I’ve traveled many different ways throughout this wonderful world of ours: ship, plane, train, car, bus, etc, and throughout those adventures I’ve made some mistakes and caught others just in time. I’ve discovered what I deem travel revelations and learned many tricks of the trade along the way. I hope as I continue my gypsy nomadic type lifestyle to continue learning everywhere I venture.
1. NEVER EVER EVER put your passport in the small opening at the front of your backpack. Pickpockets like to take advantage, especially in the underground trains of Madrid… Yes this happened to me but luckily we caught the guy right before the doors closed that would have separated me from my passport. THANK GOD! This reminds me ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS carry a copy of your passport in another compartment, email a digital copy to yourself and to other trustworthy sources. Don’t get stuck without it!
2. This may sound a bit silly to some, but never underestimate the hunger quenching power of a good Subway sandwich. I’m not saying to avoid the local dishes, but when in a bind, Subway has never failed to get my vegetarian self out of that hunger pit. It’s located in nearly every country and even around most street corners in the US, plus satisfies all the food groups.
3. For the road trippers in all of us – why pay overpriced lodging when a perfectly good SUV can be converted into a cozy private camper?! Just lock the doors, cover the windows with sweatshirts and towels, put down the seats, and roll out those sleeping bags! It’s not for everyone, but for the frugal adventurer, a good night’s sleep is not the most important thing on our minds most of the time. On my cross country road trip, my travel partner and I saved over $100 each by doing this three of the nights. Best places to curb camp: across from a church, in a safe-looking neighborhood, or even a cheap campground (costs a little but is less risk).
4. When planning dates for travel to a specific destination, perhaps take a quick journey on google to determine if a massive world event will bring 2 million other travelers to your ideal vacation spot. For instance, my boyfriend and I probably wouldn’t have spent the same four days in Madrid as the Pope and the millions of youth that followed him there for World Youth Day in 2011. Streets were closed, restaurants were packed, protests were underway. The upside? We saw him in his Popemobile for a brief second.
5. This is a lesson I am appalled to have to share, simply because it is that absurd. DO NOT turn a rental car in early because apparently that is worth a hidden charge. “For shame for returning our vehicle to us before the agreed upon return time and rendering it available for other renters! FOR SHAME!” Next, libraries will charge book borrowers for returning their materials before the date. How dare us for making things more available for other people! Insane. Also, read the fine print of the receipt for any other potential blows to the wallet.
6. Always pack the most of one garment – pants, panties, knickers, UNDERWEAR! I’m not talking dozens, but certainly more than other clothing items because these, especially on a sweaty day trekking through the Costa Rican jungle to a hidden waterfall, get the sweatiest the quickest. A small bottle of Dr. Bronner’s is a great item to be kept close at hand for doing small washes in the nearest sink or river (it’s biodegradable)! It’s also great for taking refreshing baths in natural bodies of water – streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, etc.