Before arriving in Oxford, I was lucky enough to visit Istanbul, Rome, Southern Italy and London. Here are my top travel tips for you, dear reader:
1. Travel with someone who complements you (also, someone who compliments you because if you’re anything like me you turn into a pizza-faced ragamuffin when you’re travelling and you’ll need someone to mollycoddle you)
My Mum and I are excellent travel companions. She is ridiculously meticulous with planning, and while it sometimes irked me when she’d pull out a 50 page print-out of directions (“Exit the train station. Turn left and advance 9 paces. Beware of the uneven pavement! Swivel 30 degrees north and head for the cerulean sign…”) this dedication to detail helped us so many times. Her great contribution was researching attractions, booking and confirming tours…while I am excellent at suggesting timely gelato stops. She and I powered along like the Jon & Garfield of tourists, if Jon was a whip-smart middle-aged Korean woman, and Garfield preferred pastries to lasagne.
2. You need less clothes than you think. Don’t be flat-chested.
To accommodate the year’s worth of clothing/sundries I’d need for Oxford (i.e. multiple goosedown slug jackets), my Mum relinquished most of her suitcase space. She managed to squish her 3 weeks of travelling clothes into a frozen-pea-packet-sized space, and proved that you can survive with 3 pairs of smalls, socks, 1 pair of pants and 1 shirt. Admittedly it was all that microfibre, super-quick drying stuff, so a quick laundry-sesh every night and she was good to go. I tried to follow suit, but unfortunately am completely reliant on push-ups bras…these hold water like greedy sea-sponges so never dry overnight!
3. Look for enchanting experiences
One of the most incredible parts of our Turkey trip was a visit to a Whirling Dervish House. We were really careful to choose an authentic ceremony, and were completely mesmerised by the graceful dervishes – they were like dancing snow-drifts. Also, the piper was a complete doppleganger for BJ Novak, so it was as though the whole thing was set to the musical stylings of a Sufi Ryan Howard.
4. Plan to eat
Realistically, your options are either (a) hit the Stairmaster before your trip (b) walk a LOT while you travel or (c) take elasticised cookie-pants (my preference) because devouring local foods is a huge slice of the pie-chart of travel fun. In Istanbul I discovered Turkish Delight kebap which I’m going to classify as Life-Changing. Forget the greying mystery meat of the 3am post-pub doner which is probably more tennis shoe than lamb…this is a glossy rotisserie of candy heaven.
5. Brush up on your photography skills
…because your friends expect Instagram updates, you’ll want to do the social media brag, if a tree falls in a forest and no-one sees it etcetera.
No-one does the human tripod better than Asian men. Study their technique. Work on your quad stability. Buttress your legs.