Things you need to know before you go
When you’re heading off around the world getting organised can be pretty daunting. We’ve come up with this list of handy hints to make your trip the best ever.
The age-old debate! If you’re travelling for 6+ months, a backpack will be easier to get around with; they zip open like a suitcase now too. If you’re only going for a couple of months & you hate carrying stuff on your back- opt for the suitcase (the smaller the better, with wheels is best).
2. Get Healthy
Obtain proper medical advice before you go - visit the Department of Health website at health.gov.au for all the latest updates. Your local doctor will be able to help you with vaccination advice for the particular countries you’re visiting. Make sure you take these steps well in advance to travelling. Many vaccinations require repeat doses, and/or take time to take effect.
3. Read up on your trip
The do’s & don’ts, transport, weather, culture. Respect local customs by packing a ‘conservative’ outfit too – in some areas of the Middle East & Asia and in some religious instances, you’ll need to cover up from your shoulders down to your knees.
4. Check your ATM cards
Call your bank and let them know that you will be overseas so your funds do not get cancelled while you are travelling. Your bank will also be able to advise whether your bankcard/creditcard will work where you are going. It’s best to take a mixture of money – credit card, debit card or STA Travel CashFLEX card, plus cash just in case. If all else fails, have someone you can depend on for an emergency transfer.
5. Scan and email
Copies of your Passport, travel insurance policy, emergency phone & card numbers, as well your ticket details. Leave another set with family or friends too. And it’s also handy to have copies of your itinerary and hotel receipts in one place, just in case.
6. Get snap happy
Think all-things-camera. Make sure your memory card/s are big enough (you’ll want to snap everything you see!) and pack extra batteries. There will be times
you don’t have access to power & you don’t want your camera dying at Machu Picchu.
7. Get Internet savvy
Make mum & dad happy by registering your travel plans with smartraveller.gov.au so you’re contactable in an emergency. Set up a Skype account too so you can chat to and SEE your lover, your mates or your folks when you’re feeling homesick. Then…
8. Tell everyone about it!
It’s free and easy to set up a blog at blogs.statravel.com.au! Blog like a budding travel journo and keep your entire crew updated – you can even share your stories to our Facebook profile so everyone will get jealous of your travels.
9. Packing 101
Always travel as light as possible but make sure you squeeze in an inflatable pillow, sleeping mask, international power adapters, an extra change of clothes (or undies) in your hand luggage, socks for the plane, baby wipes to freshenup & a lightweight rain coat.
10. Try to avoid jetlag
Drink plenty of water and stick to simple foods. Avoid indulging in alcoholic beverages. Try to acclimatise to your time zone as soon as you land– if you arrive in London at 7am, don’t go to sleep, just try to struggle through.
11. Transport 101
Getting on a train or bus when you’re travelling is your cherished rest time so use your luggage to your advantage. Suitcases double as a fantastic seat on packed trains, and backpacks make an excellent pillow – doing this will also ensure you have all of your belongings as close as possible.
12. Sleeping 101
If you’re a bit of a clean freak, take a travel sheet to sleep in. Take extra locks for your luggage & for lockers in hostels too. Make sure you have printed directions to where you’re staying and the full address. It's easier to point out an address on a printed page than attempt to pronounce a foreign name if you are in a hurry.
13. Buy a phrase book
How will you ask your lovely (non-English speaking) host to book a taxi to the airport to catch your 9am flight the next morning? Simple. Carry a phrase book everywhere. It could seriously save your life, or at least save you from missing a flight.
14. Eating 101
Food is glorious but it can get expensive. If you’re eating out, eat inside instead of on the sidewalk (in Europe they charge extra for sitting outdoors). Make sure you pack a pocket knife so you can stock up on fruit, bread, cheese and eat on the run.
15. Do something ridiculous
Last but definitely not least, it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and if that means stripping down to your undies and jumping into a Mykonos nightclub pool at sunrise, or eating ox balls in Vietnam – go for it. You only live once, eh?