By Cathy Leestma

Over the last twelve months my husband Dave and I have enjoyed a number of traveling experiences. Some lasted only a day and one for a couple of glorious weeks in Europe. For many of our working years, our travel was mostly spent visiting grandparents for some good spoiling of our children. Our day jobs required that we were in town for mid-week and weekend commitments.

Today being self-employed with a good laptop or for that matter, a smart phone changes all of that. Traveling and working can happen simultaneously.

Many of you reading this will have traveled the world many times over. You could be writing this article!

Here, however is what I have gleaned from my travels.

International travel: Attend a good packing or traveling seminar in advance. Watch online what to pack and why you will need to bring the clothes that you do. Buy Packing Folders. These are available in many sizes and keep your clothes in good shape with Velcro closures. They have a folding guide you can use to fold and keep the clothes in place. When you arrive at your destination, it is simple to open the Packing Folders and have nicely pressed clothes.

Go light in luggage. Even if you are traveling first class with someone handling your luggage most of the time, you will still have plenty of times when you’ll wish you brought less. We travel overseas with one small rolling case and a carry on. Our last trip was 15 days. Absolutes in clothing include broken in and comfortable walking shoes (many streets around the world are cobblestone or other very difficult surfaces and can take their toll on your feet, ankles and hips). Shoes take a lot of space. Pack wisely. No one will really care who has the cutest shoes. Wear support hose/socks when flying. Buy quick dry undies. When you are anywhere more than a night, take advantage of doing some in room laundry as soon as you arrive.

I always travel with several good long scarves regardless of the time of year. They are the most versatile piece of clothing, they take very little room and can change an outfit in a moment’s time. I use mine when I need warmth, coverage, or privacy such as over my head when I am asleep on a plane. I never change my jewelry. What I wear over stays on me the entire trip.

Traveling is education! Every day on your trip you will experience many new things…food, scenery, flora and fauna, people and new ways of transportation! Enjoy these times even if you won’t want to repeat them.

Always keep small snacks handy for those times meals are delayed. We don’t want to apologize later for things we say when we are hungry. Once in Paris, we decided to have a beer in a cafe, thinking it would be less expensive than a glass of wine. Nope! So when in Rome…or Paris, remember the viticulture in your area and enjoy!

Keep a journal of your experiences along with your itinerary. It will be fun to read when you can no longer travel. Buy a smart phone with a great camera. The pictures I have taken this last year are amazing and trust me, I am not a photographer!

If you are traveling a distance, say overnight to reach your destination, take some time to acclimate before your begin to explore. I have had some very close calls of hurting myself when I was tired or disoriented.

Begin hydrating days before you leave and the entire time you are away. We usually take an on/off bus in new cities to get an overview and see where we would like to spend more time. Let your bank know where you will be traveling or you may have trouble with your debit or credit cards. We do like having some currency on us for the smaller items.

Kindness is universal and costs nothing to share. Tip well. Don’t be afraid to explore or make a mistake. Remember whatever souvenirs you buy must get home somehow.

Above all, have fun and be safe! Next issue – local travel.