In 2007, I was asked to move to Switzerland with my then boyfriend (now husband). My job would require a significant amount of travel and our lifestyle seemed to lend itself well to that. In the time that we’ve lived here, we’ve seen a lot together and I’ve seen even more on my own: Brazil, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama, Russia, Zanzibar, Kenya, Egypt, Tanzania, Austria, Italy, France, UK, Germany, Turkey and the list goes on…
Flying economy and traveling a bit teaches you a thing or two.
My top 5 lessons learned
- Do yourself and those around you a favor: learn a few words in the local language. There’s no reason why you can’t learn to say “hello”, “thank you”, “yes”, “no” and “can I call my lawyer?” in German, Portuguese, Russian or whatever . Practice them enough and you’ll sound so convincing that you’ll get yourself into awkward situations like I do all the time.
- Pack your bags and then remove half of what you just packed. Seriously. You don’t need it. Put it back. Less laundry on the back end. Except for your underwear, hang onto those.
- If you don’t pack at least one night’s worth of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on, the airline WILL lose your luggage. It’s scientifically proven. I think they pass messages down from security. So, just do it to make sure that your luggage arrives safely.
- If traveling somewhere for pleasure, plan 75% of your time. Guide books, TripAdvisor, advice from friends, blogs, I call on all of them. But it’s a guarantee that the part of the trip that I always love the most is the part that happened accidentally. Leave 25% of your time just to lose yourself in the city, the culture and of course, the food. It’s what you’ll remember the most.
- Be nice. Be nice to everyone, including the woman at the airport who just put you in a middle seat. I know you don’t want to be, but trust me, being mean to the people who hold your reservations in their hands has never served anyone well. Not to mention that when you scream you just look like a jack ass.
Sure, there are other rules, but for the most part these are the ones that have kept me sane, happy and out of jail.