I will never forget my first flight. I was 18 and on my way to London, all by myself. I had no idea what to expect or how to prepare. I had thrown a few different outfits in a suitcase, along with my camera and cell phone, and just hoped for the best. Luckily, everything clicked and I met some amazing people along the way. People who made my travels easy and left an imprint and wanderlust that would stay with me forever.
After traveling more, I realized that not every trip goes as seamlessly as my first—once you over-pack, under-pack, miss a flight, get lost, or realize there’s no Wi-Fi where there should be, or your carrier settings won’t update, you begin to prep in a different way.
I travel often now, and whether I’m going somewhere within the US or abroad, I have found that the same basic prep rules work well for me. First, I make lists—this may seem like a simple tip, but it’s an important one. I’m a bit of a throwback, so I keep my lists in a Decomposition Book notebook. I separate my lists into pre-departure tasks, items to get before departure (inevitably there’s always something), and items to pack. This frees up my mind and alleviates any worry that I could forget something.
When it comes to packing, I like the bare essentials. I also always leave room for whatever I might buy along the way. I pack a little black dress, two pairs of jeans, a few shirts, skirts, and dresses, and a bathing suit if I plan on swimming. Shoes for walking and shoes for bars. The key is to strike the perfect note between not enough clothing and too much. For electronics, bring only the essentials. I once brought a Bose Wireless SoundDock with me and it was promptly stolen from the apartment that I was staying in.
Travel is one of the greatest things that you can do to enhance your life and grow as a person. The experiences you have and friends you make along the way last a lifetime.
Which brings me to another essential, travel insurance. Always buy medical insurance, and when taking high-priced electronics, buy insurance that will cover them, too.
My favorite thing about traveling is letting my mind wander and really soaking up my surroundings and the culture of wherever I am. To do that, I need to know that everything is well planned out and that I really know the details of my destination. Not everyone is like that, of course, and some people prefer a backpack and zero plans, but I like a framework and freedom for spontaneity. I research where I’m going, the “must see” areas, and then I look for some gems. I try to find things you don’t see in the guidebooks.
Some of my favorites resources for adding fun elements to my trip—aside from word of mouth—are Trip Aside, the Ask a Stranger app, and Wandershare travel cheat sheets. After my prep, I allow space for adventure and whatever happens. Some of the most magical moments you will ever have while traveling are the things you could have never planned.
No matter how you prep, travel is one of the greatest things that you can do to enhance your life and grow as a person. The experiences you have and friends you make along the way last a lifetime. From my love for travel I have gained friends from different countries, dual citizenship, and a family halfway around the world. I cannot wait to see where I end up next.