my best kept secret.
I thought it would be fitting to share some things I’ve learnt from travels, some the hard way…
1. Buy a local metro/oyster card. Recently in Delhi we took the metro from our hostel into the old city, and when attempting to come back we had to get involved with rush hour at the central station. Nobody queues everyone pushes in, and to be perfectly honest it’s a ball ache. Prepay for the win.
2. Book your accommodation before you arrive at your next venue. Trust websites such as tripadvisor and hostelbookers, they are resources to help you travel! Ultimately, I want to spend my time in a place seeing it, not trawling around accommodation , trying to get the best deal.
3. Write a diary, and then you have something more than pictures to look back at, and also a memory prompt in the future.
4. Take opportunities. It will take a lot of time, and money to get to come back again if you’re thousands of miles from home. There’s no point regretting anything.
5. Budget properly; take into account things you may overlook. Water: three bottles a day mounts up. Transport: the metro, or buses may be cheap but you’re a golden goose to a tuk-tuk driver. Also, you’ll have to wash your clothes at some point and that also costs money.
6. Pack light! I always fly in my jeans, hoodie and trainers so I can keep it as light as possible on my back. Having said that, have the forward thinking to make sure you can get your jeans and hoodie into your backpack when you move on again.
7. Take a sleeping bag liner, I want for little and have stayed in some real grotty places. Standards of hygiene are not universal!
8. Learn some local words, dress appropriately and interact with people. It gets you places.
9. You can buy shampoo, Toothpaste and shower gel pretty much everywhere; there is no need to have half of boots in your backpack.
10. For your flights check-in online and book a seat in front of the wing. This reduces turbulence. A smoother journey means more sleep!
11. When leaving the UK contact your local HMRC for a P85 ‘leaving the UK, getting your tax right’ form. If you’re away for some time you can claim back some, or maybe a lot of your tax. Collectively we got back £1’300 pounds we wouldn’t have got if we didn’t fill in one form. You don’t ask you don’t get.
12. The best travel investment I’ve made was a £13 x-mini portable speaker. Best ratio of sound/quality to price I’ve seen in a small speaker. It’s great if you’re bored, or lonely for in your room to keep you occupied, and can be useful in communal areas, or the beach. Good to use on public transport also, as a way to interact with local passengers! Useful that it charges via USB so you don’t have to worry about batteries.
13. Food! It’s one of the biggest outgoings when you travel. You can spend a lot on bad western food (if you’re in the east…) or you can eat street food. It’s quick and it’s cheap. You’re paying a local directly and you’re experiencing the culture. Trust your instincts. A buffet or a set price meal is a cost effective option . Another option is the supermarket. Bread and cheese is a pretty decent cheap lunch in Europe, for example and good quality too.
14. A hotel with a free breakfast is always good, fill up on buffet breakfast and you don’t need to spend much for lunch.
15. If you have a hostel with free WiFi it’s a cheaper and quicker way to book your next accommodation or your transport. If you’ve done your research you can book the most cost, or time effective way and not rely on agencies and ‘VIP services’. Having said that sometimes it’s worth a pounds commission for your hostel to book your bus, or train for you. It saves you a tuk-tuk or bus ride and unfamiliar booking systems, which can really eat into your day!
16. Zip lock bags are brilliant, and cheap! No-one wants shampoo or toothpaste on their clothes.
17. If I have anything fragile in your bag, such as a camera lenses I make a DIY bubble bag for it. You need some cheap bubble wrap, and a cigarette lighter. All you have to do is cut it to shape, fold it together and heat it with the lighter and leave to dry. You have a handy little bag to put your breakables in your backpack!
18. If you are going to different climates you need all weather clothes. When I’m in the hot country, I put my waterproofs and jumper etc in an airtight bag. It doesn’t make it any lighter but it does mean the bigger items of clothing are shrunk down and handily are in their own bag too.
19.In a lot of places, it’s pretty much part of the process to haggle for things. Don’t be an douche bag over small change. It could mean a lot more to the seller than it does to you.
20. Most importantly, be nice, and respect other peoples cultures.