You need to decide what kind of a traveller you are and what kind of a trip are you going on? – Are you looking for an adventure and getting amongst the elements? – Are you going on a trip to relax? – Are you one to look the part while you travel? – Are you one to just go with the flow and see how it goes day by day. This is a major influencing factor in how you plan, pack and what you experience.
Due to the nature of our jobs, travelling is often short term and structured so this is what we have learnt over the last few years of travelling.
Create a travel calendar – plan your trip and what you want to do each day. This helps you get the most out of your trip and having to make decisions each morning on what you would like to do.
Get Travel Insurance! I cannot stress how vital this is. We usually go with Travel Insurance Direct – they are hassle free and their coverage matches up with our needs. Before you book, research and compare who suits best your needs & requirements for your trip as you do not want to be in a predicament where you need help and cannot either afford to etc.
Plan your flights to minimise jet lag – I like to arrive at my destination in the morning so you can have a full day of sightseeing and staying awake.
Write a list of what you are planning to take a week before your trip. Writing it down helps you see what is necessary and what might be over kill. This list also helps you keep track of your belongings when you are overseas and minimises any chances of things getting lost or misplaced.
Book your flights with a travel agent – they often get better connecting flights, yes it may cost a little more at times but you will save a lot of time in layovers and often have better departure and arrival times.
Book your hotels and tours yourself. It is so much cheaper and you can tailor it to what you want to do. Tours companies are great and convenient but it’s done on their terms not your own. However, you can use it as a foundation to create your own trip. You can gather enough information on tripadvisor and similar sites that should offer plenty of ideas and reviews on guides/tours.
Ahhh the dreaded part of travelling – well mine at least, packing L It’s best not to leave it to the night before as that’s just a recipe for disaster!
When packing, think to yourself – Am I really going to need this? When I first started travelling I was guilty of over packing so many items that just weren’t necessary. Plus packing light means you can take more stuff home with you :P. It is possible – just be ruthless if you’re unsure about taking it, don’t take it – trust me, you’ll feel so much better..
Don’t pack items like moisturisers, hair products, body washes etc. as you can buy that when you arrive at your destination. It adds unnecessary weight and eliminates the chances of it ruining your clothes in transit. Added bonus is overseas health and beauty products are different to back home so you get to try some new products!
GIRLS – make up! Pack the bare essentials. Take products that can double up for other areas, cream blush = lip tint. Eyeshadow = highlight. Pack what is going to accentuate your features rather than creating a transformation. I generally take a BB cream, cream blush, mascara, curler, compact eyeshadow quad, 2 brushes, eyebrow pencil and a lip balm. Done – no more, no less.
Roll your clothes! It makes your packing more compact and is easier to organise.
Use your shoes to put items in there that have a chance of being damaged. It not only minimise space wastage but also has a protective factor.
Bring some washing soap with you in case you can’t access a laundromat– you can always wash your clothes in the bathroom and hang it over the shower to dry while you are out exploring
I travel with my pillow wherever I go – people laugh but it eliminates getting tension headaches and is a familiar comfort that assists me in getting quality sleep.
Keep a folder or a plastic sleeve with your travel documents, addresses of hotels, print outs of car rentals etc. Having copies or scans of your documents is good too. I always leave a copy at home with a trusted friend or family members just in case you get in trouble somewhere.
Keep some basic essentials in your carry on – jumper (it gets cold on planes) toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, change of t shirt, socks, underwear etc.
SHOES – if you are planning on doing LOTS of walking like we do – buy good quality shoes. My first trip I lasted 1 week in a pair of Onitsuka Tiger shoes and had the most horrendous hip, lower back and leg pain. I used to laugh at all those “tourists” in their daggy shoes – but I ended up joining them. I swear by Merrells and North Face shoes. Some days we can cover anywhere between 10-20km and I never get sore feet. But again this depends on what kind of a traveller you are. Choose wisely, you have been warned lol
Pack some medication like nurofen, dulcolax, Imodium etc you don’t want to be stuck in case you have a headache.
- Organise your cash weeks in advance – minimise last minute rushing to banks or transferring money to cards and hoping that it will clear by the time you reach your destination.
- We use the 28 degrees MasterCard rather than bank cards. You upload your own money onto the card via BPAY and you get charged fewer fees as it is your own money.
The thing I like most this card is that if you don’t use all the money you’ve uploaded, you can just use it as an ordinary EFTPOS card when you get home back in Australia. I used the CommBank travel card the first time I travelled and didn’t like that they buy back rate was horrendous, never again.
- Make sure you have some of the local currency on you on your arrival. It is always best to be prepared, however, I have never come across any city that hasn’t accepted our credit card.
AT YOUR DESTINATION
- Wake up early! Use as much of the day as possible to experience the area you are visiting and also allow more opportunity to see more and other areas.
- Try not to cram in as much as possible into your trip. Be selective in what you want to do and experience. Often not seeing everything gives you can excuse to come back again 😛
- Eat where the locals eat – if you want to experience the best cuisine that is traditional and true to the core, that’s where you’ll find it – my favourite restaurant in Phuket is literally under a garage but the food is just AMAZING!!! I was recommended this restaurant while playing beach volleyball with some locals 😛
- Learn the basic language of where you are visiting – the locals love it. They can see you are making an effort and trust me they will reciprocate (after a quiet giggle first, but that’s okay).
- Be aware of yourself and your surroundings. Unfortunately in many countries you will find unsavoury people that prey on naive tourists. Which also means, do not roam the city late at night in areas that obviously are not as ‘safe’ as main areas. Be realistic, would you do it in your own City? No?.. then do not do it when travelling.
- Have a stash of tissues and wipes – you never know when you will need them. Ahem roadside and countless kilometres away from a toilet.
- Be sure to know if the water is safe to drink – It can cause debilitating sickness that takes some time to recover from and it is so easily prevented.
- Don’t be “one of those tourists” and even worse, a statistic. We’re all for having fun and experiencing the culture, but do so while being respectful to local people and their town/city. It is their home and quite often that is forgotten.
- Be kind to your body – listen to it and treat it well. There is nothing worse than being unwell and ruining your trip.
- Get off the beaten track – some of our most memorable experiences have been in the most obscure places that people wouldn’t have a clue where they are.
- Don’t forget to call mum or dad 😛 they will miss your voice and will worry about you regardless how old or young you are.