We love to travel, even if, over the years, we have had a few nuclear moments. Consider this list as the recipe for a successful trip anywhere, anytime. It is a compilation of experiences—good and bad—that we have experienced first hand. We all focus on different things depending on whom we travel with and where we are going. I think the points below will help you make the most of your future travel plans.
1. Having a well-stocked pharmacy (Annik’s idea) helps keep the aches and pains away. I have a nasty habit of getting white-porcelain dehydrated, so keep some simple rehydration medication handy. This could save you from wasting several hours in a Dominican Republic’s hospital emergency room only hours before your return flight home!
2. Hunger hits all of us (and some harder than others—ever heard of the word “hangry”?). Keep small food items that with fill your belly with much-needed calories within arm’s reach. Chocolate bars, nuts or dried fruit can save you from a nasty situation or having your own “spousal divorce moment”. Do your part and carry a bag of peanuts on you at all times!
3. Emergency plans for separation, loss documents, sickness, theft, etc. This will happen at some point of your travels, so be ready. Agree on a location where you will meet if you ever get separated from one another. Ensure a loved one back home has a list of all your credit card, bank, phone and passport information. Every time you arrive at a new destination, have a quick chat and sort out the emergency plans. They will save you valuable energy when (for example) your stupid airport shuttle driver refuses to wait for your wife!
4. Patience is the greatest thing you can have when travelling. Very few of us have the money for white-glove travel which often means waiting in line for hours or sleeping in subpar conditions! So be comfortable, dress in comfortable clothes, have your devices charged, and find a good place to sprawl out.
5. Hygiene is totally necessary. The simple act of brushing your teeth can give you that perfect pick-me-up. Smelling good will make all those around you treat you with respect. No one likes sharing a seat with a dirty, stinky person. You should keep hand soap, deodorant, light perfume or cologne in your bag. Make sure you are always kissable!
6. Thieves are everywhere so secure your possessions. Lock zippers, pack away items you are not using, secure your bags to chairs or walls even when you do not plan to get up. Do all you can to NOT BE the “gringo” target. My brother in-law was on a night train in Italy and had his wallet and passport stolen. He was asleep, lying down ON HIS BAG, and some jerk reached in, unzipped his bag and made away with his valuables. It happens. Trust no one. Keep plenty of zip ties handy.
7. Plan out the sights to see with your group. This might be your one chance to see that once-in-a-lifetime sight. Being considerate to your group, spouse or buddy is a must. Once you know everyone’s needs, you can discuss what you would like to do. Planning a day with win-win ideas for everyone helps spread the love. Don’t be selfish.
8. Shopping moments! Guys and gals like different things. So be smart and talk about planned shopping adventures and spontaneous detours. While in Budapest, I wanted a unique historical WWI souvenir. The girls were looking for their 20th scarf, so I thought I would walk ahead and find my souvenir. Lo and behold, I lost them. Save yourself the grief, inform your travel partners that you want to shop too! Figure out where to meet up again and at what time. Trust me on this one!
9. Not having directions is a simple way to ruin an otherwise good day. Keep your destination’s address and phone number handy in your mobile devices or on old-school paper. Do not expect people to help. I recall an angry moment when Annik and I arrived in Paris and travelled an hour in cheap local transit to get to our hotel. Once at the hotel, there was no booking in our name. We knew we had booked for the night so we asked the desk agent for help, but none was given. Hotel Karma? Maybe. But we found out, after almost an hour, that there was a second hotel in Paris with the very same name. To find that out, we head to find a McDonald’s restaurant and use their free Wi-Fi! An hour or two later, we found our hotel and called it a day.
I hope these simple travel ideas will help you maintain peace with whomever you travel. Annik and I have pounded out many issues in our marriage and life because we have travelled together. I am blessed to have her. She brings to life a new side of me every day we are together.
Enjoy your adventures!