DO plan your trip carefully. Print out maps. Look up timetables. Make sure you have detailed directions. Otherwise you might end up experiencing something like my Italian audition trip fiasco.
DO compare prices. Use price comparison sites such as www.skyskanner.com to find the cheapest flights - and if you're flexible with your schedule, you can also choose the cheapest days and times to travel. A word about accommodation: if you aren't lucky enough to have a friend to stay with for free, find a cheap place to stay at a website like www.booking.com or www.laterooms.com. My friend tells me that Ibis hotels are always good - they're clean, safe, inexpensive, and can be found everywhere.
DON'T stay overnight at the airport. Unless it's completely unavoidable - and I mean completely unavoidable - just don't do it. Yes, it may seem smart to save money by sleeping rough and catching that cheap flight that leaves at evil o'clock in the morning. But trust me, the sleepless night curled up on the airport bench is NOT worth the difference in price. Especially if you're at London Stansted - or, as it's better known, Purgatory.
DO pack lightly. Ok, so I haven't always been great at this, as friends and family will attest...
|Simulation. Not writer's actual suitcase.|
DON'T assume buses and trains always run on the same schedule. Travelling on a Sunday is a dangerous thing, as I discovered yesterday. Buses that usually come every ten minutes suddenly get very lazy. They may decide instead to only come every thirty minutes, or every hour, or two or three times in the day on a random whim. Be prepared for lazy Sunday buses!
DO invest in the future. Think ahead. Will you be taking this same bus back to the airport? Then get a return ticket. If you'll be using a bus/train/tram/rickshaw regularly on this trip, think about getting something like a ten-ride ticket or a weekly or monthly pass. It may seem not seem like much, but all those single ride tickets add up to a lot of extra money you don't need to spend.
DO stay hydrated. Planes are extremely dry, and it's easy to get dehydrated or even get sick if you don't drink lots of water. Yes, it might be embarrassing to be that guy who's always asking his neighbour to get up so he can squeeze past and go to the toilet. But trust me, it's worth it to not feel like this the next day...
|Evian, why have you forsaken me??!|
DO be smart about money. Did you know Norwegian coins have holes in the middle of them?
|They're like fancy metal Norwegian doughnuts.|
DO try to eat well. Yes, it can be hard to find proper food at airports and train stations. But if you eat real meals you'll be less likely to waste money filling up on crisps and chocolate.
|Well, ok... maybe you can still have a bit of chocolate...|
|Not a simulation. Writer's actual face.|
DO bring something to fight the boredom. Whether it's a book or a magazine or the latest season of your favourite show - just make sure you keep it light and fluffy. This is not the time to try to read War and Peace. You will be stressed out, sleep deprived, and distracted by boarding announcements. Basically, you should prepare to have about half of your usual IQ.
DO plan for recovery time. Travelling is tiring, especially if you're crossing time zones. And in my experience, jetlag only gets worse as you get older. I recently made the mistake of scheduling a singing lesson just two days after arriving on a cross-atlantic flight. I was still exhausted and jet-lagged, and I was completely useless in the lesson. Know your limits and give yourself time to rest after a trip. You'll need some time to be useless before you can be useful again.
DO bring a notebook. Sometimes I get my best ideas when I'm travelling. I zone out, look out the window at the scenery, and BOOM - I get a Eureka moment. Maybe this is just me being an introvert, but I think the best thing about long trips is it can give you time to think. So make sure you have somewhere to record your ideas and insights.
These are the most helpful tips I can think of now, although I'm sure that more will come to me the next time I'm travelling, For now I'll leave you with one more tip: once you've booked the flight, printed the maps, and packed your bags - have fun! After all, travelling is only worth all this stress if you get an adventure out of it. So wherever you are in the world, take some time to enjoy the experience!