BEAT THE JETLAG
Any long distance flight can be pretty tiring with crossing different time zones. Try booking a night flight so you can try and sleep throughout most of your journey. If you struggle to sleep on flights be sure to pack some ear plugs, a neck cushion and an eye mask as well.
If travelling north to south or vice versa with few or no time zone changes a daylight flight that departs in the morning is recommended. You’ll arrive in the evening ready for a good night’s sleep and wake up fresh the following day.
For long-haul flights be sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Try avoiding caffeinated drinks as well as alcohol.
WHEN DO TICKETS GO ON SALE AND HOW DO I GRAB A BARGAIN?
You can usually book flights with most airlines up to 11 months in advance. On average the best time to book is four to six weeks before you travel. It can be useful to know what the average cost of your flight is so you know when you see a bargain. Varying the day you depart and the time of the day can also make a big difference and it is usually cheaper to fly during the week than weekends.
Please bare in mind that if you are planning on flying at a busy time of year like the Summer or Christmas holidays it is advisable to book early to ensure you and your family get a seat on the plane you want as you are unlikely to get a cheaper deal closer to the time. As a general rule carriers are supposed to have a January sale and September sale. Sign up for email alerts and social media accounts from airlines and travel companies to find out about any deals first.
Passport and Visa
First of all, simply remember to bring it, you will be surprised how many people forget. If you have to renew or apply for a passport, you should ensure you leave plenty of time before you travel. Please bare in mind most countries require at least six months left on your passport before it expires. You can check if you require a visa at www.iatatravelcentre.com.
From excursions at your holiday destination to airport parking you can usually save money if you book in advance so it is advisable to book things in advance.
Consider whether or not you require travel insurance as a small amount of money now could save you a lot later on. If you are going on a long trip and visiting multiple countries you may wish to store a copy of your important documents online such as your passport and insurance documents. You’ll then be able to access them digitally anywhere in the world!
Check with your doctor before you leave on what jabs you might need for your trip, especially if travelling to tropical countries. You should keep your vaccination card safely stored with your travel documents.
You will always get a better currency exchange rate if you sort your holiday money out before you get to the airport so leave yourself plenty of time so that you can shop around.
Hotel room prices are so much more transparent these days with the numerous online comparison websites around nowadays but there are still some things you can do to bag an even bigger bargain.
Look out for advance-purchase rates, where you can get discounted prices for booking early. These are often available 21 to 28 days in advance, but may include non-refundable deposits.
You may think you need a five star hotel, but you may find a hostel or apartment that offers the services you need for a lot less. Staying further out from city centres can save you money but you will need to consider transport costs.
Arriving late at your accommodation may not be the worst thing in the world, especially if you phone ahead to confirm you’re still coming. As rooms fill up you might find yourself lucky enough to be upgraded to a better room.
Friday and Saturday are often more expensive than other days for most hotels, but if you are booking a hotel in a business district it may be easier to find cheaper deals at the weekend.
If you aren't too bothered where you stay try booking after 6pm, when many hotels will re-release rooms that haven’t been taken. Someone else’s loss could be your gain!
MONEY AND VISAS
THINGS NOT TO USE WHEN TRAVELLING
Don’t fall for overpriced services – stay smart and save cash.
When booking your holiday check to see what the visa requirements are. A lot of countries have mutual agreements and waive them entirely but in many parts of the world you still need to obtain visas in advance.
If you think you might need a visa while you are travelling make sure you have some spare passport photos and a variety of denomination of US dollars and local currency with you. There can sometimes be lots of paperwork and fees to pay. A good way to get advice is to seek out travellers coming in the other direction and asking for tips.
Whilst most places obviously welcome tipping some countries do not accept tipping so do what the locals do and follow their lead. Research independent sources of information for how much to tip and where before you travel.
It's useful to have a stash of low-denomination bills ready for tipping barmen, porters and taxi drivers.
Being an overly generous tipper can have unintended consequences, especially for travellers who come after you. They may be expected to follow your lead.
GADGETS AND APPS
GADGETS FOR EVERY TRAVELLER
World plug adaptor
Portable source of power
Travel hair-dryer and iron
Compact travel binoculars
Mini games console
Head torch/waterproof torch
Translate over 70 languages from speech or text
Postcard creator and sender, using your images from the road
Invaluable travel organizer and itinerary planner
Comprehensive airport information for terminals around the world
Live flight tracking and other stats
Gives the speed of internet connections and helps you track down wifi spots
around the world
Uses smartphones video camera to translate printed words
Instant currency conversion
Get In Early
Try to get to markets early and certainly by midday, to be sure to get the freshest and tastiest produce. If somewhere is already busy at six in the morning it’s probably a good sign.
Don’t go for the first places you see and get caught in the tourist traps. They might look good, but locals probably don't go there for a reason.
Pizza in Rome or sushi in Tokyo is more likely to be closer to the real deal than what you have at home so try a local dish. Locally sauced food will usually be cheaper too.
Don't Let Queues Put You Off
Popularity is an obvious indication of quality so if there’s a long queue don't be scared to join it. It may end up being the best meal of your trip!
BEAT THE WEATHER
If you find the weather’s not as sunny as you hoped on your holiday consider making a day trip to a nearby town or city. Take advantage of any museums and other indoor activities on offer such as local cinemas and theatres.
If it is raining, don't let that put you off from going to the beach. Why not get wet anyway and try some watersports such as surfing, windsurfing or kayaking? The beach will be quiet and a wetsuit will keep you nice and warm. With the right gear you can still do other outdoor activities like hiking too.
Travel in the rainy season when demand is lower and get a better price. It can pay to look a little closer at the local climate as it may be that it only rains for a hour or so each day or the rains come at night time. Microclimates can change from one region to the next.
If you come at the start of the rainy season you’ll witness all the plants and flowers coming to life. Some natural wonders like waterfalls are only viewable during the wet season.
SOLO BACKPACKER'S DO'S AND DON'TS
Learn a few local phrases (at least), as you'll most certainly need them.
Stay in a hostel. They are usually a great place to make new friends and get tips.
Follow the lead of the locals. If others are removing shoes so should you.
Plan ahead. It could save you a lot of stress later.
Be polite and friendly. You’ll find far more people willing to help you.
Copy other tourists’ bad habits (graffiti, dropping litter or loud noise at night).
Go to areas alone at night which you are not familiar with.
Take photographs at sensitive spots (military, religious or political).
Keep yourself to yourself. Speak to as many people as you can!
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Avoid insect bites as much as possible when travelling to tropical places as some insects like mosquitos can carry deceases such as Malaria. Try to cover up as much as possible from dusk until dawn and use lots of insect repellent. Protect yourself further during the night by using mosquito coils and a mosquito net.
Pack a first aid kit to help you cope with common ailments like flu, headaches, allergies and indigestion. A few spare plasters are always handy!
Remember the health and safety standards may not be quite as high as in your country. So be careful when enjoying dangerous outdoor sports or using a motorbike.
Stay hygienic and always make sure that your hands are clean especially when eating food. You don't want to ruin your holiday with a poorly stomach so carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer around with you.
FIRST AID CHECKLIST
Any prescription medicines, including malaria prevention if necessary
Paracetamol or aspirin for pain or fever
Anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen
Oral rehydration sachets
Antihistamine tablets and cream for allergies and itching
Sting relief spray or hydrocortisone for insect bites
Sunscreen and lip salve containing sun block
Insect repellent (DEET or plant-based)
Motion sickness remedies
Water purifying tablets
Aloe vera for sunburn and skin rashes
Sticking plasters of various sizes
Tweezers to remove splinters and ticks
Bandages, scissors and safety pins
AVOID THEFT AND SCAMS
One of the best ways to avoid being targeted by thieves is to blend in as much as possible so wear local clothes, leave that expensive watch at home, and don’t walk around with a camera or any other valuables on show.
Don’t let your wallet out of sight in bars and restaurants and be cautious revealing all of your money when paying. Instead, why not keep a few small notes in your pocket so you don't have to get your wallet out at all? This also makes tipping easier.
Have a bag with interior pockets so your wallet can’t easily be lifted. Wearing your bag across your body instead of over your shoulder can also stop it from being easy to swipe.