As an avid traveller, Ian, the founder of Go Active Tours Ltd., has gathered a lot of experience over the years about what to keep in mind when travelling abroad. To share his knowledge, he has written down quite a number of travel tips. Some of these are fairly serious ones, while others might make you smile – nonetheless, all of them are really helpful when it comes to preparing for your holiday or business trip, as you will likely agree …
Travel Tip No. 1:
If you can, travel light. Friends and family are very indulgent and I have stashes of clothes and toiletries (5 at the last count including 3 fly-rods!) secreted in different locations across the globe which makes for easier travelling.
Travel Tip No. 2:
Before travelling, make a check list of all the things you need to do before you leave; turn the lights off, give the keys to the neighbour with the instructions to water the plants and feed the cats etc. It is easy to forget something when the taxi is late and you are under pressure.
Travel Tip No. 3:
It’s always a good idea to check prior to your departure whether where you are going to has a laundry service (along with Wi-Fi!).
Travel Tip No. 4:
If possible pack your case at least 24 hours before you leave and check your luggage weights bearing in mind that different airlines have different limits. Trying to deal with excess baggage at the check-in desk can cause embarrassment and in some cases lead to a missed flight! An easy way to check the weight is to stand on your bathroom scales with and without the case and deduct one from the other. Balancing the case on the scales is both difficult and often results in a false reading. Some airlines will give you the benefit of around 1kg overweight but don’t rely on that!
Travel Tip No. 5:
I put a sticky note on the case with a list of items that I can only put in at the last moment.
Travel Tip No. 6:
Remember, if possible leave a bit of space / weight if you are intending to bring back souvenirs!
Travel Tip No. 7:
Stuff shoes with socks or other soft items; it keeps the shoes in shape and maximises space.
Travel Tip No. 8:
If possible use the hard shell cases as opposed to the soft variety when travelling to unknown places. The soft cases are easy to slit and remove items!
Travel Tip No. 9:
Put a coloured strap of some other identification on your case(s) especially if your case(s) is/are black! Straps are good as they serve a dual purpose. There could be a number of cases on the conveyor that look like yours especially if it is black and it wouldn’t be the first time my suitcase has exploded due to being over-packed!
Travel Tip No. 10:
Personally I prefer to carry the minimum in a small travel bag for hand-luggage. This can be pushed under the seat rather than fighting for overhead locker space and of course is much easier to access especially on long-haul overnight flights.
Travel Tip No. 11:
In my hand luggage I carry:
Rolled up sweater and spare change of shirt etc. if possible (I have been stranded for 3 days at an airport with no access to shops or my luggage …);
A Buff – this can be useful especially as night flights can be cold when cool air is blown at you constantly if it cannot be turned off;
Ear plugs and eye-mask (the masks used to be provided by most airlines but less so now) – personally I have invested in customised ear plugs; they don’t fall out and they reduce noise considerably better than the foam variety;
Kindle or paperback;
Anti- bacterial wipes (essential) – preferably the individually wrapped ones to tuck into a pocket;
Pen (useful for completing landing cards) – Note: keep your passport and boarding card handy!
Money – Note: It is best to split any cash into two or three lots and store in different places; Spend or dump coins in the charity box.
Medication and a small first aid kit with basics – in some countries I also carry a full needle kit for injections;
Water purification tablets take up precious little room but can save unpleasantness;
A rubber plug for wash basins – especially useful at public conveniences;
Small bottle of water (once you’ve cleared security);
Inflatable neck support (unless you want to trundle through with the solid pre-inflated contraptions which I don’t!);
Rolled up waterproof;
Multi-purpose electrical adaptors (the ones that click into each other are good) – Note: Remember to check first what plugs are used where you are going. For example, South Africa use round pin plugs that you won’t find on the standard adaptors.
Travel Tip No. 12:
I always remove batteries from all appliances and carry separately. This avoids the appliance being switched on inadvertently. Also: Spare batteries have turned out to be a good idea!
Travel Tip No. 13:
A plug-in anti mosquito appliance is a really good idea if going to areas where they could be a problem and one may not be provided. Similarly a head mosquito net makes sleeping safer if the full Monty is not provided at the place you are staying. Most fishing shops sell these!
Travel Tip No. 14:
Certainly a powerful anti-mosquito spray is recommended. I have always been surprised at which locations mosquitos are found; it’s not always the obvious. Spray onto your hands and rub on to your face thus avoiding eyes! Neck, wrists and ankles are key spots too.
Travel Tip No. 15:
On planes, I always wear comfortable casual clothes and shoes (with a Velcro fastening which makes it a lot easier to slip them off and on during travel). I preferably wear clothes that don’t crease and which will not easily show stains (I’ve seen many an exploding yogurt at breakfast!).
Travel Tip No. 16:
If, before you travel, you want to change your seat (I have a favourite one which I am not going to tell you about!), then have all the information you need in front of you when logging in to the online check-in page of your airline, and click on “Check In” seconds before the clock hits the exact 24 hours before flight time otherwise some other person might nab it! Best to do a dummy run to make sure you have the correct flight details. (Those familiar with E-bay will be seasoned clickers!)
Travel Tip No. 17:
Check out if you need vaccinations in plenty of time. You can get most on the NHS but if you leave it late you will often pay more privately. Keep the vaccination card with you at all times along with a list of the medication you are taking and for what purpose.
Travel Tip No. 18:
A word of warning: Crocodiles and snakes both bite but you can usually see them coming; spiders are in some cases more lethal than snakes and you usually don’t see them until it’s too late.
Travel Tip No. 19:
Check yourself or your partner for ticks after every game drive or outside activity especially after rain when the little beasts are pro-active. Having had both tick bite fever and spotted fever, I can tell you prevention is better than cure! An old trick which looks a bit “soft” but which works is to tuck trousers into socks when walking through long grass.
Travel Tip No. 20:
Last but not least: Never wear a clean shirt for breakfast if you can avoid it, especially if you are off to an important business meeting!! Those little sachets of sauce can be real b…s!
– “A Cautionary Tale”: When booking hotels through comparison sites, check the Terms & Conditions carefully. Some rooms can be advertised with ‘Full Cancellation Refund’ but similar rooms in the same hotel may not have a full refund policy.
– Try not to succumb to the ‘Last One Left At This Price’ sales pitch as this may not actually be the case!
– Pack clothing in plastic bags tied at the neck before putting them in your suitcase as this can help to restrict any spillages from toiletries in your luggage.
– Pack shoes in different coloured plastic bags when re-using to keep your clothes from getting dirty and also to quickly find them amongst luggage.
– After years of tying my hiking boot laces in the conventional way, I discovered a short cut (which most professional climbers are probably already using). Method: Once you reach the hooks, hold a lace in each hand, cross them over and drop the laces around the hooks and then repeat until complete.