Thursday, August 20, 2015

18 Travel Tips While They’re Fresh in My Head

I am back from an amazing trip with the boys – truly thought provoking, relaxing, funny, lip smacking foods, awe inspiring. 

Stonehenge Stonehenge Tour © 2015, Abe Pachikara (Click for larger image)

  1. Know your co-travelers well. Travel is a stylistically specific action. Preferences can matter - - a LOT - - like museums vs. parks, late nights vs. mornings, fancy restaurants vs. street food. Good to know up front.
  2. More important than packing, check NOW that passports are valid, and visas are secured. Few things will cause stress like discovering late in the game than a passport which needs to be renewed with little or no time left. I sure didn’t enjoy that one.
  3. Have a particular desired outcome & focus. Learn about a new place? Relax and do nothing? Learn while relaxing? Knowing what you have in mind will make the rest of the planning and the actual trip so much more enjoyable.
  4. Choose where you spend money mindfully. Breakfast at the flat, sandwiches for lunch, then a more decent dinner was a good habit. Go back to what you had in mind overall, pick a few non-trivial excursions or events, put your money there.P1000496-ToWeb  King’s Cross Station © 2015, Abe Pachikara (Click for larger image)            
  5. Find great discounts. Finding deals and discounts was very helpful, like free kids offers, round trip discounts, off-peak train rates. As example, for one day the tickets to Mama Mia had 1st child free and the 2nd one for 50% off. And the Capital One card enables you to apply points against ANY travel purchase, shaving a lot of your costs.
  6. Mix it up. In this visit one of my goals was to introduce my boys to a range of aspects of London & the UK, in a mere week. So, we found a balance between museums vs parks, city vs. countryside, meeting people vs. on our own.
  7. Be mindful of time durations. Getting from A to B will have a few different steps including ones we won't know till we are in the middle of it. So be observant of how long something may take, and how much interest among us, or significance it bears towards the underlying tenets.
  8. Come equipped for the whole day. Assume you will be out the whole day. Then think about food, extra shoes, outerwear, and tupperware to protect sandwiches. Bringing an extra set of shoes for Paul was a real win one day.
  9. Push on the 80/20 rule for camera equipment. I am shocked how good the current small cameras can be. Shocked. A 14 ounce Lumix LX100 swapped out about 10 pounds of gear.
  10. Have a bag count. I am always worried when we are on the move about leaving an item behind. Peace of mind came from clarifying who has what, then counting and re-counting - - somewhat obsessively - - as we board and disembark the planes, take taxis, subways trains, etc.
  11. Mornings matter. Every major museum, market or other icon is overwhelmed by 1 pm, but remarkably uncrowded in the mornings. Relaxed store keepers, greater selection, less obstructed views of the sights & items you came to see.P1000573-ToWeb Natural History Museum © 2015, Abe Pachikara (Click for larger image)
  12. Pace yourself. Routinely ask “How are we doing?” Stop, sit around. Get a bite.
  13. Be decisive about buying gifts. Before you know it, the trip will be over. So if there is a craft market, go there early in your trip. Think of folks back home, and don’t wait until the trip’s end, or risk picking up cheesy gift shop trinkets.
  14. Public transportation is way easier than initial perception. Even the bus was a snap after the first ride, and the first try is the important one. Plus, contrary to the US, the infrastructure is very extensive.
  15. Try a new eatery each night. Even when you come across an AMAZING place, don't go back as there is a whole sea of remarkable food options.
  16. Throw a duffle bag in your luggage. Just in case you pick up more items than your current luggage can hold, a duffle can come in very handy. Particularly to keep below max weight limits that can be more pricey than a 2nd bag fee.
  17. Choose a 787? Theory has it that higher air pressure and more humidity in an airplane cabin = less jet lag. Of course, this could be hooey from Boeing.  The carbon fiber body of their beleagured jet may have helped us transition.
  18. Equip each child with contact info. My worst case scenario? Getting separated from the children. And more so for them than for me. So load info and apps that can help on your kids’ smartphones
    • Whatsapp will work anywhere as long as you have wifi, and let kids call people around the world
    • Load contact info for people both locally and “back home”
    • Add calendar a invite with addresses of local friends, and your own flat
    • Don’t forget the phone number of local police – a great idea from my friend Gary Ballesteros

P1010244-ToWeb Big Ben © 2015, Abe Pachikara (Click for larger image)

3 comments:

Abe Pachikara said...

A few by Kevin Morefield - a seasoned traveler if there ever was one...

- Pay for a data plan on one phone. Google walking, driving and transit directions a worth a million.
- Pack light. It makes getting around so much easier and opens up possibilities.
- Alternate city and country to keep things fresh.
- Check the days and times of must see sights well ahead of time. Use those as a skeleton to hang the rest of the trip on.
- Find and excuse for Ice cream, coffee, or wine every afternoon!

Abe Pachikara said...

From my cousin Rani:
- Get each kid a travel journal and carve out a half hour each day / insist that they write or draw something about their feelings & experiences from the day. Ours at least won't do it once we're back in the fray, and so priceless to have something that THEY wrote to look back on in the future. Can paste in plane / theater tickets etc. or other fun things collected along the way as well.
- Researching something of the history etc. of the destination with the kids before going has gone a long way toward enjoyment once getting there - whether reading, watching movies - whatever.
- Depending on your child's age, giving them their own camera allows them to document what they are interested in through their own lens. Could be quite different from what we as adults attend to!

Unknown said...

Thank for good sharing!

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