Here are my 12 best travel tips to help you on your journey…
1. Be Flexible with Your Flights
Keep an open mind when making travel plans. Going for a direct flight may save on travel time but can sometimes end up costing more. Check nearby airports around your destination to see if there are cheaper options or alternatively non-direct flights. Skyscanner is a great site for searching flights, it’s easy to use and you can filter the results for your own needs. It also searches multiple airlines at once, including the more budget friendly ones, and has the option to set up price alerts on your chosen destination. Another option is Google Flights. Here you can search for your flights using a world map and again set up fare alerts to help get the best price possible. Jack’s Flight Club works differntly in that you can sign up to the mailing list and have deals sent direcct to your inbox rather than spend the time searching for yourself.
2. Small Bag: Save Cash and Your Back
There are a few advantages to investing in a small backpack or case. Airlines are getting greedy when it comes to hold luggage charges so sticking to standard cabin bag dimensions is a good way to save on your travel costs. Cabin baggage size & weights
Personally my choice would be a small backpack. Whether you’re negotiating public transport or navigating a new city by foot there is no better way to carry your gear about. I used the same rucksack for the Camino de Santiago and my year travelling around the world Lowe Alpine 35/45 Rucksack and it suited my needs perfectly. I was forced to only travel with the essentials and it stopped me from carrying a load of rubbish that I had no use for.
3. Pack Smart
So if you’re sticking with a small bag you need to be choosy about what you take with you. Set everything out that you’ll think you need then cut it by at least half. This is especially relevant when it comes to clothes. You can wear things more than once and wash stuff by hand if needed. Always roll clothes, don’t fold. Makes the most of the space you have and helps to minimize creasing. Get the idea of packing things ‘just in case’ out of your head. Chances are if there is something you really need and you haven’t packed it you’ll be able to pick it up along the way. Also think about the material of the clothes you bring. For me Merino wool has so many advantages. Lightweight, doesn’t smell, keeps your body temperature regulated and it dries super quick.
One thing walking the Camino taught me was to weigh what you are carrying, not just for the airlines but with your own comfort in mind. The recommended weight for a pack on the Camino is 10kg (camera gear not included but more about that later) and believe me, when you are carrying everything with you, day in day out, you quickly learn how to master the art of only carrying the essentials!
4. In Case of Emergency
Not so much ‘worst case scenario’ this time, more of a ‘just in case’. I always make sure to have the basics of a first aid kit with me when I’m travelling. Plasters, medication for pain or stomach upsets and antibacterial cream for cuts – I’d consider these to be the necessities. If travelling somewhere hot I always add Aloe Vera gel to the list in case of sunburn. Safety pins are also handy addition.
5. Pack a Lock or Two
If you’re planning on staying in hostels a lock or two is essential. Generally they are available to buy when you check in however it is usually cheaper to bring your own. Combination locks are best, no keys to worry about loosing. Just make sure to keep a note of the number in your phone in case you forget it. I always carry two, one for a locker and one for my bag, keeps everything safe and secure especially when staying in dorms.
6. Have Copies of Your Passport
Yet again it’s always best to plan for ‘worst case scenarios’. If something does happen to your passport it will be a lot easier to get it replaced if you have access to a copy. I always save a clear, colour, photocopy of my passport to dropbox. This is also relevant for any other important travel documents you may need, such as your travel insurance. In case of emergency you want to be able to access the necessary details quickly. It can also be worthwhile carrying a few passport size photos. These are sometimes required for certain border crossings and much handier having a few to hand than trying to get new ones when on the road.
7. Have a Backup Bank Card and Credit Card
Needless to say, having access to your cash is essential when travelling. Things can, and do, go wrong and carrying extra cards separate from your main ones could prove to be life saving. With online banking it has never been easier to move your funds between accounts and if you loose or damage your main card having a contingency plan in place will ensure you can continue on your travels worry free. There are any amount of debit and credit cards now tailored especially for travelling. Starling Bank, based in the UK, is proving to be popular for travellers due to its Mastercard having zero fee’s for ATM withdrawals and overseas transactions and is well worth checking out. Alternantives are Monzo and n26.
8. Solo Travel – Try it at Least Once
If travelling alone is something you haven’t tried you need to give it a go. The positives are endless, you get to be truly selfish and have your trip exactly how you want it. There is no better way to force yourself out of your comfort zone and get to experience the most of what a new place has to offer. Solo travel has never been more popular and you will meet travellers from all over the world doing exactly what you are doing. It’s the perfect way to meet new people, experience new cultures and cliché or not, having adventures alone is best way to really get to know yourself.
9. Avoid Strict Itineraries
It’s wise to do your research when planning your trip. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail etc…. However there is such a thing as over-planning. Having a trip itinerary set in stone with strict timelines to fit everything in is a sure fire way to miss out of spontaneous fun. You don’t want to be rushing from one activity to the next and miss out on random discoveries in-between. You want to have time to explore and spend your days stress free without worrying about sticking to a schedule. Most of us travel to escape just that.
10. Free Wi-Fi
In the digital age more and more businesses are offering free Wi-Fi as standard. Coffee shops are growing in popularity as working spaces for digital nomads and would be the most likely to let you log on with no additional charge. When travelling it’s always worth asking in restaurants and bars if there is Wi-Fi available for customers. This will help you save your mobile data for when you really need it.
11. Make Brave Food Choices
One of my favourite things when visiting somewhere new is getting to sample the local cuisine, especially if it’s something I haven’t had the chance to try before. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is to give street food a go. If a particular stall is busy with locals it’s usually a good sign that they’re serving something worth trying. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try as many new foods as you can, it’s all part of the joy of travelling.
12. Photos, Photos, Photos!
OK, so given that the site is photography based this may seem like I’m stating the obvious. However even as a photographer there are trips and events I wish I had taken more shots of. Take lots of pictures, not just of the places you visit but also of the people you meet along the way. It can be surprising how the little details fade in time but years from now you can look back on the pictures and they will tell the story of your trip. It’s all about capturing the memories!