3 OCD Travel Tips for Your Next Trip

I have OCD and not in that fad way that people say they have it.

 

I have severe OCD and have since I was a child. This is a huge challenge when it comes to traveling. I have to overcome a lot of obstacles when it comes to packing, flying, and safety, to name a few. But I’ve persevered and have a number of travel tips to share as a result. These are my top three OCD travel tips.

1. Touch Nothing

Airports, cruise ports, bus depots, and train stations are some of the worst places to pick up a bug. If you want to avoid a virus on your vacation, steer clear of touching handrails, door handles, pin pads, and pretty much anything else. I know this is practically impossible, but it can be done. I have no shame, so I wear gloves everywhere. Once I’m comfortably seated in my personal space, I clean the entire area with wipes or Lysol spray before removing my gloves. But I’m pretty bold and realize that’s not the most practical solution for most people. For a more reasonable option, carry a bottle of hand sanitizer in your pocket and splash a little on your hands every time you touch something that could carry germs. You’ll be glad you did.

2. Organize Your Affairs

If you’re anything like me, triple checking you have your passport, money, and other paperwork in order simply isn’t enough. Print off all your trip vouchers, tickets, and confirmation details and sort them by date in a small, plastic organizer envelope. Toss your passport and currency into the front pocket so that you have everything in one easy-to-access place. This envelope is the only thing that matters for your entire vacation. As long as you have it, you have everything you need. As you tick flights, tours, and other events off the list, toss out the paperwork for those items on your itinerary to make your load a little lighter.

3. Take a Picture

Are you one of those people who can never remember if you’ve locked the door or turned off the oven? For someone with OCD, worry over whether or not you unplugged the iron can ruin an entire trip. Do yourself a favor and snap a few pics just before you leave the house. Take one of the oven, the front and back doors, electrical sockets, or anything else that might otherwise cause you concern. A quick peek at the pictures is the perfect reminder that you did, in fact, turn off the TV.

Pro tip: Try to get a part of your travel outfit in the picture. That way, you’ll know for sure it was taken the day you left the house on your vacation.

As a bonus, a few years ago, a dear friend of mine took three months off work to travel through Asia. Before she left, I made her the ultimate OCD travel kit. She used every single item in it and has often encouraged me to share its contents with the world. So, here goes…I hope you find it as useful as she did.

  • Tissues – for drying tears after a sad farewell, blowing a congested nose due to poor airplane ventilation, or opening doors without touching germy handles
  • Gloves – to wear while boarding the plane so you don’t catch a virus touching all the seats, overhead bins, and trays with your bare hands
  • Hand sanitizer – to clean your hands before every meal
  • Wet wipes – to clean off your tray and other surfaces or wipe off your hands after eating
  • Toilet seat covers – need I say more?
  • Tide to Go – for accidental spills
  • Laundry detergent packets – to rinse undies, tees, and socks
  • A book – to pass the time on public transit or if your in-flight entertainment is out of service (a great distraction from turbulence, especially if your MP4 player/eReader/phone is dead)
  • Mini Lysol spray – for disinfecting surfaces, such as airport chairs that double as a bed (you may not be allowed to carry this through security if it’s in am aerosol spray can)
  • Expanding towel tablets – for drying up unexpected spills
  • Travel toilet paper roll – for when there’s no other choice

These are some of the things I always have in my carry-on. What other items would you add to my ultimate OCD travel checklist? Share them with the Wanderlust Wayfarer Facebook group, along with any other OCD travel tips you might have.

Travel Tips to Help You Dress Like a Local

One of the best travel tips I can offer is to do what you can to avoid looking like a tourist when you’re in other parts of the world.

 

It’s a simple safety precaution. The less touristy you appear, the less likely you are to stand out to pickpockets and other shady characters. Besides, I always think it’s super flattering when someone in another part of the world asks me for directions. I usually assume it means they think I look like I’ve walked those streets before. Or they might be trying to figure out if they should mug me. It’s a crapshoot, really.

The reality is, there are a lot of pros to not looking like a tourist. These travel tips will help keep you from doing anything to stand out on foreign ground.

Look Like a Tourist

1. Be Season Savvy

Just because it’s winter back home and you’re heading someplace with a warmer climate doesn’t mean your Hawaiian shirt is appropriate attire for your vacation. Let’s take Barcelona, for example. It can be quite warm in the middle of March. If you’re from a colder climate, it may even be shorts weather for you. But the locals will likely still be wearing heavy sweaters and light coats. You’ll stick out like a sore thumb in a sundress and flip-flops. Consider a shirt dress in a dark color and ballerina flats instead. Toss a cardigan over top, and you’ll have all the advantages of a lightweight outfit without looking out-of-place.

Look Like a Tourist

2. Accessorize Appropriately

You know that giant camera bag you’re wearing? It screams mug me. And if you think you’ve outwitted the bad guys by wearing a money belt, think again. Those flip-flops you’re wearing in the middle of February long ago gave you away. I think money belts are great, but there’s no point in being discrete with your accessories if your outfit makes you look like a tourist. Consider a fashion-forward hidden pocket scarf to stash your cash. Or carry a trendy travel-friendly cross-body bag with special security features, like slash-proof straps.

Other things that give you away include pulling out a map in the middle of the street and carrying a giant SLR camera. I know, some things are hard to avoid, but if possible, step into a coffee shop if you need to pinpoint your location on a map. And unless you need manual focus or to hand-pick your F stops, you should be able to take pretty good pics with a point and shoot camera or even your smart phone.

Travel Tips

3. Consider the Culture

If you’re in an ultra-conservative country, like Israel, be sure to dress in a way that won’t offend the locals. You may want to skip the daisy dukes or crop tops if your walking the streets of Jerusalem. On the other hand, long pants and a heavy sweater would be extraordinarily out-of-place in more liberal cities like Rio de Janeiro or Miami, for example.

But considering the culture goes beyond simply understanding what the locals wear on a daily basis. You need to also know if there are wardrobe restrictions or dress codes at area attractions, such as sacred sites. In some places, like the Vatican, you need to have your shoulders and knees covered. An easy fix if you keep a scarf or two in your bag. You can wrap one around your waist like a sarong and the other over your shoulders. But things get a bit more complicated at a place like Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Here, it’s not enough to cover your shoulders with a scarf. Your top needs to have sleeves. My loose-fitting kimono was called into question until I showed the guide it had armholes.

Travel Tips

These are just a few of the things you can do to keep yourself safe and aligned with local customs while on vacation. What travel tips do you have for people who don’t want to dress like a tourist. Use the #wanderlustwayfarer on your Instagram photos to show off your vacation looks.