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Things Iíve Learned to Make Travel Easier

Pack Light Ė No matter whether your aim is to enjoy a relaxing vacation somewhere or embrace a sense of adventure, the trip will be a lot easier if you travel light. The lighter you pack, the more flexible you become. The larger your bags, the more limited you become in your surroundings. Itís more difficult to travel with a couple of large bags then small bags.

My rule of thumb is that I must be able to carry everything a mile if the situations warrant it. When I arrive somewhere, Iím then flexible to do a small amount of sightseeing and not have the urgent need to go straight to where Iím sleeping to drop off my bags.

Example #1 Ė When I went to Portugal, I intended to go straight from the airport to the hostel. But I got on the right bus going the wrong direction and ended up in downtown Lisbon instead. Because I was traveling light, I was able to take a couple of hours to see some of Lisbon before going to the hostel.

Example #2 Ė When I was in Poland, I left Krakow early in the morning to spend the day at Auschwitz for the day, traveling on to Katowice that evening to spend the night. Because I was traveling light, I was able to check my bag at coat-check at Auschwitz. Otherwise, I would have been faced with dealing with a heavy bag or bags during the day.

Use Google Earth and a handheld GPS Ė Google Earth is a wonderful tool of seeing satellite photos of everywhere on earth. And itís even better because people have tagged locations with pictures and markers of important sights and hotels. Itís easy to find your hotel, train stations, bus stations and tourist sights on Google Earth which gives you the latitude and longitude coordinates. Then, when you arrive, you can use your pocket GPS to determine how far away you are from where youíre going. This is convenient as it allows you to judge whether to walk, take a taxi or find other transportation. It also helps orient you in a way maps canít. Plus, if youíre walking around, you canít get lost. You pull out your GPS and you can find your way back to your hotel.

Lost? Find a Bus Stop Ė If you get lost, look around for a bus stop. Often, bus stops have a map.

Make Copies of Your Passport Ė Make copies of your passport and put a copy in each of your bags. If your passport is lost of stolen, having a copy will make it easier to get a replacement passport from an embassy. Plus, if one of your bags is lost, your passport copy inside may help your bag eventually get back to you.

Email Personal Information to Yourself Ė What if you lose your credit card while on vacation? How do you remember your credit card number to report it missing? Easy. Send yourself an email with your credit card numbers. But to make the content of the email secure, adjust your credit card numbers by some easy to remember factor. For example, take your credit card number and add ď1234567Ē or ď45454545Ē to it. Then if you must use that email, just subtract this same number and you have your credit card number again.

Multiple Money Sources Ė Donít travel with only one source of money. Losing that source could become very inconvenient. I generally travel with at least 3 sources: ATM card, Visa card and cash.

Divide and Hide Your Money Ė I will always carry around $400 as my emergency cash in case Iím in a situation I canít use my ATM card. But I donít carry all my cash in the same place. Iíll split it up in $100 increments and hide it in different places in my bags. Rolling some up in one of your socks is always a good spot. This way, if some of it gets stolen, you donít necessarily lose all of it. Plus, if youíre in a public place and need to retrieve some of it, youíre only pulling out a small wad of cash and not a big wad.

Keep Ready Cash Handy Ė Although itís safe to carry money in a secure place close to your body (like a money belt), carry the money you expect to need over the next few hours in an easy-to-reach place like your pants pocket. This way, you donít have to go to your money belt frequently which compromises your security by showing where you are storing your valuables. Always transfer money from your money belt to your pocket from a private location, like a bathroom.