Over winter break, I visited eight countries on two continents over the span of a mere three weeks. I spent nine days in Japan, where I never slept in the same bed for more than two consecutive nights. In addition to hotels in Tokyo, Narita, and Hiraniwa, I did a short homestay. After my Asian excursion, I returned to the United States for four days, celebrated Christmas, then embarked for Europe. I spent 12 days there, beginning with two nights in London, ending with two nights in Paris, and, in between, spending every night in a different city.
Both trips were wonderful and a refreshing change of pace from American collegiate life; however, they were each absolutely exhausting. On-the-go travel requires a lot more stamina and planning than leisurely trips. Here are tips to optimize your utility and maximize your enjoyment on fast-paced trips!
- Pack light.
- It goes without saying that when you will have to be moving your luggage around a lot, everything is much simpler if your luggage is light. For extremely intensive trips, this extends beyond even clothing and toiletries to the other items you bring. Halfway through my time in Europe, I was wishing I had brought my iPad instead of my laptop and Heart of Darkness instead of Atlas Shrugged. Be deliberate with even the smallest of choices in order to minimize the weight of your bags.
- Know your route well before you go.
- The entire time I was in both Japan and Europe, I was either constantly checking my schedule of movements or asking my companions where we were headed next. Though this did the trick, after a while, it got a little bit annoying for everyone. Knowing where you are going everyday, how you are going to get there, and how long you are staying in each place gives you better peace-of-mind and more time to think ahead.
- Get your rest.
- Unless you are out sightseeing, your nights are better used sleeping than dawdling around the hotel room. Fast-paced travel adds a layer of impenetrable exhaustion to the already annoying jet lag. Sleep is vital. Though it might be fun to stay up until midnight watching The Big Bang Theory in German, you should get to bed as early as possible. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.
- Keep a travel journal.
- When you’re visiting many spectacular places at a very rapid pace, they can easily blend together in your mind. Did I see that cool street performer in Venice or Verona? Was that awesome ramen shop in Odaiba or Osaka? Questions like this will haunt you when you return home if you don’t keep a journal while you’re abroad. My travel journal is a combination of random adjectives, descriptive phrases, and any verbatim quotes that particularly strike me. There is no algorithm for the perfect travel journal: just write what you think will help you remember how you were feeling and where you were when you felt that way.
By following these tips in addition to general travel conventions, you can make the most of any whirlwind tour. Fasten your seatbelt, zip up your suitcase, and travel the world, one country at a time.