Travel Tips : Staying Relaxed

Travelling isn’t always calming. It can be stressful, especially if you’re alone. Hot flushes about missing flights, arriving in a foreign location and desperately trying to not get lost, language barriers, long delays, a sense of unfamiliarity, the list goes on…


Rule number one: think before you pack. Obvs, but true. The number of times I’ve assumed I know what I’m doing and packed on the fly, only to arrive and kick myself for forgetting factor 30 lip balm, or a headphone adapter for the aeroplane. It’s the small things that get forgotten, things that don’t cost much to replace, but the inconvenience of not having them when you need them causes disproportionate pain. As always, the solution is a list. I have two packing lists (for summer and winter destinations), and amend them as the world advances e.g. contact lenses and solution happily came off the day that I had laser eye surgery, and various digital items are continually being added (a portable USB power cell is the latest, which is something that I highly recommend if you’re committed to social media like me, and need to keep the Instagram photos flowing).


Don’t underestimate the power of the bumbag. It keeps all of your most important stuff with you, easy to access, hard for anyone else to access, and with no required commitment from shoulders, arms or hands. This tripod of qualities (accessible, secure, hands-free) works nicely for airport check ins, a trek up a rock, festivals, sleeper train, crazy dancing in the club, you name it, you can do it with your purse/phone/camera/passport safely stowed in your belly pouch. People may laugh, but believe me it’s the bumbag wearer who will have the last laugh.


Go paperless. Keep any travel docs in your emails so that you can access bookings, boarding passes, travel advice etc. on your smart phone. This requires a little pre-organisation – I have a folder for travel in my Gmail account, which has subfolders for flight details, bookings/addresses, travel guides/tips, into which I file the appropriate content before I travel. There’s no need to carry around a heavy guide book, everything you need is on the web. Be free and without paper! With one exception: I keep a photocopy of my passport, emergency contacts, and travel insurance details on me. You can put it all on one sheet of paper – print a few copies and keep one on your bag and one on your person, especially if you’re travelling alone.


Relax your itinerary (or don’t have one). Time is the key factor here, and a luxury that isn’t always available. But if you have plenty of time, then travel slowly. Avoid booking travel or accommodation in advance unless absolutely necessary. It means that when you arrive in a new place you can breathe and settle in, instead of being in a rush to tick off the key sights/activities and move on. It’s always the slow and unplanned approach that allows me to find things, to meet people, or to try things that otherwise I never would have. When you have time, you stop and peer into the cracks, ask questions and find secrets that you would have missed. Stay as long as you’re still finding things. Let the place get under your skin, see how people live, how they cook, how they raise their children. Then, when you feel like you’re getting bored, grab the next bus or train out of there. I’d rather travel one country slowly than check off lots of countries quickly. Most importantly, enjoy yourself, see the world, relax, and be free.

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