Useful Travel Tips or: Why they call me the Lady MacGyver

Who doesn’t love to travel? I always did, and since my parents come from different countries, I was always very lucky to travel on a regular basis. I wasn’t even one year old when my mother went with me on vacation to Croatia and her home country Bosnia.

My first big travel adventure I can actually remember took place when I was just 5 years old. It was the first time I visited Sri Lanka, the home country of my father.

The one thing I love about travelling most is the journey itself. Until today I love driving long distances in my car, but most of all I love flying long distances.

I am very blessed that my parents took us on family vacation once a year. We travelled to Spain, Malta, UK, France, Dubai and many other places. It was not until I started studying at University that I gathered the courage to travel alone. Since I study Arabic, my main focus is the Arab World. I travelled to Jordan and several times to the United Arab Emirates (one of my favorite destinations). My next destination in the Arab World for this year is already fixed. I actually hope I can make it to two. Of course I will also blog on that adventure.

Now you know why I love to travel. But why do they call me the Lady MacGyver??? There is actually a story to that, which I don’t want to put down here, since it’s a bit long and not that interesting. The short version is, that no matter where I travel to, I always have a huge handbag with me (yes, even at the Dead Sea), which literally has EVERYTHING in it. If I lost everything but my handbag, I still could survive in a foreign country. The routine of travelling has made me a pro. Before every trip abroad I have a list of things I need to get. I will give you a list of the most practical and important things for travelling:

  • Money matters: This goes without saying. But for those of you who didn’t know it, it is better to draw the foreign currency at your destination through your debit card. The exchange rate is much better. If you have a debit or credit card, which is also free of charge abroad, perfect! There are plenty of those offers for students. And if you don’t have a credit card – get one. It’s a life savior.
  • A compact travel guide. In the era of smartphones this might seem outdated, but in my opinion books are more reliable. The most important thing about the travel guide is the map in it. You should always have a geographical idea of where you are. As a plus, it includes also a small glossary of the local language and you have something to read on the way to your destination.
  • A small bottle of water. You never know.
  • Thermal water spray. You can get it in pharmacies or big drug stores. If you’re travelling to a hot country, you will thank me for this piece of advice. But it also comes in handy on the flight, since it prevents your skin from becoming dry and has a soothing effect.
  • Wet wipes. Yes, in most countries of the world toilet paper is a luxury. Always be prepared for this one.
  • Sanitizer. I can’t live without it. Most bacteria are transferred through the hands, so I sanitize my hands several times a day. For the very finicky people among us, there are also sanitizing wipes available at drug stores. Just in case you want to clean surfaces.
  • In mini-sizes: deodorant, Nivea cream (you can use it as a lip balm, face and hand cream and even tame frizzy hair with a tiny bit of it), hairbrush, toothbrush and –paste. Usually I keep the liquids in the transparent bag that is required for hand luggage on flights.
  • Chewing gum and/or drops.
  • Nasal spray. There’s nothing worse than a blocked nose on a long distance flight.
  • Tissues.
  • Panadol. Lot’s of it.
  • Fenistil. I’m not so sure if this is available in other countries. It’s a cooling gel for mosquito bites.
  •  Sun glasses.
  • A scarf. Always a good choice.
  • For those of us who wear lenses. Never forget to keep your glasses in your handbag. And eye drops.
  • Don’t forget your travel documents! And if you have one: international driving license.

Now, it’s always good to make preparations of these kinds, buying stuff for your trip and packing your bags. But what about you? Are you prepared? Here are some last pieces of advice on behavior and/or mental preparation:

  • As I mentioned with the travel guide, it is always important to know where you are. Before you travel, study a map of the country or city you are visiting. It is essential to know what lies in which direction and it’s always good to know landmarks. Outside of Europe you will find it hard to find a place only with an address. So try to remember landmarks, like a specific building, bank etc.
  • Know the local laws and customs. Ignorance does not protect against punishment.
  • Inform yourself about the visa formalities in time.
  •  What can you actually see and do at your travel destination? Do your research homework and a to-do-list. You don’t want to miss or forget anything.
  • But most of all: Be open-minded. Be spontaneous. Say yes. Mingle with local people. Eat local food. Dare to overcome your fears. Be curious. Ask questions. Gather as much experience in that country as you can. Leave the beaten tourist paths. Don’t be stingy. Just enjoy.

I would love to hear from the one or the other if he or she used my advice and how it came in handy. I will come up with more from my travel adventures and continue to amuse you. Until then, wherever you may travel, I wish you a wonderful experience and much fun!

Love now. Love always.

Lady Smee


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