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So, you’re new to the travel industry and ready to take on the world on your first trip. Travelling can reveal an array of emotions. It can lead you to feel overwhelmed especially if it’s your first time. If you’re an overthinker like me, you want to make sure you’re well-prepared and have covered all the angles before you get on the plane. The following planning tips will ease your pre-travel jitters and have you jet-setting off to your new adventure.
Do your research on your chosen destination
As the saying goes ‘knowledge is power’. That is certainly the case when planning a trip as you’ll be experiencing a different culture, with different laws and of course a different budget. By doing research on a destination, you’ll have a better overall experience. You can find out the hidden gems of the destination and the best things to see and do. That way you will have a rough itinerary of your travel route and can pack the correct attire. Don’t forget the places you should avoid.
However, make sure your itinerary is flexible. (don’t be one of those people that plan too much). Luckily, I’m one of those people who likes to ‘go with the flow’. I don’t constraint myself too much as I’m a very indecisive person. They always say the most unplanned adventures are the best which has always been the case for me as I can just ‘roll with it’. Although this is not always the case. If you have limited time as you almost want to cram in everything you can. Unexpected things can happen when traveling. You don’t want to be stressing when you’re stuck to a tight schedule. Give yourself some breathing space and embrace every moment.
Purchase Travel Insurance
This is one of those ‘Better to be safe than sorry’ situations but an absolute must in my eyes. Travel is unpredictable. You hear of so many incidents that involve backpackers especially when it comes to scooters and adventurous activities. Don’t leave it to chance as you don’t want it to ruin your experience or even worse that you end up completely broke. If the worse were to happen to you at least you would have peace of mind and won’t have to stress about finances. With any form of travel insurance always ensure that you read the fine print so you’re fully aware of what you’re actually covered for. The lack of planning ahead here may cost you in the long run as many insurance operators require you to purchase insurance before entering a different country. World Nomads is my go-to travel insurance and is a reputable insurance company suitable for all types of backpackers.
Be open to trying new things & be adventurous
To get the most out of your experiences when traveling this tip is a must. You don’t want to look back on your trip and have that ‘I wish I had done that’ feeling. It’s all about pushing your boundaries and taking yourself out of your comfort zone. When you have an open mind- you welcome new opportunities. That for me is what traveling is all about. In terms of being more adventurous, I am the fussiest eater, and trying new cuisines was a big deal for me. I’m pretty much a ‘plain’ eater but it’s all part of experiencing new cultures and expanding my horizon.
On that subject, for someone who is afraid of heights, I really wanted to give canyoning a try in Dalat, Vietnam. All my travel buddies were raving about it and I did not want to miss out on anything. I am so glad I did it! It was such a thrilling adventure so mentally prepare yourself to keep an open mind and challenge your abilities. No Regrets.
Advise your banks on the places you will be traveling
Due to some hefty phone bills made to my bank, I would definitely recommend planning ahead here. You don’t wont to constantly be on the phone getting your card unblocked for suspicious activity in every different country you visit. Invest in a decent travel card to avoid these situations and of course the hefty international charges. (I use Revolute and Travelex cards which I’ve never had any problems with).
Take extra money or a credit card with you
In all my trips, I have always gone over my budget as you never know what unforeseen charges might crop up. It’s always sensible to have a back-up plan in place. Bear in mind, not all debit cards work in certain ATM’s. You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you run out of money as you haven’t topped up your travel card either. My brother, for example, was a victim of fraud in Bali and had to have a new debit card sent to him as a result. Luckily, he had an ‘emergency credit card’ that allowed him to carry on with his travels without having to worry about being stuck with no money.
Get the correct vaccinations for your chosen destinations
This is an important health factor when it comes to traveling as it can seriously minimize the risks of becoming ill when you’re away especially within developing countries. Again, this is one of those ‘better to be safe than sorry’ situations. Not every place you travel will require you to have them, but it’s something worth researching. There’s nothing worse than ending up in a hospital bed abroad when it could have been avoided. If you’re planning on going off the beaten track or remote areas then I highly advise you to do this ahead of you’re a trip. My Rabies injections were a course of three injections over a month.
Make photocopies of your essential documents
Passport, driver’s license, visas, travel insurance. You never know what can happen when you’re traveling, so don’t make things hard for yourself if the worst were to happen. I’ve heard many stories about travelers losing or having things stolen so make sure you have a backup. I usually have mine backed up on my Dropbox or Tripit so it’s easily accessible and they’re all in one place.
Pack as minimal as possible
Everyone will tell you this but you really do have to be ruthless when it comes to packing. I usually lay everything out on the floor then half it. It’s good to plan outfits beforehand and make sure you can mix and match them. However, it goes without saying that you’ll buy things along the way so be practical and only bring the essentials.
Sort out your apps beforehand
Below are my recommended travel apps that you will always find on my phone that will make your life so much easier. They have helped me out in a lot of sticky situations! However, it is worth planning ahead before you leave as you may be in a situation where you have limited wi-fi and unable to download the map of the country you arrive at (yes this happened to me).
Skyscanner– all in one travel app- my go-to for low-cost flight comparison deals
Tripit– travel organizing app to store or create your travel itineraries all in one place
Travello– a social network for travelers that helps you connect with like-minded people. This app is perfect for solo travelers as you can search, and match travel plans with others all over the world.
Maps Me– provides maps offline for countries all around the world. If your anything like me, and have no sense of direction, I highly recommend this app for you.
XE Currency– calculates live currency and exchange rates, helpful when your battering for a new item at the local market, and it also works offline.
Google Translate– The language barrier can be a real problem when your in a different country that doesn’t speak the same language, however this free translation app that will help you connect and communicate with cultures from all around the globe.
Hostels are a fantastic way to meet people
There is a complete misconception that hostels are dirty/dangerous and that’s not the case in the hostels that I have stayed at myself. I have always felt safe, made great friends, and (touch wood) have never caught any bed bugs. Everyone is in the same boat and has a common interest in traveling. It’s a great way to exchange experiences, get great recommendations, and perfect if you’re on a tight budget.
Hostelworld is a worldwide platform that I would recommend to every budget backpacker where you can find the best hostels to stay at reviewed by travelers. Be aware that if you’re planning on staying at hostel’s make sure you book weekends and special holidays in advance. You don’t want to be that person that ends up in a bed-bug ridden guesthouse because you didn’t think to book in advance.
Invest in some decent footwear
I wish I had taken this advice prior to my trip, but lesson learned, and I will not be making the same mistake again. Why I thought it was a clever idea to go on a hike wearing cheap Primark daps I will never know. When you’re traveling from each destination or walking around exploring, a pair of decent footwear is essential as the last thing you want to deal with is the huge blisters digging in the back of your feet. Take my advice and choose comfort over style!
On many occasions whilst traveling, my lack of planning has created many stressful situations for myself and although I like to go with the flow and take it day by day, I have learned my lesson to have things in place before I leave the country (especially when it comes to banks and student loans).