Sadly I’m not travelling at the moment, but travel is never far from my mind, so I thought I would share four travel tips that I believe always make my trips more enjoyable. Of course, everyone has different travel styles, and these tips may not work for you, but I find they certainly make my life easier when I’m on the road:
Always travel light
I’m always bemused by people who carry ginormous cases. It may be because I have naturally minimalist tendencies, but I don’t really understand people who act as though they are moving house every time they go somewhere. There are no real benefits to travelling with heavy cases, they are difficult to lug around, take up a lot of space on public transport and often result in excess baggage fees. Not to mention the fact that big suitcases always end up in the hold on aeroplanes, which means having to wait for your suitcase to be returned at the other end. Another downside is that your suitcase is more likely to get lost if it’s stored in the hold. I always bring only carry on luggage no matter where I’m going as it’s just so much easier to get around with, and I can keep my eye on it more easily.
Even if you’re travelling to multiple climates, I believe that there are still ways to minamalize suitcase space without having to do without. For example, if you’re going somewhere cold, thin layering pieces such as thermal underwear that you can wear beneath your clothes will keep you warm, and won’t take up too much room in your case. It’s worth noting that if you’re doing an activity that requires specialist equipment like skiing, you can usually rent it at the destination, and save having to carry it with you yourself.
I realise that if you do an activity such as skiing often, owning the equipment yourself may work out cheaper in the long run, in which case you may need a little bit more space, but then I would simply bring less other clothes and make do with what I had.
You might think I’m a bit strange, but I often wear the same clothes year round, so in summer I might wear a dress on its own, then in autumn I might add tights and a thin cardigan, and in winter I will add a scarf and proper boots to make sure I’m warm enough. Some people might not like the idea of wearing the same clothes year round, but I do find it does work especially well for travel; you don’t need to bring as much, and you can wear clothes in multiple different ways – everything in my case is useful and earns its keep!
Give yourself time to rest
I’m not someone who tries to cram as much as possible into my trips. I usually aim to see one or two sights per day, and that’s it. Why do I do this? Well, I find I appreciate the sights more if I give myself time to enjoy them slowly, and it also means that I don’t get burnt out or exhausted. For me, one of the best parts if travel is not having to follow a strict schedule or rush around, I can do what I want (within reason) when I want. I also love having time to stop in cafes, enjoy leisurely lunches and dinners and just soak in the atmosphere of wherever I happen to be.
I also often spend some time relaxing in the accommodation I’m staying at, just taking time to read a book or watch a movie. Some people would argue that I could do that at home, and yes, I could (and do) but for me holidays are both a time to relax and explore. I tend to enjoy trips far more when I give myself time to rest, and don’t feel obligated to see everything at once. If I miss out on some sights, it’s not the end of the world; I don’t think travel should be a race to see as much as possible, but rather it should be a time to experience new things, whilst still taking care of yourself.
Try to plan a free day at the beginning and end of your trip
Sometimes, it’s not possible to avoid work, and it can be difficult to get time off, but if you can take a day off on either side of your trip, then it can be a great way of eliminating travel stress. A day on either side on a trip can give you time to do laundry, pack or unpack, get over jet lag, deal with any pending emails or life admin, and just generally give you time to get ready for your trip or adjust to being back.
I once took a sleeper train from Penzance to London, and went straight to work the morning after, and needless to say, I felt terrible! Sleeper trains are a bit of a misnomer as I find them impossible to sleep on! In hindsight, I should have come back the day before to give me time to recover from travel before going back to work. With limited time off, some people want to maximise their time and come back at the last possible moment, but I think by doing this, it can make life a lot harder. For me, going to work immediately after travelling is akin to having a bad hangover.
It’s ok to have alone time
I travel often with my boyfriend, and he is my favourite travel partner, because he understands the importance of alone time (luckily my other friends do as well!) Fights and disagreements are a lot more likely to happen if you don’t have at least some alone time during a trip – being around someone 24/7 can be difficult, even if you love them a great deal and usually get on very well!
I think it’s key to be able to ask for alone time when you need it, or if you’re interested in seeing or doing something that your travel partner isn’t. For example, during my trip to Yorkshire in the summer, I wanted to check out a local outlet centre, but my boyfriend wasn’t interested in going, so I went alone, and I’m glad I did, as I ended up purchasing a very useful raincoat and new hiking boots! Having time alone gives you a chance to replenish your soul, do things that you are interested in, as well as spend time relaxing.
There have been several occasions, where I’ve been grumpy on holiday, but then have felt a lot better after having alone time. Of course, it would be unfair to spend an entire trip alone if you’re travelling with someone, but a few hours here and there can do wonders for everyone’s sanity. This also applies to travelling in groups, a group shouldn’t always have to do everything together when they travel, people should be able to sit things out if they’re not interested in something!
In conclusion, I believe that travel stress can mostly be avoided if you go at your own pace and listen to what your body and spirit needs. Enjoy your next trip!