There was a time when I was okay traveling without a real plan, maybe a general idea of what I would like to do and we would just flow with it. Now with two kids, this just does not feel very wise. In order to keep folks happy I must have a Plan A, Plan B and something else in my back pocket. I know there are some who will say that I am shooting myself in the foot and not teaching my children the art of being flexible, but to that I say – you are not traveling with us so therefore you have no say! We do travel on a budget and sometimes encounter challenging situations and if I can keep those at the a minimum, I am at peace with that.
Before each trip I put together an itinerary which includes helpful things such as:
- All transportation info: This includes flight times, flight numbers, airport as well as any public transportation information such as the train station name for each destination as relevant (e.g. Terminal 21 Shopping Mall at Asok BTS stop)
- Accommodation info: This includes hotel name, address, phone number, booking number, and any POC I might have reached out to (e.g. person at front desk regarding additional bed request)
- Restaurant/Eating info: Names of restaurants I would like to try, including their address, brief description of what they serve and why I noted them in the first place (because I am old and forgetful). I also like to notate regional foods I would like to try and ensure I have a good understanding of the appropriate pronunciation.
- Key POCs: If we are working with a tour guide or meeting any business partners I put down their contact information as well as any back-ups (e.g. their assistants).
- Helpful phrases: “Hello”, “Thank you”, “Good-bye”, “Do you speak English”, “I am a vegetarian”, “What is that smell?” It doesn’t hurt to greet someone in their language first instead of immediately assuming they speak English…not everyone does.
- Exchange Rates: Something I haven’t done, but after our trip to Myanmar, I think I will start doing that to help keep my head straight on our budget.
That is all I can think of now. I’ll add more if any come to mind. Now before you say, “Oh I don’t have time to put all of that together! I am so busy!” Seriously? I am working mom myself who is also, yes – a mom and have also had to assume the homemaker role since we relocated to Bangkok (that is a whole different blog)…I am busy too, but I make time to do it because I know in the end it pays off. Also, when ever another parent tells you about something they are doing – starting a new fitness routine, writing a book, or what not, try to refrain from saying “oh I wish I could do that, but I am so busy!” Talk about f*cking belittling their efforts with your thinly veiled “I wish I had all of that leisurely time like you do, but I am far more important than you are.” This actually stems from someone I used to work with who would make that same comment whenever she would see me going out to grab lunch. It used to drive me batsh*t crazy and I wanted to yell, “I think popping out for five minutes to get your damn lunch will not result in complete and utter chaos.” STFU!!! Oops! Sorry, that is definitely another blog. Ahem…where was I?
Yes, an itinerary is helpful indeed.
I also put together a medical bag which includes such goodies as:
- Charcoal pills
- Tylenol (adult and children’s)
- Diarrhea meds (because sh*t happens)
- Neosporin (or the local equivalent)
- Zinc tablets (like Coldeeze)
- Insect bite ointment
- Cough lozenges
- Disinfectant spray (iodine or alcohol)
Traveling in various countries you will often be surprised at the stuff you take for granted so it is always good to be prepared.
If possible at all, I get a map of the city/town we are visiting and familiarize myself with it. This can even be done on the airplane/bus on the way to your destination.
Each child carries their own backpack and has their own activity items such as books (or Nook with e-books), notebook, pens and puzzle books. Yes, sometimes we do allow electronic items, but that depends on where we are going. While some may balk at this and say they should enjoy the journey and drink in their surroundings, once again – you are not traveling with us and after 8+ hours in a train folks can get a little loony, especially those little folks otherwise known as children. It pays to be prepared.
A few other items to consider prior to your trip:
- The weather: Make sure you have the appropriate clothes and are prepared (e.g. umbrellas, hats, etc.)
- Currency: Should you exchange a bit before going, rely on ATMs only, etc?
- Local customs: What is polite? What is not polite? Are there any subjects you should not discuss in public? Get up to speed on any dress codes!!
- Food allergies/dietary restrictions: Understand that in some countries some of these restrictions may be harder to communicate (I am lactose intollerant and eat gluten-free) to ensure you are clear on the local terminology.
If I think of more, I will add to this list, but that is it for now.
OMG – working remotely in a cafe and dude who snorts up his snot is now sitting beside me. Putting in headphones now. Peace out.