Matilda Woods is a part-time digital nomad and aspiring minimalist.
3 Travel Tips I Wish I Knew From the Start
Travelling is easily the most rewarding thing I've ever done, but it is also the hardest thing I've ever done—by far. Sometimes, I wish I had one travel guidebook that could cover every circumstance, a book to tell me what to do!
While I know that I am not going to find a book that covers every situation I come across, I think that I have found three rules that, if followed, will solve most of my travel woes before they even happen!
So, what are my three golden rules of travel? Read on to find out.
1. Pack as Lightly as You Possibly Can
Seriously. As. Lightly. As. You. Possibly. Can.
If you think you've got your packing down to the bare minimum, pare it down another 20%. On every trip I have taken, I have cut down the amount of stuff from the previous trip significantly. I am down to 40L or 12kg and next time I am planning to bring it down to 36L and 7kg.
There are so many reasons to pack light, from saving baggage fees to avoiding potential thefts, but if you have ever lugged a 60L backpack or beast of a suitcase through even one month worth of train stations, airports, hostels, and homestays on cobbled, broken, or nonexistent sidewalks, you understand why it is ESSENTIAL to pack light.
I relearn this every time I travel, and I'm hoping this time it sticks.
2. Research, but Don't Overplan
Honestly, I didn't figure this one out until I started writing this article. I struggle with anxiety and, for me, part of that is needing to have every little thing planned out when I travel. I almost never feel satisfied until I have the entire trip planned, and that is usually about the time I'm heading home.
You can see my problem. Or maybe you can't, because I sure couldn't. My problem is that I am obsessed with being the wrong kind of prepared. I constantly lose out because my schedule has no flexibility and I spend way too much travel time on research.
What I should be doing is as much research as I can stand ahead of time. If you know everything there is to know about the tours, tourist attractions, accommodations, and local transportation, you can make an informed decision at the last minute. Similarly, if something actually needs to be booked ahead, you will already know that and be able to plan accordingly. Eureka! Schedule flexibility may be in my future!
On my next trip, I'll make sure to put this into practice and give you an update.
3. Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints
This one is an oldie, but a goody. In essence, have respect for the places you visit.
Think about what your impact might be wherever you travel—whether environmental, cultural, or social—and make sure that it is a positive one. It's easy to be careless with a place when we are not the ones who will be around to clean up the mess, but remember that our vacation destinations are always someone's home.
On a larger scale, keep in mind that travel is a carbon-heavy activity. Consider how you can keep your footprints light on the Earth in general; it's everyone's home!
Now, If Only I Could Follow Them
All of this is easier said than done, right? I always want to pack that last pair of sandals and enough sunblock to supply everyone on my flight, but I try to hold back.
I think it is helpful to narrow down our many travel dos and don'ts to a few simple tips; it's always better to keep it simple, right?
But, if I had to add one more travel rule to this list, I would make it a cliche: Better safe than sorry. Have fun, but remember to take care of yourself out there!
What Do You think?
© 2019 Matilda Woods
What's Your Opinion? Did I Miss Anything Major?
Billie Kelpin from Newport Beach on May 01, 2019:
Excellent, concise piece! I love the travel lightly rule. I had a friend who visited Thailand and Malaysia with a backpack! Her husband had been in the Peace Corps in the 60s, so they were visiting little villages. The fact that they themselves were in their 60s traveling with just backpacks was totally inspiring.
Great points in this article, Matilda.
Matilda Woods (author) from Toronto on March 04, 2019:
Yes! UK weather is so fickle! I'm Canadian, so I understand a bit. I always feel like I need to be prepared for the cold. I always make sure I have my buff, merino wool socks, a packable rain jacket, and a scarf (big enough to use as a blanket) at the very least!
Liz Westwood from UK on March 04, 2019:
These are great rules to go by. I only wish I could keep to the first! It's the 'just in case' items that floor me. Maybe it's because of the changeable climate in the UK that I feel I have to be prepared for all weathers when travelling!
Matilda Woods (author) from Toronto on March 04, 2019:
Thanks for your comments, Peggy and Bill - two Hubpages rockstars! It feels good to know that you're reading my articles even though I'm a newbie :D
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 03, 2019:
Those are surely golden rules for traveling. I do like doing research prior to taking a trip, but sometimes the unexpected things along the way can be just as much (or more) fun than what was planned. As to taking pictures and treading lightly, I agree. Photos are my favorite form of souvenir. Packing lightly...I have to admit that I could improve upon that. It is not fun lugging around heavy suitcases!
Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on March 03, 2019:
Definitely 3 rules that I always try to follow. The pack lightly rule is something you learn from experience, and eventually realize that it’s no fun lugging heavy packs or suitcases. I am also a planaholic. I think I enjoy the research and planning just as much as the actual trip. But, given that I have the tendency to overplan, I have dialed things back the last few years. The last rule, to respect the places we visit I have always embraced. Treat others and other places as you want to be treated.
Great rules to travel by. Now if we could just get everyone to follow them...