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Travel Tips. Common Travel Challenges Made Easier

Marilyn Tam

06/08/22 | Motivation


Travel Tips. Common Travel Challenges Made Easier

How to make travel simpler, more fun, and relaxing.

Bundled up in warm parkas, scarves, and hats to fend off the blustery, winter ocean storm, we watched as mother slid into the just filled, sloshing swimming pool aboard the cruise ship. This was the first reliable travel tip I learned — in case of seasickness, swim.

Thankfully the other tips I’ve learned over the millions of miles of business and personal travel are not as hard to execute. And there are also more convenient ways to deal with motion sickness.

Packing for a trip is one of the first issues we face. What to bring, how much, and how do we keep everything intact and unwrinkled?

What to bring — for most, the question to ask is, do you really need that? Overpacking is common.

Research the locations you are going to visit so you know the weather, basic customs, and dietary habits so you can plan. Bring only things that are specific and difficult to replace for your trip — like your personal electronic devices, work material, medication, nutritional supplements, attire for special occasions, and any small gifts that you wish to share. Some people like to bring a favorite item that reminds them of home. If you have food allergies, it is wise to take some packable foods in case you are not able to find suitable food easily. I usually carry a bag of homemade blend of nuts, dried fruit, protein and greens powder, hemp seeds, chia seeds and buckwheat for breakfast — it’s fast, convenient, and nutritious. Other than the above list, there are usually stores where you are going for most items.

How to keep your wardrobe from looking like a wrinkled mess. Oftentimes I travel to several countries, climates, and time zones over a couple of weeks. It would be a challenge to keep looking fresh and presentable if I didn’t have a way to minimize wrinkles in packing! The secret? Rolling your clothes:

Lay out your biggest item, a long sleeve jacket, a robe, or a large scarf on a flat surface, on a bed, a table, or a clean floor. Then layer on your clothes, starting with the heavier pieces and ending with lighter, less wrinkle prone pieces. Flatten and straighten each item as you lay them down. Then fold the sleeves in towards the middle, and starting at the top end of the pile, make a tight roll. You can make several rolls to fit into packing cubes and fit them all into your suitcase or make one large roll and lay that directly into the suitcase. Fit shoes, toiletries, and other small items around the roll(s) to ensure a good fit with no open corners for the things to slide around. When you arrive, unroll your bundle(s) and either hang up your things or leave the roll open to retrieve from as you need. Take care in removing each item so that you are sliding them out without making wrinkles in the rest of the layers. That’s it!

How to eat well and healthy. You will be eating in unfamiliar places, with new menu choices, at erratic hours, oftentimes tired and needing a boost. It’s easy to overindulge, thinking it would give you more energy and feel better. Plan ahead so that you get the nourishment you need to maintain the strength and composure you need to achieve your trip’s goals. Yes, even if that is just to have a relaxing and fun time during your vacation.

Stay somewhat close to your usual dietary habits. Each region and country have different food customs and enjoying new things can be fun and exciting. Moderation is the key. Your body is conditioned to your routine and drastic changes would likely upset your digestive system, energy levels and overall wellbeing. If you are unsure of what is in the dish, politely ask before you order or eat, especially if you have allergies.

Drink more water than you usually do, so that you are hydrated to help flush away the stresses of travel. Abstain or minimize alcoholic beverages during flights, they are dehydrating and tax your metabolic processes. Save them for after you arrive and are settled.

Regard food as a wonderful way to learn about the local culture, bond over meals, taste and enjoy the area’s culinary offerings, while recognizing your body’s needs to maintain health and vibrancy.

How to get adequate sleep. Jet lag issues. Time zone changes, new surroundings, different beds, and noises can really disrupt your sleep pattern.

Upon arrival, immediately adapt to the new time zone as much as you can. If it is daytime, follow a daytime schedule. Spend time outside so that your body can adjust to the time of day there. Being exposed to natural light helps your body to recalibrate your circadian rhythms.

Move and stretch to get your circulation flowing freely. Adjust your sleeping hours to the new time zone. A variety of tools can help ease your transition into rest when it’s not bedtime where you just came from. Drink a soothing cup of tea like chamomile, lavender etc., and listen to calming music/talk to ease you into a restful sleep. Keep your room temperature on the cool side. Practice a relaxing breathing exercise. Wear ear plugs or play a white noise soundtrack to insulate you from outside noises. Eyes shades can do wonders to keep light away to encourage rest.

Ahead of your travel, inch your time zone closer to your destination’s. That way you will be more adapted upon arrival. Shift your time by an hour a day/every other day over a week or more will ease your jet lag greatly.

How to avoid or minimize motion sickness. It’s called motion sickness, not motion discomfort because it’s truly miserable!

There are a few things that will help to prevent or minimize this unsettling affliction. Before you embark on what you anticipate may be a motion sickness inducing trip, whether by car or boat, train, or plane, eat simply and lightly. No super fatty foods, no fishy dishes (like sardines, oily fish), and easy on any sugary foods or alcoholic drinks.

If you are traveling by automobile, sit so that you are facing the front. If possible, drive or sit in the front seat. Look at the road so that you are aware of the upcoming twists and turns. Do not look down at your mobile device, book, or any detailed work for any length of time.

If you are traveling on a boat or ship, stay above deck whenever possible. Fresh air is helpful. On a plane or train, open the air vent so that you have a steady stream of air to cool you. Look towards the direction you are going and maintain your focus on the horizon so that your inner ear can help maintain equilibrium.

In all cases, your goal is to help your inner ear maintain balance so that your body can adjust to the changing movements and direction.

There are several over-the-counter medications that may help, along with ginger, acupressure wrist bands, other mechanical aids. There are also prescription medicines which may offer relief, check with your medical practitioner for that.

Of course, there’s the sure-fire way of addressing seasickness that I started the blog with, jump into the water! This is not always feasible, but it’s one that’s proven to work in very trying circumstances. On that long ago ocean cruise, my mother was in a cold sweat, vomiting and dizzy. She was nauseous and wanted to get off the ship, even though it was her idea for the cruise to begin with. To her credit, she came up with the notion to fill the swimming pool so that she could swim. Magically she was fine after that one choppy, chilly swim, and happily enjoyed the rest of the cruise. Other people have swum in the water around the boat/ship and have gotten back on with no more motion sickness too.

Travel can be fun, exciting, and meaningful. Take a little time to prepare for your journey and you’ll have a lovely time, getting and being there. You’ll come home, refreshed, feeling satisfied that you accomplished what you set out to do — conclude successful business or have a relaxing vacation, or, both! Happy trails!