8 Travel Tips I Learned Late in Life

shutterstock_123969409Like many exuberant wanderers, I’m always on the lookout for handy, useful travel tips I’ve never heard about before. Sometimes I’ll come across one that’s so valuable—and so obvious—that I’ll shake my head and think: “Oh my goodness! Why didn’t that ever occur me?” But I’ll also try not to be too hard on myself, either. None of us has all the good ideas. And this is especially true when the subject has as many facets to it as travel does.

So, here are 8 very helpful travel tips I learned after many years (and, yes, a few decades) of traveling—tips that may inspire some “Aha” moments for you as well.

  1. Always carry an emergency spoon. Most of us routinely carry emergency contact numbers, flashlights, and maybe even an emergency change of clothes, but we hardly ever think of packing an emergency spoon. This can come in handy when you’re hungry and just want to pick up a container of yogurt, cottage cheese, or other edible item that calls for this indispensable utensil. Grocery stores abroad often don’t offer the handy plastic spoons we’re so familiar with in U.S. stores.
  2. Bring an indoor clothesline with you too. You’ll be amazed at how handy one of these can be, especially if you’re traveling light, don’t want to spend lots of money at hotel laundries, and periodically rinse and air-dry T-shirts and other items.
  3. Visit local grocery stores to make culinary discoveries. People assume that, when visiting great culinary centers from Paris to Buenos Aires, the restaurants are where the great food discoveries are made. That may be true, but they’re not the only places. These destinations are also filled with very discerning locals—people who demand top quality at their neighborhood grocery stores as well. When in the neighborhood, you can take advantage of this too.
  4. Carry a color photo of each child traveling with you. If you’re a proud parent, you probably already do this. But, especially when traveling with young children, and especially when you are in a country where many people don’t speak English, a good recent color photo is essential. If your child wanders off, the photo will give other people an instant description of the young person you’re looking for. Not only is the photo worth a thousand (or more) words, but it also transcends language barriers.
  5. When traveling abroad, bring a color copy of the first page of your passport and an extra pair of passport photos. You’ll need all this if your passport is lost or stolen. Always keep them in a special place apart from your travel papers. Having these handy will make passport replacement MUCH easier!
  6. When possible, buy amusement park tickets in advance. This is particularly helpful when traveling with children. Lines at amusement parks during popular times can get excruciatingly long very quickly. And getting tickets in advance can eliminate your—and your children’s—wait time and reduce intra-family stresses and strains.
  7. Pack some large zip-lock bags. You’ll be amazed by how handy these common kitchen staples can be when traveling. You can use them to store leftover food, wet swimsuits, leaking shaving cream cans, and any number of other things. Don’t leave home without a few of these!
  8. Before a long flight, get a long workout. Obviously, this is difficult for people who like to fly first thing in the morning. But, if you can work out vigorously before you fly—especially when you’re flying a long way—you’ll feel much better and even be more likely to sleep during your flight. When you land, you’ll more likely be in a better mood and able to deal with logistics in a new setting more calmly and capably.

Are there any handy travel tips you’ve recently learned of—ones you think most travelers haven’t heard about yet? If so, just post a comment sharing your tip. We’d love to hear from you!