Summer is fast approaching (hooray!), which means more time for adventures, road trips and overseas traveling. Experience is always the best teacher, so I decided to ask some of my friends and family members well versed in the art of travel for their best advice. Enjoy your summer travels and put these tips to good use!
· Be cash-conscious. A quick, easy way to save money while traveling is by packing your own lunch to take with you during the day. This way you can save time by eating on the go if you have a busy schedule, as well as money by not paying for three meals a day at restaurants. A second way to save money is by downloading Podcasts from iTunes, a convenient way to get a personal tour of many of many popular attractions without having to pay an arm and a leg!
· Get comfortable. Nothing is worse than discomfort during a long flight. Put a tennis ball in a tube sock and place it between your back and the seat to massage your back. You can also put a book (such as one of your guide books) under your feet to absorb the vibration from the plane, which can be draining over time. Along the same lines, you can bring a thin, hard bound book to sit on.
· Eat mindfully. Eating should be an integral, exciting part of traveling, not a burden. So if you have any kind of food allergy or sensitivity, be sure to do some research beforehand in order to get a feel for what the situation is like in the place in which you are visiting. If you are traveling within United States, that could mean looking up restaurants. If you are going abroad, it could involve knowing the word for, say, “wheat” in a foreign language so you can look for it on food packaging. Small things such as these will make your traveling – which can be tiring – less draining and leave you with more energy to enjoy the newness around you.
· Keep it clean. Staying healthy is one of the most important things you can do to get the most out of your trip. Be sure to carry some hand sanitizer, hand wipes and even toilet paper (depending on where you are traveling) to keep germs at bay. If you are going somewhere without a sanitary water system, avoid drinking tap water or eating anything cold that requires water to prepare at all costs. As wasteful as it may seem, splurging for bottled water is much better than settling for tap water in some places – getting deathly ill is definitely not worth saving money.
· Be culturally sensitive. When traveling to different places, we all have to keep in mind that culture changes, however subtly. With this change comes a whole new approach to food, architecture, clothing, social norms and ideas about gender roles. Research customs particular to the place in which you are traveling. Knowing a little something about etiquette and practical ins and outs of everyday life – for example, to tip or not to tip? – can make your trip smoother. Perhaps more importantly, know that the way that men and women interact in different countries is, of course, different. Meeting new people and finding love in a new place is one of the most exciting parts of travel, but it is important to recognize that societal conceptions of gender vary widely. Women in particular must be conscious of this - research the mentality men carry before you go to a country or risk being caught off guard. For example, when people warn that Italian men are flirtatious? Yes, this sounds exciting to a certain extent, but put up your guard or your toosh may be pinched one time too many. You might not agree with the values that men hold, and if caught unaware, this aspect to travel can be overwhelming and distracting from enjoying the richness of new places. Though you might find it offensive to curb to other cultures’ “misogynist” values, in honor of your safety, it might be advisable to research the women’s role in the country before traveling and mirror it. In Muslim countries, for instance, women must usually wear a certain degree of conservative clothing. If you don’t, reactions can range from a stink eye to violence. You don’t want either in a new country. Embrace what the place has to offer and play the part.
So be safe, be healthy and be adventurous! Learn from experience and enjoy the freedom of summer without the frustrations of travel.
The Woman Behind the Travel Section:
Katie Helete is a cultured old soul with a kind of energy that would entice you to travel with her anywhere. Attending UC Berkeley as an undergraduate, she is majoring in Political Economy. Explore the world, bucket list by bucket list with the brilliant and bold Katie.