Tomorrow I’m leaving for a 3-day trip to Singapore, followed by 4 days in Norway, and that with only a carry-on. Having squeezed in as many travel days as possible the last couple of years (without failing my classes and breaking the bank), I think I’m starting to get a hang of this traveling-thing. Thus, I was thinking I might add my two cents to the plethora of information on the interwebs about what you should (and should not) do when you travel, while simultaneously getting ready for this trip. These are some of my go-to’s that always make my trips better (and easier):
1. Travel light
This goes for both packing, and in your day-to-day adventure. Lugging around on a big bag filled with a lot of stuff you’ll end up not needing will make you unnecessarily tired and heavy. I’ve discovered there’s really not a lot you need to bring when traveling for a week or less (unless your going to fashion week or a skiing trip). Pack things that match each other, so that you can use the same stuff for multiple outfits. Accessories take up little spaces and works wonders in changing the look of an outfit (think scarf, statement necklace or hat).
2. Buy a tourist sim card (aka. a prepaid sim card)
One of the first things I check out before I travel, is whether or not the country offers tourist sim cards or short-term prepaid sim cards. Having a local number, with some minutes, messages and, most importantly, data is essential. For instagram, yes, but also for Google maps and searching for adresses, directions, opening hours and whatnot. Average price for these are usually $10, and it’s most definitely worth it!
3. Pack woolen socks and a shawl for the plane ride
Remove your shoes as soon as your seated, and put on woolen socks. They will keep your feet warm (essential to not get sick when traveling long distances or over-night flights) and comfortable. A shawl can function as extra warmth, cover over your head if you want to sleep but the lights in the cabin is on, and as a blanket if you don’t want to use the ones you get on the plane. Also: Wear comfortable clothing, but don’t get tempted to wear sweatpants and PJ-like clothing. Wear something that makes you instantly ready to go out and explore the city as soon as you land, or only requires a quick change to work! I prefer soft denim pants with stretch, cotton shirts and slip-on shoes (i.e. no laces).
4. Less makeup, loads of moisturizer
As a gazillion guides will tell you, your skin will get dry from flying on an airplane, so use a limited amount of makeup (CC cream, mascara, eyebrow-stuff) and a good moisturizer. Bring makeup in your carry-on and apply just before landing to look fresh and awesome once the wheels hit the tarmac. But wait with the perfume until you get off the airplane. Please.
Pack make-up samples to save room in your luggage and get away from those liquid-requirements. There’s also travel-tissues for basically any usage now: make-up and nail-polish removal, facial lotion, sun lotion, etc.
Hanging out by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
5. Take a tourist bus
Once you land, spend your first few hours on the thing you usually think is reserved for tourists in their 60s: a tourist bus. Why? Because it’s a quick and easy way to cover everything that you’re “supposed to see” in a city, and also a good way of getting to know the city and where everything is located in relation to other things.
Get off a stops you’d like to spend more time on, like I did with the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, take some photos for instagram and then hop back on the next bus that passes by. Tourist buses are underrated by our generation!
Exploring the outskirts of Seoul, South Korea
6. Bring a camera, and use it!
Maybe I’m starting to get affected by living in Southeast Asia, or maybe I’ve always been this way (the latter is more likely), but if a tree falls in the forrest and I wasn’t there to capture it with my camera, it didn’t happen. I’m an avid fan of photography, both in the moment I take the photo, but especially because of all the memories it let’s me revisit in the months and years after the trip.
You will never-ever-ever regret taking too many photos on a trip, you will however (probably, possibly) regret taking too few. The food might not always be the most important things to take a photo of though, remember that it’s the people you travel with, the places you see and the people you meet that are the coolest story. Even if the food is yummy and you should savor every part of that.
Alan Davis Beach in Hawaii
7. Google the destination to death
Find blogs written by locals or travel bloggers, prowl pinterest and dig through instagram-photos from the destination to find the hidden gems that would otherwise pass you by in the chaos of traveling to a city or place for the first time. I always try to make up a list of at least a couple of must-sees, coffee shops, lunch places and restaurants that are recommended by the people I trust the most: people on the internet. 9 out of 10 times it’s a win!
Put together a customized Google Map with all of the different locations you want to visit so you have them all in one place.
Sunday funday in Auckland, New Zealand
8. Be spontaneous
And while you should totally have plans aplenty, don’t forget to take a wrong turn, jump on that gondola that looks fun, follow the advice of random people at coffee shops or ask the girl behind the counter at the bookstore what’s fun to do in the neighborhood. Chances are it will lead to a great experience, or at least a good story.
9. Always bring snacks
This one is very important! You never know when you’ll be stuck in line for the tram to Victoria Peak, or managed to reach the Eiffel Tower at peak hour but don’t want to come back another day. Have some nuts, sweets, local treats and water in your bag at all times in case of energy emergencies. It’s a necessity.
10. Ask for help
I am the worst at asking for help, because I prefer always knowing where I am and where I am going at all times, and stubbornness on that point runs in the family. But sometimes actually asking for help is the only right thing to do, and it might give you more than you asked for too (in a good way). Like that one time I asked for directions to a vintage store in San Francisco and ended up with a map of 8 different stores I should visit in the neighborhood, an invitation to a party on a boat and a free espresso from a friendly barista. My friends and I ended up going to the party (because there were 5 of us, don’t ever go to a party with a stranger alone) and had a night worthy of the history books.
A little trip down memory lane: