Traveling can be exciting — filled with fun, adventure, and the uncertainty of what’s to come. It can also be stressful. From what to pack, routes to pick and budgets we attempt to keep, we can find ourselves overcome with nerves. Take it from flight attendant and professional travel blogger, Mia Herman of Travel with Mia. She believes that being prepared can help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that traveling creates. I had a chance to sit down with Mia to talk how “traveling like a pro” can make a difference in your travel experience. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation:
What does “traveling like a pro” mean to you?”
To travel like a pro, you need to be prepared for everything. From packing and speaking the language to picking a location and creating an itinerary. I don’t mean you have to plan every single moment of your trip but I think it’s wise to know a little bit about a lot of things when you’re on the road.
You can buy a ticket, read a “things to do in “blank” city” post, and hop on a plane but that doesn’t mean you’re ready. You need to have a basic knowledge of the transportation system, currency, climate, type of clothing needed (covering up), neighborhoods (desirable and undesirable), language, laws (because who wants to get arrested), travel warnings, and foreign Embassies. Once you’ve chosen your destination, you can do your homework.
Choosing a destination can be a daunting task. How do you choose?
With so many countries in the world, it can be difficult to choose one beautiful destination over another. I’ve found that answering three basic questions helps me narrow down my search.
1. What type of weather do you want? (sunny/warm, snowy/cold or something in between)
2. What do you want to do? (Hike in the jungle, visit castles, lie on the beach, or explore museums.)
3. What’s my budget? (non-existent, mid-range, or the sky’s the limit)
By answering these questions, I can determine my next destination based on multiple factors. If I want an inexpensive vacation where lying on the beach with drink in hand won’t cost me an arm and a leg, I can choose the Caribbean. If I have a bit more to spend and I want to visit temples and eat my weight in noodles, I’ll look for something in Southeast Asia. Try answering these questions before planning your next vacation and see what you come up with!
You mentioned your budget, what’s the best way to deal with foreign currency during a trip?
From experience, I can tell you that it’s best to skip the exchange booths and head for the nearest ATM in your destination country. This is the best way to get a good exchange rate and not lose money on the transaction. For example, on our first trip to Italy, my husband and I exchanged a large sum of money and they charged a $200 fee. Not only did we lose $200, we also lost money due to the exchange rate. Do yourself a favor, use the ATM for cash and your credit cards for regular purchases.
Check with your bank to make sure you can use your debit/credit card abroad without penalties. Some banks charge international transaction fees. Also, be cognizant of the ATM you use. Make sure it’s in a well-lit, safe neighborhood and, preferably, attached to a reputable bank.
Changing gears a bit, as a flight attendant, I imagine you have packing down to a science. What advice would you give someone packing for a long trip?
Don’t pack your entire wardrobe! That should be ‘travel like a pro” tip #1! Just imagine dragging that suitcase down cobblestone streets, up narrow staircases, and around every corner and you’ll rethink what’s important. It’s nice to have options when you’re on vacation but that doesn’t mean you need to pack it all. You can always do laundry or buy a few wearable souvenirs! Bring a couple of your favorite outfits to mix and match and you’ll be fine.
So, now you’re packed and ready to go. What’s the best way to stay sane on a long-haul flight?
Prepare for your flight ahead of time to avoid in-flight insanity. Make sure you have warm clothes, a neck pillow and/or blanket, something to read or watch, a snack (including a bottle of water), phone/tablet charger, ear plugs, an eye mask and lip balm. I like to be as comfortable as possible when I fly so I keep everything I may need in a small bag that fits under the seat (just in case I’m in the middle and can’t get out as often as I’d like). If you’re prepared, you’ll be warm, entertained, and well rested when you reach your destination.
When it comes to accommodations, do you prefer hotels, vacation rentals or hostels?
Each destination is different and I choose my accommodations based on location, safety and amenities. I’m not a “hostel” type girl so I prefer a hotel or vacation rental. Hotels can be incredibly expensive and I’d rather spend that money sightseeing so I’m always looking for a good deal on the Internet. If you find the right website, you can stay in a 5 star hotel on a 3 star budget! Recently, I received an extraordinary deal from from Frugaa, check this out.
So, where are you off to next?
Well, I have a milestone birthday coming up soon so the hubby and I are thinking of a few different locations for a week-long getaway. I haven’t answered my three questions yet so I don’t know where we’ll end up! However, I do know that I’ll be prepared when we arrive.
For more about Mia, check this out: http://travelwithmia.com/