Have you decided to take the leap and go travelling for the first time?
Fo many, this is a daunting prospect and may involve quitting your job or taking unpaid extended leave. Leaving a job, family and friends behind you is by no means an easy thing to do but once you bite the bullet and book your first flight you’ll be well on your way to a more exciting appreciative life as you venture through he world. For your first trip, knowing what to pack and what not to pack is a big dilemma.
You’ll find as you go through your travels that you will often unload clothes and/or non essentials, maybe selling them or donating them to save space and weight for your rucksack.
Having the correct information about local visas, currencies, taxes, transport and accommodation are so important as well or you might find yourself overwhelmed.
I’ve put together a checklist of seven useful tips for the newbie traveller below. These are a solid foundation to get you started on your way.
1. Get your passport in order
Having your passport well in date is a simple but very often overlooked thing to do before you go jet setting. It’s easy to forget when your passport expires and if you do not use it frequently, you might have no reason to check that the date doesn’t expire soon! The last thing you want is to discover on the day of your flight that your passport just expired. Also, when you are on your trip make sure to check the date before you intend to book a flight home, as you may be gone on a long term trip so have forgotten about your passport altogether.
2. Get your phone sorted out
You might think that keeping your current phone plan and phone is a good idea but with roaming charges and signal issues, you are probably better of starting from scratch with a local option. This all depends on where you ware visiting and for how long. Be sensible, don’t go spending a fortune on a new top of the range smart phone for the sake of a month trip!
There are great plans available for sim cards and basic phones too. After all, you don’t want to be on your phone 24/7 while you travel. That kind of defeats the purpose of experiencing travel in its best form.
3. Don’t go somewhere too remote or crazy
If you are traveling solo, maybe go somewhere that is well known and reviewed enough online. Talk to other who have gone to where you want to go. Keep an eye on local current affairs and laws etc. Some countries have laws that you might deem as crazy but which is normal practise to them. Do your research and learn as mush as you can about the pitfalls and challenges of your destination. There are numerous offline and online guides, books and blogs that can help you to understand your trip better, from foods and vaccines to visas and crime issues.
4. Get the right luggage gear
Bring a good quality comfortable backpack and/or small gadget bag if you are bringing a camera, tablet or laptop. There are loads of great bags out there online and many of the travel and outdoor-adventure shops stock great options. Remember you want to pack lightly and try to use a strict “in or out” policy with yourself. In addition to having the right bags or cases, you should have some locks and name tags to identify and protect your baggage on the road, or when you have to wait at the luggage collection belt.
5. Travel insurance (belongings and health cover)
Depending on where you are going, there are varying degrees of local safety theft and crime and general health risks that may be more evident in certain parts of the country or region you are visiting. Having a good insurance plan is crucial, no matter what length of time you plan to go for. If you will be taking part in outdoor / adventure activities then you should make sure that you have the best insurance cover to cater for these, as some companies and policies won’t cover certain activities.
6. Make digital backups
Make a digital copy of your passport, drivers license, itinerary, flights, boarding passes and insurance information. Also, make a digital copy of any required visas you may need. You never know, you might lose your paper documents, your luggage could go missing in transit or worse again it could get stolen, leaving you without important documents. Before you leave, make a copy of whatever you can and put them on a password protected USB key and also create a password protected Dropbox or Google Drive folder with eh digital copies in them. That way, you can access them from any computer online or with your USB key.
7. Be open to staying in hostels
Staying in hostels is one of the best ways to meet other backpackers and travellers on your journey. There are too many great hostels around the world, it just depends on where you are going and what your likes and budgets are. Beware though, that hostels are basic in nature and also that you may end up sharing a random bunk bed or share in a 16 bed dorm room! This is normal. Hostels are cheap and great fun and most of them have solid wifi access.
To wrap up
• Travel lightly and protect your luggage
• Stay where your budget will permit, hostels and camping are great options for low budgets
• Back up your documents to a USB key and some cloud storage service
• Check that passport well before you book a flight and actually fly
• Do your research and don’t go anywhere too crazy or off the beaten track
• Buy a local phone or sim plan (depending on your trip’s length)
• Get yourself insured and any valuable gadgets too.