Back to home page click here
HOW TO TRAVEL WISELY
One way to travel
- my wife Vee doing the world's
highest bungee jump in South Africa
Note: This advice is intended primarily for holidaymakers rather than business travellers and for travel abroad rather than at home, but some of the tips may have general applicability. It is aimed at the general traveller rather than the backpacker.
- Produce a checklist of everything you will need for your travel. Keep this on your computer and print off a copy in advance of each journey and then, before you close your case, go through the list item by item. Then you should never forget anything.
- Before you leave your home, double check that you have a) passport b) tickets c) credit & debit cards d) any prescription medication - if necessary, anything else that you might have forgotten can be replaced but these four items cannot.
- Before boarding any flight, pack separately from your suitcase a piece of hand luggage that contains everything you would find essential if your suitcase went missing. As well as passport, tickets, credit/debit cards and money, this should include contact lens items (if you wear them), any prescription medications that you need, a change of underwear, and your camera.
- Wherever you are going, buy a suitable guide book - one that is detailed enough to be useful, but not so comprehensive that it is too heavy to carry around. Of course, if you are taking an e-reader with you, then you can take the travel guide as an e-book and not worry about its size or weight.
- Wherever you are going, buy a good map, so that you can navigate your way around the city or know exactly where you are in the country - the best maps are those that are laminated for durability.
- If it is necessary for the country you are visiting, make sure you have the visa and the innoculations in good time and take with you a written record of all your injections over the last five years in case you need to see a doctor or be admitted to hospital.
- If it is necessary for the country you are visiting, take the malaria tablets for the full period recommended for that type of tablet - which might be a period before and/or after your visit as well as throughout the visit.
- Make sure that you have appropriate travel insurance and, if you are from and travelling in the European Economic Area (the 28 European Union member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland, the E111 certificate or the European Health Insurance Card.
- Before you leave home, collate all the information you might need in an emergency. This should include a photocopy of the main pages of your passport and any necessary visa, the numbers of any cash or credit cards you are taking, and the telephone numbers to call if you need to cancel these cards because they have been lost or stolen. If you want, you can actually put this information on the web in a closed section, so that you can access it wherever you are in the world.
- When visiting a new country, it is sensible to take some time to read a little about the history and culture of that country. This will put into some context what you see and what you hear and make the visit more informative and enjoyable.
- When visiting a new country, it is a good idea to learn a few basic phrases in the local language. English speakers in particular are not expected to know anything of the vernacular, so using even a very few words will be much appreciated by the locals and attract a positive response.
- Try to travel relatively light - you can wear the same clothes several times, especially if you wash them or have them cleaned by the hotel.
- For guidance on suitable clothes to take, check out the weather at your destination online the day before departure.
- Mark as many things as possible with name labels - this includes guidebooks, reading materials, important documents, camera, camcorder, mobile phone and so on.
- Take typed, addressed adhesive labels for the postcards that you'll want to send home - this way, you won't forget the people you intend to send cards to, you can address the cards very quickly, and the locals will be able to read unfamiliar addresses.
- Take an alarm clock of some kind - this could be a travelling clock or a clock that is part of your mobile and it will ensure that you don't miss that early morning departure.
- Take tea, coffee and milk. These can be taken in little sachets that will not weigh much but ensure that you enjoy your favourite refreshment.
- Take a small, plastic kettle. This will ensure that you can actually make your tea or coffee. Also, in countries where the water is not drinkable, you can use the kettle to boil water and pour into a plastic bottle, so that you do not have to keep buying bottled water.
- Take a fully-charged mobile phone - you only need to switch it on a couple of times in the day to send SMS messages to relatives and friends and check any messages received and you have it in case you need to contact home urgently.
- Take a spare camera memory card and a spare camera battery - these will usually be available where you are travelling, but they will probably be more expensive and it could take valuable time finding them.
- Since you will want to befriend local people (especially children in underdeveloped countries), take some gifts which are small and light and connected with your country - these might be pencils, pens, postcards, fridge magnets, tiny toys or illustrated tea towels.
- Since you will befriend local people and fellow travellers, take business cards or address labels, so that you can quickly and easily give acquaintances your contact details (especially your e-mail address).
- If weight is not an issue, pack your belongings in a rigid suitcase with a combination lock - this way, your things won't be crushed and you can use the suitcase as a safe in your hotel room.
- If weight is an issue, pack your belongings in a canvas case with a decent lock - this way, you will save several kilogrammes of weight.
- Mark your suitcase with some clearly identifiable item, so that you can pick it out at the airport or station or hotel - you can use a coloured or labelled strap or even simply a piece of scarf.
- Take a shoulder bag or light rucksack to have with you at all times - this can hold all essentials like guide book, water, medicines, umbrella, jacket and so on.
- If you have a long-haul flight, wear flight socks and regularly stretch your legs with a little walk to avoid deep vein thrombosis and don't drink alcohol but do drink plenty of water or soft drinks to avoid dehydration.
- In many countries, it is sensible to keep your money and other valuables in a money belt worn under your clothes.
- If you are particularly fearful of being robbed, put a high denomination note inside a shoe - this will ensure that you have the money to get a taxi back to the hotel and start the process of recovering your composure and reporting the theft.
- Reduce attention from hawkers or thieves by using a brown paper book cover for your guide books. Even if they still guess that you are a tourist, they will have less idea which language to use to attract your attention.
- If you are being bothered by persistent hawkers, throw them off by pretending not to understand them and using a few words of an unfamiliar language (we use Czech!).
- If you ever feel threatened or harassed, the best advice is to avoid eye contact and keep moving.
- Be aware of local scams - the friendly offer to take you to a relative or friend who has a local art gallery or craft shop should be politely refused and you're particularly likely to be targeted at popular tourist sights and when trying to cross a busy road.
- Beware of charges on using your bank cards abroad. Some banks charge hefty usage fees for every foreign currency transaction (including over the counter purchases), while others are free but adjust exchange rates slightly. Basically, read the small print or check with your bank.
- Wear a small, lightweight camera on your belt - that way, the camera will always be with you to take that memorable picture and you will not leave it on a table or bus or have it snatched from your hand or shoulder.
- Wear a small, lightweight set of binoculars on your belt - they are essential for viewing wildlife or terrain but can be useful also to study the detail of buildings and, by having it on your belt, it will always be with you and impossible to lose or have stolen.
- Have a small, light torch handy - you can use this to illuminate dark parts of rooms or buildings or features of structures or statues; you can use it to read or write when travelling in the dark; and it's available if you are wandering out at night or suffer a power failure in the hotel.
- Have a notebook and biro with you at all times - make a few notes on what you're seeing (especially factual information that you'll never remember) and record the names and contact details of people you meet.
- See as much as possible - you'll probably never be here again and you can always rest at home, so use your time to the maximum.
- Experience the local culture - try the local food and drink, listen to the local music, attend local entertainment, talk to local people.
- Try lots of new things - take the opportunity to do things you haven't done before (on one trip, my wife did the world's highest bungee jump, went ostrich riding, and had a python round her neck!)
- Be sensitive to local norms - so, for instance, remove shoes before entering a mosque and ask permission before photographing people.
- Appreciate that when you are visiting another country, you are not in control as much as you might be at home, so things will go wrong from time to time; but don't over-react to set-backs and instead simply go with the flow.
- At the end of the trip, leave what you can for local people, especially in a developing country: soap, toothpaste, aspirins, clothes. All will be very welcome to local people and it will lighten your load.
- When you arrive home, do immediately anything you promised on the trip - maybe you said that you would send someone a particular photograph or that you would e-mail them or invite them over.
- Once at home, organise your photographs as soon as possible - otherwise you may never get round to it and, even if you do, you'll have forgotten who that person or building was.
Last modified on 26 January 2014
If you have some ideas of your own e-mail me
Back to home page click here