Travel is one of my greatest pleasures in life and I’ve been very blessed to have had a substantial amount of international adventures in my life. Through epic trial and error, I’ve managed to get my travel routine down to a fine art and these are some of the tips and tricks that help me make the most out of any trip I take now.
Have a flexible itinerary
There’s nothing more disappointing than having something very specific planned for a trip and it then turn out to be a flop. There have been sights that I’ve waited my whole life to see and because of all the build-up and heightened expectation, they rarely live up to the hype. I find having a few things planned that I really want to see helps manage my travel expectations and leaves plenty of time for wandering and happy discoveries along the way.
The best way to experience any new city is to get out walking so a comfy pair of shoes is a must. I still struggle with this one as I love my heels but generally after just one day of hobbling around on a pair of wedges, I stick with my Sketchers and leave all my cute shoes gathering dust in my suitcase.
Always carry extra money for emergencies. Take out travel insurance. Keep extra copies of important documents in multiple places. Give family or friends copies of your itinerary and contact details of where you’ll be staying. I find these things so tedious to do but can be life-saving when things go belly-up.
I invested in a set of packing pods for my last long haul flight to England and Dubai with very low expectations. I didn’t really get what the big deal was and how exactly it was supposed to make packing easier.
How wrong I was.
I started off with just a basic set of three packing pods which I used for swimwear, gym gear and pyjamas. I also put any accessories I would need in the packing pods as well (eye masks for sleeping, mini towel for gymming) so that everything I needed for that particular activity was right there in the pod. I actually couldn’t believe the difference it made not having to scramble around constantly looking for all the things and as I started to build up a collection of used clothes, I used my biggest pod for dirty laundry so I could immediately see what was still wearable. Game changer!
Bring a first aid kit
Nothing takes away the joy of being lost in a foreign culture than being sick and not knowing where the nearest pharmacy is or having language barriers when trying to communicate symptoms. I always carry the essentials with me when I travel (pain killers, nausea pills, band-aids, electrolytes, etc.) and I don’t think I’ve been on one trip yet where it hasn’t been used.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
I’ve always been more of a ‘go with the flow’ type traveler and love just wandering around a new city to soak up the atmosphere. Although I love not having a schedule and having the freedom to travel however I want, I do feel now that I’ve missed out on some experiences through not researching and planning enough. A few years ago, we spent a day in Naples and hired a tour guide to show us the sights. We managed to packed so much into one day as we weren’t faffing around trying to work what we wanted to do and what was the best way to get there – it was just all organized for us.
You just never know when your next meal is gonna be in a new place and the risk of hanger is too real a possibility – bring snacks!
Use solid toiletries
This is one of my newest travel hacks and it’s such a good one if you’re travelling with just hand luggage. Some airports are really strict with the amount of liquid allowance you can take on the plane (the general rule is containers must be under 100mls but Manchester airport are very strict about limiting the amount of containers to a clear plastic 20cm x 20cm bag) so having the bulk of your toiletries be solid is a definite winner. Lush have a gorgeous package-free range that smell out of this world.
Capture the moment
I don’t think you can ever take too many photos or videos of your trip. It’s a tricky business trying to balance capturing the essence of your adventure while also attempting to live in the moment. However, I’ve never regretted taking a bit of extra time to get a really good shot or wished I hadn’t taken forty different pictures of a funny-looking duck waddling around outside my hotel room in Bali. Better to delete later rather than forget altogether. Also try to back up whenever you can – I’ve lost a memory card full of holiday pictures before and it was devastating.
Practice self care
It’s really easy to slip out of your self care routine when on holiday and relax the rules on what keeps you healthy and happy. While travelling is a great opportunity to treat yourself and do the things you love, a little too much indulgence can really put a dampener on a trip. Not only do I start feeling really yuck in my body from unhealthy eating and drinking – my mental health doesn’t do well when I’m living off carbs and cocktails.