Travel is one of my favorite things to do. Maybe my most favorite thing. I am currently in Krakow, Poland, by way of Cambridge, London, and Copenhagen. This is not my first trip abroad and as most of you know, I used to live in Eastern Europe.
Whether you’re traveling the UK in search of Pemberley (which I did in 2013 – crazy fun), visiting friends or family, or going for nothing but your own pleasure, there are a few things to keep in mind.
From one Janeite to another, here’s what I find important.
Choose your companions wisely
Traveling with the wrong person can ruin your trip and possibly your friendship/relationship. Think about your temperaments, sleep schedules, budgets, preferred ways of relaxing, daily rhythms, spontaneity (or lack thereof), conflict resolution, and individual senses of personal responsibility.
Trust me, you don’t want to be stuck in a foreign country with someone who blames you every time something goes wrong or who never wants to veer from the plan when you love exploring and finding that hole-in-the-wall you couldn’t have found any other way. There’s nothing worse than thinking you’re traveling with a Jane Bennet but ending up with a Caroline Bingley.
Or I should say know your body. If you have a sensitive stomach, don’t eat at the sketchy schawarma stand on the corner. If you get cold easily, always take a sweater or jacket. If you’re hot-natured, take sandals.
Don’t expect what works for others to always work for you, especially if you’re a bit picky. Be honest with yourself here – you’ll have a better time that way.
Decide HOW to travel
If you like to know what’s going to happen and don’t like last minute changes, a guided tour, or at least a scheduled one, might be your best bet. If you like adventure and charging into the unknown, book a bed, grab a map, and hit the road.
Important note: WiFi is everywhere and most have data on their phones or devices, but this is usually not reliable and data in a foreign country is limited and expensive. Download maps ahead of time to use with nothing but GPS, or go the old fashioned way and use a paper map. I personally write down the directions to wherever I’m staying from the airport or train station and keep them in my pocket. It’s just a thousand times easier that way and I’m not standing about like a dodo trying to find a signal and looking at my phone when I should be looking at the city around me.
Pack light, but pack smart. That means that most of your clothing can go from day to night and everything goes with everything else. Layers are important in most locations, especially in spring and autumn. Go easy on the accessories and be realistic about what you will wear and what you will likely purchase when you get there. I buy things like earrings and purses almost everywhere I go, so I leave a little space in my bag and don’t take too many of those things because I know I will likely just buy more.
If you have the space, bring a little comfort with you. A tiny bag with your favorite tea, a small pair of slippers – especially useful on long train rides – that sort of thing..
If you’re budget traveling, it doesn’t hurt to take a towel. You never know what the places you’ve booked will have. I’ve learned this from experience.
To block out new house/neighborhood sounds, try downloading a sound machine to your phone or tablet. Nothing beats a good night’s sleep.
When booking tickets, packing your bags, and planning excursions. Know what you will and won’t do and don’t waste time and money on junk.
Be honest about what you will and won’t wear or use. Don’t take six pairs of shoes. If you don’t wear it at home, you won’t wear it on vacation – unless it’s a bathing suit, which is always a good thing to throw in the bag in case an opportunity for a spa trip comes up. Totally worth it.
Ask yourself if you really need each item before you pack it.
They are annoying, but unfortunately we have to follow them. Make sure you check guidelines of the airlines you’re flying with and the airports you’re flying into. You don’t want to end up dumping your favorite sweatshirt into the ladies room bin at a London airport because your carry on baggage is over the weight limit. Not that I’ve done that…
Always take a favorite book or several downloaded to a Kindle. Audiobooks are great, too. Remember the headphones. It will be nice to have something to read on a plane, train, while waiting in line, up in the night with jet lag… you get the idea.
This is what I find useful and is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a start. Feel free to share your own travel tips.
What’s your favorite place to travel to? Are you saving up for or planning a big trip? If you could go anywhere, where would you go? Tell me.