As a frequent traveler, I often get asked for travel tips and hacks. Here are some of my favourite ones that I’ve learnt over the years.
- Before travelling, scan all your important documents like passports, visas, drivers’ licences as well as air tickets and itineraries (if you do not already have electronic copies). Then email copies to yourself and / or upload to Dropbox. That way, if your documents get lost or stolen, you still have the electronic copies which will make it easier to replace them.
- Call your bank/credit card company before travelling to let them know that you will be using your bank cards overseas.
- Many medical aid companies offer free travel insurance. If yours does, take advantage of it. Just confirm with them before you travel.
- Keep a packing list on your phone. You can add things on as you remember them before you actually do the packing.
- Try to get suitcases in unusual colours. You will be able to find them more easily when looking for your luggage at the airports amidst hundreds of black ones. If you are saddled with a black set, then tie a bright coloured ribbon around the suitcase or the handle, in order to identify yours more easily.
- When packing, if you are travelling with your family, then spread out your clothes amongst each other’s suitcases. It may be a schlep but, that way, if one suitcase gets lost/stolen/broken into at OR Tambo, then you will still have some clothes to wear. Also keep a change of clothes in your hand luggage. If your luggage is delayed or you have an “accident” like I did, when my 2 year old son got plane-sick on me, then at least you’ll be able to change.
- Roll your clothes when packing. It allows you to fit more in and also reduces creasing. Pack socks and other small items inside shoes.
- Keep dirty laundry in a separate bag. I usually carry new dustbin bags for dirty laundry because they are big.
- Keep a portable luggage scale with you when travelling and weigh your luggage before going to the airport – to avoid nasty surprises and penalties for overweight luggage.
- Take a collapsible bag with you when travelling. That way, if you do a lot of shopping, you won’t have to buy a new bag.
- Roll up plugs and adaptors and put an elastic band around them to avoid a huge tangled mess when you get to your destination. You can also use sunglasses/spectacle cases for smaller plugs. Or you can use ziplock bags.
- Keep travel sizes of your favourite toiletries instead of big containers.
- Store jewellery in a pillbox to keep items separate.
- ALWAYS keep your valuables in hand luggage.
- Put your phone on SMS roaming to avoid international roaming charges. Use a local sim card or Skype to make phone calls.
- Always sign up for free loyalty cards when using an airline or hotel chain. You may be able to do something with your points eventually.
- If you are an adventurous eater like me, ask the locals – like your taxi driver and hotel staff, what their favourite local food is and where they like to eat it. Then, be adventurous, and try it out. I’ve eaten some of my best dishes ever, this way. If you are prone to digestive problems, or scared of a Delhi belly, carry Imodium with you.
- Check Tripadvisor for other travelers’s reviews and recommendations when travelling. I have found many good hotels and attractions this way – and been dissuaded from visiting those that weren’t that great. Download Tripadvisor on your phone too.
- If your ears pain when landing or taking off, carry chewing gum and chew vigorously – but discreetly off course. Use pacifiers for babies.
- Wander off the beaten tourist path and take a walk where the locals live and shop – unless you’re in a high-crime area. It will give you a better feel of the area.
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For tips on travelling with children, click here.
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What are your favourite travel tips?