I’ve traveled to nearly 100 countries: as a free-lance instructor, in churches, workshops, even at the university level. The most important element of international travel is to be flexible. Be willing to accept – even enjoy – things as different from the way they are at home.
Next in importance is to be prepared. I have a list of items I always take with me, and another list of items I might need depending upon the destination. A copy of the items I have on any particular trip is packed into my suitcase, another goes into my carry-on.
I learned the importance of the carry-on when my luggage ended up in Amsterdam and I was on Mount Carmel in Israel. My carry-on always includes: a change of clothes; an extra set of “undies;” my toiletries and medications; printout of contacts and itinerary; light-weight wrap for chilly airplanes; darkness mask and earplugs so I can sleep on the plane/train, etc.
If I don’t want to be awakened for meals, I put a DO NOT DISTURB FOR MEALS note on my eye mask. I carry dried fruit and peanuts for times I either miss a meal or can’t eat enough of the local food to get the needed nourishment. By adding either fresh fruit or bread, I can survive with little else.
Travel frustrations are usually the result of unfulfilled expectations. If I don’t expect comfort, I’m not disappointed. Because I’m usually housed by the host school, I expect to be less-than-comfortable. As a result, I appreciate any conveniences I am offered. I also I take an adventurer’s attitude toward new foods. Now I even crave such delicacies as Indonesian Satay and Israeli Falafels.
I guard against overloading my luggage with mementos of my travels, limiting them to small items I can tuck into my luggage in shoes, etc. This also means less space is used at home to display them.
I usually keep a journal of my travels, noting things I might want to refer to for future trips to the same locale. It’s amazing how many times I’ve looked back to remind myself of which train connects to which airport, or the name of a shop where I bought a set of something I’d like to add to.
To keep in touch with folks at home I carry pre-addressed labels I can stick on a postcard or envelope. This helps me remember those I want to write to – I know that if I still have their label, I haven’t written them.
If you keep an open heart, a happy attitude and an alert mind, you’ll have a great time.
© Beverly Caruso