1. Plan Smarter not Harder
With some wise planning you can maximize your valuable vacation time, and lessen the impact taken on your body. Set yourself up for success by choosing flights that land in your destination in the morning and return home in the evening. If you sleep on the plane on the way there & hit the ground running that first morning, you will be ready to crash that night. Then, stay awake on the plane ride back and go to bed when you get home. Congratulations! You just beat jet lag. I’ve used this method several times, and it worked like a charm on our Morocco trip. We landed back home at 10pm and I went to work the next day, fully functional.
With perfect, jet lag-proof flight arrangements, you are ready to pack in the fun! Make the most of your time by doing a little research before your trip. Jot down things you want to see and do & prioritize them. This helps ensure that I never miss something I really wanted to see. No room for regrets when you’re paying transatlantic fare!
While you’re researching, play around with Google Maps and chart out an efficient walking path. This will help you stay organized and progress logically from one monument to another while sparing your feet from doubling back.
2. Play it Safe
No matter how many wonderful things you see and do on your trip, losing something can ruin the entire experience for you. It certainly is better to be safe than sorry, which is why I advise the following tips. As discussed, protect your liquid assets by wearing a money belt or equivalent. I chose to wear a small pacsafe bag worn across my body. Bags worn in front remain visible at all times & can’t be yanked off. This was a better option for me since my clothes are form fitting and a money belt under my shirt would be super obvious. I kept my daily cash budget in an easily (to me) accessible pocket, and kept the rest of my stash more deeply hidden. Never pull out a wad of cash in public.
Along with your money, keep identification and your passport on your person at. all. times. Never be without it. Your passport is your lifeline. Have I stressed this enough? Let me relate a brief anecdote. I’m on a tour, we’re all getting off the bus for dinner, the driver says he will be with the bus the whole time so people leave their bags on the bus. After dinner we get back on the bus and several bags are missing: laptops, cameras, and you guessed it, someone’s purse with their passport inside. Next day is lost calling home, finding the embassy, and getting a wire from Western Union. Never leave your passport behind, even if the bus driver says it’s safe. Maybe especially if the bus driver says it’s safe…
Try to eliminate yourself as a target as much as possible. I have no need of fine jewelry while I am traveling, so I keep it locked up in the safe at home while I’m abroad, including my wedding set. Instead, I wear a simple gold band. This way you have no worries of losing anything or having something stolen.
Another way to reduce your chances of becoming a target is to not give any strangers your fancy camera to take photos of you. They make selfie sticks for that purpose now. All the tourists had them in Morocco.
3. Get to know the public transportation system
Getting comfortable with the train/metro/bus system will infinitely increase your mileage and potential Kodak moments. So get a pass & see the country. Why stay in one city when you can see four? Skyler and I took trains 3 out of our 5 days in Morocco, saw hundreds of miles of the beautiful countryside, and explored cities that we hadn’t originally planned on going to until we discovered their train system. Bonus: saves your feet lots of walking.
4. Eat local
One of our most important rules is to never eat somewhere you can eat at home. We take this very seriously and adhere to it no matter where we are traveling, in the states or abroad. This rule forces us to seek out local cuisine by avoiding all chains and helps us fully experience a vital part of the culture. So be adventurous and try new things! You may very well find a new favorite dish to share with friends back home.
5. Learn enough of the language to be respectful
You know that stereotype about French people being rude? Completely untrue. If anything, we’re rude, ethnocentric Americans expecting everyone to speak English. Well, yes, America is a global powerhouse, and English is a business necessity nowadays, but that is no excuse for not trying a bit. Before your trip, memorize a few key phrases in the native language of your destination country. Basics like “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “Thank you,” “Excuse me,” “Help,” “Do you speak English?” and “Where’s the bathroom?” Simply being able to greet a shopkeeper, thank them and bid them farewell in their native tongue will go a long way in your favor.
Armed with my travel tips, you tenacious travelers are ready to take on the world!