Travel Tips: Seven Things to Plan for When Traveling Alone
Travel broadens the mind. Even a purpose-driven life needs to unwind every now and then. A change of atmosphere, as a seasoned traveler once said, "is good for the soul." A vacation is truly deserved only if it's earned.
But before going on a trip, remember: Be organized. Ask yourself the most basic questions: "What kind of vacation is best suited for me?" The mountains or the beach? Some people prefer being alone. Others want to stay with strangers and pretend they're part of the family.
Do your homework. Research. Use the Internet to learn about local laws and customs. Examples: In Brunei, it's not polite to point with your index finger. In Singapore, it's illegal to chew gum. In India, it's forbidden to kiss a woman in public.
There are some things you have to plan for before embarking on a journey alone. Here are seven of the most important ones:
1. Plan for your trip. Make all arrangements well in advance. If traveling abroad, prepare your documents. Here's a checklist: passport; visa; round-trip tickets; hotel accommodations; travelers' cheques; credit cards; itinerary; maps; and money.
2. Plan for your return. Tie up all loose ends regarding work before you leave. Come home with enough time to unpack and unwind from the journey. You should already know what you'll have for dinner when you get back. The point of all these is to re-integrate yourself to the workaday world seamlessly.
3. Plan for emergencies. Adopt the Boy Scout motto "Always Be Prepared." Make a list of emergency phone numbers and contact persons in the area. If staying in a hotel, know the locations of fire exits. Always bring IDs. If you have asthma, allergies, diabetes, arthritis, COPD, or other chronic ailments, consult your doctor before your trip - and always bring whatever he prescribes.
4. Plan for thieves. Stay alert. Hide your money. Hide an emergency ID and phonecard. Visit your bank's website to know their ATM locations. Dress simply. Avoid ostentatious jewelry. Stop acting like a tourist. Wrap a rubber band around your wallet to deter pickpockets. Don't be deceived by appearances. Don't display your gadgets.
5. Plan against inconvenience. In airports, do not bring the following: disposable cigarette lighters; sharp metallic objects; perishable items; liquids; and exotic animals. Prepare money for airport tax, taxis, and tips. Whatever happens, do not make jokes about grenades or bombs.
6. Plan your own schedule. In the United States, for example, February (after winter vacations) and October (after summer vacations) are peak seasons for psychiatrists. According to Dr. George Bach, director of the Institute of Group Psychotherapy in Beverly Hills, California, "Holidays are traumatic experiences."
7. Plan how and what to pack - lightly and smartly. Take the minimum. Edit your belongings - then revise again. Before leaving, another seasoned traveler advises to "carry your entire luggage for a few minutes and see how it feels." Bring a flashlight with extra batteries. If hiking, bring chocolate bars for energy. Prepare a first aid kit. Here's a checklist: rubbing alcohol; topical solution (for open wounds, burns, and skin rashes); gauze pads; sterile bandages; absorbent cottons; paper tape; ice bag (for swellings); activated-charcoal (for swallowed poisons); and protection against fever, flu, headache, toothache, diarrhea, vertigo, and hangover.
A vacation is meant to clear the mind, renew the spirit, reinvigorate the body, and find our bearings. But the greatest journey is within. The ultimate magical mystery tour is about finding yourself. It's not how far you traveled on your way, but what you've found to say - and discover yourself to be.
Tags: Travel Tips , Traveling , Vacation
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