2014 Travel Tips – Part 1 of 3Posted: January 3, 2014
Would it be helpful if you had a travel planning checklist and some helpful hits – a tick list so you don’t overlook anything plus some tips from a seasoned venturer?
Well this is it.
When not practicing law I help my wife and son operate a family conference and travel business.
We provide high-quality, continuing education for professionals in some of the world’s most fascinating destinations….see the link to ‘Unconventional Conventions’ at the end of this blog.
Helping clients with their estate planning needs as a lawyer during the course of their journey from ‘cradle to grave’ has many parallels with planning for a future holiday. I’ll explore the similarities in future blogs.
This list of tips is the result of over 20 years of trial and error – many of both.
Whether standing in a queue in a South American airport – where the locals learn their management and efficiency skills from the Spanish – where planes depart according a timetable administered by each pilot’s lover – or packing ‘light’ for a trip that crosses four seasons in three weeks…. these tips will help.
Planning ahead dulls much of the pain that can otherwise turn a joy into a nightmare.
1. Pack light
2. Prepare a personal packing checklist – in Part 3 of this blog series I’ll provide a checklist and links to online apps. The secret however is to create a list that suits you – and then stick to it. Adopt the mantra ‘if it ain’t on my list it stays at home’.
3. Learn to pack efficiently – it truly makes a difference. There are many methods. My preferred method is to pack categories of clothing into individual packing bags like these….
Whether you roll clothes and neatly pack into the bags or pack items flat, the use of this type of zip-up bag makes packing and unpacking a breeze. Pack them and drop them into your case. On arrival I don’t even remove the clothes from the bags – just drop them into draws. They’re available at Katmandu Stores and other outdoor stores and cost very little.
I know – I know…I hear you thinking – these things are easy to say but what about the details – what do I mean by ‘pack light’ / ‘pack efficiently? For a detailed explanation that is very practical visit Doug Dyment’s website link at the foot of this blog. I can’t do these topics justice better than Doug.
4. Stay healthy – I have more to say on this topic later in this blog but a universal tip for all trips is to keep a small bottle of alcohol-based hand cleanser on you at all times and use it regularly. Never eat, drink or leave a loo without a dash or two (on your hands – not in your mouth!).
5. Remember, the earlier the departure time of a plane the better the chances of it departing on time. This is particularly true with domestic flights that operate like shuttle buses all day and fall behind as the day wears on. This doesn’t work in Spain, South America and a number of other countries for reasons already hinted at. In those places set your expectations on the basis that the plane will leave late or not at all. That way you occasionally have a pleasant surprise. It’s just the way it is.
6. Find experiences – not just tourist spots. This requires pre-trip planning but as a last-minute measure – my tip is to ask a concierge (yours or at any hotel) where s/he personally goes to eat/party/enjoy the best the town has to offer.
7. Check the temperature and weather conditions at your destination(s) and pack accordingly. The quickest way to locate weather information is to visit the Lonely Planet website – the Worldwide Travel Guide website – or the CIA website. You’ll find links to these websites at the end of this blog.
8. Check the power adapters you’ll need when you arrive. Get a multi-adapter to cover each destination. If you have a
number of items to charge – pack a power-board. Visit the online link below to see what adapters are available.
9. Research your destination(s) to get the most out of your trip. In the rush and exhaustion that accompanies travel… pre-planning helps you take-in what you are experiencing. Avoid that ….’it’s all a blur’ syndrome when you return home.
Following is a list of information that can help you understand your destination, its people and its place in the world as we know it.
a) General Information about Country
- Official Name
- Ethnic groups
- Population growth rate
- Fertility rate
- Infant mortality rates
- Life expectancy
- GDP – what % is: agriculture, industry and service
- GDP growth rate
- Public Debt
- Population below poverty line
- Agriculture products
- Exports partners
- Import partners
b) History of Country
c) Religions of Country
e) Clothing: national, regional, ethnic groups
The quickest and most reliable place to locate all the above information is the CIA website – that’s right – the CIA. Refer to the CIA website link at the end of this blog.
g) Music and Dance of the Country
h) Food of Country
i) Crafts & Shopping
k) Money: units/exchange rates/ best type of currency to take with you/credit cards accepted/availability of ATMs/special requirements (eg; in Burma they only accept new unfolded US notes, some countries don’t accept some credit cards)
l) Tipping when and how much – what is the country’s custom/expectation
The quickest place to locate the last six items is the Lonely Planet website. Refer to the Lonely Planet website link at the end of this blog.
10. Passport & Visa Information
The quickest place to locate passport and visa information is the Commonwealth’s DFAT website or their SmartTraveller website. Refer to these website links at the end of this blog
Search for World Clock to compare local time and destination time and prepare a quick cheat sheet so you know when to contact home. Access World Time website link at the end of this blog.
Make a record of all hotel contact details on your itinerary. Check if your mobile phone will operate in your destination. Ensure that you have global roaming activated. Alternatively, you can buy cheap local SIM cards for your Australian phone. Make sure it isn’t locked to your home service provider such as Telstra – if yes, get it unlocked before you go or buy a cheap unlocked phone – many are available for under $40. Check your hotels have internet access. Most towns have internet cafes.
Take care of your personal safety.
If you own a valuable watch – leave it at home – take a cheap one with you. That way you will still own your good watch when you return home. Consider a digital watch that shows the home time and local time.
Always carry your belongings securely and leave as many of your valuables as possible in a hotel safe. Keep small amounts of cash in your wallet and the rest in a moneybelt or other safe place – definitely not in a back pocket.
Tip – leave your day to day wallet/purse at home. You’ll never need much of its heavy contents – only take what you’ll need.
I take a thin flip back wallet. I keep mine in the front pocket of my ieans – it contains one credit card, some cash and a copy of my passport. The rest I leave in my passport wallent safetly stored in the hotel safe. Don’t keep all your eggs in the one basket.
Hotel concierges and guides are familiar with local safety issues and you should consult them and heed their advice. If they indicate a ‘no go zone’ – don’t test them.
Leave you passport securely locked in a hotel safe. Keep a photocopy of the identifaction pages of your passport on you at all times. Email a copy of the identifaction pages of your passport and appropriate visa pages to yourself and leave in your inbox. That way you can access a copy of your passport anywhere anytime. Use an internationally accessable email service (such as ozemail.com.au, gmail.com or yahoo.com) if yours is not readily available worldwide
15. Health, Health Risks & Immunisations
Get current and reliable information concerning health issues and required immunisations at your destinations.
For individualised vaccination advice and heath warnings (for a cost of $20) go the Commonwealth Travel Health Adviser website. Their link is located at the end of this blog.
For general non-individualised heath advice and warning visit the World Health Organisation (WHO) website and the Commonwealth’s Smarttraveller website located at the end of this blog.
In any event, ask your doctor.
Regardless the destination some health issues are common in most destinations and you should be prepared.
- Travellers’ diarrhoea. Take care with food and water hygiene. Avoid high- risk foods such as salads, shellfish, raw / undercooked meat and fish and un-pasteurised dairy products. Drink bottled water with intact seals.
- Gastrolyte, loperamide and Ciproxin 500mg should be carried. 1 – 2 doses of Ciproxin is often enough to settle travellers diarrhoea.
- Antispetic gel, wipes or liquid is a must.
- Good insect repellent – containing DEET, Picaridin or Extract of Lemon Eucalyptus (Mosiguard)
- Good quality sun screen
Why is salad and other uncooked food high risk? The ingredients may be washed in contaminated water or handled by food preparers who don’t wash their hands as we do. Need I say any more? Cooking protects us from a multitude of sins.
Travel Tips Parts 2 & 3
In future blogs I will provide tips on
- Important things to check before you leave home – now available at: Travel Tips – Part 2 of 3: Pre-Departure Checklist
- Packing Checklists
I INVITE YOUR CONTRIBUTION / COMMENTS
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Handy Website Links:
1 Our conference and travel business: Unconventional Conventions
2 Doug Dyment’s essential packing site: One Bag
4 CIA Country factsheets website: CIA Website
6 World Time website: : World Time Website
7 Smarttraveller for Visa requirements, Safety issues: Smarttraveller Website
8 DFAT for visa and passport information – drill down to find “Top Travel Tips” and Health and Safety”: DFAT Website
9 Commonwealth Travel Health Adviser (for tailored personal advice): Travel Advisor
10 WHO for general health issues: WHO Website