Before you jet off to enjoy a macaroon or two while walking down old cobbled streets in Paris, or to that tropical island with endless turquoise seas and tall palm trees, it is vital that you plan your trip properly. From researching your trip and packing to taking out adequate insurance cover, we've compiled a few travel tips for you.
Things to do before you book your flight
- Look around for the cheapest flights, there are plenty of websites that offer comparison prices to help you get the best deal.
- Make sure you've researched the country that you intend visiting. For example: whether you need a visa, and if so, where you should apply for one; what the currency is; top places to visit; how you would get around (travel services, taxis, buses, trains) and what the public transport is like; if you need to take malaria tablets or have any vaccinations; if the tap water is drinkable; what the official languages are - perhaps make the effort to learn basic courtesies such as ‘good day’, ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ in the local language. It always brings a smile of appreciation even if your accent is atrocious.
- Get to know the culture of the country. Read up on things that you should avoid doing so as not to offend the locals, or worse, unwittingly break the law. E.g. it is a criminal offence to sell/import chewing gum in Singapore, as is failing to flush the toilet or spitting in public (no really!). Read up on dress codes. In certain middle eastern countries it is an offence to wear revealing clothing. Respect the customs of the country you are visiting.
- What the time zone is. Keeping in touch with your loved ones back home might get you into trouble if there is a huge time difference.
- What type of plug points they have and if you need to buy adapters.
- If there's internet access.
- What type of credit cards they accept.
- Tripadvisor is a great website that offers reviews on hotels, restaurants and flights in the area that you're visiting.
- Work out a budget for when you're there. That way you know exactly what your daily limits are.
Things to do after you've booked your flight
- Always take out adequate insurance cover. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Packages are cheaper than you think. Dial Direct offers watercraft insurance (boat and jet-ski), caravan insurance (caravan and trailer) as well as portable possessions insurance (jewelry, laptop, etc). Contact them for a quote.
- Plan an itinerary. This is extremely important as you do not want to waste precious time.
- If you’re meticulous with packing and have a fear of leaving something behind, this online checklist is great.
- Pack in sunblock and wet wipes. Sunblock might seem a bit obvious, but many of us forget to pack it in or think we don't need it when in fact, we don't know what the weather is going to be like when we're there. Wet wipes always come in handy - especially after a hike, rock climbing or feeding elephants - you never know when you're going to need them.
- Pack your valuables (such as jewelry, cameras, iPods, iPads and laptops) in your hand luggage, or spread your valuables in different items of luggage so that if your suitcase gets stolen or lost you don't lose everything.
- Spend a bit extra and get your luggage wrapped in plastic at the airport to prevent any damage to the wheels, handles, material and zips.
- Add a return address on your luggage just in case it ends up somewhere other than its intended destination.
- If you want to travel light, pack in neutral coloured clothing so that you are able to mix and match your items. This way, it will seem as if you're wearing a completely different outfit each time.
When you're at your intended destination
- If you're on a tight budget try buying a sandwich and bottled water from the local supermarket instead of eating at restaurants or fast food outlets.
- Look out for discounted specials and coupons for entrance fees to museums, exhibitions or shows. If you're a student, show your student card wherever you go, as many places offer discounts to students.
- Charge your cell phone and camera every evening. There's nothing worse than going out and you can't make phone calls or take photographs because the batteries have gone flat. Also, always make sure you've put your camera memory card back into the camera after you've transferred photographs to your laptop.
- Have fun! Take a lot of photographs, but remember to enjoy the moment too (and to not always look through a camera lens!)