Our Top Tips for Travelling: What We've Learnt So Far
Booked your tickets? Bags packed? That's great! But are you sure you've considered everything before leaving? Our first big trip began at the end of 2021, and let us tell you, we thought we were completely ready, all things planned, no surprises in sight. Oh, how wrong we were. From staying miles away from anything remotely interesting, not having a visa for a specific country, or being unable to access any money abroad, we've made our fair share of mistakes. Some people may say we were naive, and perhaps there's a degree of truth in that; however, surprises can occur no matter how well you plan. Keep on reading for our top travel tips and things to consider before jetting off to places unknown!
So, lets start with the most important part of the trip, where to stay? We’ve had our fair share of mishaps when booking accommodation. We’ve ended up miles away from the main towns and things we wanted to see. We even had to trek an hour through the rainforest in St Lucia as the bus didn’t go past where we were staying. When choosing your accomodation, open google maps and pin all the things that you want to do. From here, if you aren’t hiring a car, make sure these things are within walking distance from where you stay or there is good public transport links. Sounds obvious but sometimes you overlook how close things look on a map!
Money, Money, Money
When you travel overseas and spend on your credit or debit card, some banks charge international fees to spend or withdraw money. This is something to be aware of as the costs can quickly add up, especially if you're being charged 3% per transaction! One of the best things we did before travelling was get ourselves a travel card. Being from the UK, we opted for Starling Bank, which gave us a debit card with no overseas transaction and cash withdrawal fees. This is great if you don't want to be carrying all your travel money around in cash. Although, we found its still a good idea to carry some local currency as some merchants only accept cash. Cuba is an excellent example as cards are not generally accepted anywhere!
Vaccinations & Visas
Fancy catching typhoid? Hepatitis A or B? No, didn’t think so. Time to research what vaccinations you need before travelling. There’s loads of information on safe travel relating to health – a particularly good website we use for vaccinations is passport health global. We recommend you look into this well in advance of travelling, depending on the vaccinations you need. It might not be wise to get a vaccination a week prior to flying like we did – it’s very unlikely but, one of us got pretty ill and we had to reschedule our flight – what a bummer.
Another thing to check is if you need a visa to enter a country. The best place to start is on your government website. If you are unsure you can contact the local embassy for the country and they can advise you further. Be aware you may need a physical copy which means you’ll need to do the application in advance.
Some people see this as an optional expense and yes, it’s playing on the ‘what if?’ scenarios. However, do not pass up on travel insurance. If you have an accident and need to be airlifted back to your country of residence, it can cost you hundreds of thousands. We don’t know about you, but we don’t have hundreds of thousands of pounds sloshing about.
When choosing travel insurance, make sure it covers your needs. Things to consider include: medical cover (the bigger the better), what activities you’ll be doing and if they’re covered, the cost of your baggage if it were lost, and the amount of excess you’ll be happy to pay if you need to claim. Another useful thing to look out for is cancellation, disruption, and delay cover. Without this cover, things can get expensive for you if you miss flights.
You can use a comparison website to find the best prices and deals, we normally use money supermarket. Another popular website is World Nomads which offers flexible travel insurance aimed at travelers.
Obviously it depends on the type of holiday as to what you will pack. Generally we have found you don’t need as much as you think. our new philosophy is – pack light, your back will thank you for it!
Compression cubes are amazing for keeping everything tidy and saving space. This is particularly good if you only want a carry-on bag. If you are travelling around a lot try to have one main bag. This will save you from having to juggle multiple bags on different modes of transport! We bought these pacsafe bags which were the perfect size for carry-on and fit all the bits we needed for 3-4 months.
Wherever you are, comfy shoes are a must for walking around. Travel wash is also great for longer trips to stop things from smelling after being repeatedly worn. And a re-usable water bottle to save on single-use plastic!