Travel Tips of Things I Lucked Into and Things I Learned the Hard Way

These are a few random ideas on travel and how to make it more pleasurable instead of painful.

1. Always travel with just carry-on bags no matter how long and how far you are travelling. This way you save years of your life free from long baggage lines. You save your back from lifting a monster bag. You live simply with just a few changes of clothes and the books that are most precious to you. Every seasoned traveler I talk to agrees: send dirty underwear home by post in order to accomodate gifts you buy along the way.

2. Book your accommodation ahead of time so that you can relax into the rhythm of your trip and not worry about where you'll sleep. It's easy enough to cancel bookings (as long as you do it a couple of days ahead) if you decide on a change of plans. I loved Cork city so much that I decided to cancel my three nights in Dublin in order to enjoy the place where my trip began. Symmetry also feels like a good travel goal. To begin and end in the same place but not be the same person.

3. Choose your travel companion(s) carefully. My time in Ireland was made richer by the people I traveled with. I began the journey with the poet Geraldine Mills and her husband, Peter. We explored Cork together and read poems in the bell tower at the Church of St. Anne. A few days later I met up with the poet and photographer Angie Vorhies and her daughters for a few days. Another couple of days and we said good-bye to her girls and headed off on a road trip through county Cork which included a ferry ride to Cape Clear. Finally we arrived at Anam Cara, where I taught a week long workshop. For the last few days, I'm on my own. The diversity of places and people worked better than I could have foreseen.

4. Know what makes you happy. This is good advice in life as well. I knew I didn't want to rush round the island trying to see every 'must see' spot. Most of my trip was exploring places tourists never get to see and the beauty of the Bera Peninsula is as magic as anywhere I've ever been. Someday I will go to Dingle and travel the Ring of Kerry, but I've been to Ireland four times and so it doesn't seem to be a top priority. I'm a backroads kind of person. Glad to have finally figured that out!

5. Try to relax and enjoy. It will all be over before you know it. Have that extra scone, buy that book of poetry, talk to the stranger on the street. This is your time.


  1. In some airports it is a mile to the furthest gate once you are through security. I find it much more relaxing to travel with the minimum of carry on, then I can pack things like nail scissors, and don't have to lug the carry on bags around the airport. I have never had trouble with long baggage lines. We check in electronically here, it is quick and easy.
    Some airlines now charge extra for checked baggage. This means that travellers now try to pack too much into their carry on, and drag heavy bags into the cabin, banging them into everyone else and crowding overhead lockers. I am always reminded of a prominent New Zealand percussionist who had his career ruined when a heavy bag fell out of an overhead locker onto his wrist, smashing it.
    I do agree with travelling light, but I see no need for it to be carry on - best to try both ways and see what suits you, I think.

  2. Hello Catherine,

    You raise some good points. I will also say that I'm still waiting for that package to arrive from Mailboxes etc. in Ireland ... I do think that one carry-on bag really does fit what one most needs when traveling anywhere --- it just means cutting down on books!


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