Before You Go
Do your homework. Knowing what to expect of your destination means you’ll have a much better chance of experiencing all it has to offer. Blogs and websites such as travel24.com, nomadicmatt.com or migrationology.com, as well as platforms such as Pinterest, offer amazing tips from traveller and locals.
You need at least six months’ validity on your passport to enter some countries so check ahead.
Contact your bank to make sure your ATM/credit card will work overseas. It’s also a good idea to tell bank staff you’re heading away so they don’t freeze your card due to unusual activity that will be flagged as fraudulent.
Get a cloud-based storage account (Google Cloud, iCloud and Dropbox are examples of free cloud storage hosts) and scan all tickets, passports, driver licenses and important documents such as travel insurance policies into it. If anything gets lost or stolen you can easily access the copies. Leave a copy of essential documents at home or with someone you trust too – just in case.
Ensure any vaccinations you need are up to date. Specialist travel health clinics can help with this.
Renew all essential prescriptions and take any medication you need with you. Medication names often vary between countries.
Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag, as airlines have been known to lose luggage. Flights are occasionally delayed as well and a spare change of clothes will come in handy when a two hour layover turns in to 24.
Take a guide book on your destination. Lonely Planet, Frommers, Rough Guides – it doesn’t matter. With information on food, currency, customs, language, sights, accommodation and much more, a guide book is your bible (especially handy when you don’t have ready internet access).
Don’t joke with security staff at the airport. It’ll just land you in trouble.
Think about where to sit on the plane. Personal preference varies, of course, but an aisle seat can be a good idea, especially on long-haul flights, as it’s nice to be able to move around the plane without having to disturb people beside you. For those who can afford it, business or first class with lie-flat beds or capsules or pods will afford you a better chance of rest than cramped economy class.
“We recommend looking at the seating options when booking your flight. Certain airlines only allow you to reserve your preferred seat if you’re part of their frequent flyer programme, others might charge an extra fee (which might be worth it if you’re very tall and need to book an emergency exit space with more leg room for example)”, advises Shelton.
When You’re There
Be careful what you eat and drink. It’s best to stick to bottled water in some countries and be weary of salads (which may have been rinsed in the local water).
Take your dress cues from the locals, especially in countries where public decency laws might be different from your home.
If you’re planning a big night out, go with people you know, stick together and beware of overly-friendly strangers.
Carry a small amount of cash in the local currency, as not every place takes credit cards, especially train and bus stations.
Buy tickets in advance for places you know you want to see. You’ll be able to skip lines, and you might get a better deal.
Check what festivals and other events are on in your destination; attending these is a great way to learn about different cultures and meet the locals.