Kenya. It was the first country I visited on my travels. There I stayed at an orphanage for a month and taught English and Mathematics to young children whose parents died of AIDS. That was 5 distant years ago.
Back then, I had some money in my piggy bank saved from working at my local bakery but it wasn’t enough to get me very far! Luckily my local council awarded me with a Youth Excellence grant, enabling me participate in the volunteers program ran by a student group at Melbourne University.
Since that trip, I’ve become hooked on travel. From big cities to small towns, mountains to beaches, hotels to hostels (or bus stops), I want to see everything and go everywhere. As a solo traveller, one of the first things I learnt was the importance of “adaptability”. Nothing, well hardly anything, ever goes according to plan so when they do, relish them but if they don’t, fear not. For example, I never planned to hitchhike, or get scammed, or have near-death experiences but these all happened during my travels and they are now fond memories!
The purpose of this post is to share my top 10 travel tips that I follow religiously. It doesn’t matter whether you are a novice or a frequent traveller, these practical tips will stand you in good stead:
- Tell someone where you are going. Whether it is the receptionist at the place you’re staying or your family back home. Provide a detailed copy of your itinerary to your parents (so when they hear news about tourist kidnapping in Somalia by pirates, they don’t panic and call up the Embassies demanding that their child be rescued – true story)!
- Always keep photocopies of important documents. Such as your passport, visas and credit card numbers. Ensure you have also have scanned copies of them in your email as backup.
- Pack the right stuff. When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.
- Mark your suitcase with a giant Hello Kitty sticker for visibility. Unless you have a lime-coloured suitcase, it’s not going to stand out on the baggage carousel.
- Keep $20 in your shoe. It doesn’t matter which shoe! In case you get mugged, this (stinky) money will help get you back to your accommodation or nearest police station.
- Don’t flaunt your wealth. Leave designer clothes and jewellery at home, blend in with the crowd by investing in some clothes from local markets.
- Leave the laptop at home – it’s heavy, it can get stolen (or lost) and it is expensive (monetarily or sentimentally) to replace. When on holiday, you should really try to disconnect from work and soak up the culture of the foreign place in order to fully appreciate it.
- Always keep some candy in your pocket. When you’re bored, you can eat it. When there is a screaming kid next to you, you can give it away.
- Trust your gut feelings. If an area doesn’t feel safe, it probably isn’t so turn around and run!
- If something doesn’t go your way, move on. Even better, have a laugh and learn from it.
That’s all from me in my first post. You can find other helpful travel tips at Smartraveller. This site also allows you to register your travel plans with the Australian government before heading overseas.
If you have any travel tips that you would like to share, please post in the comment section!