This year has already marked some epic trips for me. I’ve been to Switzerland, Thailand, Morocco, United Kingdom, USA and even a brief stop in my original hood – Toronto, Canada. I thinks it’s fair to deem myself as a Serial-traveller. Some of these trips have been for one or two weeks getaways, and others relatively quick over nights.
During these travels and the ones prior, I’ve learned a few things. Some of which may surprise you.
There is no pre-travel hype for me and I don’t get pre-trip jitters. In fact, I’m rarely excited before a trip. I enjoy the trip planning process but the lead up to any trip is daunting for me. Preparing myself to be away, especially when not taking the kids, is hard work and kind’ve stressful. That said, once I board my mode of transport (plane, train, ferry, or automobile), I’m 100% committed to embrace the experience ahead.
Play the Points Game
Find a Hotel brand or Airline that you like and stick with them. Also, make sure your credit card is partnered with a good travel program.
We are SPG (Starwood Preferred Guests) members, which include:
- W Hotels
- Westin Hotels
- Sheraton Hotels
- St Regis,
- Le Meridien and Four Points
SPG has also partnered with Marriott giving us a wider array of hotel options.
As a Platinum member we receive loads of Benefits:
- Late check out.
- Guaranteed room upgrades.
- Complimentary WIFI.
- Unlimited bottled water.
- Guaranteed room availability.
- Private concierge service.
- Lounge Access
As loyal British Airways and American Airlines clients we are given lounge access, ticket upgrades, excess baggage allowance, speedy boarding and fast passes through security. Membership definitely has its privileges. Also, don’t forget to align your credit cards with an airline. Always make big purchases on your card in order to gain the travel rewards. These add up quickly!
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Shit happens and when travelling shit happens all the time. If your flight/train/ferry is delayed or cancelled then roll with it. There is usually a really good safety reason behind that decision to delay.
Last week, I was flying from Miami to Toronto for the weekend before returning to Europe. My express reason for going to Toronto was to attend my cousin’s bachelorette party. I carved out two nights with the hopes of having a little chill time and a catch up with one of my BFFs.
That Friday, we arrived into Toronto on time but we couldn’t land d/t massive winds of 73 MPH being clocked at Pearson. After flying around for an hour, the pilot diverted to Buffalo, New York. Not ideal.
Obviously I was disappointed but I wasn’t really annoyed. The Captain played it safe and did his job. The Airline (American Airlines), were awesome and offered vouchers for the hotels in proximity to the airport. However, this Princess opted to call my SPG Concierge who not only cancelled my Toronto booking without penalty – she then hooked me up with cool digs at the Westin Hotel in Buffalo. Would I rather have been in Toronto? Absolutely! Yet, some things are just not in our control. I was safe and comfortable. All anyone can ask for.
Be Nice – Nobody likes an Asshole in any Country.
This one should be rather obvious but you’d be surprised how many people I see fail here.
We all know kindness doesn’t cost a thing but this still seems to be a real struggle for some. As an able-bodied, non baby toting, non geriatric person, I try to help others that are not so mobile.
My kids are big (ish) now and great travellers. But it was not so long ago that I was struggling either pregnant or with three small children (often alone) through an airport. So if you see someone unable to collapse their baby stroller while juggling a couple of kids. Help a sister out. If the elderly person beside you needs access to the overhead bin. Help them out.
And if you do nothing else right – remember to be nice to your Flight Attendant. These people are your in-flight life line. Smile and say hi when you board. Make yourself stand out in a good way! Believe me, they will return your kindness in spades and remember you when the refreshments come around.
This is a rookie error and one that I still find myself occasionally guilty of. Unless you’re a master packer – you never use everything that you bring.
Leave room in your suitcase so you can shop at your destination. A great trick is to pack a suitcase within a suitcase so you can fill it up with foreign goodies. This is a trick I learned from living in The Bahamas. Trips to the mainland, always meant shopping. If I was only going for a night, I would bring a change of clothes, toothbrush and basically an empty suitcase packed within a suitcase.
As long as you have your passport and credit card you can fill in the missing gaps.
Say “Yes” to Any Kind of Travel or Trip.
There is no bad way to travel or any time frame in which you must travel. Take every opportunity that presents itself. My Father-in-law always said:
A missed trip is a missed experience that you can’t get back”
This is so true.
It doesn’t matter if you take a plane trip, ferry trip, train trip or a road trip. Every form of transport offers something unique. Even if you just take a few days away, you have stepped out of your daily grind to experience something unique or different. An extended trip might change the course of your life. But a trip outside of your comfort zone is where living really begins.
Eat Like a Local
There is no better way to experience a country or culture then to immerse yourself into a customary diet.
This is also going to be the cheapest way to eat. When we were in Thailand, we visited the night market. There was every type of Thai street food imaginable. Feeling brave, I took my place in the bug line up. But, I bailed!!! And you know what? I really regret it. In the grand scheme of things – it might have been gross…but it wouldn’t have killed me.
Fortunately, most countries have a wide array of delectable eats that don’t include bugs. Pair a traditional dish with a local wine, beer, or tea, and then make small chat with your server. It’s really that easy to start finding your way around a new culture or unfamiliar surrounding. Food chat is the perfect ice breaker and a good segue into other areas of interest.