- Be flexible and don’t overplan
It is extremely important for me personally to have a plan set for the trip. The must do, must see, must eat etc are all in order.
It’s to a point where I have excel sheet with daily plans prepared and reviewed multiple times.
Nonetheless, how much ever research and planning I do, few plans might not work out. Sometimes it’s the weather, sometimes it’s the mood and sometimes it’s you just falling sick! So don’t fret over things that don’t happen, as tempting as it is to check off everything you had in mind, it’s better to enjoy the moment. (Learnt the hard way)
- Check all the necessary documents and keep a copy
Never take your document check for granted. We are all going digital and I am all for it, still i always carry a set of my documents just in case. I have had my phone die on me just a minute after a boarding pass has been scanned at an airport where I was unable to charge my phone due to the incompatible adapter.
Save paper – Print 2 pages onto 1 side, print on both sides and use the unused parts to note down things during the trip.
- Save all the important contact number
Add to contacts all the numbers that matter for your trip.
Your family, friends, any local friends and accommodation you will be staying in (if they are Airbnb or Homestays)
As soon as you land in a new place, sometimes you don’t have connectivity on your mobile right away – having these numbers prefed into your phone book can help reach people using any local pay phones.
- Carry your Medicines
By these i mean, the mandatory medication you maybe on.
Dont take for granted the availability of the same medicines all across the globe. Mostly you will get an alternative to relieve you of any symptoms but people with allergies need to be more careful. Saying this, only carry enough for the trip and check the approved allowance as per the destination. Carry relevant documents too incase they are prescribed medicines.
- Get a travel insurance
I sincerely hope, you don’t have to put this to use!
It is almost a necessary expense in your trip budgeting that you wish for no claim, because that would mean the following might have happened:
1. Lost luggage
2. Sickness Or Injury
3. Unexpected change of plans and cancellation of trip
4. A natural calamity affecting you
5. Loss of passport or ID
It is only a minor addition to the trip, so please don’t miss it. Economical option is to get an annual travel insurance which covers worldwide destinations and multiple trips.
- Monitor the ticket and hotel prices before booking
Unless, it’s an impromptu trip…. Watch before you Pay.
I like to use Hopper to get notified of flight prices and also keenly use Skyscanner for multiple platforms to chose from while making the flight bookings.
For hotels a good way to get a comparison on the deals is to check out the accommodations availability on sites like Trivago and then if you are a member to any site, avail the discount of best offer on that before you book.
- Learn a few foreign words
A warm smile, a hello and a hug are great gestures to show your emotion. It’s nicer, if you can express them in words!
Pick up few common phrases and just the basic greetings when visiting a place that doesn’t speak your language. Even though English is widely spoken around the world, there are still many age groups and areas in a place you will come across who converse only in their local language. It helps break the ice and is good for a few laughs when you mess up the accent or even pronunciation of words. Try it the next time you are on route a new destination. Anyways no harm in learning something new.
- Double check all the chargers (with international requirements)
Yess! Double check!
Chargers and batteries for cameras, phones, laptops – pretty much any electronic item you are carrying for the trip. Research on the power availability and the adaptors for charging sockets. A good investment is to buy universal adapters (keep in mind some places still need their specific charges and even the universal ones don’t work).
- Carry travel size toiletries
Facewash, lotions, shower gel are common toiletries available in hotels. If you use specific ones, it is best to buy travel sized product or if you don’t get it in that size, then get empty bottles and pour your liquids into them as per the travel allowance.
Carry a hand sanitizer (you get the ones which can be attached the bags for easier use), wet wipes and regular tissues on the go.
- Money Matters
Credit cards are a must to show for hotel bookings, car rentals any vacation equipment rentals and just general ease of transactions, but the importance of cash bills cannot be taken for granted. Many countries today are still cash driven and use of plastic is in limited outlets. Research the destination and arrange according to the preferred usage. Having arrangements of both keeps things stress free. Carry few converted bills into local currency and few internationally accepted bills to exchange in case of need or emergency.
- Buy a local Sim Card to stay connected
This is a practice I’m used to. A convenient way to keep connectivity intact during trips is to get a local sim. Get the one with a good data package as most of the time spent would be using social media apps, WhatsApp and emails. Majority airports have the facility of telecom provider kiosks at the arrivals and you can choose the package that suits your need most and test its functionality before you step out. Say hello to your family back home without them worrying of whereabouts whenever you feel like! Also, roaming charges have hidden costs and limits which can sometimes come about as a shock during your billing cycle and you wouldn’t even know when and where had you crossed the limit.
- Explore off beaten paths
Doing touristy stuff is essential, because you know the places have earned a spot on the list for something they have to offer! Be it the views, the experience, history, architecture or even art, curiosity must be satisfied by paying them a visit. The added charm hides in those unexplored streets, hiking trails, food joints and the not so famous monuments. Best way to do this is to just walk around! Use the map to see your start point and destination and don’t follow the route :).. wander away and make your own path.
- Mingle with the locals
The world is full of kind people, happy people, interesting people and different people! You wouldn’t know till you don’t crack a conversation with the locals. Ask for a direction, talk about some food recommendations and their favorite places to drink and dance! You will gain two things from this – some real information and possibly a good conversation. If you are having a good interaction indulge in more topics! You might just head back from the trip with some new friends in a new exotic land 🙂
- Respect the country you are visiting
A simple gesture of thumbs-up has extreme interpretations in different countries. Where in most places it’s equivalent to good or nice, in parts of countries such as Italy, Iran and Africa it is rather offensive and sometimes taken as an insult. An everyday action can mislead your intent, so it is always better to know just a little bit about the culture of a new place and respect their sentiments.
- Try the local food
Drinking nights have endless stories but you will be surprised the biggest global bond is foooood…
A question about what to eat can never stop at just the present meal, it is almost the beginning to what next to try. Food itself makes you explore so many corners of a city or town that you wouldn’t have visited otherwise. Many of these places would not be a regular tourists list but the local food is a plethora of history and culture right through your stomach to the brain.
- Enjoy the Freebies
Free things are the best!
I love free.. well who doesn’t!
Next time you are budgeting your trip, make room for these wonderful activities you can do and they cost you only your time!
1. Free walking tours
2. Hiking trails
3. Swim in the lakes/ocean
4. Attend the street concerts during festive times
5. Note the free days for tourist sites
Saying this, it is always nice to express gratitude (as tips) to the walking tour guide for their information sharing and street performers for their talent and entertainment .
- Make the most of a place when you can travel
Not always do you get your vacation in the season a city is at its best or the natural landscapes are at their glory. Make most of a place when you can take time off! A summer destination will have something to offer in the winter – let’s say lesser crowds, lower accommodation tariffs and a chance to mingle with the locals as they are not overwhelmed with the tourists. Likewise for a winter destination, summer could show you the other side to fall in love with. ( I have tried this and haven’t been disappointment yet)
- Hour Time
Have you of early morning? Yah! The two words that don’t sound nice at all while on vacation. But, for photo junkies it is the best to wake up early and reach the touristy spots before the crowds start to pour in! It sounds painful and it is for night owls like myself but a little effort on some vacation days doing this could be very rewarding. Also, the blue hour is a sweet window where the sky is deep blue – just before sunrise and after sunset (after and before complete darkness respectively)
- Packing Bags for luggage
Luggage, Space and Weight – a constant struggle while packing.
I found these bags where you can load up your clothes and close the bag with almost half the volume. It is almost double and more organized space in the suitcase. They come as a set in various sizes so it is easier to segment the clothes and open only the bag which needs to be used instead of ruining the full packing everything you want something out.
They work well for me but some of you may like to pack in the traditional manner where you can see all the stuff as soon as the suitcase open and that is good too. Comfort and familiarity is most important when you are trying to find stuff while traveling.
- Indulge in experiences
Monuments will stay, food will be eaten, photographs will be clicked! What will really stick to your head and heart are the experiences you indulged in while on the trip. Go whale watching into the deep seas, sky dive for the adrenaline rush, meet the animals in their wilderness, climb mountains for those stunning views and wake up at wee hours of the night to see the northern lights. Experience something new when you head out next, you won’t regret it.