Travel Tips

Hello, my name is Alanna Offield. I am 28 years old, and I hate leaving my house. I do not like places that are not New Mexico. I make some exceptions for Phoenix and Las Vegas and Ireland, but if I could never go anywhere again, I would be a very happy person. Unfortunately, I have to go places outside of New Mexico fairly often. I’ve picked up some helpful tips along the way that make the traveling experience more bearable.

Travel Tip #1: Don’t.

My first and most important travel tip is to avoid traveling whenever possible. Encourage people to come to you. Demand a phone conference. Get into big arguments with your family, so you aren’t invited to reunions, weddings, or holiday gatherings. You ask, “but what about all the culture you miss out on?” You say, “where is your sense of adventure?” My sense of adventure is firmly rooted in my blue bathrobe within walking distance of my shower and bathroom and fridge filled with the things I know I like to eat (cider.). It may seem tempting to meet new people and see new things, but making friends as an adult is hard and being new places is confusing. You could get lost. I never get lost navigating from my house to Taqueria Mexico down the block.

Travel Tip #2: If you have to travel, drive. Planes are a death trap.

If the Lord wanted me to fly he would have given me wings. Planes are scary and go against my understanding of gravity. Maybe I was too into Lost. Maybe I’ve had too many near-death experiences on planes, but I will avoid them at all costs. I drive everywhere I have to go. Blah, blah, cars are more dangerous. Perhaps. But I am in control of the car deathtrap and understand how to make it stop. I do not know how to make a plane not be scary. I have driven all over this country and never been disappointed by the weird shit there is to see. Plus, planes are cramped and uncomfortable, and people act like assholes when getting on and off of them. The only person acting like an asshole in my car is me.

Travel Tip #3: If you have to go in a plane, heavily medicate yourself so you don’t realize that you could hurtle to your death at any moment.

It is a common mistake and one I continue to make, to get plane drunk in an attempt to make the plane less scary. Alcohol is not the way to go. Trust me when I tell you that people are not into having their belongings covered in a stranger’s vomit (I apologize again to the guy from the plane on the way to Miami). The key is finding a substance that makes you sleepy feeling enough to either forget that you are speeding through the air in a glorified Pringles container or enough that you can convince yourself that you are actually on a land based bus. There are some natural alternatives, but I like to take sleeping aids or allergy medicine when I can’t find something stronger. Don’t get too faded though because sleeping through your flight’s boarding is also not enjoyable.

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Travel Tip #4: You don’t have to pack ahead of time, but you should pack strategically.

Roll your clothes for more space. Use the little bags that help you section your stuff. I never follow this advice, but don’t bring every makeup and hair product you own. Save toiletry samples from hotels and stuff and use that. Traveling is hard enough without having to drag around a bunch of shit. I try to bring clothes that can make several outfits. Like two pairs of pants, three or four shirts, and something to wear if I need to be fancy/go to the club is what I would bring if I weren’t indecisive and determined to make my life harder. I never do this and have been known to need two bags for a three-day trip. If you are this person too, then I recommend checking your luggage if you have the $25 bucks to spare because no one likes the girl trying to shove a train case full of makeup into an overhead compartment. To add to the reasons to drive everywhere: you can bring way more stuff.

Travel Tip #5: Always bring a swimsuit.

I am a desert person and am not super familiar or comfortable with water as it exists in the wild, but I fucking love a good pool. I begin preparing for swimming in March. In Albuquerque pools are rare, so I am always ready to accept an invite to the pool from anyone and everyone. I open most summertime conversations with strangers by asking if they have a pool and then I make a choice on if I want to pursue a friendship based on the answer. If you are traveling to a particular destination or just a traveler of life, always be prepared to go swimming (unless you hate swimming obvs). There is nothing worse than traveling to a far off place with a beach or a hotel with a pool and people who will bring you alcohol while you sit by the pool and realizing you forgot a swimsuit. I just keep one in my travel bag. And in my car.

Travel Tip #6: Don’t make plans.

Ask anyone who has ever traveled with me, and they will all tell you that I have converted them to the ‘no plan vacation.’ The first vacation I ever went on as an “adult” was to Los Angeles to visit one of my friends from high school. It was up to me to plan the activities, but I am nothing if not ill prepared for everything. I got there and realized I had no idea what I wanted to do so I just asked him to show me the things he thought were cool. I had the best time ever. I got my lip pierced on a whim which I only regretted a little, I ate good food, and I spent a ton of time just sitting on the couch with my friend doing nothing. I don’t think we even went to the beach, which was a thing I was excited for in preparation but totally forgot about once I got there. It was the greatest thing not to feel pressure to complete activities or see touristy things. I saw some touristy stuff, but I also sat outside of a random nightclub for like 30 minutes because my friend heard that Britney Spears sometimes went there. I decided that from then on I would just get to the person or the place that I wanted to visit and let the universe do its best. I have never been disappointed. I’ve ended up at a concert in the basement of a bar hidden in a dark alley. I’ve wasted whole days inside a hotel room napping and talking about life with my friends. I’ve gone to see some super touristy historical stuff that made me cry because it was more meaningful to me than I could have ever guessed. All of it was unplanned and exactly what I needed. Not planning has given me the best memories. Highly recommend.

Travel Tip #7: Focus on the people. 

I might not like traveling, but I like that traveling takes me to people I love. A lot of my friends have moved away from New Mexico, and I’ve had the chance to make friends with people who live in other places. My life at home can feel kinda lonely sometimes. A trip to spend time with people who I love gives me happy feels that I hold onto for weeks and months and years after. Walking around snowing slushy New York City would usually be my worst nightmare, but when I think about that trip, I always smile because I got to spend time with one of my best friends and have sing alongs in his living room. Once on a trip to Vegas, I lost my wallet, and it would have ruined the trip but the memory of having my friends drive me all over town to find it makes me smile because my friends are hilarious and can even make the worst situation fun. Recently, I traveled to spend a weekend with a bunch of badass women, and I had a massive panic attack on the flight there. As soon as I was with them, my anxiety seemed like something that had happened to someone else because I was too busy laughing and dreaming with them to think about it. The hangovers, the beach days canceled by rain, even getting sick on a vacation that took months to plan were all the best time ever. The mishaps didn’t get me down because I didn’t travel for the place, I went for the people.

I hope this was helpful to you as you prepare for future journeys. I’ve been blessed to have had the opportunity to travel with some awesome people to some excellent places. Yes, traveling is scary, but sometimes it can be an okay thing to do even if it makes you feel like dying. Also please see below for the most important thing to ever happen in an airport/ on Vine.