If you're sick or low on energy, making it to that important business meeting 10 hours away or exploring the local culture can make things all the more difficult and less enjoyable. Being ill or depleted can make an productive meeting or day into a draining one, and that's not what life is about! When it comes to travel, I make my health a top priority above anything else. Some things that I'll do in order to prepare for a trip is slowly try to get myself scheduled for the same time zone where I'll be traveling; that might mean going to bed a little later or waking up earlier, but I've found that if I'm able to shift my sleeping cycles with the time zones, I am much more adjusted.
The worst thing is having to worry about a ton of luggage; whether or not it's going to make it to your final destination, lugging it around, not being able to climb stairs, being limited when it comes to traveling on trains, planes, busses or even cabs. Trust me when I say that I've traveled both extremely heavy and extremely light, and I now opt for the latter. First things first, how to maximize space and what do you really need to bring? Can you pick that stuff up once you get there, or are these items things you just can't live without?
How many times have you got off a plan only to find that the wifi in the airport is not working and you can't use your data because it's too expensive? How do you look up your hotel address again? You think, I'll ask around... but what if you don't know the language? Wouldn't you wish that Google Translate was there for you in these times of need? I travel for work and play, and if there's one thing I've found to be crucial when it comes to managing both, it's a strong data connection. Believe it or not, there are affordable plans that have coverage in most countries around the world. Find out what I used on my Expedition to stay in touch with family and always in communication via e-mail.
Have you ever told a friend, family member, or stranger where you were headed for your business trip or travels and then regret it once they tell you their thoughts on the place? Maybe it makes you not want to go anymore, or maybe it makes you feel nervous or bored at the thought. We've all been there; "I've heard this happens when you go...", or "You better not try this!", or "It was amazing, but...". When we travel, we develop our own preconceptions of places with which we visit, and sometimes our visions of what we hope that place to be can be skewed by outside opinions: good or bad. I find it very useful to disregard both the good and the bad of people's opinions about a place I'm about to visit, so that I can go in with a completely open mind and form my own, unique experience.
Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, it's important to not only respect the local people, but heed their advice as well! The most delicious and authentic cuisine in the city that locals flock to is likely only known by locals, and not found online or in travel guide books. If a local tells you about a local restaurant, check it out. If they tell you about a certain place within the city with which to visit, they've likely taken their own family members or friends there and have seen their expression of awe enough to highly recommend it even to strangers. Whenever I was looking for an authentic experience on my time off to get a true feel of that culture, I'd ask a local where to go, and they would never let me down!
The past decade of my life has been spent traveling primarily alone, but I've also traveled with friends, a boyfriend at one time, and still, nothing beats the experience and euphoria of traveling alone into unchartered territory. As I get older, I realize that sure, it would be fun to have a close pal or family member with me to share the moments, but even still, I find an immense amount of value and knowledge in being free to spark conversation with a stranger or travel wherever and wherever I please. The world is kinder than we think, if we only give it a chance.
One day, we might want to look back on our cultural experiences. Life is short and it is also unpredictable, which is why having documentation of your trips is important. I've witnessed several family members of mine go through memory loss, but the sound of music or photos will bring back good vibes. I also relish the photos and notes my parents have shared with me from their earlier days. I'll admit, I'm not the journal type, I had to make an immense effort to write an entry every evening on my Expedition. These days, I make sure to type up a few sentences and keep those notes in two or three separate places, I'll also snap a photo and save something from that trip; a coin, coaster, sticker, etc., to always remind me.
Might sound easy, or perhaps it sounds daunting to the unseasoned traveler. But I assure you, once you master the art of travel, you will have a much easier time getting from point A to point B, while enjoying yourself in the process. We all hate waiting in long lines, but what if it was possible for you to avoid them? Having something as simple as Global Entry (as an American) or by carefully selecting your seat in advance can be the difference between getting off or on the plane in a matter of minutes, or hours. 98% of the time, I'm the first person in line for border control. Find out what I do to stay ahead of the game in order to be able to enjoy a drink in the lounge prior to departure or an earlier nights rest upon arrival.
More often than not I'd find myself waiting last to board in order to take advantage of empty seats that I could score. Oftentimes, airlines will leave a section of seats or even two full seats open at random (sometimes for the flight attendants to sleep there, sometimes it's just a hole in the booking system). Either way, if you wait until last, you have your pickings of open seats to choose. Why be stuck for 10 hours beside a family of 3 when you can have the whole row in front all to yourself? This works most of the time, but not all of the time. And if you're flying domestic in the US, you might want to be first to score that extra overhead bin space.
There are a lot of questions that run through a woman's mind when considering solo travel, and trust me, I've gone through all of those negative and positive thoughts. Allow me to further explain my rationale of traveling alone as a woman, as I've been doing since the age of 18.
Ever dream about driving Route 66 across America? Well, I never have. But I have driven across the USA 5 times, with 4 of them being solo. From New York to the Smoky Mountains, through Texas, New Mexico and Southern California, to Ohio, North Dakota, Kansas, Colorado, Utah and finally, Northern California. The Rockies, the Moab, Zion, Big Bear, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and everywhere in between. You name it, I've probably been there. The allure of the USA, driving through small towns and big cities, ultimate nature and National Landmarks is just exhilarating. Truth is, I'd do it all over again, and I will! Let me share with you my tips on driving across country solo.
The number one question I get yet the least one I talk about, mainly because it brings me back to the days of agony, spending 15+ hours a day for 3 years straight to secure sponsors. But even to this day, my days are spend acquiring sponsorship, whether in the form of hotels, flights or other branding opportunities. It's an important topic, and in this series, I'll be getting into the depths of what has helped me secure sponsors since the beginning. I believe that my advice can also help anyone regardless of their educational background, career field or geographical location. So, let's dive in!