An airplane wing overlooking clouds and the ocean.

Traveling Like a Pro

By Brittany Anderson
Web Content Contributor

It’s the harsh reality that every Instagram travel influencer doesn’t want you to know: traveling is exhausting, complicated and uncomfortable. Even more frustrating is having to accept that there are some parts of travel that you will never quite be able to get down to a science.

Rigid airport rules, layovers, hours of flights and the sheer idea of being immersed in a new culture can be incredibly daunting tasks to pursue in the name of adventure. Although we all (or soon will) cultivate our own preferences over time, here are my top do’s and don’ts that will have you traveling like a pro.

DO have an itinerary. You’ll be able to maximize your time if you have at least a basic idea of what your day-to-day schedule is going to look like. But remember, it’s okay to not always stick to a rigid schedule. Overplanning might cause you to miss out on spontaneous experiences.

DON’T overpack your luggage. This one might seem obvious, but now is the time to come to terms with the fact that you probably won’t have room for that extra pair of shoes or fifth pair of jeans. Instead, take basic pieces that you can mix and match to create multiple different options. Your arms will thank you later.

DO bring these overnight plane essentials: an eye mask, headphones, Benadryl or melatonin, a jacket or hoodie, moisturizer, lip balm, gum, water and hand sanitizer. Long haul flights are tough, so striving for comfort, hydration and cleanliness is key.

DON’T spend too much money on, or time at your hotel. At the end of the day, a hotel is a hotel. You’ve put in a lot of energy to make it this far, so make it count. Save your time and money for exploring all day.

DO travel like a local. Avoid gimmicky restaurants, souvenir shops and tourist traps. A few postcards and mementos here and there won’t hurt, but don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path, talk to locals and do unique things you can’t or wouldn’t normally do back home.

DON’T sit behind your phone all day. Photographing memories is important, but you can’t capture the sounds, smells and feel of a new city with a camera or incessant social media posts. It’s important to detach yourself from everything going on back in the “real world” so you can focus on soaking in everything around you.

So many parts of the traveling process can make even the most seasoned traveler a nervous wreck. Instagram might lead you to believe that the biggest challenge you’ll face on your trip is figuring out how to perfectly curate your feed to reflect on your adventures. Instead, forget social media and go get your hands dirty— have an airport horror story to tell for years to come; get called a “bloody American” by a European; make friends with strangers from different countries on the back of a public bus. You’ll come back with a much greater sense of self and realize that all the beautiful aspects of travel truly outweigh the hassle it takes.

Featured image by Brittany Anderson.

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