Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Obscure Travel Tips

“Everything that can be invented has been invented,” said Charles H Duell, Commissioner, U.S. patent office, 1899. Sometimes, I think that is true of travel articles. For weeks, I’ve been struggling to come up with a topic. Something I’ve not discussed before and something useful for people vacationing here or abroad.

So, one day I asked a friend if she had any travel tips. And, oddly enough, her tips were things I do (and maybe you do as well) that we hardly consider a tip. This doesn’t make them any less helpful!

Obscure Travel Tip 1

When you are planning your trip, build in a leisurely day here and there so you don’t get too worn out to enjoy the rest of your trip. Even the most experienced traveler has had to come to grips with overbooking their time. It looks great on the schedule! It looks fun on the schedule! But, in real life, you’re just a person looking for some downtime. Too much planning can overwhelm you before you know it, so for myself as well, I’m saying – be kind to yourself. This is your vacation. Maximize enjoyment of it!

Obscure Travel Tip 2

I’ve harped on this before, but you know you don’t have to pack two or three weeks worth of clothing. Especially if you’re going to a place that has laundromats. I love laundromats for several reasons:
  1. Downtime. You’re not doing much other than watching the swish swish of clothes in the washer and reading a book.
  2. You get to meet the locals or other travelers in a normal setting. I’ve had some great conversations in laundromats.
  3. I just like the zen of laundry. The smell of clean sheets. And the ability to wear clean clothes after several days on the road!

Obscure Travel Tip 3

Thrift stores, hardware stores, and antique shops give you a unique view into a country’s recent/distant past and provide a unique shopping experience that you won’t find in main street retail. In one thrift shop in Cornwall, I got the loveliest commemorative cup for QE II for just 3 pounds. One of my favorite finds to date! Look for the Oxfam stores in towns in GB as that seems to be the most widely spread of the thrift store chains.

Obscure Travel Tip 4

Don’t write or type your journal wasting lots of time when you could actually be enjoying your trip! Use the voice recorder on your smartphone.

Obscure Travel Tip 5

You won’t need that extra (whatever it is). This especially applies to dress shoes. Get some good, multipurpose shoes instead.

Obscure Travel Tip 6

Download as many helpful apps as you can. These include apps for: airport navigation and flight time/delay, currency conversion, train times/delays, calculator, tipping, parking, location (like English Heritage or National Trust) so you can locate their sites and discounts), and don’t forget TripIT (which stores your itinerary, confirmation numbers, etc.).

Obscure Travel Tip 7

Don’t waste every waking hour taking pictures or video. You’ll forget to stop and smell the roses! If you want to go completely camera-bare, pick up post cards from the places you visit.

Obscure Travel Tip 8

The Hop on Hop Off Buses are a godsend. Use them to get the lay of the land, learn more about places you never thought about visiting, and as an introduction to what you might want to see later if you’re on a time budget.

Obscure Travel Tip 9

Do a trial pack or two to ensure you maximize use of your luggage.

Obscure Travel Tip 10

Fold up a duffle bag, Rick Steves luggage bag, or other luggage piece that can be stored in a minimal amount of space and yet provides you with maximum space for returning with souvenirs or other bought things.

Obscure Travel Tip 11

If you are visiting friends and taking gifts, consider mailing rather than schlepping them. Yes, overseas postage is expensive. You’ll have to weigh the inconvenience with the cost. Buy souvenirs at the end of your trip if possible so you’re also not schlepping stuff around everywhere you go.

Obscure Travel Tip 12

Try traveling alone. You’ll meet more people and have more spontaneous adventures than if you were tied to someone else’s agenda.

Obscure Travel Tip 13

Ask people what they’d like you to bring them as a gift. The stranger the better! I’ve gone to places and seen things I would not have done otherwise. Just one word: Sheep’s Roving. Ok, that’s two words…

Obscure Travel Tip 14

Don’t believe your GPS. It lies! Constantly! And, it will also lose satellite just when you need it most. Bring maps, always!

Obscure Travel Tip 15

Create a theme for your trip. One travel partner wanted a “King Arthur” theme, and I got to see the most glorious places when we planned it.

Obscure Travel Tip 16

Something will go wrong. Sometimes more than one thing! Be flexible. Breathe through it. You’ll survive.

Obscure Travel Tip 17

Make your airport stay fun – especially if you have a long layover or a cancelled flight. Try a new restaurant! Shop! Get in your FitBit steps! Ask the guy on the electric cart if you can have a ride! If you’re in Austin airport, stop by Knot Anymore and get a massage!

Obscure Travel Tip 18

If you’re in a foreign country and don’t speak the language, take pictures of your hotel and street sign to show to taxi drivers or to ask directions if you get lost.

Obscure Travel Tip 19

Take pictures of the inside and outside of your luggage so that you can show authorities if your luggage gets lost. Also, tag your luggage so that it looks unique on the carousel (you don’t want to end up with someone else’s bag)! Make sure you have your info on the inside and outside of the bags in case of loss.

Obscure Travel Tip 20

Book the flight. Just book it. Your trip isn’t real until you do. Don’t wait for sales. Don’t wait for Christmas or your birthday… do it! Magically, your adventures will spin off from there. Note: I highly recommend reward miles.

Obscure Travel Tip 21

Use TripAdvisor forums to the max. Have a question on the best B&B and don’t believe the reviews? Go to the forums and ask real destination experts. An event has blocked out dates and you can’t figure out what’s going on? Ask a forum expert! Invaluable!