After yet another weekend “out of town” (aka: out of country) last weekend, I was inspired to post a second list of miscellaneous travel tips:
1.      In the same vein as the “make friends” tip blog I posted earlier, “real” travel tips 1.a and b are to be open minded and to be flexible. Don’t get so married to the ideas you have about what you’ll do and where you go; be open to impromptu opportunities and/or suggestions from locals or fellow travelers.

2.      Bring baby powder; it’s great for so many things!  Particularly if you try to pack light and only bring one pair of running/walking/hiking shoes, those bad boys are gonna get stinky.  Knocking some baby powder into them at the end of the day will help them dry out, thus not getting as stinky as they would otherwise.  It also works wonders to sprinkle some powder along your hair line to reduce greasiness in your roots without having to wash your hair.  Or, go for the old fashion, time proven use – to prevent moisture (anywhere) on your body.  Interpret that as you may 😉

3.      Keep important documents in baggies. I know I mentioned the packing-in-bags thing earlier, but specifically, get the strong zip lock kind to individually protect important things like passports and cameras.

4.      Bring your own water bottle – Nalgene, Sigg, or whatever. Not having to buy bottled water every day can add up to a major money saver over a long trip.  If you’ve got your own bottle, though, you can often fill up with drinkable water almost anywhere in modern cities for free.

5.      Keep a small container of hand sanitizer in your purse/fanny pack/back pack.

6.      Leave a copy of your passport, ID, and credit card(s) with a loved one back home.

7.      Accumulate frequent flyer miles, bonus points, and coupons as much as possible!  I can’t believe my ears when I hear people say they didn’t earn miles for a flight, especially international ones.  Why not?!  It’s FREE to register for mileage accounts on any airline.  If you want to bump it up a notch, though, get the credit card for the airline you fly the most.  Nowadays, all major carriers offer like 20,000 or 25,000 miles just for joining.  25,000 miles gets you a free domestic ticket!  Delta, USAirways, American, and United all fly over seas as well as partner with international carriers.  There’s NO reason NOT to earn miles.  Additionally, the hostel network is super friendly toward earning discounts.  Join the youth hostel network (if you’re going the backpacker route) for whichever continent you’ll travel.  For instance, for hostels in Australia gets you at least a few bucks off any hostel within their network, as well as discounts on excursions and other fun stuff you might be interested in. 

8.      Personally, I always bring a rain coat even if I’m going somewhere that supposedly never gets rain.  Weather is one of the most predictable unpredictables!  If you’re traveling as a backpacker or just trying to pack light, it’s still worth your time to stuff even a light rain coat somewhere in your bag.

push UP!

9.   Don’t use travel as an excuse to not exercise.  Ok, so you don’t want to spend your time being a gym bunny while you’re off seeing the world, I get that.  But there’s a LOT you can still do to maintain fitness in order to not completely let yourself go.  Early in my travels, I fell victim to the travel excuse for scrimping on fitness as well as eating, drinking, and doing whatever I wanted; if you’re traveling for more than a week, this type of behavior gets old fast.  About the time I hit Spain in the summer of 2009, I decided that running through the cities was a great way to get a quick glance of my new surroundings. If possible, the first thing I’d do when I arrived in a fresh city was to dump my bags in my room, throw on my running shoes, and go for a jog around town.  Running is so easy to do anywhere because all you need is a pair of shoes.  As for keeping toned, that, too, requires minimal effort.  You can do push ups, squats, dips, and stretching in as small of a space as your own body (read: tiny room) – no gym required!  Heck, throw a resistance band in your bag and give yourself even more options for muscle toning regimens.  I recommend making it more fun, though, by doing all this stuff outside (ie: Use a park bench to do dips, find a playground with some monkey bars to do pull ups, etc).  Especially when traveling through places like big European cities, it’s easy to get caught up in going from museum to museum, or restaurant to restaurant, and neglect to take care of yourself in the process.  Folks, all it takes is 20 minutes first thing in the morning  (yes, even if you’re hung over! LOL) to get outside for a quick jog; that tiny 20 minutes is enough to keep your blood moving, get your heart going, and provide you with a healthy dose of fitness endorphins.  A lot of times, that’s how I got myself out the door for a run – I’d tell myself “Sarah, just a slow 20 minutes, that’s it, it’s better than nothing” and I usually ended up doing much more than that and ALWAYS feeling better for it afterwards.  So, I encourage you to do the same on your next extended trip – Get movin! 🙂  Jog in the morning before you start your sight-seeing for the day, walk instead of taking buses, and don’t forget to get out of the museums or pubs and get some fresh air!

Theresa&I post outdoor-impromptu work out, somewhere south of Punakaiki New Zealand, February 2010

*Theresa, my best friend from our USMC days together, was an awesome healthy-travel buddy!!! 🙂  Most of what we did in New Zealand and Australia involved an active endeavor.  We jogged through the hilly city streets of Auckland, hiked Rongitoto Island, tramped the Tongariro Crossing, explored the glaciers on the South Island, ran along the River Yarra in Melbourne, and traversed all the trails along the way.  
Therefore, I guess you could say that travel tip 10 is to pick your travel partners wisely.  After the previous months I spent mostly in European cities (Jul-Dec ’09), and all the fun Margie (an also awesome travel buddy) and I had running around the cities and the ‘scapes of South America (Nov ’09), I knew for sure by that point in my journey (Jan-Mar ’10) that I wanted an entirely outdoor activity-focused adventure for my travels in NZ and Oz, so partnering up with fitness buff bff, Theresa, for a few weeks was a no-brainer. 🙂