In Search of: Lessons Learned While Traveling

I just completed 2.5 weeks of travel.  The first few days were in Indianapolis for a science teacher conference.  I got to geek out with a bunch of other science-types, and this made me a very happy girl.  Also, I’ve never been to Indiana, which moved me closer to another goal: visit every state in the U.S.  Indianapolis was surprisingly lovely, and I can’t wait to share a few pictures and the goods from the trip (interestingly, I made some great travel contacts!).

At approximately midnight on a Saturday, I arrived home from Indianapolis.  I did laundry, packed my bags a second time and got ready to head back to the airport.  On Sunday afternoon, I stepped on a plane to begin spring break — two weeks in Peru!  I couldn’t have been more excited.  Seriously.  My socks were ready to be knocked off.  (And the trip didn’t disappoint, I assure you!)

But before I get into the awesomeness that is Peru and Machu Picchu and the Amazon Rainforest, I have to admit I learned a fair number of lessons this time around.  Let’s be honest, I’m still a newbie traveler.  I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.  I just sort of jump in, feet first, and hope there are no piranhas near.  Don’t worry though.  I only required a few band-aids.

Without further ado, a letter to myself (and any other newbie traveler out there that would prefer to learn lessons the easy way and allow me to make mistakes for them).

Dear Self (yes, you), a few simple instructions for travel:

  1. SLOW DOWN.  I know you want to see everything.  But that’s sort of impossible.  And you’ll drive yourself insane attempting to do so.  Psychiatric bills are expensive.  Take the easy way once in a while.  Avoid the mental breakdown.  Slow travel is your ideal.  (You know I’m right.)
  2. Bring an appropriate first aid kit.  This includes more than two band-aids.  An antiseptic wipe, Neosporin and a bottle of ibuprofen would do you well.
  3. Pack said band-aids and antiseptic wipes in mini Ziplock bags.  Yes, you’re cheap.  And you think buying extra baggies will kill the planet.  But sometimes these things are super useful.  Like when you don’t want to dig through the gallon size plastic bag that’s holding everything from your shampoo, your razors and your mouthwash, and you just want to reach things quickly.  Mini Ziplocks are awesome for organization.  And you know you love to organize things.
  4. Spend extra money on direct flights.  Sometimes, you’re way too cheap.  Never forget: by the end of your trip, you would gladly pay a small ransom for a direct flight home — at which point, you’re dirty, you’re tired and more than a little cranky.  And let’s not forget, you’re also afraid to fly.  The fewer flights, the healthier your heart.
  5. Buy a super cute passport holder.  Okay.  It doesn’t HAVE to be super cute.  But it should be.  On the practical side, your passport turns into a wrinkled mess every time you visit one of those ridiculously humid locales you seem to love so much.  The damn thing’s going to fall apart before you make it to the last page if you don’t protect it.  Plus, did I mention it can be super cute?
  6. Bring your netbook.  I know.  You think it sounds romantic to be without internet for weeks at a time.  It’s not.  Enough said.
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