I’m proud to say that I’m in the Baby Boom Generation. Many of my teaching colleagues are in Generation X. My 28-year-old daughter and my 26-year-old son are in Generation Y, a demographic group also known as the Millennials. The students I travel with on my group tours are in Generation Z or the Internet Generation. After each tour with my students, I return home with a steep learning curve because I’ve learned a lot from them in a short period of time, especially when it comes to technology. Young or old, we can all learn something about travel from each other. I’ve learned many useful travel tips from my own children.
My daughter’s travel tips:
• Make certain to pack an extra set of clothing in your carry-on. You never know if your luggage will be delayed. I found this out the hard way on my last tour with my mom when I had to wear the same outfit four days in a row. I should have listened to her.
• Try to get plenty of sleep at night. You miss out on so much by sleeping on the bus and not enjoying the incredible views and listening to the tour guides. Besides, no one wants a picture of themselves tagged on Facebook asleep on the bus and drooling.
• Be adventurous about trying new foods. You may surprise yourself.
• Have a good attitude. Bad attitudes are contagious and no one wants to be around someone in a bad mood.
• Send a postcard or two to yourself. It helps you keep track of the places you have visited and it is fun to get mail after you return home.
My son’s travel tips:
• Get the tour itinerary from your teacher and research some of the places you will be visiting.
• Before you go through the metal detector at the airport, put all of the items you carry in your pockets in your carry-on instead of emptying everything in the plastic bins at the security checkpoint. If your bag is searched, a carry-on that is organized will save some time because it’s easier to unpack and repack.
• Take a small notebook or journal and jot down notes about the places you are seeing and the new foods you are eating because if you don’t, you’re going to forget that stuff.
• Skype is the cheapest way to call home ($.02-$.05/minute). Most Internet cafes have Skype and headsets. Even when Skype is unavailable or international phone calls are too expensive, e-mail access is usually cheaper and readily available.
• Use vacuum-sealed bags to pack your clothes. They protect clothing from moisture and even wrinkles.
• Try to travel with only a carry-on. You can avoid baggage charges, lost bags, and waiting at the baggage claim carousel.
• Use a debit card to withdraw money from ATMs. The ATM may charge a small fee and your bank will charge a foreign transaction fee, but the exchange rates and the fees associated with using an ATM are much better than buying foreign currency from a bank before you travel abroad. Use ATMs only at airports, banks, and shopping centers where there are crowds and security guards.
• Memorize the exchange rates and an easy method to convert amounts to dollars before you leave, or carry a small calculator.
• Where the water is potable, take a small water bottle with you to fill with tap water. If you have to buy bottled water, avoid small shops and buy water at grocery stores where the prices are lower.
• Watch out for pickpockets on public transportation. Don’t put your belongings in the overhead racks on public transportation.
Not only do I learn lots of great travel tips from the younger generations, I also learn a lot about their music.
Here’s a selection of songs that defines each generation:
• Baby Boomers: We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel
• Gen Xers: Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
• Millennials: Waiting on the World to Change by John Mayer
• Internet Generation: iGeneration by MC Lars
Before you go on tour, you can load these songs on your MP3 players.
Readers, what are some travel tips especially suited for students on tour? What song defines your generation?
(Editor’s note: If you have a question about for EF Group Leader Gail Ingram, or an idea for a blog post topic, you can email Gail here, and she will answer readers’ questions in future blog posts.)