(Facili-) ‘Tators Talk Travel

7 Mar
As a group, we must say that we Outreach Facilitators are pretty well traveled! And since we have traveled by plane, train, car, boat, hot air balloon, and just about any way there is to move, we’re basically experts. With spring break travel upon us, we thought it would be helpful to gather some tips for the new travelers among us! Here’s what we have to say about packing, planning, and peregrination (that’s a good word—you’re welcome).

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How do you know what to pack? What not to pack? What about TSA or international regulations?

  • Lauren: I always check the weather two weeks before I leave to get a projection of what will happen, then I make a list of things I want to pack. One week before the trip, I check the weather again and adjust my list…THEN I RELAX. Take a step back for a few days and daydream about the things I will be doing on my trip. Two days before I leave, I pack according to the  list and the daydreams.
  • Franny: When it comes to flying, help your future self out when it comes to the carry-on bag and try to only pack what you will absolutely need throughout your transit-time. It’s no fun having to separate a million things so that they can go through security. The people behind you get impatient, you get flustered, and it is much more likely that you will forget something in one of those bins! It’s better to pack the absolute necessities (wallet, book, music device, light jacket, etc.) and jam the rest in your checked bag.
    • As for TSA regulations and international restrictions, LOOK THEM UP. No one likes to get all the way to security only to have to go back to check the item or throwing it away entirely! (I don’t know how many tubes of toothpaste I have had to throw away). When in doubt, either ask the airline beforehand, check it, or just plan on getting it at your destination.

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What about international traveling? What should you keep in mind when it comes to vaccinations, health care, and laws?

  • Valeria: When traveling internationally it is always a good idea to have international health insurance. International health insurance is a precaution that you want to take when traveling to a new country. One that I have used in the past has been GeoBlue International Health Insurance.
  • Kaelyn: When traveling internationally, I think it’s important to take copies of your passport, driver’s license, and any other forms of identification. Keep these copies in your luggage or give them to someone you’re traveling with to keep. The last thing you want is to lose your backpack or purse and be stranded in a foreign country without any forms of identification!  It’s also important to make sure you bring enough cash or a credit / debit card that for sure works outside the U.S.  I toured Europe a couple years ago and the credit card I brought with me did not work internationally, so I was unable to withdraw any money.  I had to borrow money from my friend the entire trip, so make sure that doesn’t happen to you!

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What do you do when your travel plans go awry?

  • Lucero: Life happens, and sometimes it doesn’t happen in the manner you want it to. Experiences are all about personal perception. If things derail from the perfect plan, embrace the new direction! Make the most out of it. A new direction is always a new opportunity to expand and experience beyond your guided plans. Perhaps these new experiences will prove more notable and timeworthy. Keep an open mind to the possibilities and changes.
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”–Laozi
  • Lauren: STAY CALM. If you get worked up (like I can tend to do) it will be harder to concentrate and think on your feet. It is so easy to get caught up in the what ifs, so make it easier on yourself and don’t even go there.

airport-yoga

How do you pick travel tunes?

  • Tori: It’s totally one of those things that you don’t realize is so important until you didn’t prepare! On my last flight, I had forgotten to make myself a fun, relaxing playlist to get me pumped for the trip and calm my nerves. As a result, I kept having to search through my phone to find the song I wanted next. Not cool. On the way to my destination, I usually have a few butterflies in my stomach, so I like to go with my favorite, soothing songs. My personal picks for this task – Weezer and The Black Keys. They keep me perfectly balanced between excitement and relaxation.
    • Use your playlist to set the tone for your adventure by choosing songs with the perfect beat to express what you want this trip to be – whether that’s relaxing slow songs, upbeat stuff to get you pumped up for the thrill ahead, or anything in between!
  • Lauren: I like to listen to the music of the region if I am traveling out of the country.
  • Franny: Okay, this may sound a little nerdy, but I like to load audiobooks onto my phone. For some reason, reading books during flights makes me incredibly sleepy, which is unfortunate because I find it really difficult to actually fall asleep! And for road trips, forget about it. I get carsick by the time I’ve finished a page. With audiobooks, I can close my eyes, relax, and throwback to my kinder-days when someone would read me stories!
    • I use the Audible App. The first month is a FREE trial and you get a free audiobook when you sign in with your Amazon account.
    • PRO TIP: do you have reading for an assignment to do? Well, if you know you’ve got some travel time coming up, invest in the audiobook version…hey, you’re just bringing a new dimension into your learning, right?
  • Kaelyn: Road trips can be tricky if you’re traveling with a group. Who gets to choose the tunes? Well, I’ve found that the best thing to do is think about it beforehand. Have each person contribute and set a rule that there is no making fun of another person’s choices.

radio

How do you make plans with others?

  • Vero: I always find myself to be a perfectionist. This is the case when planning vacations too. When I travel with my friends, I usually put everything on a Google Doc and then share it with them. This way they can all see what the plan is and add comments accordingly.
    • Franny: to add to Vero’s awesome idea, go ahead and make a “driver” schedule, too! Who is going to take the first shift? Who’s the lucky duck who gets the awful 2:00am-5:00am shift? Whoever is in the front passenger seat should also be prepared to keep that driver talking, singing along to music, or whatever it takes to keep them alert. If you know you have a long trek ahead of you, consider each other’s abilities to be safe drivers during less than ideal times.
  • Lauren: I am a big planner, but sometimes it is better to have the foundation/skeleton of a plan and fill it in when everyone is there. No one likes to feel left out and/or labeled the decision maker for the group. Go with the flow, but have a general plan to fall back on.

So, you’re in a place you have never been. Now what do you do?

  • Tori: Find someone friendly! When I flew to Denver (my first flight by myself!), the grandmotherly woman next to me on the plane was so nice and offered to let me go with her and her husband to find baggage claim. Then, my shuttle driver had some awesome suggestions about what I could do in Fort Collins since I’d never been there before. If you’re new to an area, don’t be afraid to ask the locals for their advice! Most will be more than happy to help out!
  • Lucero: The beauty about not knowing your location is the possibility of what you can find! Get out there and explore! Don’t be afraid to get lost. That’s how you find your way and get the most memorable experiences! Every location I have ever traveled, I’ve gone out and explored on my own. The thrill, mystery, and the knowledge of knowing you are somewhere new is definitely worth every second!

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What if your plane get delayed or canceled?

  • Valeria: Always purchase insurance on your ticket, just to be safe.
  • Franny: I recently had this happen because of a crazy snow storm! About an hour before my flight, I got an email that my departure flight AND transfer flight had been cancelled. If you find yourself stranded like I was, the first thing you want to do is talk to an airline representative. They have the entire system at their fingertips and are likely to know the ins-and-outs of flying dilemmas better than you. Another thing to keep in mind is that you may have to find a creative way of getting home–and that sometimes includes a little detour. I ended up having to hitch a ride to Baltimore instead of flying out of Washington, D.C. Depending on the urgency of  your situation, changing airlines, airports, or cities altogether is an inconvenient, but effective option!

What do you do if you don’t speak the language and you get lost?

  • Tori: When I was in high school, I went on a trip to England with 10 other students and our two chaperones. We spent our last day before coming home in Paris. Since we had a very limited time, we were running around the whole time. In that one day, and really it was only 12 hours, we saw the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, walked along the Seine, visited Notre Dame. Well, we were so caught up in everything that we missed the bus that would get us to the location of another bus that would get us to the train station. So we ran for it. We were looking for an opera house and could not, for the life of us, find it. With limited time, we started asking everyone we could for help. It took awhile, but eventually we found someone who spoke Spanish, and someone in our group was able to  communicate that way.
    Maybe not the best way to handle that sitch, so I would definitely suggest learning a few key phrases or bringing a phrase book. Even if you’re speaking the language horribly, they’ll appreciate the effort. Also bring a map so you can resort to charades if need be!

What if I’m a picky eater?

  • Hannah: When you visit a different country, you have to be aware of the fact that local markets may be significantly different than what you’re familiar with at home. When I visited Spain, I was surprised that peanut butter was nowhere to be found. They also left milk and eggs unrefrigerated, which freaked me out at first! I was pleasantly surprised at the number of accessible markets that sold fresh local produce, homemade cheeses, and handmade pasta. Every time I ate out, almost everything I had was not what I expected when I ordered it. Hamburgers tasted different, there was fish I had never heard of, and they used a ton of olive oil and a variety of seasonings. I certainly did not like everything I tried, but I’m happy I branched out and experienced dishes special to the country.
    Varying food preferences are part of the culture. You may encounter unfamiliar cuisine and you may find it difficult to adjust at first. Immerse yourself in the culture and let your taste buds experience something new.

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