You know what’s my biggest problem when it comes to traveling? I dislike the actual “travel” part of it! As much as I would like to be that kind of traveller (you know what I’m talking about, the backpacker traveling through S-E Asia for months only with one small backpack, who doesn’t mind where she/he sleeps that much or where/what she/he eats), I just am not! I’m the kind of person who arrives in Vietnam after a 12-hour flight with a sore throat and fever because it was too cold for me in the plane. I am the kind of person who vomits the whole trip from Zanzibar to Dubai only to have a stomach ache for the remaining 4 hours from Dubai to Bucharest, everything from a glass of red wine had at dinner before leaving the island.
And anything could happen anywhere. After one (almost failed) vacation with a friend in Italy’s countryside for a yoga retreat (it actually wasn’t what it looked like on the website and it did not offer what it promised, but it was not failed because we were together and haven’t seen each other in some years) we drew a conclusion: we like comfort! Ok, don’t get me wrong, not 5* hotels, but at least heating, not crying at the thought of getting out of bed in the morning and a clean shower.
And this is possible to get without breaking the bank. I’ve stayed in a hostel, sharing the room with 6 other friends, having a shared bathroom with the whole hostel in London and it was great! I’ve visited Prague with a friend during my Erasmus scholarship when I was living with 150 euro per month in Italy, CouchSurfed the first night and shared a hotel room with her and 3 drunken (I hope they were only drunk) Brit boys on the second night and it was great, I loved it! I have been on a road trip in Croatia and slept in a tent with 5 other friends, changing 3 camping throughout the trip, without knowing where we were going to sleep the next night. And it was Awesome! All these experiences make travel worth doing and give you the best memories you could ever have.
So because I cannot stop from happening or at least avoid some of the problems I might have to deal with, here is my list of “must” items:
1. Always have with you a set of the basic medicines just in case, especially if you are traveling in a distant location, with a very different culture. On my list:
– medicine for colds (Coldrex, Paracetamol, nasal spray, Nurofen and something for a sore throat) – I always have these with me because yes, unfortunately, you can get a cold even in an exotic location at 35 degrees;
– something for indigestion, stomach ache and diarrhea – because even back home I have troubles with food, the more so in places where I’m not used to the local cuisine;
– band-aids – just in case, you never know
2. Never leave for a trip wearing new shoes (and having only those with you) – especially for city breaks, I’ve learned this the hard way (twice) – no matter how cool they are or how much you want them in your travel pics, they will hurt you.
3. Always have a travel insurance.
4. Always check that the hotel/hostel/location offers exactly what you’ve been told before making a reservation – there are lots of sites where previous customers help you have a clear picture (yes, I’m talking about TripAdvisor or Booking), just bear in mind that people are different and have different expectations, that is why I always try to filter all the negative reviews (and I always read those because they offer what I’m looking for).
5. Always have a book on hand and some music you love on a charged device (be it a phone, iPad, whatever you use) – if you are like me and cannot sleep during a flight, reading and listening to music always helps, or doing some work on a laptop. Of course, on long flights, you will always have movies available and you can kill time like this also.
6. If you are visiting a tropical destination, have sunscreen and mosquito repellant on you.
7. Always check the weather forecast before packing – or you will end up like me: packing summer clothes for two weeks in Munich in June and having to survive 10 degree days, ending up buying a jacket and some pullovers. Returning after a weekend at home with the right type of clothing for 10 degrees only to find 37 degrees and no AC in the office
8. Familiarize yourself with the culture and traditions of the people living in the place you are going to visit, in order to know and respect them, it is too often we hear stories about ignorant tourists, we don’t want to be like that.
I am a master of traveling light and I can manage to get the appropriate number of kg based on the length of the trip and I can get used to lizards in the hotel room (it took only one holiday of sleeping with the light on in Cuba, but now we are friends), but freezing or not having a shower is not for me.
What would make a vacation to be totally ruined for you and what do you do in order to avoid it? I’m very curious to hear about your incredible stories from the “road”.