No matter if you’re traveling 20 minutes in a car or 5,000 miles on a plane, it’s important to be comfortable. Many people have convinced themselves that traveling today is not worth the trouble – from long security lines at the airport to gas that costs more per gallon than a Happy Meal (sad, but true). How did we get here?! I look at photos from the 1950s and envy those smiling passengers sitting in their plush seats and eating meals on real plates. What did I do to miss out on that travel comfort?
Fear not! Even though those days are no longer with us (thanks discount airlines who will remain nameless), we can still take steps to make travel fun and (somewhat) comfortable. As I’ve said in previous posts, I’ve had the opportunity to travel a lot over the years (starting before my first birthday) and I have some suggestions that I think may help you to have a more relaxing trip the next time you need to get away for a weekend, a week, or longer (in this case, please bring cologne or perfume since washing machines are not always accessible).
My Travel Necessities:
Snack Food (Yes, it’s my number one!)
I used to never eat when I was traveling. I have no idea why, but it’s just the way that I was. The first time my wife and I (at that time she was my girlfriend) went on a trip, she asked me to stop at a gas station on our way out of town. We went in and she went straight for the pretzels and Swedish Fish. It seems like a strange combination, but the salty and sweet factors really work together to make a great snack. My choices are a little different. I like to snack on Fig Newtons, cheese (cheddar is the best), and apples. I also make a habit of trying to pick up little food finds to snack on throughout my trips. Just remember that if you’re going on a plane, make sure to have snacks that will not be confiscated by security. Seeing your Welsh cake (try them and be amazed) taken away is no way to start a trip.
As my friends and family will tell you, I am a sneaker fanatic! I have way more pairs than I should, but I only have two kinds that I use when I travel – Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars (high top or low top) or PF Flyer Center Hi (or Low) sneakers. I know that we’ve been told to only wear slip-on shoes when we travel to make it easier at security, but I have to disagree. Whether traveling throughout the US or overseas, I’ve always had these shoes on my feet. Yes, it takes some extra time to tie them after going through security, but that time is worth it. These shoes are so comfortable for travelers thanks to the cushion they offer, they can be worn throughout the trip (with jeans and a t-shirt on the plane or jeans with a sport coat for dinner in London), and (most important) they can be cleaned easily if you happen to step in or spill something.
Sitting in a car or airport for hours can get really old really fast, but that’s why I always make sure to bring items to keep me entertained. Some light reading, as you can see from my current reading material pictured on the left, is always helpful. Make sure that you’re reading something that entertains you, not something you’re obligated to read – a vacation is not the time to read that chemistry textbook. When traveling to Europe a few years ago, I read a great book called Europe on 5 Wrong Turns A Day by Doug Mack. It’s a hilarious book, particularly when you’re reading it on your way to Europe. I’ve also read Hemingway and Kerouac during my travels. Along with reading, I also make sure to bring music with me. It can be whatever you like, but I usually try to have a wide variety, including jazz, classical, country, Top 40, etc. I’ve found that different music just feels right when you’re in visiting different areas. Just make sure it’s something you like and that relaxes you, which can be helpful when you’re standing in a long line.
Camera (or Phone With a Camera)
I’m old school when it comes to taking photos – I like cameras. No, I don’t use cameras with film (I’m not that old school). I have a lot of friends who make fun of me for this, but that’s my choice. If you’re a camera phone person, that’ s fine. It doesn’t matter how you take your pictures, just make sure you have the ability to take them. I have a habit of taking a ton of photos when I’m traveling. Don’t believe me? On my last trip to Europe, I took over 500 photos in a week. When my wife and I traveled across the US several years ago, we took over 1,200 photos in two weeks. It’s a lot of photos, but there are a lot of memories in those photos – standing in front of Cardiff Castle or on the rim of the Grand Canyon. One benefit of all of those photos is that we have an ever-changing gallery of our travel photos on the walls of our home. Just remember to be in the moment while you’re traveling and to not see the whole trip through your camera’s lens.
A Travel Buddy
The Captain had Gilligan, but just make sure that your boat works prior to taking any three-hour tour. All joking aside, it’s important to have a travel buddy. It can be your significant other, a college friend, or your dog (note one of our dogs as she takes her place as our ever vigilant co-pilot). The joy that travel brings us is significantly enhanced when we share them with people (or pets) who are special to us. Plus, a travel buddy gives you someone to talk to when you’re waiting in the airport or driving for hours and hours…and hours. If you find yourself traveling alone, take some time to talk to your fellow travelers at the hotel or hostel you’re staying in. You’ll make long-lasting friendships and have a stand in travel buddy. Either way, it’s always better to share travel with someone else.
I know that there are a lot of other things that you have to remember when you’re traveling. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of the only things you should bring, but these are the things that I like to make sure I have.
So, what are your travel necessities? Let me know by leaving a comment or by sending me a tweet with the hashtag #ForksandPassports. I look forward to see what’s important to you.
Have a great trip!