By Nikka Sarthou
T.S. Eliot once said that, “The journey, not the arrival matters.” Though the destination may be the main attraction, part of the appeal of traveling comes from the journey itself — from packing your suitcase to actually being in transit.
Before you head for some summer fun, consider these helpful travel tips from seasoned travelers.
Capsules and Cubes: How to Travel Light
Airline regulations changing the maximum luggage allowance has become a challenge for travelers to make everything fit, especially for Filipinos who are used to traveling with full balikbayan boxes. We should all take cue from flight attendants who have mastered the art of packing.
“When I started flying, I made a list of things that I’ll need when traveling, which I divided into four major categories — toiletries, clothes, entertainment, and travel essentials (i.e. travel documents). I lay down everything on my bed first before organizing them inside my luggage. This way, it’s easier to double check everything,” shares DJ de Dios, an international Cabin Crew who has been flying with a major airline for six years now. “I use packing cubes and follow the Capsule Formula – you basically roll your clothes into a capsule and load them up in packing cubes. No fuss, no mess. I also choose clothes and items, which are multi-purpose like a sarong that I can use as a scarf, as a blanket, and as a beach cover-up. A flight attendant friend of mine can even turn hers into a summer dress.”
As an international cabin crew, he flies to different places abroad and brings with him multi-purpose pieces that are versatile enough for traveling to areas with varying climates. He recently discovered thermal underwear. “I got mine from Japan and it doesn’t take up any luggage space. Trust me, it can take your wardrobe from spring-summer to fall-winter in a jiffy.”
Age Appropriate: How to Travel with Kids
Family vacations can be both fun and challenging. This time, you’re not just thinking about yourself but considering your children’s needs and wants as well. Anton Diaz, Founder of the food and travel blog, OurAwesomePlanet.com, usually travels around the Philippines with the whole family in tow, which includes a brood of three boys.
“Kids need to be entertained and you need to ‘prepare’ them for what will happen. Entertainment strategies are important, and one must be careful what to trade-off for good behavior.”
Anton shares that when picking a place that is kid-friendly, he considers the general feel of the place.
Other things to check out for are if the destination is kid-friendly in an age–appropriate way. If you’re traveling with toddlers in strollers, a place with wide even streets would be ideal. It would be very challenging to push a stroller along a cobblestone path.
On the Off-Beat: How to Travel to Exotic Places
There are travelers who are drawn by exotic destinations, which may not be used to having tourists or would require more sensitivity towards their culture. “I do an initial research online on the do’s and don’ts. But more reliable sources would be locals and fellow travelers. Occasionally, I also coordinate with local tourism offices,” shares Edgar Alan Zeta-Yap, a Travel Journalist who maintains a website called www.eazytraveler.com.
Zeta-Yap’s wandering shoes have also taken him to Kalinga, Maguindanao and Tawi-Tawi in the Philippines and to Myanmar, Indonesia, and India. When traveling to such places, he suggests to, “Be healthy. Keep yourself hydrated with water and boost your immunity by taking vitamins daily. It’s tough getting sick in far-flung places. But at the same time, don’t loose your sense of adventure. Be spontaneous and learn to break your itinerary when an opportunity to discover something new arises.”
On a Shoestring: How to Travel on a Budget
Traveling is an indulgence, but it has become more affordable these days with the advent of the Internet and budget airlines. In fact, you can be your own travel agent and book your flight and accommodations online. Simply search the Web for discounted fares to get the best deal, or follow the social network sites of airlines to get early updates on such promotions. Be in the know because when traveling on a shoestring, as you need to err on the side of practicality.
When You Want to be “picturesque”: How to Travel in Style
Looking good while traveling is a must since you’ll be representing your country, and at the same time, it is characteristic of the Filipino to want to photograph well. According to Ana Kalaw, a stylist, travel blogger and Fashion Columnist at The Philippine Star, “I rarely travel light — I’ve already accepted that — but I do pack with intent. I already know what to wear on which day and for which occasion. I choose pieces that can be worn multiple ways and a multiple number of times.”
She believes in sticking to neutral colors and minimalist styles for clothing and to just add color and embellishment with accessories such as beaded sandals, colorful pendants, huge cocktail rings, and boldly colored scarves. “Don’t use travel as an excuse to wear just t-shirts, jeans and shapeless tops. Instead, go for basic with a twist: a sheer button-down shirt that can be worn over colorful tank tops, colored jeans, cropped jackets that can be worn over jeans or a flowy dress.”
“Never sacrifice comfort. Don’t kid yourself into wearing heels when you know you’ll be walking from one of Paris’ arondissement to the next. Style and comfort do mix. Think breezy pants that make your frame look longer, colorful caftans that can go from beach to lounge, leggings, cotton scoop-neck tees.” For Ana, every fashionista traveler must have lightweight knits, ballerina flats, oversized sunglasses, bright-colored lipstick, and lightweight boxy or tailored jacket that can be worn over shorts, jeans, or a dress.
Don’t leave home without…
Make your trip stress-free by bringing the following with you:
Photocopies of Your Passport and Visa, If Applicable. Keep these in a safe place in your luggage. This is just a precaution in case you lose your travel documents.
Travel insurance. Traveling poses a lot of risks and it would be prudent to get insurance before you step inside that airplane.
Important Contact Numbers. Before departing, make sure you leave your contact information at home so your family would know where to get in touch with you. Also, list down the telephone number of your country’s Embassy in your destination, as well as its contact person, just in case of emergency.
Map or Guidebook. Visiting a new place would be best if you have a guidebook or map with you for reference. It would be easier to get around with it, and a time-saver, too.
Universal Adapter. Not all chargers are created equal. If you’re bringing gadgets such as laptops, cameras, and the like, then do bring a universal adapter as well, especially if you’re traveling to multiple destinations.
First-Aid Kit. Don’t forget to bring some medicine (e.g. paracetamol) and a basic first-aid kit in case disaster strikes.