Travel is a great metaphor for life. The more you prep and plan, the easier it will be. Sure, there are those who prefer to be more spontaneous. I’m just saying that spontaneity is WAY MORE FUN when you have a way of identifying yourself at the Australian consulate after your luggage has been stolen/destroyed/used to start a spontaneous beach bonfire.
Travel hard, travel smart, just travel…is my motto.
WATCH: Are we really more emotional on planes? (Post continues…)‘
TOP 10 TRAVEL TIPS FOR SMART AND SPONTANEOUS FUN
1. Leave a copy of your itinerary and important papers with someone
Before even leaving for your destination print off a copy of all of your travel documents including a copy of your passport and leave it with someone responsible. You never know when you’ll need someone to help you identify yourself and it’s a good idea to ensure someone knows where you are meant to be.
Include a list of your airbnbs, hotels and people you are planning to visit.
Better still, you can register your travel plans with Smart Traveller, set up by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
2. Check travel warnings BEFORE you arrive
You probably want to know if you are headed into a Zika Virus zone, particularly if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Smart Traveller lists all the relevant travel warnings for those who are headed overseas and while you may not be willing to change your travel plans, at least you can mentally prepare yourself.
Just don’t tell your parents. They will FREAK OUT!
3. Good travel insurance is not optional
Saving money on travel insurance is not a good idea. My stepson didn’t even have travel insurance when he went overseas on a snowboarding holiday and ended up having a pretty bad fall (because he likes to hurtle down the steepest mountains possible) and to this day his wrist is a bit dodgy. If he had good travel insurance he could have had it seen to without coping a bill worth thousands of dollars.
Do your homework when choosing a travel insurance policy. It’s the best money you will spend ahead of your trip. Thankfully, Choice has rated them all for you.
4. A small medical/emergency kit
Band aids, antiseptic cream/powder, cotton balls, cotton buds…all items you won’t realise you need until you fall over or get a bug stuck up your nose. You can buy really good first aid kits from camping stores and when getting your shots discuss with your doctor what other items you should include.
Even if the bandaids are only for shoes that look good but remove a layer of skin from your heels, you’ll be so happy you brought them. Just check before travelling that you are allowed to bring all of your first aid items onto a plane and into the country. They may not allow tweezers or nail clippers but you can bring a nail file.
5. Beg, borrow and steal
Travel can be expensive so a good way to cut costs is to borrow items you’ll only use during your trip from friends and family. Ask for adaptors, money belts, sleeping bags, anything you think you might need once and then never again.
A great way to thank those you borrowed items from is to pick them up a country-specific gift such as Belgium chocolates or a snow globe from Florida.
6. Be early or on time for all travel
You'll pretty much get stuck in traffic every time you go to the airport for a flight. That, or your flight will be delayed and you'll end up sleeping on the floor of the airport. Whatevs. The actual travel is part of the experience so embrace it. People-watching at airports is a great way to get to know about a culture. When that fails, read a good book (pack a good book).
And make sure you book flexi-tickets that can been used for the next flight so you don't end up wasting money purchasing replacement tickets.
7. Electronic copies vs paper copies
When travelling to multiple destinations it's a much easier experience if you have used an app such as Apple Wallet for all of your tickets and boarding passes and such. Keep paper copies, in case of flat batteries, or email them to an email account you can easily access.
Portable chargers are an excellent idea, while I think of it.
8. For when you can't drink the water
In countries where water is affordable, you can't really drink it. In countries where the water is safe, you can normally only purchase bottled water at exorbitant prices. Either way, one of the best tips we can give you is to bring a water bottle with you wherever you go and fill it up at every safe location possible.
You'll save yourself a lot of grief, and a lot of money.
9. Cause you're hot and you're cold
Carry a light scarf with you wherever you go. You never know when you need to wrap it around your head (in culturally conservative countries), around your neck (because it's sunny but that wind sure is cold) or you need to fancy up an outfit because you just spotted a great restaurant but feel a tad under-dressed.
They fit nicely in your handbag and according to some YouTube videos we've come across, can be made into tops and skirts.
10. Eat, eat, eat
Try and eat as much local food as possible, within reason. As great as it sounds to drop a quick few kilos the old fashioned way, you don't want to miss out on valuable travel time groaning on a toilet, especially a shared toilet in a hostel.
That's no way to make friends.
Watch the locals, eat some of what they eat and truly experience food diversity at it's finest.
11. Learn the language, rude foreigner
Not only should you research the cultural practices and requirements of any country you plan to visit, but it's basic manners to learn a couple of words and phrases such as "please" and "thank you" as well as, "where is the nearest pub". Once you know some of the basics it is easier to expand your vocabulary and chatting to locals is something every traveller should do.
12. Plastic bags, so bad yet so good
Plastic bags aren't that good for the environment but if you plan to reuse them instead of toss them, you're doing your part. Pack a couple to use for rubbish, vomit bags or soiled clothing and keep on using them.
If you must, use an environmentally friendly bag that can be laundered instead of a nasty old plastic bag. Not the best vomit bag but it will certainly do for rubbish or soiled clothing. And they make some pretty cool ones these days so they can even serve as a tote bag.
13. Jot everything down
Never discount the importance and usefulness of a notebook and pen. You never know what you'll need to jot down. Your phone may die so you won't be able to tap info into Notes. You may also want to write your phone number down for someone, write down a phrase you just learned or sketch yourself a rough map of your destination.
Or sit by the waterside in the Mediterranean and sketch a boat, or a tree, or whatever it is that people sketch.