Imagine how you’d feel if you lost every single photo from your trip. You really don’t want that to happen, so back everything up, in multiple places. My tech journalist boyfriend always reminds me that anything that’s stored in one place is something you don’t mind losing. I keep copies of my photos on my laptop, back all of my photos up to an external hard drive, and use Crashplan to backup the entire contents of my laptop to the cloud. I highly recommend using the latter!
So many people will tell you not to travel with jeans, but if you wear jeans all the time at home, you’ll want to wear them while travelling, too. I didn’t start travelling with jeans until my second year of travel, and man, I missed them so much! They’re not that bulky so you really don’t need to worry about the extra space and weight. And in many cities in Europe, you’ll want to wear jeans to fit in with the locals — you don’t want to look like a grubby backpacker in Paris!
What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your email confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery? I always make sure I have a hard copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.
It achieves absolutely nothing and makes you look like an asshole. Instead, calm down, put a smile on your face, think of how this will make a great story one day, and rationally figure out an alternative plan. This too shall pass.
I’m definitely testament to that! But expecting everything to go perfectly on your trip is only setting yourself up to fail. Nobody goes travelling and comes back without any stories of mishaps. No matter how prepared you are, at some point you’re going to get lost, get scammed, miss your bus, get food poisoning, injure yourself… the list is endless! Expect it to happen, and don’t beat yourself up when it does. In a month’s time, you’ll find it funny rather than frustrating.
When I decided to see if it was possible to visit the Maldives on a budget back in 2014, information was so sparse that I couldn’t even find a photo of the islands I’d decided to visit. Well, that trip was one of my highlights of the past eight years and I’m so glad I went, despite not being able to find any information online. And the advantage to that lack of information was getting to be the only tourist on an entire island — I had the whole beach to myself! If you know it’s safe to travel somewhere, but can’t find out much else, go for it. It’s probably far easier to get there than you think. And if not, it makes for a good story.
I carry a spare 300 USD that’s split up in various places in my backpack, daypack, and occasionally, my shoe when I’m nervous I’ll be robbed. It means that in a worse-case scenario, I can pay for some food, a dorm bed, and a Skype call to my family to get an emergency wire transfer until I can get back on my feet again. I went with U.S. dollars because it’s the most widely accepted currency around the world and easy to change.
Sometimes your bank will block your card, sometimes your card won’t work in an ATM, and sometimes you could even lose it or have it stolen. Bring at least three debit/credit cards with you that are all linked to different accounts (with money in them!) Keep one in your backpack, one in your daypack, and one on your person. It’s being a little paranoid, sure, but you’ll be glad you did it if you happen to misplace your card.
I’d always been all about the packing cubes, until I discovered vacuum-sealed versions of them! You throw your clothes in, seal the bag, then roll it up to push out all the air. I can literally fit twice as many clothes in my backpack when I use these! Even if you don’t want to carry more things in your bag, it frees up so much space that if you need to pack in a hurry, you can just chuck everything in.
Travel isn’t conducive for sleep, whether it’s snorers in dorm rooms, early risers rustling plastic bags, or drunk backpackers stumbling around in the middle of the night. Even if you don’t stay in hostels, you’ll still have to deal with street noise from outside, loud bars nearby, and uncomfortable overnight journeys. Pack some ear plugs and a sleep mask in your bag to help improve your sleep. I’ve been using Sleep Phones to block out light and listen to podcasts and I love them.