5 things about travel that I’ve learned the hard way

Travel has taught me so much about myself, my relationships, and the world around me. I’ve seen things I’d previously only dreamed about, I’ve faced fears, and I’ve learned to appreciate the value of living minimally. I’ve also realised how lucky I am to have been born in such a free country as New Zealand. But there are also some lesser important things travel has taught me, and I want to share these with you, too.

1. The luggage you choose can make or break you

Overall, I’m the kind of traveller who likes to take one checked bag, and a backpack for my carry-on. I think I am finally at the point where I am happy—or at least satisfied—with my luggage choices. But, this hasn’t come without a fair share of trial and error.

Kind of like Goldilocks’ experience with the three bears…

One trip we took huge wheelie suitcases that were so bulky they barely fit into the storage compartments on public transport. They were super heavy to pull behind us, and at one point I was tempted to throw mine on the train tracks for a quick but painful death.

So next time we downsized and took cabin-sized suitcases. These were so much easier to work with, but filled up really quickly and we ended up buying additional bags during the trip. Not ideal.

I’ll admit, I have considered ditching wheelie bags in favour of a large backpack style, but the thought of carrying EVERYTHING on my back just doesn’t quite win me over.

Last year I invested in an Antler Juno, which not only survived our overseas jaunt, but also proved to be a really nice suitcase to use. Aside from a couple of incidents on cobbled or snow-covered pavements—which would have been an issue with any wheeled bag—it was a dream travel companion. (I’ll have a full review on this soon!)

And after reading a great review from Migrating Miss, I am now the proud owner of an Osprey Farpoint 40 backpack, which I am really excited to use. Although I won’t be taking carry-on only for our big trips, my previous backpack just wasn’t quite big enough to fit in all I wanted, so I’m looking forward to testing this out very soon.

5 Things Travel has Taught Me

2. It’s better to put your pride aside, and order the damned taxi

For some reason we really pride ourselves on being able to find our own way to our accommodation/train station/bus stop/deathbed. But sometimes sometimes it’s better to just order a taxi and be done with it.

Especially when it’s snowing out and you almost killed yourselves a week ago dragging your wheelie bags through 10 inches of snow.

You’ll get there much quicker, and it’s better to be lighter of pocket than heavier of burden. This I know.

Yes, it feels like such a rip-off paying for a taxi, and yes they often take the long way there, but they do get you where you need to go with little fuss, help you with your luggage, and some even have personalities and stories to share. So there’s that.

3. Makeup is a luxury, not a necessity

Okay so maybe I am still learning about this one. Generally, I don’t like to leave the house without makeup on. I blame my grandmother for this—even a trip to the store down the road required high heels, curled hair, and a full face of makeup.

But, I don’t know, when you’re travelling, makeup seems like less of an issue, right? I think you do get to a point where you care a little bit less, and enjoy living in the moment a little bit more. Regardless of whether your skin tone is even and your eyebrows are on fleek.

4. The internet is man’s greatest invention!

So long as you have international roaming, a good data plan, or access to free wifi, that is.

But seriously, I can’t even tell you how life-saving it is to be able to carry the internet in your pocket. Whether you’re trying to find yourself on a map, looking up opening hours of a store or attraction, or double-checking your check in times, being able to access the internet overseas is such a welcome luxury.

It also means that you can keep in touch with family and friends, Snap your adventures, or keep up with the Kardashians on the go.

5 Things Travel has Taught Me

5. Accommodations with laundry rooms should be appreciated

Living out of a suitcase during our overseas jaunts, we always try to pack relatively light. Unfortunately clothing still needs to be washed, and sometimes the bathroom sink just doesn’t cut it. I have spent many an hour searching for launderettes, and then even more time waiting for washing cycles to end. A small price to pay for clean clothes, but it is frustrating all the same.

Unfortunately not all accommodations offer a laundry service, so it pays to make sure you have access to one at least every few days so you can freshen up your wardrobe. Whether that’s picking accommodation with a laundry room, or finding out where the nearest launderette is.

We literally do a happy dance when we know we’ll soon have access to a laundry room, and one of the first things we do upon check in is finding out where it is and how much it will cost us. I’m not even lying.

Your Turn:

What has travel taught you?
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5 Things Travel has Taught Me

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Author: Michelle

Michelle Harvey is a kiwi traveller, writer, photographer, list-maker, coffee drinker, and wanderer. Winter holidays are her favourite kind.

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