked hard to plan and pay for your trip. Now it is time to enjoy where you are. Have some good food. Try something new. Have fun!
Remember "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." - Neale Donald Walsch