For all of you who know me, I’m a last minute kind of person. I cram as much as I can into my time before doing the one thing I planned to do in this first place. This includes my packing before going somewhere new! So here is a list of travel tips I use as my little check list Bible before going away, whether on a short weekend break or travelling adventure:
1. Quick dry towels are light and more convenient when on the go so it’s worth investing in one. You can buy them online, just type it in on google and bag yourself one!
2. Tiger Balm is amazing for persistent itchiness you can get from bites, especially mosquito bites! It’s also pretty good for summer colds. You can buy it from most pound shops in the U.K and it can save you a small fortune when shopping for the more pricey ointments available, that seem to be even more expensive when you shop for them abroad.
3. Take a card or free map from reception each time you stay at a hostel. The card and free map will have the exact address of the hostel, meaning you are less likely to get lost! If you do, local’s will be able to direct you if you show them the address written down. That way if you forget it or struggle to pronounce it, you can just point at the address and find your way home!
4. Invest in a torch! It’s great when leaving hostels at 5am in the morning, trying to find one of your trainers or making sure you’ve got your headphones! Then you can do it all without switching the main light on and being ‘that guy’ that wakes up the whole dorm!
5. Buy your sunscreen from the U.K or inside of Europe. A lot of your toiletries you can find worldwide but sunscreen can be dodgy in other countries. I bought a supposed factor 30 sun cream in Cambodia, I burnt so badly I blistered and still have a little scar on my nose to prove it!
6. Internet is definitely a luxury we often take for granted, especially when doing things like streaming music! If you don’t want to spend your time individually downloading songs to mp3 converters, apps such as google play music and Spotify will become your new best friend. If you pay a monthly fee with them, you can listen to your playlist’s whilst offline meaning there is no need to worry about needing wifi whilst overseas. Apps like these tend to have a free trial month before they charge you which means if you are away for less than a month you cancel it by the time you get home.
7. Following on from the last point, especially if you are planning to go away for quite some time do this…Take as many films with you as possible. If you run out of computer space or run out of time to sit and download them, invest in a portable DVD player and some second hand DVD’s. I got my portable DVD player for £40 from PC World and it has been one of the best investments I have made to date. It’s great for long journeys, hangover days and rainy days, plus it’s not the end of the world if you lose it or it gets stolen (Unlike a laptop). Home comforts can really make all the difference at times when you are not feeling your best.
8. Portable speaker’s can make all the difference on your trip, maybe a few of you want to watch a film together or you want to put some music on at the beach/when you are getting ready. They are surprisingly affordable these days, last year I bought a mini portable speaker key ring for £3 from Primark. Of course you get what you pay for, so this speaker didn’t last forever but if you shop around I’m sure you will find the right one for you.
9. A small box of tea bags or coffee, dependant on what your preference is a must. Now for me I have never been a massive tea drinker and I don’t like coffee so what I have just said may seem quite contradictory but it’s amazing how you crave things that remind you of home when away. You will be surprised how many places don’t have decent tea and my coffee drinking buddies have said the same about coffee.
10. Don’t worry about taking heels/false lashes or fake tan with you.Unless you know you are going somewhere glamourous, you are more than likely to stick out for all the wrong reasons if you take these things with you. Plus, they take up much needed space in your bag so it won’t be long until you are trying to throw them away or send them home.
11. Solar panel charging phone cases are now a thing! Unlike the ordinary battery charging pack, (as suggested in their name) they rely on sunlight so as long as you have that you never have to worry. Your phone quickly becomes your life line when away (even more so than when you are at home). It is the home of your: maps, clock/alarms, music/film player, hostel booker, language translator, travel guide, memory bank, camera, online library, job finder, flight/taxi booker, currency converter, bank and main form of connection with family and friends back home…it is up there with your passport in terms of importance! Plus solar panel charging phone cases are environmentally friendly so there’s your good karma points for the year!
12. When getting a taxi, if possible, make sure one of you stays in the taxi whilst your friend takes your bags out of the boot. Most taxi driver’s I have met have been friendly and helpful however there are some that can take advantage of your vulnerability with you being an almost alien creature in a new country! If you are on your own then keep your bags in the car with you. Deciding on the price you are willing to pay with the taxi driver before he starts driving is also a good idea. Less misunderstandings=less stress (especially when you don’t know a place well).
13. I’m sure you can remember all those times at Christmas, pulling a cracker and being excited yet expecting a piece of junk to fall out. Well mini sewing kits are one of the most helpful little nik naks you can have with you on your travels. You’ve snapped the strap on your dress= bring out the mini sewing kit, the stitches are coming loose on your rucksack strap= bring out the mini sewing kit. Of course you can buy them and not just wait until Christmas, you can also get one in any size like!
14. If you have access to internet apps such as ‘meetup’ are amazing if you want to find out what the locals are up to or even meet a local expat group. This app is great especially if you are travelling solo. After all travelling solo is liberating and exciting but it can also be quite lonely and you can feel quite isolated at times.
15. Eat out once a day or less, the rest of the time buy food from local shops and cook it in the kitchen at your hostel (if there is one) or buy sandwich/picnic stuff from the local corner shop. It’s crazy how much money goes on food when we are away, seriously!
16. A book, a pack of cards and a journal go a long way to feeding that boredom. Especially when on 15 hour bus journeys, when the electric goes in the town and all you have is candle light or when you get a bout of summer flu, dengue fever or food poisoning! The lonely planet guide is also a very useful book to have
I just want to finish by saying I know some of these points are pretty dark and it’s not to scare anyone, you will for sure have an incredible time but a little bit of forward planning and a few precautionary choices can go a long way to keep you safe and stress free! Have the best trip!!