So my lovely friend Natalie is off on her first ever big overseas trip! She’s 21 and she’ll be headed over to the mighty U.S.A to complete a Top Deck tour and also catch some family in Florida (I’m well jealous as she gets to go to Disney World). So I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve learnt over the years when travelling:
- Lay out all of the clothes you’re planning on taking and then remove half! An oldie but a goodie. You don’t want to have an over-full bag before you even leave. Also don’t give in to temptation to pack ridiculous shoes with heels because you love them…Trust me you’ll never wear them. I had to send a delicious pair of leather open toed ankle boots back from Amsterdam the last Europe trip because I didn’t wear them and I needed the luggage space. Thankfully I didn’t spend too much on post (approx $55 AUD) and they arrived home before I did. PS. You only need 1 black top, not 3.
- Invest in a proper case/trolley/backpack/bag for your travels. Fact: luggage handlers do not treat your bag like a 4 week old baby; they’re busy and have a job to do FAST, instead they treat your bag like it’s indestructible. The last thing you want is a broken bag when you first arrive. Yes your travel insurance will cover it but you’ll be left to get a new bag – is that really what you wanna do on your first day of your holiday? I grabbed the most amazing hybrid trolley around 3.5 years ago and it’s never failed me! Mine is grey with red piping but it looks just like this:
PS. Don’t get black if you can….Everyone has black and trying to spot your bag on the carousel is really hard. Plus it’d be totes awkward if someone else grabbed your bag by mistake and spotted your “toys” you’d brought along (side note: if you, like me, travel with your battery operated friends take the batteries out before you fly. Airlines hate batteries – supposedly they do weird things in the air pressure. Plus it’ll save you the embarrassment of collecting your bag from security as it is making a “funny” sound).
- Don’t forget you’re 100 points ID check! I know you think all you need is your passport but just in case you loose that bad boy (true story happened to my sister when we were in Europe and she’s the responsible one) you should have a back-up.
- Leave your passport in the hotel safe! You don’t need to carry it around with you (unless you’re travelling some Eastern European place) as you’re license or other form of photo ID will be just fine. You may need it the first time you hit a nightspot but I’d try the ID first – I used my AU drivers license all over the states for ID, it saved my passport getting lost, stolen, or simply forgotten after 1 too many drinks.
- Money belts are for losers! Sorry guys but those money belts are awful and unless you’re travelling somewhere where you need all of your important documentation on you at all times (i.e. Eastern Europe, Iraq, Iran, parts of Africa etc) you don’t need a money belt. I’ve always found a small day pack or even a crossbody bag is excellent for what you need. I travelled all over Europe with 2 crossbody bags – after the first one died in Austria I used the second one for the rest of the trip.
- Embrace the front pack look – this is especially important anywhere there are large groups of people. What good is your pack to you on your back? You can’t see it and jostling your way through a crowd you most likely won’t feel someone helping themselves to your goodies. My pack spent a lot of time on my front (like a baby carrier) especially in Rome – the pick-pocketers there could win a medal they are that good. FYI you know if the old Nonna’s are clutching their bags to their chest there is an issue with stealing, after all who would steal from a Nonna?
Fancy cameras are great but your iPhone is also excellent! One of my friends is a top instagrammer who has travelled to different areas of the world to shot for tourism groups and he uses his iPhone 90% of the time (along with some fancy apps). For more info on the apps and to see his awesome work check out http://www.lovethywalrus.com. He’s seriously talented! Also probably a good idea to download the Dropbox app so you can upload pics daily (when you have free WiFi) and delete off your device (once you’ve uploaded them somewhere safe) to save on storage – details here.
- WiFi is your friend! When you travel overseas it’s very easy to rack up a HUGE phonebill using your data allowance on your phone to upload pics of your travels. Trust me…I used my iPhone sparingly when I was last in Europe turning my international roaming on and off to upload pics…I still managed to get a $800+ phonebill. Plus to my utter disgust my phone company only told me about it when I reached $700 and requested full payment otherwise they would disconnect…Therefore I spent more money calling them and sorting this out. So wherever there’s free WiFi or it’s a minimal cost go hard with the social media and avoid those fees. FYI turn off your international roaming in your settings when you leave AU and don’t turn them on again until you get home….Facebook messenger is free to keep in contact.
Don’t promise anyone anything to bring home with you! Unless they are your loved ones. I grabbed a few gifts for very close friends the last time I was in Europe but no one has time to be souvenir hunting when you’re travelling. Also if you see something you like buy it then! Chances are you won’t see it again and you’ll wish you had of grabbed it then. This happened to me the first time I visited Paris – I was on the Champs Elysée and I talked myself out of a pair of divine Dior sunglasses that would’ve been approximately $170AUD …Half the price they are back home. Plus consider whatever you buy as a memory keeper of your amazing trip.
- When travelling in a group CASH is King. Leave your credit card/cash passport/international currency card for important stuff like Dior sunglasses. Instead take out a wad of cash (I used to budget approx $200AUD per city – after accommodation and tours of course) and when it runs out get more. It will save you from the fees cards charge you to access funds overseas. Plus it’ll keep your travel buddies honest when it comes to splitting the bill.
- Call your bank and tell them you’re going overseas! The last thing you want is to have your credit card declined because your bank thinks it’s stolen as you’re using it in a bunch of different countries. Common sense right? Remember, sense isn’t that common.
Layers are your friend! You don’t have to dress like an upscale sherpa from Kathmandu but you should have layers available – t shirt, long sleeved fleece or jumper, jacket, scarf etc…Sometimes it starts out cold and then gets warmer so layers are your friend. If you’re like me who has never met a dress I didn’t like make sure to take anything you can curl up into a little ball and doesn’t need ironing is great.
That’s about it from me! What other travel tips do you have? Did I miss something??