These days I find myself travelling more and more. Whether it be a train ride to another Brisbane suburb or travelling overnight on a plane it is important to plan ones trip.
Here are a few things that I do when I travel that may help someone else.
WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
To start organising a trip I find it helpful to have a starting point. Whether you choose this by closing your eyes and picking a spot on a map or you are travelling for an event or conference is totally up to you.
Now you know where you are going and possibly when, you will be able to do a little research on the location. Here are some of the questions that I find it good to know the answers to:
–Timezone: how far in front or behind is the country you are visiting?
–Weather: What season will it be during the dates I am there? Does it rain a lot ? Can I wear that new summery dress or should I buy some snow gear ?
–Language Spoken: Does my host country speak my mother tongue or should I buy a phrase book?
Currency: What currency is used? Should I get cash out before I go or are ATMs widely available? Have you thought about splitting between cash and card ?
TO BOOK OR NOT TO BOOK?
Accommodation: When I travel, I will stay with family or friends if possible but sometimes it isn’t so one must look for somewhere. Not only do I like to know where I am staying but many countries require an address within that country on your entry card. Book places that have public transport close or have Uber/ taxis services close. I like the convenience of having a grocery shop close too for those unexpected and unplanned moments.
Depending on what you like to do, some activities sell out months in advance such as The Harry Potter Tour in London. If you know you really want to see something, book in advance to avoid missing out.
Flights: Always shop around. If you have the flexibility to travel weekdays it is cheaper . Also just because a flight is cheap, doesn’t mean it is good. Go with your gut instinct. I prefer to travel with Jetstar or QANTAS and you may have a preference also
You can often get cheaper flights at certain hours of the day or on sale.
WHAT TO PRE- BUY/ CHECK
Passport– many countries require 6 months or more left so check it.
Visa– Do you need a visa to enter the country/ countries you are going to ? Do you need it before or can you buy when entering?
Travel Vaccines- Do you need to have proof of certain vaccines? Is there a high risk of conditions eg. dengue fever?
Currency– even if you are going somewhere with ATMs I find it less stressful to have around $50 of local currency for emergencies or food when you arrive so you do not have to find an ATM as soon as you arrive.
Sim Card- Data can be expensive. I recently travelled to Singapore and it cost me $12.00 for 100 GB on a Singapore SIM card and it was the best idea. Also turn your phone on airplane mode and you won’t risk a high phone bill when you get home.
Adaptor– Check the kind of adaptor you need and buy one.
Purchase your prescription from home, an overseas venue may not have what you need or it may be under a different name. It is better to be prepared. Also gain a doctor’s letter stating details of medication and dose and some countries may need this to be presented eg. If the ingredients in medication are restricted. I have a little yellow book which has my vaccinations and medication recorded.
Tickets– I struggle to do spare of the moment things so I book my theatre shows, sight seeing, bus and train tickets, theatre tickets etc all in advance and keep them in a designated folder either physically or in an email inbox folder.
Itinerary– I know you probably aren’t like me and have 36 pages printed out that tells you what you are doing in multiple time zones and currency but having a rough idea is good! Also many places like to know that you have a return flight eg. Aren’t going to illegally stay in their country.
Contact Details- Keep your loved ones numbers on paper as well as hotels, tour companies and any other numbers you may need.
Copies of Documents-
Give copies of important stuff eg. Passport to a trusted person in case the worst happens and you need backup!
Ok, let’s face it- I am a bit of a weirdo and I love excel. I love nothing more then calculating what I have bought and what I need to buy with mathematical formulas.
You may not go this far but at least make sure you have enough money for everything you are planning.
It is better to over budget and have left over currency then to under budget and find yourself stranded with nothing. Make sure you take the exchange rate into mind and have a variety of payment methods as some small markets etc may not do card.
Here is the list I created for carry on. It covers all bases and you can add to or take from to suit your travel needs.
Pretty much, anything important- carry it in carry- on!
GENERAL TIPS FOR AIRPORT/ FLYING
-If your airport has the opportunity of a hidden disability scheme such as England’s Sunflower Lanyard – use it. If not you can request special assistance when you book a flight
-Take chewing gum or lollies on plane, chewing prevents your ears from popping and that pain.
-Don’t be afraid to ask the staff for help or questions.
-Take a coat even if you are going somewhere warm as planes, trains, shopping centres and venues may be very cold.
-Take a travel pillow, they are so good even when watching a movie on the plane
-You are allowed to take own snacks on plane as long as a) they are within the weight/ size limit and b) you don’t carry fruit / other items across state and country borders.
-If in doubt declare- declaring food items or souvenirs may be required, if in doubt- declare. It is better then the consequences of not declaring.
-Stimming/ sensory overload
Pack and carry sunglasses, headphones, things you can squeeze or chew or your favourite stuffed toy. Don’t be embarrassed to wear glasses inside or explain to a friend that you are anxious or overloaded. They will understand if they are your friend.
-Leave plenty of time to transfer, you don’t want to attempt Olympic running record speed to make your boarding gate. Talking of boarding gates, check the board your flight could even change gate while you are at another.
-Read the website, familiarise yourself with where the places you need are.
and last of all HAVE FUN!