I love to travel. Even though I’m not what you’d call a ‘seasoned traveller’, over the years I have picked up ideas or have thought of things which should make travelling anywhere a little bit easier.
- Research where you are going.
No matter if you are going somewhere where you’ve been before, research is vital. There is so much information available on the internet but something like a Lonely Planet travel guides is great if internet access isn’t guaranteed.
- You can never have enough plastic bags
Plastic bags are great for everything from separating dirty laundry to carrying shopping to using them to sit on if seats are dirty or wet.
- Plan your outfits
This can be difficult if you are unsure of the weather or are travelling to several places with different climates. Things like convertible trousers are great as they allow you to wear shorts during the day but trousers in the evening. Yes they don’t look the coolest, but I’m more concerned about being comfortable when travelling than by my appearance.
- Roll your clothes
There has been lots of talk for several years about the best way to pack a suitcase or bag before you travel, but the general consensus is that rolling your clothes is best. This means that you will be able to take a smaller bag which is great if you have to take public transport as part of your journey.
- Separate the rest of your things into different bags
I use an old pencil case for small electronic items and a larger bag for my various chargers etc. Smaller mesh bags are great for things like toiletries and Tupperware is great for jewellery.
- Use little bottles.
Firstly it takes up less room. Secondly you don’t need a big bottle of perfume or aftershave for a week. I use a product called the Perfume Pod for my aftershave and travel bottles for everything else.
- Think about your travelling clothes
Over recent years I have started to wear a gilet which is so handy. Wearing things with lots of zip pockets means you have somewhere for your wallet, phone, passport and whatever else so that they are always close to hand but also secure.
- Bring a change of clothes
Have a complete change of clothes in your carry-on luggage just in case your suitcase gets lost and you don’t see it again for a few days.
- Bring a portable battery charger
If you have an iPhone you will be familiar with your battery life not being the best. Portable chargers are fantastic and can be used to charge any USB-type devices. Mine will charge my phone (iPhone 6) at least 6 times.
- Bluetooth earphones are my new favourite travel item
I invested in some Bluetooth earphones last year and I love them. When travelling it is great to not have a tangle of wires and the unit will hold its charge for between 4-6 hours (this is also where a portable battery charger comes in handy)
If I am in a city and don’t want to use a paper map (to blend in a bit better), I will use my Bluetooth headphones and my map app to take me to where I want to go and pickpockets etc won’t know what type of device they are connected to.
- Take some string
Something else I also bring wherever I am going is paracord. It is about the same thickness of string but can hold up to 250kg of weight and has literally hundreds of uses – I have used it to secure a suitcase strap, as a washing line, to secure the zips of my rucksack and even as a makeshift belt.
- Multi-tools are great.
I take a small Leatherman with my most places as they also have multiple uses. Whether you need a bottle opener, screwdriver or scissors, this multi-tool will cover most things. (Just make sure you are aware of the local laws concerning blades.)
- Hand gel and travel soap is your friend
Hand gel is a must for travelling, regardless of where you are travelling. I have used it everywhere from America to London to Nigeria before meals and it’s always worked so far (touch wood). All purpose soap is also great and has many uses.
- Invest in some earplugs
I use these on holiday but there are lots of cheaper options out there. Ear plugs are great for muffling all sorts of sounds … just make sure you don’t sleep past an alarm!
- Don’t take just cash
It’s good to have a bit of money in cash to get you started but a prepaid travel card makes things so much easier. We just the (award winning) PostOffice prepaid MasterCard which is great and being able to top it up using an app is extremely handy.
16. Keep an emergency stash of money.
An empty Chapstick is great for holding some money if the unthinkable happens and you lose your wallet…although to prevent that….
17. Bring a money belt and a wallet
If you do get mugged, you can hand over your wallet (with not that much money in it) while keeping the majority of your money around your waist.
- Make sure your cards will work
If you are planning on taking debit and/or credit cards, make sure your bank knows the areas you are going to and the dates that you will be there.
- Be aware of your surroundings
This is especially important when it comes to your belongings, especially if you are in public areas or on public transport. To prevent someone running off with a rucksack or bag, wrap the strap around your ankle.
- Look after your travel documents
You can lose your suitcase and replace the contents, but loosing tickets or worse your passport can be a nightmare. Before your holiday, send yourself your itinerary as well as all the confirmation emails you will need for hotels, attractions and whatever else. I use Dropbox to store all this information meaning it is available across multiple devices.
- Learn some local phrases
Most guidebooks teach you how to say “hello”, “yes please”, “thank you” and “do you speak English?” In some places you need to be able to say “no thank you” as well, especially if bartering is common place.
- Use local shops
Grocery stores are you best friend and allow you to stock up on essentials such as water and food. Try and find one close to your hotel to save a lot of money against products sold in the hotel.
- Eat where the locals eat
Try and find restaurants that the locals use as these are often the places where you’ll find the most authentic local food.
- In a similar way, get off the beaten path.
Don’t avoid locations just because they are off the tourist trail. Sometimes the best things to be seen in a city are places that aren’t in the tourist books.
- Wake up early.
While you go on holiday to relax, it’s still good to get up early. While you might not want to be eating breakfast at 6am, if you eat after 10am most of the day is gone before you start the tourist things.
- Back everything up.
I usually travel with my laptop when I am away, but it’s vital that everything is backed up before you leave. Having physical and digital copies of your passport, travel documents, health insurance, serial numbers for electrical equipment and important numbers is vital. Use an external hard drive or cloud services such as Backblaze (subscription) or Dropbox (free)
- Take lots of photos
From my experience, photos sometimes don’t do a place justice, but it is lovely to look back on photos several years later. Although when you come home, make sure you back them up!
- Keep good notes
I’ve started to write (or type) when I am away on holiday but I usually carry a small pad of paper and a few pens if I am out for the day to write things down.
- Make sure your electronics will work
This involves not just brining the right adaptor, but you need to make sure that the voltage of your electronics is suitable for the country that you are going to.
- Take out travel insurance.
This is possibly the most important thing. It is something which people usually gloss over, but my current annual travel insurance was bought thought Direct Travel. This seems to be the most recommended source and for unlimited travel for up to 30 days at a time costs £40, which is definitely money well spent.