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The weather changes; That’s a fact, but your body takes time to adjust. I spent most of my life in Los Angeles, but when I moved to Bangkok, where I currently live, it took me a couple of years to adjust to the heat.

Southern California is warm, but there are only three seasons in Thailand; Hot, hotter and damn it’s HOT!

Understand that I just didn’t get up and move on a whim. After twenty-three trips to the Land of Smiles, I decided to make Bangkok, Thailand, my home. The weather is great once you get used to it and I like the pace of the city and the night life. Despite what the media reports, it is a big city with more than 100 Starbucks, more than 4,7-11 and dozens of McDonald’s to make you feel like you are in a family environment.

Here are just seven travel tips that can make the difference between a good trip and a wonderful trip to a new land.

1. For at least the first night or two, have a reservation in a hotel so that you have a destination, an address for the immigration documentation that will be given to you on the plane to fill out and the peace of mind of meeting you. I will have a frame of reference. Once you’ve settled in, keep looking for a more reasonably priced, better located, and “cooler” place to stay.

2. Always carry some business cards from the hotel where you are staying. This will make it easy to get back to the hotel, once you get lost several times, and if you buy items from some of the stores you can give them a business card with the hotel name and number along with your name to have the items delivered to you .

3. Travel light, especially in the clothing department. One of the most interesting parts of traveling is hanging out at a coffee shop and seeing how the locals dress. This is also a great way to start conversations with people; asking them where the best places to shop are and where the bargains are. On most of my first trips to Thailand, I wore jeans and a shirt, with a business suit in tow, and bought locally made cargo pants and shirts for my nights and exploration time. At the end of the trip, I left the clothes on the bed for the maid to find a home.

4. Find a pharmacy as soon as you have a free moment, because eating some unwashed fruit or contaminated street food can be a cause for alarm. Knowing where to get the medications (upset stomach, etc.) to ease it makes the trip that much more enjoyable and will encourage you to try new dishes. Be careful what you try to bring to a foreign country, Japan for example, it is very strict. Ice can be a problem, so chilled might be a better option.

5. Scan at home, not on vacation. Save some of that junk food money to enjoy great meals while enhancing your cultural experiences. It is difficult to enjoy a cheap vacation. You don’t have to be quick and loose with your wallet, but there seems to be something you just need to have to remember the trip. Sometimes common household items are priced much higher in other countries due to tariffs, which are applied to items to encourage domestically made items.

6. Dark alleys are dark for a reason. They are not designed for active use. Traveling alone is a bit more risky, but I prefer it because it doesn’t tie me into anyone else’s schedule and it gives me total control over my time, expenses, and desire to eat. It is especially useful if you keep an up-to-date diary of your days and nights so that you can return to the best places on another trip and collect as many business cards as you can; useful if you lose something and are trying to locate it (such as a “hot” camera, scarf, umbrella, wallet, or phone number).

7. Before landing, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoid alcohol in flight. Bring copies of your recipes, pack sunscreen, lip balm, and any other items you use daily (smaller servings), and carry more than one credit card. There is nothing more embarrassing (from experience) than offering your credit card and having it rejected because the bank (you called ahead of time) couldn’t see the note on your account that you were traveling to “garbage truck, nowhere” And in its vigilance to prevent identity theft, it leaves you stranded.

Travel as much as you can, as soon as you can. Your bones and muscles don’t have the same energy in your 70s as they do in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s.

Your travel experiences will be things to share for many years to come, and your creativity, thinking, and appreciation of life will reach new heights.

You really should travel now, not when you retire. Make travel a part of your life, not something you need to put off until now … when you have time.

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