5 Lessons Learned From Traveling to 15 Countries in 6 Months
By Sue Reddel, Chief Ambassador
Some people may think it sounds fabulous, some may think it sound horrible but most people won't have to travel to 15 countries in 6 months. Whatever camp you're in, I had the chance to do just that this year. My consulting gig had me traipsing back and forth for over 150,000 miles. I've written about some of the wonderful places I've been this year and you can expect even more stories on the places, plates and people that I've had to meet heading your way soon.
In the meantime, I'd like to share a few tips I've learned from experience on how you can make your travels a bit more pleasant even if you're just going on a two hour domestic flight.
Don't Forget the Basics
Just a few of my favorite snacks.
I've mentioned this idea before, but it bears repeating because it's important. Always travel with water and snacks. I carry healthy snacks like dried fruit, cheese & crackers, and Fiber One bars but I also make sure to have at least one salty and sweet snack. I like pretzels because I don't like nuts and they make a good light snack while everyone is eating peanuts (yuck). I also take some of my favorite cookies but avoid anything with chocolate just in case I'm somewhere steamy like Taipei in June.
Also, take a good supply of any medications you need as well as over-the-counter drugs. You don't want to be looking for a pharmacy for something like Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate when you might need it in the middle of the night. Sunscreen and bug repellant are also necessary in some regions. Check to see what local issues (insects, unhealthy water supply, etc.) you might encounter and be prepared as needed.
Light & easy to roll this bag is a winner.
Lots of people dread packing but it can be super easy if you just do a little preparation. Obviously, I travel a lot so I have most of my essentials packed and ready to go. I keep them stored in the same place so I don't need to hunt to find anything. You also need reliable luggage. I am absolutely in love with the International Traveller IT-0-4 20" Carry-on Spinner. It's the literally the world's lightest luggage weighing in at 4.28 lbs. I used the same bag for all my trips and it stood up to the challenge wonderfully. It's on four wheels, which makes it perfect for navigating airports and airplane aisles. It rolls smoothly and easily. I also use a backpack for my lap top and other carry-on essentials. It can easily fit at my feet and is flexible with lots of pockets and an exterior holder for two water bottles.
Mapping out a route can save you time and money.
Before venturing out it's important to know where you're going. I always print out a few maps or get a basic guide book so I know where I'm going when I arrive. I also print out directions to my hotel in English and in the native language. It's a good idea to learn a few language basics so when you get there you can say hello, thank you, yes, no, bathroom. Everyone appreciates that you're at least trying to communicate and it usually results in some laughs and smiles. Check the weather to be sure you have the right jackets, shoes etc. with you. Nothing's worse than having a suede coat in the middle of rainy season in Malaysia.
Gadgets, do we really ever have enough?
One of my faves! If you're traveling for business you'll need everything for your meetings and presentations in multiple formats. I am an Apple girl so I have my MacBook Air, iPhone and iTouch (and the odd man out - a Kindle). But I also carry my files on a data stick just in case hooking up the Mac is a problem. Thankfully, mine worked in all countries. But the only reason it did is because I have EVERY possible connector, cord and adapter. A couple of times I had to lend my cords to other folks in meetings. So best to be prepared. I also carry entertainment on my devices, which covers me for reading, watching TV shows, movies, playing music, podcasts and games. Headphones - pick your own favorite here. I like the Bose Noise-Cancelling, but I carry my regular ear buds too. I also have a Canon Power Shot SD870 IS camera. I've been thinking about replacing it, but it takes great pictures (most of the photosyou see on this website have been taken with this camera), so I'll stick with it for now.
Lastly, But Most Important - Don't Be Afraid
You can sure learn a lot by having a guide with you.
Traveling to other countries can be terrifying to some people. They worry about disease, crime, terrorists, natural disasters...yikes! Thinking about all these things scares me too. But the reality is that people around the world all basically want the same thing. They want to be happy. They want to work and support their families. They want peace and want to understand other people and cultures. If you can open yourself to talk to people when you're traveling, you will be amazed at what you'll learn. Talk to your cab driver. Talk to your food server. Smile, be friendly and try to understand what it's like to walk in their shoes. Sometimes I'm only in a city for a few hours so I hire a guide to take me on tour of the highlights. Ask these local people show you their favorite places to eat and go. Don't just hit the typical tourist spots. Take something home that will remind you of your trip. Even the smallest token should bring a smile to your face and remind you about your wonderful journey.
Are there any special things you do to make sure your trip goes smoothly? Share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll pick the best suggestions and the winners will win a soft and comfy PoshPorts long-sleeved t-shirt, perfect for the cool fall season. Happy travels!