In my years of travelling, and working in hotels, and having so many frustrating moments of ‘oh crap why did I do that??’ I have learned a few tricks along the way that help make your oh so stressful journey just a little more enjoyable. Some may be obvious, some maybe not, but these have become my Golden Travel Rules! What do you think, are there any I have missed?
1. Take earplugs with you, wherever you travel. They are my essential piece of kit, from drowning out screaming children & irritating cabin crew on flights, to dulling the sound of enthusiastic hotel cleaning ladies at 9am when I’m trying to sleep off a hangover, to simply helping get a good night’s sleep.
2. If you’re staying in a hotel, ask for a room on a high floor (unless you’re afraid of heights and/or lifts, in which case the lower the better for you poor souls!). Generally these rooms have the best views, simply because they’re higher up, although if you’re next to a building that’s 10 floors higher than yours obviously it will make little difference. Note as well that requesting a ‘Quiet Room’ may be located at the back of the hotel with the worst views, and really there is no such thing as a ‘Quiet Room’ if you happen to end up in a room next to the not so shy and retiring Mercedes from Essex and all her delightful hen party chums.
3. Raid the hotel toiletries, biscuits, coffee sachets and any other free stuff you can find. You never know when a little sewing kit will come in handy. A shoe-shine kit maybe not so much, but maybe a shower cap and cotton buds would be useful! The little shower gel containers are also handy for re-filling and taking on your next trip away,don’t waste money on travel size toiletries when you can re-use the little bottles.
4. Avoid the hotel mini bar. Unless you’re desperate. Or it happens to be free. I’ve seen so many complaints about the prices of hotel mini-bars from people frankly too stupid they shouldn’t be allowed to have a passport. Obviously the mini bar is going to be expensive; you are in a hotel, and they are tiny little servings. It’s much better to pop across the road to the corner shop & get a bottle of (screw top!) wine to take back to the room to enjoy for the same price of a mini bar kit kat. You can then chill said wine in a sink of water, or fill the empty bin with cold water and that works just as well. You could also get a bag of ice or the cheapest frozen veggies you can find to add to the bucket for an extra chilled beverage. Be aware too that some of the more hi-tech mini bars have electronic sensors, so even moving things around in the mini bar can result in charges magically appearing on your bill. Much more classy to do it yourself.
5. Take your essentials in your hand luggage. This means a clean set of underwear, toothbrush, medication & anything else you might need in case your checked bag goes missing or your connecting flight is delayed. There is nothing worse than getting off a long flight to be told you can’t clean your teeth & you have to wear your knickers for a second day because some chump put your suitcase on the wrong flight.
6. Pack light. Pack light. Pack light.
I repeat this because I have yet to master this most basic of all tips. I don’t really need that spare pair of socks. I don’t really need that other top that goes so nicely with that skirt, which then also means I need to take another pair of shoes, matching handbag, belt and jewellery. However, somehow I always do end up packing it ‘just in case’ and inevitably end up lugging round a heavy bag and not using half the stuff in it. And you always buy stuff on holiday anyway, so if you’re pushing the limit of your luggage allowance on the way out, you might not have room on the way home for that adorable pair of new heels daaahhhhling.
7. Do at least some research before you go. Now I’m not one for minute by minute planning like a military operation, but it’s nice to have some idea of what you’d like to do so you don’t waste valuable holiday time debating where to go and when. That said, make sure you have time for relaxing, sitting down at a café or bar and soaking up the atmosphere of where you are. Many tourists spend so much time speeding from one attraction to the other and miss a lot of the real destination around them – People Watching is an experience in itself!
8. Sample some of the local cuisine and culture. The whole point to me of travelling is to visit a new place and learn more about the world. Even if you are going on a beach holiday to Ibiza try and seek out some Spanish food, not just the beer & fry ups at Ryan’s Bar. Expand your mind and your palate with some of the more wacky dishes, although perhaps deep fried bull frog is pushing it a little.
9. Don’t forget your passport/plane tickets/credit card. If you forget everything else that’s fine but these items are essential to your trip and will at least set you off on the right foot – everything else you can buy when you get there if you need to.
10. Finally just enjoy your trip! Reading through the reviews people write about their holidays it seems they deliberately go out of their way to have a horrible time and find fault with everything. Travel should be an enjoyable experience, and even if you are travelling for work there is always the opportunity to glimpse the new world around you, even if it is from a taxi window while you’re on the way to a meeting!
Check out some of the hilarious complaints people have made here brought together in another blog post by Blogdramedy ; if you thought you didn’t enjoy your trip think about these poor souls who clearly suffered so much….