Most travellers have to learn things the hard way. Don’t be one of those travellers. Minimise the number of mistakes you have to make by learning from our mistakes. On behalf of the Bamboo team, here are my top ten tips for travellers.
#1. Get good shoes
There is a reason that this one is at the top. I have vivid memories of walking round a foreign city in the rain standing on the pressed-down-backs of my shoes because my heels were so raw, red, blistered and angry. If you have any reservations about your chosen footwear, it’s likely that they’re not right. Find the comfiest pair of shoes you can. (Don’t worry if they shout “tourist”.) Pack band aids just in case you make the wrong call.
#2. Look after your valuables
My camera got stolen at a frozen yoghurt place overseas, including all my photos from the trip. In this day and age, there are so many different cloud storage services to choose from. It’s a great idea to choose one of them, and back up your photos to the cloud daily to prevent potential losses. Same with your passport. Taking photos of it and uploading it to the cloud could save you a whole lot of trouble. Some options include Google Drive, Google Photos, Dropbox, Flickr, OneDrive, and iCloud.
#3. Get travel insurance
In the unlikely event that something bad does happen (e.g: you get injured and end up in a foreign hospital), travel insurance means you won’t have to pay extortionate amounts to get help. In Thailand (where our most popular programs are based), the private hospital system is really good, but the public system is not so good. If you get a policy that includes it, travel insurance will get you into the private system for free.
#4. Get your phone unlocked BEFORE you leave the country
It’s the worst feeling when you’re in an emergency trying to call a friend who can help and you get a peppy message in a foreign language that says “sorry, but we can’t let you make a call from our network”. Make sure you check with your phone provider to see what you’ll need to do for your phone to be functional (and not ridiculously expensive) overseas.
#5. Pack some modest clothes
Both to protect you from the sun (because no one wants to spend their holiday as a tomato/with sunstroke), and also to be respectful when visiting sacred sites such as Angkor Wat. Researching dress code ahead of time will reduce a lot of anxiety and will mean that you won’t be scrambling on the day to find a scarf to cover your shoulders. If you are planning on visiting Cambodia, you can see an entertaining video about Angkor Wat’s code of conduct here.
#6. Plan your carry on
There are so many things to consider when packing a fantastic carry-on. Firstly, make sure your bottles are plane-friendly. Once, I forgot to pack my moisturiser until the last minute so I chucked it in my carry on, only for it to be confiscated because it was 10mLs over the limit. Make sure you check with your airline what the requirements are for the security in the countries you will be entering, as some are stricter than others. Secondly, if you think you might be prone to dehydration/altitude headaches, pack pain medication. Long haul flights are like a foreign country in themselves, but with no shop to buy all the things you forgot. Be prepared, but don’t break the baggage limit.
#7. “Don’t be pennywise but pound-foolish”
Be thoughtful about the big things like flights, finding good but wise deals, but with the littler things, like if you really want to see a particular pricey attraction, it’s okay to splurge (if you have the money) as the chance to see it may not come round again.
#8. If you can, make at least one of your flights on a Tuesday
Generally, flights on these days are cheaper, as holiday-makers travel on the weekend, and business travellers travel at the start and the end of the week. If you’re taking one of our tours, it might be a good idea to hang around in your chosen country after the tour for a few extra days to grab one of these flights home.
#9. Don’t risk getting a life-threatening illness whilst you’re on holiday.
Get advice from your travel doctor about what vaccinations you’ll need, and
get them with time to spare, as some take several weeks to kick in.
#10. Make an effort to understand and respect every culture and person you encounter
This is last because it’s actually the most important one to remember. Don’t go into a new country blind. Do some reading about your destination before you go. Practice basic phrases. Learn about the customs. This can make the transition to the country a lot smoother. I still remember the sense of pride I had when I successfully asked a waiter in the local language if we could take the remainder of our meal home. Such a little phrase that I’d planned out for a good few minutes, and he understood perfectly. Locals can sense your authenticity and it will generally grant you not only what you want (to take your food home), but better treatment too.
To all you keen travellers out there – what’s your top travel tip that you wish you’d known before embarking on your first adventure? Let us know in the comments!
Till next time,
Bamboo New Zealand