Every night, before I go to sleep, I set my alarm for the next morning and climb into bed. For the next 15 minutes I play a cruel game of self-doubt with myself. Did I really set the alarm, or was it just a sleepy haze-induced fantasy? 9 times out of 10, my lingering paranoia beckons me out of my warm, cozy sleep sack and I’m forced to double-check my alarm. To date, I have never failed to set the alarm on my initial attempt.
If this story tugs at your doubt-filled little heart strings, then you too my friend know what it’s like to be a paranoid traveller.
We check, we double check, we confirm and reaffirm, but somehow it’s never enough. With travel comes freedom, joy and new experiences, but for the hyper vigilant few who have nightmares of losing reservation numbers, addresses and opening times, travel can trap us in a cage of insecurity and uncertainty.
Alas, my paranoid patrons, I have spent several years travelling as the world’s biggest worry wart and have a few tips and tricks to help keep like-minded folks at ease.
In Google We Trust:
Create a Google Calendar dedicated to your trip. Within it you can enter flight times, numbers and other information and attach them directly to the date it corresponds to. Sync the calendar with your smart phone to keep all your information handy and portable. The extra paranoid can print out the calendar on one side of the page and the itinerary details on the other side.
Below is an example of one that I created for my 4.5 week trip to Europe.
*Extra Tip: Share your calendar with any travel companions, and the calendar doubles as a great planning tool!
When the World Wide Web Isn’t Quite World Wide
That handy tool known as the internets is unfortunately not always available when you need it. This can be a worry for those of us who use it as a comfort blanket, but with the right preparation these worries can be put to rest.
- Screenshot and save important maps to your laptop and/or smart phone and print them out if necessary.
- Download travel apps that don’t require internet access. Often times this feature is advertised in the description of the app. These can be quite handy if you find yourself roaming a city without wi-fi.
- Before your trip, check with your hotel about wi-fi access. If it does not provide it, ask if there are any coffee shops or internet cafes nearby that do.
Other General Tips
- Create a packing list a few days before your trip and try to be as detailed as possible. A few hours before you depart, run through the list and ensure you have everything. Then, keep the list with you (soft or hard copy) for those times when you’re feeling insecure about items you may have left behind during your travels. This will eliminate those times when you ask yourself, “Where is my blue sweater? Wait, did I even take my blue sweater? Crap.”
- Check provided phone numbers from hotels or hostels ahead of time to ensure that the number is correct. For international numbers, test them using Skype to save on cash.
- Pick-pocketing is a major problem in many tourist areas. In order to keep your mind at ease, I suggest travelling with a money belt. Keep cash, passports and other important items in the genius internal fanny pack. For the fashion conscious ladies out there, female-friendly money belts are available in slightly smaller and sleeker styles.
- Share your itinerary with a trusted friend or family member at home. If all else fails, information can be retrieved by making a quick phone call.
- Make note of the phone numbers for your bank, credit card, etc. in the event that you have an issue with your card or if your card is stolen. Additionally, I always try and make the effort to memorise my main credit card number, expiration date and security code.
Taking time to properly prepare for a trip will help calm those of us who are a little on the jumpy side when it comes to travel or life in general. From experience I’ve learned that these few methodical, yet practical steps aid in the prevention of that horrible sense of insecurity that can slip in from time to time.
I hope these tips will help all worry warts out there!