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Saturday, March 26, 2022

Travel Is Educational

Travel always teaches me something, whether it's something big or something small like researching dining options before regretting your dinner choice. We haven't had any big trips since September of 2019, but that gave us a lot to marinate on for the next couple years. 

Just when you think you've got your travel style perfected, you learn something new or need to change your mindset. Travel is always educational.

Just when you think you've got your travel style perfected, you learn something new or need to change your mindset. 2019 was a cool year for me travel-wise. I had fantastic trips and I also learned a lot of things Here are the four I found most important:

You can always pack lighter
I'm great at packing light, but I'm also great at overpacking. When we fly somewhere new, I give myself a finite space to pack in, but I can overpack my small bags. This year traveling to Scotland, and having to pack dressy clothes for a wedding, we had half a carry-on full of items that we were basically just wearing once or twice.

I love gadgets, but I need to remember to pare down. I don't always need to take my iPad with me, or 3 magazines I never read, and I definitely need to reevaluate everything in my toiletry bag, because I'm still not using some of the items in it. The only extra item I was really happy I took with me was a second jacket. I brought a packable winter coat with attached hood and then a separate rain jacket. I figured if it was really cold, I could wear both, as the one could have zipped into the other. I didn't have to do this, but I did need my rain jacket on the last day of travel, because it rained all day and then poured for an hour straight. I joked that we got 2 weeks worth of rain in an afternoon, because we were really lucky the whole rest of our trip.

You can travel with family and still like them after

I don't really travel well with many others. I like my space and need to recharge from group time. Being with people 24/7 is a lot for me, especially when those other people aren't like me. I worried that 5 of us sharing a vacation rental would be too much and either I would yell at people halfway through the week or they would think I was a jerk because I would hide in my room after a day out. 

We decided to plan our days out the way we wanted to and then let family know they could join us or not. We did some stuff with people and a lot of stuff on our own and then met up for lunch or dinner or connected when we all got back for the night. At one point, Eric and I were at the same place as his sister and her husband and we didn't really hang out until we were done with our tour and then had lunch together. Having expectations that you don't have to spend all your time together so everyone can do what they want and not get sick of each other is pretty important.

Uber and other rideshare can be cheaper than public transportation
This is especially true in places like London where tons of people are going to and from the airport and there are few ways to get there if you don't live there and have a car. We paid something like $70 for the two of us to take the Heathrow Express, because we didn't realize we needed to book tickets 3 months in advance to get the much discounted price, but we also were traveling at peak time, so we couldn't buy discounted tickets going back either. 

A few days before departure, I looked up train info and then got an estimate for Uber. We actually saved money and also didn't have to schlep our bags half a mile to get to a bus or Tube station, which was such a relief, because we (okay *I*) bought so much stuff to bring home with us.

Have a back-up plan
This is always important to me. You never know what's going to happen. Well, in this instance we found out that the washer in our rental didn't work (and there wasn't even a dryer) and there wasn't a laundromat anywhere near us. We re-wear our clothes, because we pack so few. I try to bring dark colors that don't show stains and also clothing that's breathable and doesn't hold odor (if possible). So, when we found out the washer didn't work, it was annoying, but I hand washed socks and underwear in the sink and hung them up overnight next to the radiator and was good to go.

Unfortunately, two of our group had put all of their clothes in the washing machine, which turned on, filled up, and then did nothing. After wasting half a day trying to fix it and call the owner, they finally hung everything up, but all the pants were jeans, and those take forever. My tip: Unless your jeans are visibly dirty, don't bother washing them on vacation. Even Richard Branson, who owns Virgin Airlines, will only bring/wear one pair of jeans on his entire trip. I won't go that far, as I also tend to throw in a pair of black pants for dressier occasions, and I wash everything else before they go back into my rotation. I couldn't do that this time, so I just made sure I washed enough socks and underwear to get us through to London and could wash everything else there.

This won't be my last what-did-I-learn post, as every trip teaches me something, and we can all benefit. Tell me some of the things you've learned about yourself or travel from your trips in the comments.

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