**Given that it is the new year, our teen correspondent Brooke has decided to reflect on seven things she has learned from traveling. These are her thoughts.
During my travels, I have learned a few things about myself and the world outside of my hometown bubble. Traveling exposes me to people, places, food, culture, and life away from what I have grown accustomed to. The new year is a perfect time to reflect. I would like to share seven things that I have learned from traveling over the last 15 years.
Extra Space is Worth It!
There has only been one time where my family had to stay in a really small hotel room. It was only for one night, but that experience made me appreciate all of those other times when my parents got two adjoining rooms for our stay. I highly recommend getting two adjoining rooms for family travel whenever a hotel stay is the only option. Two adjoining rooms are perfect for a family of four. The extra space is very nice and allows everyone more personal space. My sister and I need to have some space between us after a while. I’m sure my parents also enjoy having a bit of time away from us and two rooms allow us to do that.
The adjoining rooms also provide a second bathroom, a second kitchen area, more seating, and double the entertainment. The adjoining rooms also allow a family to spread out from each other comfortably. Even though I am just a kid, I definitely believe that spending a little more money on adjoining rooms is completely worth it!
Pack Personal Toiletries (and sunscreen!)
I personally enjoy using my Bath & Body Works fragrance body washes and lotions at and away from home. I also prefer to use my own hair products while on vacation. I have learned that I would rather use the toiletries I use at home, instead of those the hotel or resort provides. Using what you do at home while on vacation could also help you feel less homesick if that is something you experience. If you choose not to pack your own toiletries, that is okay! However, I strongly recommend taking your own sunscreen if that is an item you will need during your travels. By bringing your own sunscreen you avoid having to pay a fortune for it once you arrive at your destination.
I have also learned from my mom that I should pack all of my toiletries in a plastic bag. This serves as a barrier so that the toiletries are less likely to ruin other items packed in a suitcase.
The Earlier You Start, The Better!
Traveling throughout my life has made me a more adept, knowledgeable, and savvy traveler and person. I took my first trip before turning one. It is also shaping me to become a more profound traveler. I feel that the more one does something that requires some sort of skill or attribute, the more the person will grow. I believe traveling is something that fits into this category.
When I first started traveling, I did not do much. My parents would make sure I had everything packed in my suitcase. They would book the flight, make a reservation at the hotel, and know what to do when problems arose, and so on.
As I am growing older, I am becoming more capable of doing these things by myself and have gained more wisdom and knowledge about what I need to travel. The earlier someone starts to travel, the more they will grow and become better at it because they are building their experience. The younger one starts travelling, the savvier they will be as they continue to travel, and the more independent they will be in other areas of life, as well.
Do Preliminary Research on Travel Destination
Research is a key thing to do prior to your trip if you want some ideas regarding what there is to do in a specific place. Doing preliminary research is also a tremendous help if you want to be sure you will be able to take part in any very popular activities (such as seeing Cirque du Soleil, skiing, or going zip lining!) where it may be wise to buy tickets in advance. Making reservations, reading reviews, and learning what activities you might be interested in are all things that will help you be more prepared beforehand, and can save time and energy at your destination (read: more relaxation).
But balance is key. Preliminary research gives you an idea of all there is to do at your destination. It can be immensely helpful for trip planning and will give you more knowledge of the possible activities that are available. With all of that said, I believe that being prepared for any sudden changes is ideal in remaining calm on vacation but it is important to be flexible. Don’t forget that you are on vacation! Try not to stress. Let yourself have fun and have a spontaneous trip by being flexible and okay with change.
Arrive at Airport with Ample Time before Departure
I have learned this the hard way, so please take my word for it and try your best to arrive at the airport earlier rather than later! It is never fun to rush. Arriving at the airport early will give plenty of time to check bags, go through security, and be on time for when you board. When my family missed a flight, it was not the end of the world, but let me tell you it wasn’t pleasant. Fortunately, we were only delayed a few hours, but it could have been much worse. Save yourself the time, energy, and stress by leaving for the airport early!
Travel with an Open Mind
While traveling anywhere, things may not always go as planned. Challenges or negative experiences may arise. The more I have traveled, the more I have become open to this possibility and to being flexible with change and unexpected events. I have learned to have an open mind. This has helped me to relax, overcome fears, meet new people, learn new things, try something I’ve never done before, and just have fun. Traveling with an open heart and mind truly allows me to enjoy myself and those around me. It helps me to be more adventurous. And it makes it harder for me to turn down unique opportunities and experiences that might come while being on vacation.
It’s Okay to Relax
My family does not schedule our vacation itinerary down to the minute and I have grown to like this. When I was younger I hated naps and fought sleep. I despised “just relaxing” on vacation. I was more about going to the pool or an amusement park – something exciting! Although I still enjoy doing exciting things and being busy, I have grown to greatly appreciate times when I can simply rest and relax (especially on the warm, calm beaches in Cancun… Man, I miss it there!). I have started to learn how great and refreshing relaxation is. I no longer fight it. I embrace it.
I am Brooke Lauryn. I am a high school student with diverse interests. I enjoy being a member of my high school band and marching at Friday night football games, along with participating in basketball and track & field. I appreciate art and music and learning about other cultures. I love spending time with my family and friends. Since I was a child I have always enjoyed traveling, and I look forward to sharing some of my favorite places and “cool” things to do with you.