It’s not bad, this getting older.  And aside from the alternative being officially Not A Good Idea, age brings knowledge about how to best enjoy the loves of your life.  So let me share with you my favourite travel hacks from 50 years on road, rail, sea and air.

Hacks: Before You Go

  • First, know yourself.  Travel is meant to be pleasure and not pain if you’re doing it right.  So plan somewhere that fits with your preferences.
  • No matter how well you do your research, you won’t like every single place.  That’s fine.  Just use it to redefine what you want next time.  And share a good story or two afterwards.
  • It’s ok to have favourites.  It doesn’t mean that you are unadventurous or boring.  It means that some place hit an inner bell that is ringing sweet.  Celebrate that by going back.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open about other people’s trips.  Read travelogues.  Spend too long on Pinterest.  Enjoy feeding that travel lover inside you with new ideas.
  • Take opportunities.  Book that cheap flight or the last minute deal.

Hacks: Attitude of mind

  • It’s your trip, not someone else’s.  Do what makes you happy.
  • Don’t get sucked in to arrangements that you know don’t suit you.  Don’t be afraid to say it’s not for you.
  • Your perfect trip doesn’t have to culminate in a tailored Insta feed.  Unless that’s what makes you happy.
  • Beauty’s where you find it.  Travel to make your heart glad, even if that’s in the least likely places.

50 Travel Hacks from 50 years of Travel - Railroad at the Shack Up Inn

Hacks: Alone or Together

  • Traveling alone can bring your best self to the table.  Try it if you can.  You’ll learn a lot about your own resourcefulness, and it builds confidence and self-esteem.
  • Don’t be afraid to have some fear of traveling alone.  It will keep you alert and focused.  But if it becomes overwhelming, reconsider.
  • One is fun, but so’s two.  You see a place differently through someone else’s eyes.  And a shared love of travel can cement the joy in your relationship.
  • Don’t forget the delights of traveling with your family either.  I was lucky to travel to many, many places with my mum (I blame her for all this wanderlust).
  • If you have doubts about traveling with someone, listen to the bat squeaks in your head.  They happen for a reason.

Hacks: Practical Preparations

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff.  You can’t control everything as part of the travel experience.  Plan what you can, and leave the rest to chance.
  • Travel as light as possible.  Expending emotional and physical energy on hauling your stuff can mean missing out on some of the experience.
  • If you’re on the move regularly, keep essential supplies ready and packed.  It’ll make taking the next trip a breeze.
  • Have a routine for packing up and sorting out your life before you go.  Travel is much more fun when you don’t arrive at the airport with a big clump of post-its stuck to your phone celebrating stuff you still have to do before you take off.  I have been that person.  Don’t do it.
  • On which note, keep packing lists by types of destination.  And then you can be ready to run at the sniff of a bargain fare.

Hacks: Maximising Your funds

  • Set yourself some priorities.  It’s easy to get sucked in to life’s little gratifications.  But if you commit to a trip, and fund it from sheer hard labour, there’s little that’s so gratifying.  So ditch the small treats, and turn them into the much larger treat of time away.
  • If you have a goal, find a way of recording your progress in saving.  There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing you’ve already paid for 1782 miles of your 6000 mile trip.
  • Book early or book late.  Early if you are constrained by time and destination, late if you’re flexible.  In the middle lies an expensive trip.
  • Don’t be afraid to invest in your dreams.  When it came to household stuff or our bucket list trip to the Delta Blues last year, there really was no choice.  And a year later it’s still making me happier than new furnishings ever could.
  • If funds are tight, go adventuring close to home.  There are so many beautiful places to see within two hours of where I live.  I know I’m lucky.  Go find your local adventures too.

Hacks: Traveling for business

  • If you get the opportunity to travel for work, take it.  There’s nearly always a chance to take a little time to see the place for yourself.
  • Don’t be scared of taking opportunities to work overseas.  People I know who have done it have massively enjoyed the experience, although everyone has struggled to some degree with culture shock and homesickness.
  • If you have the skills and the flexibility in your home life, travel can be your business.  From dancing to cooking to simply having a profession that’s in short supply elsewhere, keep your eyes and your options open.

Hacks: Getting the most out of the experience

  • Breathe deep.  Take time to stop and see.  Really see.  And listen and taste and touch and all that good stuff.  You’ll associate places with colours and smells and tastes.
  • Quit while you’re still having fun.  And this isn’t just because I’m cracking on a bit.  Wanting a little bit more is to my mind always better than wishing you’d left a half hour earlier before things turned sour.
  • Learn tactics to avoid homesickness.  Sometimes the culture shock’s a bit too much, whether you’re alone or with friends.  Find the things that give you a safe space to get past that, whether comfort is found in your journal, a familiar playlist or a good read.
  • Travel light mentally too.  If you burden yourself with worries, what-ifs and concerns, you’ll find that anxiety can overtake the trip.  Park home worries if you can, or find a way of dealing with them the best you can before you go.
  • Cut your losses.  If it’s not working out, move on.

50 Travel Hacks from 50 years of travel - Hopson Plantation

Hacks: Staying Safe

  • Trust your own judgement, and do only the things that are both comfortable and ethical.
  • Buy the travel insurance.  Whether it’s a perforated eardrum (Bilbao) or palpitations requiring cardiac monitoring (Chicago, brought on by caffeine), you’ll be glad you have it.
  • Trust your instincts too.  On a dark path in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona my now-husband heard someone approaching us a bit too fast, and turned around in time to thwart someone hoping to rob him.
  • Keep your wits about you.  If you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it on a trip.
  • You will laugh about it.  Eventually.  Although it took a couple of years before my lactose-intolerant self forgave whoever slipped me a roll made with milk before I boarded for 14 hours of connecting flights.  And Delta, I’m sorry.  Really sorry.

Hacks: Adventuring

  • Take the road less traveled.  Find the places that make your heart glad and enjoy them to their fullest.
  • Push your comfort zone a bit.  If you don’t try something different, you’ll never know if you have a passion for deserts, life at altitude or frenetic city living.
  • Try fast travel.  Pick a destination and absolutely wring the last drops of experience out of the brief trip.
  • Try slow travel.  Allow yourself time to step back and absorb the experience.  Get under the skin of the destination and see its seasons change.
  • Never stop adventuring.  It’s all an attitude of mind.  My grandad went to New York to run a security team in his fifties.  At the same age my mum went to Adelaide to work in cable tv.   Me?   I’ve got seven years left to find someone to make me an offer…

50 Travel Hacks from 50 Years of Travel Ghent Bridge

Hacks: Connecting

  • Find people who share your passion and talk with them.  You’ll find destinations you’d never have considered, and experiences you didn’t know you could have.
  • Talk to people along the way.  You get to know so much more about a place through the eyes of those who live there.  And you’ll remember those moments vividly.  Find out what makes this lovely world turn for them.
  • Accept invitations along the way.  As a child, I remember attending a French wedding by random chance.  And my stepfather going sailing with a former steward from the Ile de France.
  • Try and learn even a little of any languages involved.  And when that runs out, never ever be afraid to try mime and drawings; they’ll get you a surprisingly long way.

Hacks: Making Memories

  • Please think about keeping a travel journal.   It doesn’t have to be a narrative: pictures, lists and artwork all convey that sense of time and place.  Or else use your blog or Instagram feed.
  • Think about the things you experience through all your senses.  Ice cold red pears roadside on the Col De Tende in the snow.  Boston smelling constantly of cinnamon.  The silkiness of the desert at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, and the sound of the burners at Albuquerque Balloon Festival.
  • Treasure those memories and keep them safe.  When you read them again, it’ll be like meeting an old friend.
  • When you plan your next adventure, see what your journals can tell you about the things you loved and want to do again.

And Finally

Enjoy treading very gently on this beautiful world.  If you’ve got more hacks to add, I’d love to hear them.

Don’t forget to check out more of our travel hacks for getting under the skin of your destination and having a great Airbnb experiencepacking for a road trip or packing for a week in a carry-on bag.

50 Travel Hacks from 50 years of Travel - Main Street Trolley, Memphis

 

Author: Bernie

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53 thoughts on “50 Travel Hacks From 50 Years On The Road

  1. Bernie, this is such a lovely blog and so much I can resonate with as in our late 40’s and early 50’s we are enjoying month 19 of our new nomadic lifestyle on the road in our camper. Such great tips. Travel indeed is one of the greatest teachers I have every had and has certainly shifted my constrictive values and beliefs about life and myself. Safe onward travels.

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 8:19 am
    1. Thank you. 🙂 I’m loving the thought of your road tripping and everything that’s waiting out there to be discovered, both of the world and of yourselves. Safe onward travels to you too.

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 8:58 am
  2. Some really great tips here. As an “older” traveller I really appreciate the art of letting go – not letting the tiny niggling things get to me and that helps make a trip or a journey so much more pleasant. I think as we get older we learn (hopefully) to live in the moment – buy that special gift for ourselves, treat ourselves to that gorgeous piece of cake and celebrate just living. Thanks for this.

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 8:21 am
    1. I love that you get this too; the art of letting go is a fine thing. I’ve just written your “Celebrate just living” in my diary for today. Those are great words to live by.

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 8:55 am
  3. 50 years – that’s incredible! Thanks for sharing your hacks – will definitely use them on my travels!

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 8:58 am
    1. I know! 😉 I started counting from age three, as those are the first trips I actually remember! Mostly to the beach or the moors at that age. I can’t believe it’s been 50 years since my first travel memories. Half a century of such amazing times (and the occasional pants time to make the good memories all the sweeter).

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 12:19 pm
  4. Beautiful post. Such genuine advice, you can tell you are a true traveller!

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 9:31 am
    1. Thank you. 🙂 We inhabit such a beautiful planet.

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 10:11 am
  5. Great post! We have just moved to Australia to experience life as an expat for the 6th time (over 50 years) – your hacks are great and really well put – agree with every single one!

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 10:24 am
    1. Now that’s an amazing record in expat-dom! I hope you have a wonderful time in Australia; I have brilliant memories of my weeks spent there visiting my expat mum. So glad you enjoyed the post; I’ve still plenty more adventures to have and learn from, so maybe I’ll need to update with 60 from 60! 🙂

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 10:52 am
  6. What an amazing list. Thank you so much for sharing <3 My mother has a similar lifetime of travel behind her, and she too espouses the benefits of keeping a travel journal. Thanks to her, I have been able to commit to memory hundreds of tiny details that might otherwise have been lost (not to mention my blog!). Cheers to your next 50 years of adventures! 🙂

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 10:27 am
    1. That’s a wonderful thought, thank you! 🙂 And I am so glad you’ve got journals to honour those memories too. They really are treasures through which you can appreciate those adventures all over again.

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 10:47 am
  7. I think this may be one of my favorite blog posts I’ve ever read. I truly enjoy your perspective on traveling, and these are all EXCELLENT tips. I’m grateful to have learned many of these lessons and tips over the past few years of travel, but others I am still working on, such as this – “Wanting a little bit more is to my mind always better than wishing you’d left a half hour earlier before things turned sour.” That is brilliant advice, and advice I need to take the next time I stress myself out on the last day of a holiday trying to see it all before we leave!

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 10:29 am
    1. Thank you so very much. 🙂 I’m still learning this art of travel myself. Coming to peace with the best ways to enjoy my travel experiences has helped offset the arrival of dodgy knees these past few years. 😉 And wishing you lots of happy final days in each destination – it’s always great to leave yourself with things unseen aka reasons to head back to those beautiful places again.

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 10:45 am
  8. Great advise! Really well put together, some of these are so important to remember! Thankyou for sharing

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 10:52 am
    1. Thank you. 🙂 This has been on my mind for a while, and it just sort of emerged this morning, when faced with a blank page. Still looking forward to lots more adventures, and wishing you all the best for yours.

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 10:56 am
  9. I rather like traveling alone within the US, but prefer company on trips out of the country just because it’s more fun to explore that way. I’m not one for group tours just because not everything they plan suits my taste (as you mentioned) and I don’t much like to be on a rigid schedule when I travel. I’m all about travel insurance, as it has saved my rear more than once. I’m a Sagittarius and could live out of a suitcase the rest of my life and be blissfully happy! Great post!

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 1:43 pm
    1. Solo and with company have different perks, don’t they? But both are most definitely good. 🙂 I could do that suitcase for life since the advent of the Kindle; before then I’d really have struggled with my massive book habit.

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 3:16 pm
  10. I love this! 50 years of travel has surel taught you so much! I so agree about the travel journal. I kept one on one of my trips, and everytime I read it I find something new that I completely forgot about. It helps us in remembering the little things and moments.

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 3:32 pm
    1. Going back to the memories is brilliant isn’t it? It’s the next best thing to doing the trip all over again.

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 6:41 pm
  11. I love this!!! Agree with all of them. The one about your trip not being just an IG feed.. So true. And I’m cracking up at your lactose issue and apologizing to Delta. LOL Great post!!!

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 6:37 pm
    1. I pity the Delta guy who had to sit in the jumpseat with his back to the toilet. Just sayin’ 🙂

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 6:39 pm
  12. So many excellent tips! I really like how you organized this post. Thanks for sharing!

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 7:55 pm
    1. Thank you. 🙂 It just kinda emerged like that, so I’m glad it made sense.

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 8:07 pm
  13. a lot of great tips – and the wisdom of us over 50’s is really amazing 🙂

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 9:06 pm
    1. Tis true. 🙂 I like to consider it compensation for all the bits that are getting a little creaky.

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 9:12 pm
  14. Wow! 50 years! Thanks for sharing your experiences. I bet you have the best travel stories…

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 9:53 pm
    1. I’d love to think so… 😉 I certainly have a lot of them! It compensates for getting on a bit.

      Posted on October 7, 2017 at 10:04 pm
  15. This post is so very helpful!! If I’m ever feeling nervous about a trip and need a little motivation I shall certainly be coming back to read again – thanks for sharing 🙂

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 10:23 pm
    1. Thank you. 🙂 I think we all get those pre-trip nerves for all kinds of reasons, but then the sheer love and excitement kicks in and we’re away. Wishing you many adventures.

      Posted on October 8, 2017 at 5:59 am
  16. Definitely agree with going back to favourite places. It means you’ve done the obvious stuff and have time to find the more unusual things.

    Posted on October 7, 2017 at 11:33 pm
    1. That’s very true, and I hadn’t thought of it in that way before. We’ve been to Ghent, for example, more than 15 times, and we still keep discovering all kinds of artwork and new things to visit. One year we were rewarded with a massive set of letters along the Graslei commemorating the World’s Forgotten Boy with “Search and Destroy”. Places do keep on giving up their treasures.

      Posted on October 8, 2017 at 5:55 am
  17. Totally love this post! Well done and I will definitely follow your advice and awesome hacks!!

    Posted on October 8, 2017 at 1:51 am
    1. Ah, thank you. 🙂 It’s been fun learning what works along the way.

      Posted on October 8, 2017 at 5:37 am
  18. This blog lists some pretty amazing stuff. I totally found it useful and could relate to much in there. I must commend you on your writing style and congratulate you on an awesome blog 💞

    Posted on October 8, 2017 at 8:23 am
    1. Thank you. 🙂 That’s lovely of you. I kinda write as I talk.

      Posted on October 8, 2017 at 8:33 am
  19. Amazing tips! I blame my mom for my wanderlust too hahaha and she is still traveling more than me. My favorite part is you will laugh about it eventually. Hahah I read a quote somewhere that goes something like life is a tragedy when your in it but a comedy when you look back and that is so true. You always laugh later no matter how terrible it was when it happened. Really loved this post!

    Posted on October 8, 2017 at 6:24 pm
    1. Thank you. 🙂 I love that quote you shared, and that your mum is an adventuress too. In the depths of my misery that lactose-filled night when we were waiting for our connection at Charles De Gaulle, I remembered thinking to myself that at least I’d got no cravings for a box of Marron Glaces. Gotta laugh.

      Posted on October 8, 2017 at 8:33 pm
  20. LOVED THIS! Great idea for a post. I would definitely agree with the don’t sweat the small stuff, even if it’s costing you money or time. I have this thing called the Idiot Tax, which isn’t as harsh at is sounds. The concept is that when you stuff up of things don’t go the way you planned, you just write it off under the Idiot Tax. Always makes me feel better 🙂

    Posted on October 8, 2017 at 7:26 pm
    1. That’s a great tax! Acknowledge and move on is a brilliant strategy. 🙂 I think I might pinch that one for myself too.

      Posted on October 8, 2017 at 8:28 pm
  21. This post made me reminisce immensely! Love the adventuring section, that was my favorite. Happy travels!

    Posted on October 8, 2017 at 11:48 pm
    1. I’m absolutely determined that adventuring will never stop. Happy travels to you too!

      Posted on October 9, 2017 at 5:35 am
  22. This amid such a great post, all of it true. The point that resonated with me most at the moment is quit whilst you’re still having fun. So very true!

    Posted on October 9, 2017 at 1:19 am
  23. This is such a great post, so many helpful tips that you only can learn with time and experience. The one that resonated with me most is ‘quit whilst it’s dtikl fun.’ So true!

    Posted on October 9, 2017 at 2:16 am
    1. Thank you. 🙂 And yes, that one did take me a while to get my head around, but my travels have been better for it.

      Posted on October 9, 2017 at 5:33 am
  24. These are really great hacks! I especially love getting out of your comfort zone and not being afraid to travel alone. Those are things I’ve had to deal with when moving to France and then further exploring.

    Posted on October 9, 2017 at 9:41 am
    1. I’m off on my own again later this month; I like the way it stretches me, and makes me more careful. I’m glad those experiences have been good for you too. Wishing you happy travels.

      Posted on October 9, 2017 at 11:09 am
  25. I love these hacks! What a wonderful list, full of wisdom and experience. I especially loved the making memories section 🙂

    Posted on October 10, 2017 at 3:37 am
    1. Ah, the memories are almost as good as the original journeys. And you get to revisit them over and over again. 🙂 Thank you.

      Posted on October 10, 2017 at 1:01 pm
  26. So many great things to know. Very insightful. Adventuring is a huge one I feel that when it comes to getting out of your comfort zone, it is needed when taking on adventures and traveling.

    Posted on October 11, 2017 at 3:41 am
    1. I really believe that you find new bits of yourself at the edge of your comfort zone, and that’s always fascinating. Wishing you many happy travels.

      Posted on October 11, 2017 at 7:05 am
  27. Awesome! You are so on my wavelength… I am writing posts about all of these tips, so will take a while 🙂 Love the ethos and some of the best sound advice I’ve seen in the blogosphere, there’s so much rubbish its nice to find a gem.

    Posted on October 13, 2017 at 8:37 am
    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 There have to be some bonuses to getting older, and one is really appreciating everything that travel brings to our lives. Wishing you many happy adventures.

      Posted on October 13, 2017 at 8:48 am