Lessons from traveling...

lessons for clara

Dearest Clara, We are still on the move---one week into a seventeen day trip.  This time around we have been taking you on a bit of a sentimental journey though you are much too young to remember these places or even understand their significance.  But don’t worry, one day we will certainly take you again.  In the meantime, we will take lots of pictures for you to remember this by.

We travel a lot, whether for fun or for work---it is a bit the nature of the job we signed up to do.  But even if we hadn’t, I have a feeling we would continue to move about anyway.  Traveling can open up the mind to so much, but it certainly can be draining as well.  Keep these things in mind when you find yourself on the go---my bet is that you’ll take after your parents.

  • Don’t pack more than you can carry: I think this is rule number one.  If you yourself can’t carry it, you probably don’t need it.  My rule of thumb is one roller board and a folded duffle inside for the trip home (inevitably, you always come back with more).  But remember, you shouldn’t be dependent on anyone when it comes to just carrying stuff.
  • Ask for help when you need it: That being said, ask for help when you need it.  Some days, your bag will be too heavy, or you’ll find yourself lost.  I always avoided services that booked taxis or brought bags or any countless number of other things, insisting that I do it myself.  That’s a good way to start and a good way to learn, but at some point, it’s okay to get some assistance.  It’s how others make a living, and sometimes, a few dollars more can save you lots of time and frustration and back ache.
  • Move around with confidence: You won’t always know where you’re going, but you should always look like it.  You will build confidence in your own abilities to get to where you need to go, but you’ll also stave off any unwelcome attention that finds its way to the lost and unaccompanied.
  • Be a gracious traveling companion:  No doubt you will come across myriad of personalities while traveling, and not all of them the nicest.  But traveling brings out funny things in people: some might be sad, upset, coming from or going to a place they would rather not.  Give people the benefit of the doubt and the space they need, and don’t take travel outbursts personally.  Be as gracious and patient as you can, the day will come when you need the same from others.
  • Remember your documents and your wallet: I used to worry the entire way to the airport whether I had packed everything.  But my mother always used to ask if I had my passport and my wallet,  and then told me not to worry, anything else you can buy.  Always be able to identify yourself, and always have a couple of ways to get money where you’re going and you’ll always be set.
  • Leave something to come back for: When you really love and enjoy a place you’ve visited, leave a little something to return for.  A museum unseen, a picture not taken, a personal item you forgot, a coin in the fountain . . . my mother always said that you should always “leave something to come back for”.

Over the years, you’ll find all of your own little bits of advice to make traveling easier.  You can always start out by laying out what you would like to take, and then taking half the clothes and twice the money.  Drink lots of water, travel with a shawl, and wash your hands a lot.  And of course, send your mother lots of postcards.

All my love,

Mom