“Catch flights not feelings” seems to be a maxim of 2018. But still, not everyone has trust funds they can dip into or vacation homes to get away to. Thankfully, though, with the proper foresight and planning, traveling can become one of the most powerful investments and personal luxuries you can create for yourself, no matter your celebrity status.
Of course, exploring the great unknown is not all wanderlust and Good Vibes Only—with long TSA lines, delays, lost baggage, safety concerns, and financial worries, it’s no wonder many people forgo ever leaving home in the first place. There are serious anxieties and stressors involved if you’re not a part of the leisure class; however, research shows that traveling can be beneficial to mental wellness and even lead to more sex, weight loss, and feeling younger.
While it’s important to take initiative and get outside your bubble, it’s equally as vital to protect your physical and digital safety when traveling. Thankfully, this list covers it all, so you can flex smartly and safely. So whether you want to take a train to a sleepy city or have a wild travel adventure, let these tips be your canon. Get in, loser, we’re voyaging!
Pack a Duffel Bag
There’s nothing worse than checked baggage fees and waiting an hour at a carousel. Avoid this entirely by using a duffel bag that can be stored in/conform to the shape of an overhead compartment, so you can quickly get in and out.
Get Up and Stretch
Legs falling asleep? Time to get moving. If your flight is longer than a few hours, prevent any bodily discomfort by walking up and down the aisles and stretching your arms to increase blood flow. Remember to stay hydrated, as well, and take stretch breaks.
Stay Strapped with Sanitizing Wipes
Leave Your Toiletries Behind
Toiletries like soap, lotion, and hair products are readily available in hotel rooms and Airbnbs. Unless you have a special skincare or hair routine, skip packing these in favor of saving room in your bag.
Roll It Up
Pack Some Dryer Sheets
Douse yourself in Santal 33 to your heart’s desire, but nothing’s sexier than the scent of freshly-washed clothes. Protect the scent by slipping dryer sheets between the layers of clothes in your bag.
Keep Essentials in Your Carry-On
Always prepare for the worst. Underwear, pajamas, an extra change of clothes, toothbrush, and other hygiene products are some essentials you might want to have on hand in case your luggage gets lost.
Grab Some Plastic Bags
They can’t say no, since you “bought” items from the airport.
Wear Your Layers
If you don’t mind looking a little extra and peeling off layers in security, wearing your cold weather gear is worth the suitcase space.
Take Photos of Your Checked Luggage Tags
Sometimes accidents happen and your luggage ends up somewhere you aren’t. Taking photos of your luggage to show airline employees could help you reunite with your belongings quicker.
Fly Early, and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
An early wake-up call can save you a lot of money, and they tend to run with less delays, too.
Don't Accept Vouchers; Ask for Cash Compensation
Scan a Copy of Your Passport and E-mail it to Yourself
In the case that your passport is lost or stolen outside the U.S., contact the closest American embassy as soon as possible to explain what happened. You will have to fill out a passport application, so having identification and a photocopy of your passport will quicken that process.
Talk to Your Airbnb Host
Chances are they’re locals and know the best non-touristy spots wherever you’re visiting (or the best touristy ones, if you’re into that). If you’re in a foreign country that doesn’t offer ridesharing apps, they could also potentially put you in contact with a safe driver.
Do NOT Exchange Currency at the Airport
Before you leave for your trip, see if your bank or credit union offers currency exchange orders. There may be a fee involved, but it is likely not as expensive as exchanging currency at the airport, which you should never do unless you’re really in a pinch.
Don’t Be Afraid to Haggle
Merchants hike up their prices for tourists—that’s obvious. Haggling sensibly can be fun and sometimes necessary especially if you’re on a budget—but also remember you’re visiting their country. If you’re an American, be wary of the dynamics you’re approaching.
Do Your Research on Airfare and Hotel Prices
Create a Collaborative Google Photos Album
The process is almost the same as sharing a Google Doc, and it offers unlimited storage. Spare yourself the long text and email threads and opt for a photo dump instead. You can upload all the pictures and videos you took during the trip right to the album, and everyone who is shared can save whatever they want.
Travel in the Off Season
That is, visit your destinations when not everyone is scrambling to go there (usually summers). Though the weather might be less than ideal, flights and lodging will be cheaper.
Notify Your Bank and Credit Companies
With most banks, this can be as easy as calling them or logging on to your mobile banking app or website. The last thing you want when you’re abroad is a hold on your account due to fraud detection.
Practice Data Privacy
Before you leave, make sure your devices are updated to the latest softwares. Be mindful of which Wi-Fi networks you are joining, and avoid public Wi-Fi if you can; these networks put you at risk of hackers compromising your information. Of course, sometimes this is unavoidable, so be careful not to log into password-protected sites, or use a VPN if you can.
Instagram with Caution
On a similar note to data privacy, posting on social media is a fun way to share updates about your travels. However, it poses serious security threats. Be wary of tagging or sharing the locations you frequent, and be mindful of who you are sharing your stories or posts with.
Avoid Boarding Pass Pics
Your boarding pass contains sensitive information—your name, where you’re traveling, and your passenger name record or PNR. Your PNR is a code unique to you that includes the data of the people you may be traveling with, too. Practice safe traveling and shred your tickets as soon as you can.