With the likes of Airbnb, Couchsurfing, Uber, and Skyscanner, traveling the world is easier than ever. In an instant, you can see the cheapest hotels and flights, and with Google Maps you immediately know exactly how to get to pretty much anywhere. Then there is the rise of remote work and reliable WiFi, which means that you can earn while you travel and stay on the road for extended periods of time. However, travel can still be hard work. Jet lag, exhaustion from carrying all your stuff around, adjusting to new climates and cultures, and sleeping in unfamiliar places are just some of the variables that make the travel life difficult. However, much of this is within your control. By getting the basics right, you can ease the load and make your life on the road significantly easier. Here are just the top 10 things to take control of today.
No matter how fit you are, being light on your feet allows you the flexibility and freedom that will help you to get the most out of your trip. Walking through airport terminals to your gate and exploring the town center while you wait for check-in will be significantly more difficult with achy shoulders. Acquire a properly fitting backpack, with thick straps and padding against your back, plus sternum and hip straps to evenly distribute the weight. You will be able to stay on the move for longer without getting fatigued.
Almost everyone overpacks, so don’t be afraid to cut back. You will be more mobile with a lighter load, but you’ll also save time. From finding the item you need to getting dressed, the less stuff you bring the less time will be wasted. You will also save on excess baggage fees and will be able to come straight off the plane and into the taxi, without needing to wait at the baggage claim. Here are a few tips for packing that will definitely save your money and back. How will you spend your extra time and money?
There’s no need to overplan, but you should have a fairly good idea of where you are going. Don’t wait until you get to the airport to realize you have no idea how to get downtown. Having your entire travel itinerary already planned out will make the process so much smoother. Also, check the weather, so you’re prepared for an unexpected downpour or thunderstorm. Be sure to check local laws and customs to avoid unintentional faux pas.
There really is an app for everything and you should try and use them all. Having your accommodation booking and boarding pass on your phone speeds everything up. The Uber and Lyft apps will ensure that you never end up stranded in a strange place. You may also want a translating app, such as Google Translate, which can instantly translate signs using your phone’s camera. Local tourist guidebooks and lists of hiking trails can make planning activities a breeze as well. Are you a digital nomad traveling full-time? Here are a few handy and usable travel apps that can save you a lot of hustle on your travels.
If you have no internet abroad, then Google Translate won’t be able to help. You should therefore at least learn the basics of the local language. Even just saying hello will instantly make you more likable to the local people, who will then be more willing to help you out. Learning how to ask for directions or for specific items in stores can also make daily living easier. Learning the language will also help to build bridges between you as a visitor and the local residents. This can help to overcome feelings of isolation that many travelers experience.
Weekend flight tickets may be more expensive, but there is a benefit. Assuming that you have to work Monday to Friday, don’t add more stress by traveling on these days as well. If you fly on a Saturday, then you can spend all morning relaxing as you slowly get ready, travel down to the airport, and then spend the flight sitting back and enjoying a few drinks. If there’s a delay, you won’t be stressed about running out of time to get to a place where you can work. Then there is the fact that you may have to adjust to the timezone or altitude of your destination. By arriving on Saturday afternoon and knowing that you still have all of Sunday to recover, you will get back to work on Monday refreshed and ready to be productive.
You want to limit your list of worries, right? According to the studies that have been conducted, international travelers are most concerned about personal safety, while business travelers cite a loss of laptop or phone as their biggest worry during trips. With insurance, you can protect yourself against illness or injury, while also covering the loss or theft of your valuables. It usually doesn’t cost too much, but will ease so much of the stress that comes with traveling abroad.
Unexpected bills are an unavoidable part of long term travel. Flights get delayed, electronics break, and scammers will attempt to swindle you out of your hard-earned cash. Don’t assume that your income will be enough to support you 100% of the time. By having at least a grand locked away in a savings account, you can be confident of being able to pay these unexpected costs. There might be a situation in which you suddenly need to fly home to deal with a family emergency, so always have a backup fund stashed away.
Backpackers and business travelers can often find themselves only interacting with people in a similar situation. It’s great to network and finds others on a similar journey to your own, but never underestimate the value of locals. They know where to shop, where to drink, how to get cheaper tickets, and generally how to behave in this unfamiliar environment. Befriend them and you never know how they might help you in the future. From offering a free bed for a couple of nights to pointing you to the best public workspaces, making friends with locals as soon as you arrive in a new place will make traveling infinitely easier.
The final variable you can control when traveling is your own state of mind. We know that traveling makes you more open-minded, but this might be out of necessity more than anything else. Things never go to plan and every vacation will have its bad days. By letting go of expectations, you will never leave a place feeling disappointed. Just allow the journey to unfold and enjoy being in the moment. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan or make a bucket list of must-do activities, but just be willing to accept the bad with the good. Reframe the difficult times as learning experiences and allow them to help you approach future trips with a little more wisdom.
Determine which variables you can control and tip the balance in your favor to make each trip a little easier than the last. For the things, you can’t control, be willing to let go and accept whatever comes your way. By being prepared in both a practical and a mental sense, you will find that full time traveling becomes infinitely easier than it has ever been before.