The International Playgirl Credo
For some of us, travelling is an ever-present reality, while for others, it’s something that happens only once in a while. Regardless, when it comes to skipping across the planet, you can either do it with style & panache… or you can run around flustered, making a mess of things. Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past year or so — & I’d love to hear your own travelling tips!
Always take a scarf on the plane. Even if it’s warm & you don’t need it, you can always throw it over your head as an impromptu Do Not Disturb signal.
Ensure your laptop & MP3 player are fully charged before you board. Some planes have power outlets underneath the seats, but it’s better to be safe than techless!
Always know how much time your airline requires for you to check in. Always.
JetBlue is awesome. If you can fly with them, do. They are totally amazing.
Recognise that every person on the journey is a gift. (Even the annoying ones.)
Always have business cards (or in my case, postcards) to give to people.
Cultivate relationships wherever you go — you never know how this or that person could impact your life, even if you just speak to them for ten minutes.
Realise that not everything is going to go to plan — but every time it doesn’t, you will learn something valuable. My father always told me we learn more from failure than success, & he was right.
Embrace the weirdness.
Take one day a week to do absolutely nothing. Otherwise you will collapse in a shivering heap with your face in a plate of macarons, which is not so chic.
When you see well-dressed or immaculately coiffed people in the street, ask them where they go to shop or for beauty treatments. You will not regret it.
Always keep a book of local stamps tucked into your purse or wallet. It will make it much more likely that you’ll send postcards.
Ask the locals what they recommend.
Learn the art of meticulous suitcase packing. (My tips? Roll your clothing & group similar items — i.e., put all stockings/tights/socks in a zip-lock bag. It makes it much easier to find things.)
Be organised. Write down your flights & reference numbers. Keep all your travel documents in one place. Be at least 70% packed the night before you go.
Don’t overburden yourself with a huge list of things to do in every city. You probably won’t be able to do them all & you’ll freak yourself out trying.
Enjoy the small things. Sometimes supermarket shopping can be an immensely exciting experience when everything in there is unfamiliar!
Sublease where possible. Usually a month’s sublet is about the same price as a week in a hotel.
…But spend a couple of nights in a boutique hotel if you can.
Remember your vitamins. This is a two-parter: first of all, remember to take them with you. Secondly, remember to put them somewhere that you will see them!
Drink lots of water, especially if you’re doing a lot of walking.
Take comfortable shoes. They do not need to be ugly. I feel like I have trekked all over the planet in my Frye boots, & they have served me extremely well.
Take high heels for fancy dinners & exciting parties.
Eat salad every day to help keep you going.
Know thy baggage allowance, or you will be punished accordingly!
If your ride to the airport has their own concept of time, tell them you need to be there earlier than you actually do.
Keep in touch with the people you meet. Email them the next day if you can.
Buy local magazines to find out what’s really going on where you are.
Book flexible air tickets. You never know what will happen…
Travel insurance is worth the peace of mind. Especially if you have an accident or get sick.
If you’re travelling with someone else, have days where you both go off alone & do your own thing.
Offer to help people where you can.
Don’t be afraid to change your plans.
Have your travel agent request a special meal.
Learn to adapt, quickly.
Wear shoes you can just slip off when you fly. It makes getting through security about a billion times faster.
Don’t be afraid to be friendly to TSA & airport officials. They are bored. Make their day a little better, & sometimes they’ll reward you. (I have been serenaded by TSA workers more than once.)
Take snacks. Always.
Don’t plan too far ahead if you can help it.
Marvel at the kindness of strangers.
Enjoy & adopt local colloquialisms, but hold onto your old ones. They make up who you are — plus, people will find it charming.
Ask questions, especially of locals who you befriend. Most people love to show off the place they live in.
Call home, but not all the time.
Always have a spare, charged camera battery in your purse.
Always, always, always carry a can of dry shampoo!
Document what you do. Write a journal, take photos or film, draw pictures of things you see, whatever — like Leonard Cohen says, “I hope you’re keeping some kind of record“.
If you do decide to write a journal, make time to do it. I find that when I’m travelling & on a hectic schedule, I get to play journal catch-up on planes. You might want to make brief notes every night, though — otherwise it’s very easy to forget entire days.
Before you go, do some research. Read books about the place, engage in some clever Googling, search the city’s name on Flickr & see what you can find.
Do your very best to get enough sleep.
Splurge where you can.
Buy something cool, so that when people ask, “Where did you get that?!”, you can say, “Oh, in Paris/Leipzig/Vancouver…”
Get a frequent flyer card with every airline you can.
Make friends with Kayak.
Wear something comfortable on the plane.
Subscribe to airline newsletters so you get the inside scoop on any deals they have going.
Maintain transcontinental friendships. It’s always more fun to visit a place where you have friends.
Try new things.
Finally, remember that we travel because we’re seeking something different. This is to say, don’t go somewhere else & expect it to be like what you’re used to. If you want things to remain the same, stay at home!