As we reach the end of the calendar year, West Linn students, and many other teenagers will get the opportunity to travel during winter break, spring break and summer vacation. This means uncountable headaches that come with traveling, whether it’s dealing with TSA at the airport, or trying to lug your suitcase around Europe. As someone who’s been to Europe, Asia, South America and Africa, here are my top five tips for having the best vacation of your life, so you come home refreshed rather than longing to be home.
Tip 1: Pack Light
Being well-packed and efficient is actually a form of art that you can learn. It doesn’t matter how long you’re gone, it’s up to you to decide how efficient you want to be. I’ve seen travelers bring a suitcase half their size for a weekend up in Seattle and a backpack to visit Europe. It may seem cheesy to say this, but it’s true. Throw out a third of whatever you pack because you won’t use it. When I traveled to Chicago in late October, I thought this advice was a joke. I ended up sacrificing valuable space in my luggage for clothes that I didn’t need, and I even planned out each day’s dips. I am currently writing this while waiting for my plane to Europe where I’ll be gone seven days. All I brought were enough clothes for three days, and I was wearing my biggest clothes. That’s because lots of hotels make it convenient to wash your clothes, so have to lug around a lot less things, which means more room for souvenirs!
Tip 2: Be Punctual and On Time
It might seem like a scene out of a movie, seeing some poor soul running through the airport to get to their flight, and they make it at the last minute to get home to their family. But this is actually a lot more common than you think. One mistake can jeopardize an entire trip, and the butterfly effect can create a chain of unfortunate carrying circumstances. (Plus, you really don’t want to run through one of the biggest airports in the world with your pants falling down because you decided to get five more minutes of sleep). So, always show up to events and flights however early you think is okay, then add 30 percent more time on-top.
Tip 3: Have Multiple Sources of Money
Whether it’s traveling on a city bus or buying a souvenir that you’ll throw to the bottom of your closet, things that cost money when vacationing will vary in how they accept money. By putting all your eggs (or money) in one basket, it will limit your ability to be able to freely go and buy whatever you want. For example, public transportation and small businesses in Europe only accept exact change, while airplanes and restaurants prefer for you to use your card for an easier sale. If you do in fact follow this guide, make sure you absolutely check with your bank so that you are able to spend your vacation doing whatever you please, instead of scavenging top ramen from your only €20 in cash because your bank thinks you’re still at home.
Tip 4: Reset Your Internal Clock
It may sound cheesy to use this advice, but it is very detrimental to adjust your body clock to wherever you’re traveling even before you get on the plane. This will set you ahead of the curve, and you’ll be able to get off already adjusted to the time you’re traveling to. This simple trick can easily improve the quality of your trip. Because jet lag can carry on for days, it can affect your entire schedule and ruin your trip.
Tip 5: Pre-Plan and Pre-Arrange
Going around and being spontaneous on your trip may sound like a fun option, but the reality is that unexpected events can occur. It’s probable that if you decide to grab the trip by the horns, it will run straight into a wall, and that’s why you need to plan in advance. For example, pre-book your airplane seat and check out websites like seatguru.com to find reviews on the best spot to sit, so you won’t be in the middle with no leg room and the lavatory three feet away. Next, buy tickets for museums and shows in advance, and try to find the skip the line option. This will allow you to pay a little more to beat the two-and-a-half-hour line to Disneyland or to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It might not also hurt to even reserve a table the day of, so you don’t have to spend hours waiting for a spot to open up.