Everyone enjoys a bit of traveling now and then – it’s good for the soul they say. For me personally it is about leaving my “normal life” behind and focusing on exploring and rediscovering myself, as much as it is about learning about different cultures and history, meeting new and interesting people, trying out great food and partying. I am sure that a lot of people out there want a bit more than to just snap a few pictures and prance around in cargo pants, following a tour guide all day long.
We want to get as close to the movie star travel experience while staying within our means – we want to travel in style and be as comfortable as possible. If this sounds like something you could get on board with, then keep on reading, as you are in for a treat.
1. Go online to find the best accommodations in your price range
Most people have had experience with both bad and good hotels, and are aware of the fact that looking for a bit of luxury can get quite expensive. While the 17-25 year old crowd can make the most of a backpacking holiday, and spend their nights in dirt cheap hostels, more mature travelers will be looking for a nice comfortable place that makes them feel like a stylish globetrotter.
You can make good use of modern technology and find excellent short-term rentals, which provide you with a good deal of luxury at reasonable rates. Websites like WorldEscape.com should be your go to source when planning an exciting holiday and wanting more than just your basic tourist experience.
2. Prioritize your needs and pack your bags efficiently
The most important questions to ask yourself are:
- Why you are traveling: business or pleasure?
- What will you be doing?
- What will you need to make the most out of the experience?
Once you answer these questions you can start packing the right clothes and various other items that you will need. It is always a good idea to have a small first aid kit handy, clothes options for different weather, casual and fancy dress options. You can focus on mixing and matching a few items to create several unique outfits, so you can have plenty of options with a limited wardrobe. Rolling up your clothes, packing socks into shoes and leaving out non-essential items will help you utilize the available luggage space more efficiently.
3. Bring along gadgets that will make the journey more fun
What you need will depend on the nature of your travels and your personality. For example, businessmen need plenty of electronics, while someone who is more of an outdoors type in search of adventure will be better served packing a GPS, a strong flashlight and a capable multitool, than a portable keyboard. There are some items, however, that will benefit everyone. You’ll need something to keep yourself entertained during the flight or ride to your destination, so an e-book reader or an mp3 player and good headphones are a smart choice. You want to make sure that your trip is as smooth and comfortable as possible – traveling in style is all about the little details.
4. Choose simple clothes that are elegant and comfortable
First of all, a stylish traveler wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a cliché tourist outfit – cargo pants, shorts, brightly-colored shirts, baseball hats and fanny packs are out of the question. However, a three piece suit or a complex outfit, tons of accessories and high heels, are not going to be very comfortable on a long flight, and will make you spend a lot of time going past the metal detector. What you are looking for is something along the lines of business casual or some simple clothes that you might wear when getting some coffee with friends on a lazy Saturday.
5. Girl tip – Pack a small hygiene/make up kit in your carry-on
How do those classy ladies manage to stay fresh and look stunning after long exhausting trips where you get all sore and don’t get nearly enough sleep? Well, they come prepared. You’ll need a few basic hygiene items like wet wipes, a small antiperspirant stick, breath mints, nail file and a brush. To ensure that you look as gorgeous as ever, be sure to also pack a mini makeup kit that includes a small amount of moisturizing cream, liquid foundation, concealer, mascara, and a small eye shadow kit.
6. Guy tip – Get shaving soap in a bar
Since you can’t bring a whole lot of liquid onboard, it pays to find good alternatives. A bar of shaving soap goes a long way, and the whole experience of using a brush and an old school safety razor makes you feel like more of a refined gentleman. You can take advantage of all the extra liquid you will be allowed by packing a nice after shave balm, blackhead cream and moisturizer.
7. Have a few emergency items and spare clothes in your carry-on
There is always a risk of your luggage getting misplaced, or you may not have the energy to dig through your tightly packed bag upon arriving to your room in order to find something to wear to the restaurant you’ll be going to in a couple of hours. This is why you should have some extra clothes ready to go in your carry on. Accidents can also happen on the plane, and it’s good to have a clean shirt at hand. A few essential items like a flashlight, multitool, lighter and a small first-aid kit are enough to help you handle smaller emergencies.
8. Buy some accessories and clothing items at local stores when you land
You’ll be able to travel more comfortably if you pack somewhat light and get some cool new accessories at local stores. More importantly, you want to fit in with the locals as best as you can, so that you don’t seem out of place. Go on a shopping spree on your first day there and try to find out what the local fashion is like, then get some great little items that you can combine with the clothes that you’ve brought with you. You’ll avoid looking like a wide-eyed tourist and pull of a cultured look that everyone you encounter will appreciate.
9. Research the best cafés, restaurants and clubs before you even set foot on the plane
There is precious little time to delve deep into the local culture, visit all the historical sites and experience some great winning and dining. As soon as you have made the reservations, go online, open Google maps and get to know the lay of the land. Websites like Yelp.com provide plenty of useful information on the local restaurants, bars and cafes, so you can make a list of places to visit and mark the most efficient routes from your accommodations to different areas in the city.
You can take screenshots of the maps and save them to your phone, so that you can access the information even if there is no Wi-Fi around, and you definitely want to avoid data roaming. Plus, pulling out your phone to have a quick look is inconspicuous, while leering over a big old map makes you seem like a pesky tourist to the locals, and an easy target to the criminal element.
10. Learn to speak the local language and behave according to the accepted etiquette
One of the best ways to ensure that you have a pleasant stay and that you are welcomed with open hands by the locals, is to learn as much of the language as you can. Focus on the most common phrases, slang words, proper pronunciation and the basic grammar rules – no one cares much about finding the post office or using stilted formal phrases. Oh, and find out as much as you can about proper etiquette, starting from how close locals stand to each other without perceiving a breach of personal space and how they greet each other, all the way to table manners, how to behave when coming into someone’s home and social norms related to dating and partying.
Knowing enough about a particular culture can help save you a lot of trouble – e.g. you don’t ever want to try to outdrink a Russian and people in the south of Italy can get really touchy feely and in your face, and use a lot of hand gestures as they talk to you. Also, be sure to gain some understanding of the basic body language cues and hand gestures, so you avoid accidentally offending someone.
There are different ways you can travel, but if you don’t want to be seen as just another annoying goofy tourist, you’ll do well to follow these tips. With a little work you will be able to spend your vacation in great comfort, look cultured and elegant, and exude confidence.
Featured photo credit: Nick Harris via flickr.com