5 continents and over 40 countries later, these are the travel advice nuggets I now live my life by...
Book Early Flights
The prospect of waking up at 4am may not be how you imagine your travel journey beginning but trust me, it’s worth the early start. Any flight delays normally have a knock-on effect throughout the day, resulting in evening flights being pushed back. So, rising early means it’s likely you’ll have a smoother journey and maybe even get to your first stop in time to do some exploring whilst it’s still light (depending on the time difference of course).
Get travel insurance
This one is super important! Travel insurance is pretty cheap to get and means you’ll be covered for all your valuables, so if you leave your laptop at security (like I have before), or you lose your favourite sunglasses at a pool party in Vegas (this has also happened) or your whole villa gets burgled (yup, that’s happened too), you’ll be covered for theft, losses, and damages. Visit www.contiki.com/insurance for more info.
Make a list
I swear by lists, especially when it comes to my travels. On the week before setting off it’s likely you’ll be running around with a thousand things on your mind…. exchanging money, perfecting your wardrobe, getting all your travel documents together, maybe even a manicure … and then there’s the excitement taking over everything. So, make a list on your phone and pop in anything you think of.
Bring a battery pack
This one is a life saver! It’s likely you’ll be out and about with long days packed full of adventures and your phone is pretty much bae. Whether you need it to contact your fellow travel friends, navigate your way around or take some killer Instagram pics, you don’t want the fear of your phone going dead. So, have a battery pack and you phone charger wire with you at all times to give you some extra juice.
Bring ear plugs and an eye mask
You may be staying in hostels, travelling overnight or just want an afternoon nap. Ear plugs and an eye mask always come in handy and will help you stay well rested and on your A game.
And a travel pillow
Or in my case, my bed pillow. Sure, some people laugh at me and give me funny looks for taking a full-sized pillow around the world but honestly, it’s well worth any and all of the judgemental looks. Firstly because it makes everywhere you sleep that bit more comfortable and secondly because it’s a massive home comfort to have with you. If you don’t fancy taking a full-size pillow, a travel pillow will also suffice.
Pack extra underwear
You should be able to find a washing machine in most hostels or a laundrette to do your washing so don’t stress about going overboard on the packing. Just because you’re away for a month, it doesn’t mean you need 28 outfits. But one thing I would recommend over packing on is underwear. You may go on a bike ride in the morning, come back and change for lunch and then freshen up for dinner, all of which will have you wanting clean undies.
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Bring warm clothes
Even if you’re jetting off to Las Vegas in 40 degrees heat, warm & comfy clothing will always come in use. Firstly, for the plane which is nearly always absolutely freezing and then there’s the air con rooms… A big jumper and some comfy joggers will without a doubt be your saviour, whatever the weather!
H20 all the way
Staying hydrated when you’re travelling is absolutely key, and this means making sure you drink lots of water on the plane, even if it does mean awkwardly waking everyone up to go to the bathroom. A 3-hour flight can lose up to 1.5 litres of water from your body, resulting in you feeling pretty groggy when you touch down, even if you haven’t touched the drinks trolley! So, keep the H20 intake high. And this applies to when you commence your travels too; you may be topping up your tan, hiking the mountains or exploring a new city. Either way, water is an absolute must!
Download a translator app
Languages can be a bit of a barrier when you’re travelling so if you get the chance to freshen up on a few words of the local lingo then do it! But no stress if you don’t, the iPhone is here to save the day. Download an app like iTranslate Translator before you set off and it will be sure to help you along the way.
Download an offline map
Yet again, the iPhone strikes as the ultimate travel accessory with offline maps – apps that enable you to navigate your way around without any internet. Just download an app like maps.me before you set off on your travels and then when you’re connected to Wi-Fi in your hostel, open the app so that it can scan your surrounding area. Then you’re good to go anywhere you want without any internet. This is an absolute saviour when your solo traveling!
Be flexible with your plans
Being super organised with your travel plans may seem like a good idea pre-travel but the likelihood is that it will all change once you set off on the road. So, give yourself some flexibility. Who knows where your travels will take you and who you’ll meet along the way … travelling has a tendency to surprise you.
Go with the flow
I’ll be the first to admit I love a bit of organised fun. But travelling is that one time to have no plans and just go with the flow. Let your guard down and be open to meeting new people, take a spontaneous day trip and just go with whatever makes you happy.
Don’t be scared
Travelling can be a scary prospect, especially solo travelling, but you don’t need to let it be. It’s crazy how quickly you will make friends and everything will just click. And not being scared applies to pretty much everything – overcoming fears, adrenaline filled adventures, stepping outside your comfort zone and having new experiences. The only scary thing here is how surprised you’ll be by loving the things you thought you hated… give it a go.
Just say yes
Travelling is the one time in your life when you can just say yes. You have nothing holding you back from doing whatever you want to do and the only things you’ll regret are the things you didn’t do, or what you said no to. When you’re back in the real world with real life responsibilities you’ll look back at that freedom and wish you’d made the most of every minute of it. So do!
What other travel advice do you have to share with the six-two community? Let us know in the comments below or submit an article to the six-two community contributor program.