This is the end of my three part series detailing some useful tips for international travel.
Tip #7--Pack light. No one enjoys having to lug around heavy bags while traveling. Although you need to pack light it is important to remember to also be prepared. This trip I packed four pairs of shoes--a little excessive for me. I originally only planned 3 pair, but at the last minute decided to bring some comfortable flip flops. The first day sightseeing, my new shoes ripped up the sides of my feet so badly that I haven't been able to wear any shoes other than the flip flops. Also, when planning your wardrobe try to bring clothes that can be repurposed for different activities. A pretty scarf can dress up a plain white t-shirt for dinner.
Tip #8--Do your own laundry. I always pack a small bottle of laundry detergent so I can wash my clothes as needed. The hotel sinks are always big enough for a couple of pieces of clothing. Today, I sweated through my entire outfit while sightseeing and the instant I returned to my cabin room, I washed all the clothes. Washing my clothes allows me to pack fewer items. Plan ahead before washing your clothes so that you leave enough time for them to dry. It normally takes a minimum of 24 hours for most clothes to dry. If you are only spending one night at a hotel, it probably won't give you enough time for your clothes to dry. Of course a hair dryer can speed up the drying process if this is a problem.
Tip #9--To avoid jet-lag it is vital that the instant you arrive at your destination that you immediately transfer your watch and clocks to the local time. In addition, the first few days will always be the most tiring, so plan for light activities. There is no need to over stress the body by becoming exhausted.
Tip #10--Shop wisely. International traveling can encourage the most frugal of shoppers to drop far more money than was budgeted. I always try to think about what I want prior to traveling so I have an idea before I see the mass quantities available. I prefer to shop for quality over quantity; therefore I almost never purchase anything from street vendors. Our Chinese guide calls them 'Hello' people, because that is all the English they know. If you do decide to shop with street vendors or the 'hello' people, barter. I have always had a difficult time bartering because the people I have had the opportunity to barter with have been so much poorer than me--I didn't think my bartering was fair. Virtually every country I have visited people barter, it is how it is done and they won't sell you an item if they are losing money on it. Today, I effectively bartered for a couple of beautiful pictures and instead of feeling bad, I felt responsible and in charge.
Remember the purpose of traveling is to have fun and experience something new. As our guide Bonnie keeps reminding us a 'flexible tourist is a happy tourist.'
I would love for you to share any of your favorite tips in the comments below. Happy Travels!