Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Basic Travel Tips Part Two: Traveler's Guide to BYOB

First off, BYOB stands for Bring Your Own Blanket.

Second off, I am probably neither the first nor the last traveler to posit that the 24 hours before and first 12 hours of a trip are among the two most important time frames when it comes to a trip. These 36 hours set the mood for a trip, quite probably predict the smoothness of, and may very well be the most hectic interesting wackiest part of the trip outright. Of course, as people who I have traveled with will tell you, when you stay up until three in the morning doing nothing but talking, conversation quickly goes from philosophical to goofy to downright weird.

Moving right along, this is a magical time for younger travelers, filled with excitement and anticipation for what adventures are to come. The same can be said for anyone for that matter, if of course this isn't the dreaded College Road Trip that could potentially have things go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye. Trust me when I say: been there, done that, bought the pen and key chain, do not ever want to have that happen again.  But if you're here, this more than likely isn't what you're planning for, and with great planning even a college visit trip can be enjoyable.

Back to excitement!

Encourage your own excitement and that of the people around you. It will just make the time that most dread some of the best, before you even hit the road! Talk about what you're excited about, express any apprehension about things that you may have, and allow others to soothe said qualms.

Next, unless you're only going away for the weekend or a night, I'm going to assume that you've followed your packing list to a T and that you're ready to toss in your last minute toiletries and load up the car. Here's my next piece of valuable advice that I really should take myself: Invest in travel toiletries and a bag to put them in. When I say bag, I mean a real shower bag with plastic pouches to individually stow items and the like. It's a lifesaver. Also, when I talk about travel toiletries, I'm not talking about tiny bottles that barely hold enough conditioner for one hair washing. I'm talking about fully sized ones that you put in that bag and leave in there. I don't mean run out and buy one more of everything you own, but a bottle of shampoo, conditioner, face wash, a tube of toothpaste that you replace when you should, a bar of soap (or three if you're going away for a long while) and an extra shaving device if you are so inclined. This way, when you're running around on the day of travel and tossing things like mousse or shaving cream in your bag, you're not worried about sopping wet shampoo bottles getting everything damp in transit. Which brings me to my next point:

Unless you are going by air and have to put your shower bag in your suitcase, pack the car the day before. This can save you all sorts of hassle up to, and including, wondering if that one thing is in the car or not. As you pack, remember to check off things from your list, and keep said list handy the day of travel so you don't panic.Packing the car the day before means less hassle and more time for coffee, breakfast, and road time if it's a road trip. This, of course, can mean not having to wake up as earl for air travel, or even getting to catch an earlier flight.

This, of course, brings me to the title of this post: bring your own blanket! I do not care who you are, how you are traveling, or how old you are, bring one! If you're anything like me or even my mom, it's easy to get cold while making a journey somewhere, but it's difficult to get warm again. Having your own (clean) blanket can help combat this. It also can help you bring a piece of home with you if you're traveling far away. Me having my Delta blanket with me while I was in Germany was nice because it was soft, fluffy, and kept me from being homesick. Of course my sock monkey Fonzo (see my blog about flying overseas for more on him) helped too; this ties into letting a younger traveler bring their plushie with them. It combats homesickness! Believe me when I say that when I went to Boise to shadow I had to have my dad send me Fonzo to help me feel more relaxed while being far away. A plushie and a blanket can go a long way. A blanket will offer all these things (comfort, function, home) and then some, even if you're not a child/teen/young traveler.

Moving along, one of my last tips is know your schedule. I don't just mean dinner reservations and flight times, I mean know when you're leaving, when you're getting up, when you're supposed to get there, when your check in time is at a hotel, when your transportation is going to be there to pick you up if you aren't driving. It's all very important, and can be the difference between a good trip and a bad trip. I have an anecdote for this as well; when we went to Baltimore for my very first college visit, I had to make sure that I knew what we were doing, when we were doing it, and who would we need to talk to if we couldn't make it happen. Even parking! We had to get to the garage at a certain time so we could get and not have to pay since we were in the Early Bird Group to avoid the summer heat.

Lastly, breakfast is key. If you are following these tips, this shouldn't be difficult, but even then if you're not a big breakfast eater, it may still be hard. There is not enough that can be said about how important breakfast is in every day life, but it's even more important when traveling. It keeps you awake, keeps you focused on your day, and even can make you have more road time because you don't have to stop two hours down the road for food.

Well, that's the skinny on the 36 hour window from 24 hours before departure and the first twelve hours of it.  Keep excitement in the air, pack the car the day before, invest in travel toiletries, bring your own blanket, know your schedule, and breakfast! Until the next segment,

Monday, February 10, 2014

Basic Travel Tips Part One: Packing

      So, I'm a little bit bored and decided that since I'm writing on a travel blog, maybe I should share some of the madness that goes through my mind when I'm getting ready to leave home for any overnight sort of trip, or even just an extended day trip that will take me further than about and hour and a half from home. The first thing I will tell you is that a packing list is important, but generally only for trips lasting more than one night, and even then only when you are traveling further than about an hour from home. To make these lists (or just to make sure I have everything I need), there are several questions that I ask myself, and these may be helpful to you too.

  1. How am I traveling? These may seem like an oddball question, but what I mean is what mode of transport am I taking? Am I going by car, plane, bus, or train or some combination of the four? This determines how you are going to pack, in terms of the number of bags you can take, what you can take, and perhaps most important do you need to leave room in your suitcase for toiletries. 
  2. Where am I going? This determines what all you will have to pack, and also what you will pack for clothing. For instance, if I'm going to spending the weekend off the grid, then I am going to need to pack absolutely everything, from shampoo and conditioner to food as well. This is what I have to do when I go to State, as the hotel food is expensive and questionable, and it's just generally easier to pack most if not all the food I will need; I also have to make sure I don't forget toiletries as I can't just go somewhere to buy things I forget. However, if I'm going somewhere like Orlando with my parents, forgetting something isn't quite as big a deal, simply because I know my mom will have a replacement. 
  3. How long will I be gone? This is another what will I pack question. However, for this question it is a matter of am I going to be packing one outfit per day, or will I be packing a few essentials to mix and match to create new outfits for an extended period of time? For something like State, there are certain things I have to wear each day, and it is in April so I have to pack a pair of pants for each day as well. But if I'm going somewhere for, say, three weeks like I did last summer, I pack generally five bottoms, five tops, a dress, and five sets of pajamas (or three, depending on if it is cold or not). 
  4. What will I be doing? This is simple. If you're going for business, pack a majority of professional clothes with some casual pieces mixed in. If you're going for pleasure, vacation clothes and maybe a nice piece or two just in case a fancier occasion (like, say, Christmas). In terms of shoes, if you're going for business, nice shoes are a must; if it's pleasure you seek, comfortable footwear is a must.
     And that's it! These four questions are the basis for packing my suitcase for all my adventures. Stay tuned for part two of my Basic Travels Tips series. Until then,

Day Six and Seven: The One Where We Go Home

Tuesday saw another early start, as we had plans to be at Chena Hot Springs Resort. The reason we had to leave so early is that the road to...