Your dream trip is booked and now it’s time to pack, but do you really need to take seventeen bottles of deodorant with you?
1. Pack light
I’d say this is especially relevant if you’re going away for a substantial amount of time. I crammed as much as I possibly could into my backpack and then ended up sending the majority of my clothes home after three weeks as a) I just wasn’t wearing them and b) I’d taken the wrong stuff with me. The same goes for toiletries – don’t worry about taking huge bottles of shampoo etc. because you’ll be able to get them abroad. Plus, it makes your bag a whole lot easier to carry.
2. Book your first couple of nights accommodation
This solves SO much stress and hassle when you rock up in a new place potentially a bit sleepy and grumpy because you’ve been travelling for the last 34523789 hours. If you don’t like it, you can always move the next day.
3. Don’t panic if things don’t go strictly according to your itinerary
The world won’t necessarily follow your travel itinerary the same way you will. Things beyond your control can happen – flights can be delayed, you could get sick, the bus could break down, killer aliens could invade Earth – you get my point. Just try not to be the person that freaks out and runs round hysterically screaming and pulling their hair out. It will get sorted. We’ve already had a few minor issues since being away. For instance, our flight to India was delayed so our transfer left without us and well, you can read the rest in this blog post. Basically just try to remain calm and deal with it. Deep breaths and all that jazz.
4. Tell your bank you’re going away
Different banks want to know more than others. I had to give my bank specific dates of where I would be when I was away whereas Soph’s bank didn’t need to know when she asked. It is worth finding out your own banks policy so you don’t have to faff about unlocking your account half way round the world when they block it because they didn’t know you were going.
5. Accept that it may take a while to feel comfortable stepping outside your comfort zone
The world is a big, and sometimes scary, place. Travelling gives you an amazing opportunity to push yourself that little bit further. Obviously I’m not saying that you shouldn’t enjoy yourself by pushing yourself too much. Adapting to life on the road can take a bit of time. The first night I arrived in Delhi felt horrendous and I seriously questioned what I had got myself into. To the point where I potentially would have got on a plane to someplace else had Soph suggested it. But, we managed to keep our cool, laugh it off and stick it out and you know what? That’s the best thing I’ve ever done because my trip has only got a 4378263478 billion times better from there.
6. Consider changing your phone contract
This is something I didn’t do before going away and I can’t decide if I regret it or not. Mostly my phone is on airplane mode and I only use the wifi (whatsapp and Facebook messenger are great free ways of staying in touch with people) but the few times I’ve had to send a text or make a super quick phone call my bill has been through the roof. Just something worth thinking about if you’re heading off for several months or more.
7. Learn a few basic words and some local customs
It’s the polite thing to do. Besides, learning about some local customs can actually be kinda interesting.
8. Try and get off the beaten track
Thanks to Stray Asia I have managed to see places that I wouldn’t have even thought about visiting otherwise and they’ve actually turned out to be some of the highlights of my trip so far (e.g. 1, 2).
9. Give yourself time to chill for a couple of days here and there
Travelling is tiring. It’s important to give yourself some relaxation time every now and then. Catch up on some sleep, make sure you’re eating properly, get a massage, read a book… whatever you do to chill, make some time for it.
10. Keep details of your accommodation on you all the time
I’ve heard one too many horror stories from dorm mates about people who have got their phones out to show a driver or local where they need to get to and then been mugged. As a rule in general I try to pick up a card with my accommodation’s details on when I check in. This means my phone can stay in my bag when I hop in a taxi.
11. Try not to view the world from behind your camera
I have definitely been guilty of this one! You see something pretty so you want to take a photo. Nothing wrong with that. Just try not to spend your entire trip viewing everything from behind a lens.
12. Research visas before you go
I’ll be writing a post on my own visa experiences soon because we had a bit of a mare trying to get some of them, especially in foreign countries but pretty please with a cherry on top DO YOUR RESEARCH. Know what visas you need to get, where you can get them from and when you need to get them. Simples.
13. Realise you can’t be best buddies with everyone you meet
There’s always going to be people who rub you up the wrong way, whether you are at home or abroad. It may be easier said than done but try not to let them wind you up. When they cry for help in the middle of the night because there is a giant man-eating beetle in their case which turns out to be a slightly larger than average bug (true story), laugh it off. When people say they’re going to refuse to pay because there was a power cut or talk about themselves non-stop for a six hour bus journey (again, true stories) just remember where you are and that you’re probably having a waaaay better time than if you were at home.
What travel advice would you give to someone?