The Key to Staying Sane While Traveling
by Brooke Schoenman of Her Packing List
Rarely, if ever, does a trip play out as the perfectly orchestrated event we imagine when clicking the book-it-now button on that airline website.
Traveling opens up a whole world of unknowns – from the moment our alarm goes off (er… or doesn’t) in the morning for an early flight. Standing at the baggage claim for an hour might still leave us empty-handed, or whoosh, the weather might just wash out an entire road in the mountains of Guatemala meaning you simply can’t make it to that fancy hotel for the night.
We can’t control every aspect of an epic trip, especially one that involves a little get-up-and-go from one place to the next.
But, you can help to keep your sanity in the midst of that potential chaos.
And, I’m going to share my secret with you right now.
It’s called being organized.
Organization is key to keeping sanity either when a road block presents itself, or just when you have a lot of movin’ and shakin’ to do in the world. I understand the stress that builds up after a couple of weeks of constant travel, and that’s almost just as bad as those one-off road blocks. If you can provide yourself with just a bit of organization – from your notes and itinerary down to your packing – you will be a much happier traveler.
Take down all phone numbers and addresses… and have those on paper.
For all the businesses that are involved in your trip’s composition: hotels, hostels, tour companies, airlines, etc. You never know when you might need the assistance of an English speaker, so being able to quickly call your accommodation – more likely to know a bit of English – is a godsend. Having the hotel address available on paper to hand directly to a taxi driver upon arrival makes life easy, and the phone number for your tour guide might keep you on that route if you should find traffic is going to make you a few minutes late.
And let’s not forget the point that sometimes our electronics run out of battery. Paper for the win!
Set alarms to confirm important transport the night before.
This includes flights, shuttle buses, booked taxis, trains and so on. There is nothing worse than arriving at the airport to discover the flight time had been changed, and you’re 3 hours early… or 15 minutes late. Use your mobile phone to set up these alarms before you set off on a trip.
Research getting from A to B in advance.
The point is especially useful when traveling in a country where you don’t speak the same language and where it might be a bit less developed for tourists. Get in touch with travelers who have been there before.
Pack like a champ.
I believe in smart packing because I know what happens otherwise: We forget things, we go over baggage restrictions, and we just put ourselves in vulnerable positions. You will want to have an organized bag that is also compressed in size and easy to carry on your own.
ñ For organization, I suggest checking out some of the packing cubes and toiletry kits available on eBags. Giving every item in your luggage a special place will help you to realize better when/if something should be missing. These items definitely help with packing, unpacking, and the overall ease of finding something in the middle of the bag if you need it.
ñ For luggage size, I suggest investing in some compression bags or getting a backpack/duffel with compression straps. I enjoy the eBags Mother Lode TLS Weekender Convertible backpack for just this reason.
There you have it! This simple recipe for staying organized is the key to keeping your sanity while on the road. Do you have any extra tips of your own to share?
About the Author: Brooke Schoenman is the founder and editor of Her Packing List – a resource on packing and gear for female travelers. Brooke is a seasoned traveler, having acquired stamps in her passport from destinations such as Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Russia, Malaysia, and Guatemala to name a few. She blogs and writes for a living, and you can follow the Her Packing List related side of her life on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.