You know those days, or even those weeks, leading up to your perfect getaway, when you daydream about every possible scenario or problem you might encounter?
Well, unfortunately, no matter how much you try to “imagine” how your trip will be, there’s no way it’s guaranteed to turn out the way you planned.
But this is not necessarily a bad thing. Just know the basics and you’ll be fine.
After all, the unpredictable always happens in life and it’s good to learn how to adapt to unexpected situations.
So here are 6 things you wish you knew before traveling.
If you’re not a seasoned veteran at traveling for extended periods of time, the excitement is going to be through the roof—which means your daydreaming level is at an all-time high.
Don’t be ashamed about it because we’ve all been there.
Just know that things won’t always be roses. Which is why it’s nice to have a novice traveler to pass on their knowledge.
Passport? Check. Vaccinations? Check. Credit cards? Check.
Yes, you need cash if you’re traveling out of the country, and make sure it’s clean bills too. Some places will not accept American cash that has any markings on it.
See a teller at the bank instead of going to the ATM.
And not only do some places not accept credit cards, but whatever you’re buying might even be cheaper when paid for in cash. (This is anecdotal, but did you know that in Los Angeles, some gas stations charge less if you pay in cash? It’s true.)
Also, don’t forget to call your credit card company to inform them that you’re leaving the country. Most banks have that feature on their main online menu, so you don’t even have to talk to an actual person.
Tip the hotel reservationists
This is such an underrated one. Almost nobody tips the hotel reservationists. But they are allowed to accept tips.
None of them expect it, and they are always surprised to receive one.
So what does tipping them mean for you? Perks.
You’ll want to tip them right after they hand you the key to your room, which will imply that you’re doing it from the goodness of your heart. They’ll be way more likely to show their appreciation by doing something extra for you.
You may get unlucky, but the universe will repay you at some point.
Don’t recline in your airline seat
You’ve finally reached 30,000 thousand feet and it’s time to rest your eyes. Your knees are cramped, your back hurts. Time to recline the seat back, right?
Not so fast.
An astounding 60% of passengers believe it is rude to recline your seat back.
This may be a news flash since we’re all in the same boat and everybody has that ability, but, nevertheless, the opinion that it is rude is held by a majority of people.
So the best thing to do is be polite and ask the person behind you if they mind.
Keep a loose itinerary
If you’ve ever traveled with someone who needs to keep a strict schedule, you know how irritating that is.
Well, it’s even worse when you’re sightseeing. You come across a place that you want to enjoy a little longer than planned, and suddenly Karen is ushering you along to the next thing.
The answer to this dilemma might be to simply visit fewer places for a longer amount of time rather than cramming everything into a short itinerary.
And hey, you might even want to sleep in one day too. So leave room for that.
Keep a journal about your trip
Taking pictures isn’t enough.
Sure, you can be like every other tourist and pretend like you’re “holding up” the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but will you remember what the city smelled like or the weird things you noticed?
The memory is a funny thing. You’ll feel like an experience was so unforgettable that you’ll remember every single detail. But you won’t—largely because life happens and your memory gets a little hazy.
However, I can guarantee that if you keep a journal, you’ll be able to relive your experience over and over again, especially when paired with the pictures you took.
Know that a jerk is a jerk and they’re everywhere
You’ll meet a slew of jerks all over the world. It’s not exclusive to a specific nationality, race, religion, or gender.
For whatever reason, some people are just misanthropic creatures by nature and there’s no way to avoid them.
So, the best thing to do is not let them get you down and affect your vacation. Don’t argue with them. Don’t even acknowledge them if you can. It’s literally not worth your precious time or energy.
On the flip side, don’t be a jerk either. If you’re traveling outside of the country, be humble about being an American. Foreigners have preconceived notions about Americans and some of them are really bad.
So, be humble about the fact that you live in the greatest country in the world. And remember, you are their guest.
While it’s important to learn and prepare as much as possible before taking a big trip, know that even the most seasoned of travelers experience the unexpected. So learn to roll with it.
But most importantly, don’t forget to have fun.