If you search on the Internet for a list of the most trending hashtags on Instagram, you will find “#travel” listed in the top 25 most trending hashtags. These days, everybody wants to be a traveller. “Hobbies? Oh, I love to travel”, is something one gets to hear at every other corner of a street. “Wanderlust” has become a global slogan, instead of just a decorative caption. But as cool as the prospect of going around the world in eighty days sounds, there is way more to travelling than the eye sees. I wish I could say it was as simple as throwing some clothes in a backpack and setting off without a care in the world. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
That said, if not done the right way, travelling can actually become a spine-breaking chore instead of an “escape from reality”. There are good and bad sides to everything in this world. If you do not tread carefully on the thorny side, you will end up wishing you were back in the comfort of your own home; and trust me when I say, that is not a pleasant feeling.
Now, travelling doesn’t come with handbooks or black and white instructions, though there are a lot of books in public libraries that claim to teach a newbie everything one can possibly know about travelling. Travelling is a very personal experience, and unique to every person and his mindset. However, there are some basic guidelines that you can keep in mind so that you can enjoy the experience of travelling rather than being miserable and regretting your decision of ever leaving your safe haven.
INVEST IN A GOOD TRAVELLING BAG
Do not be stingy when it comes to buying a travelling bag. This bag is going to be your companion for the entire duration of your travel. Whether it is a backpack or a trolley bag, make sure you invest in a bag that is compact and lightweight, yet strong and sturdy, with lots of in-built pockets and compartments to organise your things better. Make it a one-time investment, but make it a good one.
BE A MINIMALIST
This is really important if you want to make your travelling experience hassle-free. Do you really need to take two shades of foundation? Is taking your favourite ceramic mug really necessary? Before packing anything in your travel bag, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”
If you hesitate for more than 5 seconds, that’s your cue right there to leave the thing where you picked it up from. Think of necessities, not luxuries. The lesser luggage you carry, the lesser number of things you will have to worry about. Seriously, if you are a sane human being, you can never enjoy going anywhere if you have a dozen heavy bags to lug around.
DO NOT FORGET THE ESSENTIALS
Going minimalist doesn’t mean that you can strike off anything from your checklist of things to take along. Depending on where you are going and how long you’re going to be there, pack everything that you will absolutely need once you get there. Think of things that you wouldn’t be able to survive without at your destination; those are the things that’ll make your list of essentials. To help you out, here is a sample list of essentials to take along on a trip:
Remember, it is always handy to have some loose cash on you. Your debit/credit cards can’t help you anywhere, and you never know what emergency situation may have you stranded in the middle of the road with no cash to get you to your hotel or call someone from a phone booth. If you are going to a different country, make sure you have some amount in the native currency of that place.
Always keep some form of identification with you, be it your citizenship card, your driver’s license, college ID, passport; just about anything that can prove to the police or any other authorities that you are legitimate.
Now that should be a no-brainer. You are a human being in the 21st Century, and you can afford to leave your wallet behind, but not your cell phone. I hope that further explanation and description isn’t needed for this essential item.
There’s another no-brainer for you. Your phone is just a machine, and of no use to you if it doesn’t have a charged battery. Keep your phone charger in a place where it is easily accessible, preferably your handbag. Also, keep a fully charged good quality power bank with you for those hours on the train or aeroplane where you cannot find a plug point.
It is always a safe bet to pack a mini first-aid kit in your travel bag for all the unforeseen emergency situations. Pack all your essential medications, as well as medicines for a headache, nausea, fever, food-poisoning etc, tampons or menstrual pads if you are a girl, antiseptic creams and band-aids if you are going camping or trekking, and any other medicines you feel you may need. But again, do not make this kit any heavier than absolutely necessary.
You can add more items to this list of essentials depending upon where you are going and how long you intend to stay there.
PACK LIKE A SOLDIER
One of the many skills taught to military students is how to pack efficiently. It is a great skill to learn if you want to make your life easier and have one thing less to worry about. You don’t have to be a ninja to be an efficient packer. Use your YouTubing skills to learn efficient packing techniques to squeeze in more things in your suitcase and get more out of your travels. There are tons of folding techniques, compressing techniques, tips for packing things inside things out there on the World. All you have to do is browse on your internet, watch and practice, and apply your newly applied knowledge to become a pro packer and carry fewer suitcases.
SIMPLIFY YOUR ITINERARY
Try not to have a lot of stops between your starting point and your destination if you are travelling by train or a flight. It will only stress you out more. Try booking round-trip flights instead of one way, they are cheaper and more hassle-free. If at all you have to make a stop, make sure you have enough time in between the two flights or trains so that you don’t have to rush.
WEAR PRACTICAL CLOTHING
If you’ve noticed, the “airport looks” of even the most outrageous celebrities are simple, sober and practical. Being practically dressed is important for your own comfort throughout your travel. I mean, having to fidget because you’re worried about some piece of clothing exposing too much, or squirming because your pants are too tight, such things are real deal-breakers if you are travelling. Wear clothes that are comfortable, sturdy, and appropriate for the climatic conditions of your destination. If you are going to a cold place, try wearing lots of thin layers instead of a single heavy garment, so that you can discard some layers when you feel hot.
Also, pay close attention to the kind of shoes you are wearing, especially if you are going camping or trekking. The terrain and the climate of your destination play a huge role in the type of clothing and footwear you should pack and wear.
Plan your travelling schedule meticulously. Punctuality goes a long way in making your travel experience hassle-free. If you have a flight or a train to catch, make sure to reach at least an hour before the boarding time.
You can afford to waste time at the airport or the railway station, but you cannot afford to miss your flight/train.
If you have any sightseeing plans, especially when you are travelling through a holiday package, make sure you do not inconvenience others with your lethargic ways and be on time. Hotel and resort buffets are also very strict about their timings, so unless you want to go hungry, save your grand “half-an-hour-late” entry for your social gatherings and BE ON TIME.
TALK TO STRANGERS
Now unless you are under 15, the “do not talk to strangers” advice doesn’t apply to you. When you are travelling, talking to locals gives you a lot of insight and information about your destination which no booklet or tourist guide can give you. Listen to your intuition and stay alert at all times for any suspicious busybodies, but otherwise stay open and approachable. Every destination has trade secrets that tourists are not familiar with. Having a local who knows all those secrets will make your experience different from the general public’s. Having someone you know in an unfamiliar place, especially if you are travelling solo, goes a long way in making your experience a smoother, more pleasant one, and in the process, you also make new friends.
Lastly, and most importantly, let go of all your pre-formed thoughts, all your expectations, and all your biases. Travel with a clear, open mind and a smile on your face. Take everything with a positive stride. Travelling shouldn’t be a chore, something you “have” to do rather than something you “want” to do. Every experience, good or bad, is a life lesson. So smile, and let go of any expectations you may have. Make space in your mind for new memories and new experiences, and you will never want to go back to your mundane life again.
Now that you know what to do, get up from your couch and make that long talked about trip happen!