A very hearty hello to you all! As promised here is my list of tips for travelling.
There’s are a few things I always do before, or whilst, I am off exploring the world. All of these things have come in handy at one time or another. The more I have travelled the more I have learnt that some things are essential and should always be in the travel bag or in the planning.
As travellers, we all have our own little packing ritual or a signature item we never travel without, be it factor 50 sun cream or a rechargeable phone battery. Here is a list of a few of my own signature essentials, hopefully, they can help you too – if they don’t already.
1. A first aid kit
It sounds very basic, and hardly a thing to take with you on a fabulous holiday, but it is unreal the amount of times I have found myself rooting through my bag to try to find a plaster. Most of the time for blisters, at the backs of my ankles, from a day spent hiking! There are lots of miniature first aid kits available, or even making up your own one is very simple. Depending on where you are travelling, it might be an idea to add some Paracetamol and Rehydration Salts. you’ll find a lot of the time that if you don’t need them, often your friends and family travelling with you do! It’s always worth doing a bit of research into where your travelling to and seeing if there’s any medicine that might be useful to take with you. In saying this you also don’t want to turn into a walking pharmacy, so only take the things you really feel will be essential.
2. Travel adaptor
This is a very useful thing to pack! There is nothing worse than arriving at your hotel, after spending an afternoon soaking up your new holiday location and taking pictures, to then realise your phone is nearly dead and your charger won’t fit the plug socket! Again it is a good to do a bit of research to see if you can find out what kind of plug sockets the country your visiting has – that way you’ll know which kind of adaptor to buy. It is best to get them before you reach the airport, as they can be expensive to buy last minute.
3. Hand sanitizer
Again it’s not a necessity, but depending where you’re travelling to it can be very useful. It is always best to try to reduce the chances of getting ill as much as possible when travelling – the last thing you want is to get poorly on your lovely holiday. It’s a very quick and easy thing to apply, and handy especially if you’re eating food with your hands. I personally find that the bottles of hand sanitizer work better and last longer, but the wipes can be good also, especially if you have a cut.
4. Paper Straws
I have found this one to be incredibly useful. If you’re travelling around a country that is known for maybe not being the most hygienic place, or where the water system is not the greatest, then its a good idea to pop a paper straw into your drinks instead of drinking straight from the glass – as sometimes they might not be in the cleanest state. This once again helps to reduce the chances of getting ill, and it’s not something that’s going to take up much space in your bag either. The reason I say paper straws is because they are better for the environment, and it’s always good to try to reduce plastic intake wherever possible.
5. Insect repellent
It’s always good to bring this little guy along with you, especially if you’re going to a warm country. I have found that the most natural repellents work the best, sometimes even making your own out of natural oils is a good option. It’s handy to bring a small bottle out with you for the day too. You need to keep on top of applying it especially in the evenings or whenever you’re near water.
6. Laundry bag
Bringing a bag for your dirty clothes is one of the easiest things to forget. The amount of times I haven’t brought one and desperately wished I had is probably uncountable, but at long last, I have learnt to always pack one! It is handy to bring one with a waterproof lining for wet clothes, you don’t want to have them soaking everything else through, especially if you’re on the move and don’t have time to dry them. It’s also an idea to bring a separate bag for your swimwear, not only does this contain it when its wet, but also it makes it easier to keep all your beach/pool stuff together. There’s nothing more frustrating than when you’ve gotten to the pool’s changing room to realise you’ve left your bottoms in the case back in the bedroom.
7. See-through bags for toiletries.
Packing a couple of spare see-through toiletry bags for the flight is always a good idea. It’s not rare for them to burst or in my case become unsee-through with makeup over time! Plus if you get some before you arrive at the airport, there’s no hassle of trying to find all your liquids and toiletries whilst at security. It helps make life just that little bit easier!
8. Buy flights early
Getting your flights as early as possible is a great way to save money. Sometimes even searching for single flights can be cheaper than buying a return one, but most of the time it is easier to get a return. The more in advance you can book the better, especial to countries nearby, and preferably not in the peak months. you can however still save a fair bit of money even if you do go in high season, providing you book a few months in advance.
9. Be flexible
It is very handy when traveling, to be flexible with your dates/times when flying. Sometimes a day or two in front, or behind, your chosen dates can turn out to have the best deals. They may even have the better flight times, or no layovers. I have never actually travelled on the dates I originally planned, as it’s always been the days either side that had the best deals. So being flexible is a very handy asset if you’re trying to reduce costs.
10. Fly in the middle of the week
Very often the cheapest days to fly are weekdays, especially Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays. This avoids the long weekend holiday packages and the work commuters, making the price of travel a wee bit cheaper. It also means that your holiday destination may be a little bit quieter, for a few days, depending on how long you’re stay. Flying on weekdays has helped to save me a couple of pennies many a time, and the aircrafts tend to be quieter too.
11. Make copies of important documents
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to print out everything and carry it around with you, but it is useful to forward your itinerary and insurance to an email or to take photos or screenshots of it. Though in case of your phone binging lost or stolen, it is handy to have a paper copy the essential documents. It is also a good idea to give a copy to your family or close friends in case of an emergency.
12. let your bank know you’re travelling
It’s an easy thing to forget to do but it is extremely useful. I personally prefer to take cash with me when I’m travelling, as I find it easier to keep an eye on how much I’m spending, so I do try to reframe from using my bank card abroad. However you may prefer using your card, and if that is the case then you definitely need to tell your bank you’re going away. But even if, like me, you’d only use your card in an emergency, it is still worth telling your bank. Otherwise, you could end up being locked out of your account and that’s the last thing you want when travelling and in a sticky spot!
13. Take spare money
It’s always good to estimate how much money you’ll need when travelling abroad, and try to cover all your expenses. However sometimes you can not cover everything, therefore it’s best to bring a little bit of extra cash with you. I personally put this in a place separate to the rest of my spending money, that way it is only there if I really need it (and I’m not tempted to use it). If you don’t end up using your back up cash then it’s a nice surprise to have some spare money when you come back home!
14. Research where you are going
This for me is an absolute must! Not only will you find all the things you want to see on your stay but you’ll also learn so much. It is always good to try find out as much as possible about the place you’re visiting, including laws and local customs. The last thing you want to do is offend someone by doing something that is acceptable back home but not in their country. It is also handy to look into other peoples experiences and see if there’s anything they would recommend you seeing or doing whilst there. All in all, research pays off massively in the long run.
15. Think about Jet Lag
This is something that many people forget and to be honest it’s only something you really need to consider if you are travelling a fair way. However, it is always good to be aware of the time difference. Especially if you are hoping to fit a lot in. I would recommend planning in a day or two extra to allow yourself time to adjust, usually by the second day you start to feel the time difference more. Also coming home can be hard too, especially if you’ve been gone for a couple of weeks. So don’t forget to book off that extra bit of time for your recovery after you get back!
16. Don’t change money at the airports
If at all possible, try to avoid changing your money at the airport. They can afford to charge more than most places, as they know that most people have no other option by that point. It’s always good to think about changing money a week or so in advance of your travels, that way you can shop around for the best deals. Usually, I go with the post office but I have found that some department stores do good deals too.
17. Make a list
This is something I never fail to do! Not only because I love list making, but also because it is so easy to forget to pack something or plan seeing something you thought of before going. Once you are on your holiday it is very easy to get swept away with the magic of a new land – however, the last thing you want to do is realise that you’ve come without something or that you’ve forgotten to see or do something till its too late. It is also helpful, I’ve found, to write a list of everything you’ve packed and bring it with you to make packing back up easier. I no longer leave anything behind because of this system and it is an absolute blessing – as I’m a rather forgetful person!
18. Embrace the culture
I have always found that the more culture you embrace the better your travel experience will be! There is nothing more exciting than travelling to new places, but this can only take you so far…the more you explore of the traditions and rituals of the country you are visiting, the more your travel experience will be heightened. Not many people can say that they have truly embraced another culture – but it will make you all the richer for it, that I can promise you.
19. Try traditional food
I’m sure most of you will anyway, but there isn’t much point in going abroad to eat something you can have back home. There are so many wonderful and exciting new foods and flavours to explore when visiting a new place. It is an absolute shame not to try any of it, even if just a little! There will always be things that aren’t quite for you but you’ll never know if you don’t try. Travelling is all about making new memories and that even goes into the food department. So go and try find as many new things as possible on the menu!
20. Avoid tap water
Until you know for sure that the tap water is safe it is best to avoid it. Unclean water is one of the fastest ways to get sick and that is one of the last things you want to happen on your holiday. It’s always good to try to find out from people who have been there before or off of the internet how safe the local water is. Sometimes there is not an issue, but until you know for sure it’s better to be safe and drink bottled water.
21. Bring a spare extra set of clothing
It’s handy to pack one extra set of clothing, just in case of the unexpected. This has been a very useful tip for me over the years, as there have been occasions when a flight has been postponed a day, or that a spontaneous activity has ruined a whole outfit. It doesn’t often take much room to pop an extra top and jeans in, so you might as well be safe than sorry.
22. Don’t over pack
Whilst it is good to prepare for the unexpected, you also don’t want to burden yourself down with things that you know you won’t use. I very rarely ever fill my cabin bag, as I take the bare essentials, this makes walking around (at the airport) and keeping an eye on my stuff so much easier! The last thing you want to be doing is carrying or dragging a heavy bags around, especially if you’re in a hot country!
23. Try to avoid taking a big suitcase
Unless you are travelling for a long time or to a far away country there is not a massive need to take a big case. I often don’t travel with any checked in luggage, as I prefer a cabin bag/case. They are much easier to keep an eye on and there isn’t the hassle of waiting for it at the airport. If I do decide to collect some bits whilst on my holiday then I add a bag on later to my flight home – it’s easy to buy a bag, then send off whichever is strongest out of the bought bag and my cabin bag/case as checked in luggage. You’ll find a lot of the time there isn’t actually a need for a big suitcase and it makes getting around so much easier.
24. Roll your clothes
This is an excellent way to save on space and also it means that most of the time your clothes aren’t too creased. Quite a few people forget to do this, but it can give you an extra half of a bag/case if you need it. Another handy thing to do is to put socks inside of any shoes you’re packing. Space is precious when travelling, so you want to try to make as much room as possible, especially if you’re bringing stuff back from your trip.
25. Bring a small bag
Especially for you ladies out there, it is essential to find a realistic travelling bag. This is usually one you can string across your shoulder to keep it safe. It’s a lot harder for people to take if the bag is around you! It’s always good to wear your bag to the front of you as sometimes people cut the straps, but you will notice it a lot more at the front if it becomes loose. The smaller the bag the easier it is to keep safe too. Another good option is a bump (which is also suitable for you gentlemen out there), however, this does make you stand out as a tourist. On the other hand, it is the safest place for your wallet. I can not stress enough not to put anything in your back pockets, it is the fastest way to loose something or have it stolen. Also, it is best to leave your passport somewhere safe like a locker or in a safe in your room.
26. Wear your heaviest clothes to fly in
To save on space in your cabin bag on the flight or to help make your checked in luggage lighter it is always handy to wear your heaviest clothing, such as jeans and jumper etc. You can always change them if need be when you land. This will help to save space on the flight and will mean that you’re not asked to take anything out of your bag/case if you’re over the limit.
27. Boost your immune system before you travel
It is a good idea to tr toy help your immune system as much as possible before travelling. There are a lot of germs that your body will not be acclimatised to in other countries, or even on the flight. It is always rewarding to help your body adjust as much as q. Things such as proactive yoghurt drinks or even just natural yoghurts can help, as well as certain fruits and honey. It pays off to strengthen your body, especially if you’re travelling to a country known for illness.
28. Take clothing suitable to your destination
It is very easy to take something because it’s pretty or flattering, but it is also important to pack things that will help to look after you. If you’re going to a hot or sunny place take a light shirt to cover your shoulders and a hat. For a cold place take plenty of layers and maybe even thermals. They might not always be the most attractive things to wear but it’s better to look after yourself then to be sore or poorly – trust me!
29. Eat at local restaurants
It is very easy if you’re staying at a hotel or resort to eat there for dinner, however, they can afford to keep the prices high. It is best to try venturing out to find a nice local restaurant, as the costs will be more affordable. There will also be more traditional foods on the menu and it is always a nice experience to immerse yourself in the local environment. Do have a look around though and check for set prices, as sometimes people are cheeky and put the prices up for tourists.
30. Try to learn a couple of phrases
It is always appreciated by the locals if you can speak even a little of their language (or a least try), even if its just hello and thank you. In parts of the world where English is hard to come by then knowing a wee bit of the lingo can go a long way, after a few days of being immersed in another language you can more or less start to understand the gist of what is being said. Trust me, my friends, when I say if they don’t speak English saying it louder will not help!
31. bring a list of important numbers
Even just writing a list of numbers on a piece of paper and keeping it with you can be very useful. It’s always a good idea to have your emergency contacts and a local police, ambulance or emergency service number on there too, as this can be useful if your phone is lost or stolen. It also means you can keep in contact with people back home or get in touch with the right people for help.
32. Find free things to do
In every country or city, there are free things to do, all you have to do is find them! Doing a bit of research on this before you go can be very useful, but also asking locals what they can suggest is a brilliant way of finding hidden gems – a vast majority of the time you’ll find that they are totally free! I have found most of the time they make for even better memories than the main attraction themselves! Often there are groups of students offering free walking tours for work experience or conservation sites that ask for a small donation or a thank you after you’re visit. It’s a great way to see a place and you will meet so many new people because of it too.
33. Take photos of yourself
This is a bit of an obvious, but sometimes it is very easy to get wrapped up in taking pictures of your surroundings and not yourself or your group! At the end of the day, it is fantastic to have all these wonderful pictures of this great land you are discovering, but there are pictures of these sights all over the internet and in books. There will never be a chance again for you to have your picture taken in that amazing place on that awesome day! I have been to so many fantastic places and not taken any personal photos, because at the time I wasn’t there for that, but years later I have regretted it and wished I had just asked someone to take a picture of me or my group. So don’t be shy, take as many pictures of yourself on your amazing journey as possible. You’ll only ever have that exact experience once!
34. Go off the beaten track
Now when I say this I don’t mean literally go off the beaten track in the middle of the Amazon rainforest and end up being taken in by a family of Orangutan’s for the rest of your life…though that does sound rather tempting! What I mean is don’t focus solely on seeing the big attractions or doing the expected things. Find the lesser known stuff and discover things that hardly anyone you know has. Involve yourself in culture and traditions. Be a part of the festivals, volunteer, learn, do a days course in something unusual. Just spend your time where you are to the best of your ability. By all means, see the big sights but don’t just focus on that. Take the road less travelled, as Robert Frost said ‘I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference’. And it certainly will my friends!
35. keep a travel journal
This is not a necessity, but it makes for a beautiful way of savouring your travels. I wish I’d started mine years ago, but it’s so easy to think at the time you’ll remember it all when you’re experiencing it. If you have a notepad handy with you, then I highly recommend jotting down your adventures. It doesn’t have to be a full-on diary or an article for the National Geographic’s, just something simple, even bullet pointing what you saw or did that day and where it was. It can be a nice way to look back on it all in years to come.
All in all the best tip I could give you is to have as much fun as you can, and make as many memories as possible! To travel is a rare gift and you should make the most of the time you have. So be adventurist, try new things, talk to people you don’t know, find the hidden gems and always make the most of life!
I hope these tips help you along your expeditions and that you have a safe and happy time when you do go adventuring.
All the very best