In the year and a half since I’ve stopped traveling, I’ve discovered all sorts of useful things about it. Were I to indulge in nomadism again, I’d be much better prepared!
Some of these things are big and some are small. All of them are useful. (Also, you can see the European edition of this blog here, and a slightly more general version of this topic here.)
1. Wear synthetic clothing. I cannot even tell you how much easier it is to have a low-maintenance, nice-looking, bring-fewer-articles-of-clothing-and-do-laundry-in-the-sink wardrobe routine when you wear synthetic fibers! I always knew this, but I was never willing to take the dive and buy something made of polyester. I’ve since discovered that places like REI have awesome clothes that go on sale— still out of my price range for everyday use, but for a trip, it’s worth it to buy $60 pants if they will dry in two hours! If you have any money to spare, this is well worth the investment.
2. Bring several postcards of your hometown. So many times, I found myself rushing out the door at a couchsurfing host’s house, realizing I wanted to write them a thank-you note, and digging through my backpack in search of a pen and a scrap of paper. A postcard of your town is a nice little gift for your couchsurfing host, hostel friend, or other random person you meet.
3. On long trips, always fly “open-jaw.” This means that you fly into one city and out of another, rather than backtracking to the same city. In Europe I could’ve saved a ton of money if I’d flown out of, say, Salzburg instead of having to return to Amsterdam (of course, it all worked out beautifully, but if I ever did it again, I’d heed this advice).
4. Bring just one bottle of all-in-one soap. Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap is my go-to soap for everything now— shampoo, body wash, hand soap, dish detergent, face cleanser, you name it. If I’d brought a bottle of this stuff on my trips, I never would have had to mess with trying to keep track of five different liquids.
5. Don’t keep every little map, ticket, and piece of memorabilia. I purged some of my travel collection the other day— yes, it was fun for a moment to glance at that map of Nob Hill or see the Amtrak ticket from Portland to Chehalis for my first WWOOFing trip, but unless it’s organized in an album, it’s not something you’re going to go through and cherish. This is what photos are for. Recycle the paper, back up your digital photos, and let go of the need to hang on to every scrap of sentimental paper.
Have a travel question? Leave a comment and I’ll answer in a blog!