Get yourself a medical check-up before making a long trip. Worst case scenarios include being stuck in a country with medical expenses beyond your means, or worse, unavailability of medical aid. Do all you can to avoid such a situation. Being insured is also recommended.
It is wise to make bookings for accommodation well in advance; being stranded without accommodation on a cold winter’s night figures on the list of any tourist’s worst nightmare. Do your own bit of research regarding the destination so that you are not left at the mercy of a tour guide.
Your documents, including tickets, passport, visas, driver’s license should be kept in a waterproof pouch, one that you will have strapped on to your person at all times.
All that you will have while away from home will be held in the suitcase(s) that you are travelling with. Hence, investing in a sturdy suitcase, preferably one on wheels, is smart.
Now let us get started on what you are going to fill it with.
1) Medical Aid.
Medication, including that for altitude and motion sickness, should be easily accessible to you. I have heard acustraps work for motion sickness, so give them a try. Be informed regarding any health risks your destination may present. Winter destinations, in particular, demand rigorous moisturising of your skin; this means packing a moisturising lotion as well as lip balm. A box of plasters and antiseptic cream will serve you well, as will a mosquito repellent.
2) Wardrobe worries.
Be prepared in the wardrobe department. Most popular winter destinations will have an abundance of winter wear but it is best you go prepared. And by prepared, I mean thermals, underwear, sweaters, jackets, gloves, scarfs, mufflers, shoes and socks. You do not want to be caught out in the cold. Items like a clothesline and multi-purpose travel wash, if you are looking to save on laundry, are a good idea. Also, this would mean planning your wardrobe well, as clothes take longer to dry in low temperatures.
3) Food on the freeway.
On long commutes, food may not always be accessible, so packing biscuits or food bars will save you from a grumbling stomach and a lousy mood.
4) Life savers and toothpaste.
A Swiss army knife has come to my rescue on numerous occasions, as has something as simple as a needle and thread. Even though most hotels provide toiletries like soap, napkins, towels, shampoo, and toothpaste, these as well as others are best to come prepared with. Experienced travellers recommend carrying your own padlock for the room you will be staying in, even if the hotel provides their own.
Many need to stay connected to back home and this can be tricky if you’re in another country.
In such cases, do your bit of research regarding call and internet rates. Investigate Wi-Fi options; be it in your hotel room, at an Internet cafe, in a coffee shop, from pay services or from a MiFi account. Check out JiWire.com for international Wi-Fi spots; searching by your destination makes it really easy to figure out what companies offer Wi-Fi services where you are headed.
Consider an international text message package from your carrier if this will be important on your trip.
To avoid instant charges, which could lighten your wallet by quite a bit, you should do the following: Turn off 3G (or 4G), turn off cellular data and turn off data roaming. Reset all your usage statistics, to track how many minutes, how much data, and how many texts you have used during your trip.
6) Tech Talk
Download a web mapping application. Unfortunately, technology is not always reliable, so carry and get familiar with good ol’ fashioned paper maps. Google Goggles is a boon for independent travellers. You simply click a picture of the place and it will give you its history, location and other specifics.
Befriending locals will not only add to the experience but will also allow you to make the most of your trip by benefitting from their knowledge of the area.
How many times has your phone died on you when you’ve needed it the most? Be sure to carry a charger and a camera, spare batteries for that, and while capturing it all on film, also allow yourself to soak in the experience, for the mind’s eye never fails.
Tips at a glance:
1. The early bird avoids soaring flight costs.
2. Be seasonally savvy.
3. Beware of hidden extras.
4. Pack in the activities, not the clothes.
5. There is no substitute for local knowledge.
6. Choose your priority – local or luxury.
7. Ensure you’re insured.