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Sometimes I miss the days of traveling with my parents as a kid. They handled all the planning (taking days off, buying the tickets, coordinating with whomever you’re meeting), they were in charge of the execution (waking everyone up, getting you there on time, and figuring out where the gate is), and all you had to do was pack (exactly what they told you to bring.)

For most people, traveling far distances is just a headache. There’s a lot to keep track of, a lot that can go wrong, and it’s generally exhausting. But, if you want to see the world, do you really have a choice? Well, kind of.

There may be no magical way to escape transportation itself, but you can make the process a lot more painless. If you travel often, whether it’s for family, work, or pure wanderlust, you pick up a few tips along the way. Here are my 5 tips that will help you stop dreading the journey, so you can better enjoy the destination.


Make a checklist ahead of time.

We have all been there before: you’re packing the night before and every time you think you’re done, a new item pops into your head that you’re thanking God you didn’t forget. Instead of keeping that checklist in your head where new things are popping on and off of it every few minutes, it’s time to write it down. And do it ahead of time.

Not only will planning a few days ahead give you time to think of all those “I almost forgot…!” moments, but it will also give you something to go off of for your next trip. Once you have a go-to list for traveling, packing and planning get’s a heck of a lot easier.

On your list, make sure to include the following:

– Bringing any necessary documents you need (i.e. passports, tickets, license.)

– Confirming your reservations (i.e. cars, hotels, tours.)

– Calling your bank to let them know you’ll be traveling (because they will shut off your card if they see “suspicious perchases” halfway around the world.)

– Prepping the house for your absence (i.e. watering the plans, hiring a pet sitter.)

When you know you’ve checked everything off your list, you’ll finally be able to walk out the door without that “I feel like I’m forgetting something..” intuition you usually have.


Always carry-on.

While it might seem convenient to take your entire closet with you while you travel, it will always end up being more of a hassle than a luxury. Trim down your packing list to the basics. (For a week away, you really shouldn’t need more than 2 pairs of pants, a light jacket, a heavier jacket, 2 pairs of shoes, 5 shirts, a skirt, 1-2 dresses, and a pair of shorts.). Remember, you can in fact wash your clothes while you’re on vacation. Don’t let yourself bring five items that basically function as the same thing (except for maybe underwear), just so you have “options” when you’re going out. (No one needs 5 little black dresses for a weekend at your sisters.)

This will also save you when it comes time for this dreaded moment: re-packing for the trip back. Half the time you can’t fit everything back in the way it came, and you end up with a carry-on anyways, am I right? It’s time to pack light to begin with. Maybe even leave a little extra room for items you buy while you’re out shopping.

Smartphone with cloud of application iconsGet some apps.

When you land, you know you’re going to need a cab. When you’re out, you know you’re going to want to be able to try the best nearby restaurants. There’s nothing worse than being in the city of your dreams and having no idea where to go or how to get there.

Smartphones make a lot of the hassles of life easier than ever. When you use Uber or Lyft, you don’t even have to worry about getting out your credit card. Payment can be made right through the app.

For more on specific useful travel apps, I previously wrote a blog post about The 5 Travel Apps You Need Before Your Next Trip.

special-occasionDon’t be shy about special occasions.

Often times hotels will give free upgrades or special gifts if you mention to the front desk that you’re celebrating a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary, or honeymoon. Restaurants too will sometimes give a free desert, drink, or appetizer. If you’re celebrating, don’t be too timid to let others celebrate with you!


different cultures together

Learn what the locals do.

Especially when you’re in an new city, it’s important to fit in with how local culture dictates accepted behaviors, mainly for your own safety. If you stand out as a tourist you’re more likely to be targeted for scams and small crime. Depending on the region, the political climate could increase tensions felt by your presence. It’s important to be respectful of the local way of life.

Even when you are feeling lost or unsure, try to remain visibly cool and collected. Walk like you know where you’re going until you find someone you feel you can trust to point you in the right direction.

Extra points for doing some research ahead of time on common customs and traditions in the area, so you’re prepared to keep you and whomever you’re traveling with looking like a local.

Aside from safety, you’ll also grow more as a person and enhance your world understanding if you expose yourself to new experiences and alternative ways of living and thinking. Plus, it can be a lot of fun!

Follow these tips, and you’ll be prepared for some smooth traveling. And if/when problems do arise, you’ll have the apps to help you find your way, lighter luggage you can more easily move around, and the know-how of how to act so as not to offend the people around you in the event you need some help. Set yourself up for success from the start, and you’ll get far more out of your world travels.

Mickael Marsali is a Senior Consultant specializing in capital management for biotech investors. Please see his professional website for more details.