I am by no means the most experienced traveller out there, but I do feel like I know a few handy tips if you’re heading abroad soon. Often it is really simple things that people forget to do in the excitement/mad panic of packing and preparing for an upcoming trip so I thought it would be useful as a reminder of last minute checks.
First of all hand luggage. I always like to air on the side of caution and pack a couple of extra bits in my bag just in case your hold luggage (if you have any) goes walkabout and you are left in the middle of an airport waiting and waiting as the baggage carousel keeps coming round without your suitcase. Now this will depend on whether your location is a hot of cold climate but I like to pack a bikini (Replace with gloves and hat if going to sub-zero temperatures), a spare pair of underwear and a toothbrush. Everything else you can borrow from friends or family or pick up at a local shop, but trust me you will be thankful when you can change into fresh underwear after a long day travelling and can join everyone else in the pool because you had the foresight to pack your swimwear. I also like to include an adapter if you’ll need one and a phone charger so you will be able to get in contact with the necessary people to sort out your luggage. Obviously if you only have hand luggage then you’re all set anyway but if you are going on a longer trip, especially long haul where there are multiple flights for your luggage to be transferred to its better to be safe than sorry.
Boring but essential is to make sure you have all your documentation with you and preferably photocopied in a different location too just in case. If you can get a waterproof wallet or case for them that’s even better just incase your bottle of suncream decides to explode in your bag. I can’t stress this enough BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE!!!! You think you don’t need it but it’s a guarantee that if you don’t have it you will have an accident or end up ill and end up paying a fortune for medical attention- it’s just not worth it. If you’re clever about it you can do what I did and purchase a full years policy which works out better value than one off trips and if you buy through comparethemarket.com you can bag yourself Meerkat Movies for a year so you can go to the cinema on 2 for 1.
My next top tip would be to pre-book tickets for whatever you can. It tends to mean you can skip queues and takes away the cost to you once actually abroad if you have pre-paid. Not only that, but pre-booked tours etc sometimes offer exclusive access to areas not accessible to the general public. For example My Mum and Dad pre-booked a tour of the Colosseum when they visited Rome and it allowed them to view floors of the ancient landmark that no other tour guides would allow visitors into. Myself and Josh did the same when we went to Amsterdam, we pre-booked tickets for all the museums which saved money and queueing time. It also helps you plan out your days as you know what you can do when and where to fit in other activities or places to go.
Boring admin things like telling your bank and phone provider you’re going abroad is so important. There’s nothing more frustrating than when you’re running out of cash so you attempt to pay by card and your bank blocks the transaction as suspicious activity- this happened to me in Sephora in Venice and I was not happy. Whilst on the topic of money, especially if backpacking or travelling alone, make sure a parent or partner back home has your bank details so they can transfer you money in an emergency (And no that doesn’t mean you’ve ran out of money for beer) and make sure you have the app so that you don’t have to struggle to find a good internet connection to log in via safari. This depends on your location, but unfortunately thieves and pickpockets are rife in many big cities and tourist spots- so don’t keep all your money in the same place spread it out across your person, luggage and companions- and ALWAYS purchase the safe facility in your hotel room, don’t just leave money lying around in drawers.
Read travel guides and travel blogs to get a feel for what your destination is like, where you want to go, where is good to eat and how much spending money you will need. If you know somebody that has been- ask! You can’t get a more reliable idea than from somebody who has actually experienced the culture. I love reading lonelyplanet.com and now you can download their free city guides to your phone so you can access timetables and information whilst you are abroad with no internet connection! I always like to buy a travel guide of the place I’m visiting, I know some people hate them but I really find them useful, and in many you can usually find a few key phrases and a map in the back to help out in an emergency and to help you be polite to locals. To be perfectly honest I also just like to collect them so I can look at my bookshelf and see where I’ve been so far.
Finally my last tip is take as many photos as you can and enjoy the experience! Treat your trip like it is the only time you will ever go there, as quite often this is actually the case. Never come home and think ‘I wish I’d done more or been to more places’ because you will kick yourself if you never get the opportunity again.
Let me know if you have any handy tips or simple reminders for people!