Don’t have data? You can download entire country maps through HERE Maps and get walking directions for anywhere you need to go. I’ve found it works better than caching Google Maps.
If you’re suffering from food poisoning, it’s best to let it run its course rather than clogging yourself up with Imodium, but there are some situations where it just isn’t possible to do so. I’m talking flights, long bus journeys, booked tours, and anything that requires you to leave the bathroom. A large supply of Imodium is something I always have in my backpack for these emergencies.
Grab half a roll, squash it up, and keep it in a sandwich bag in your daypack. Long bus journeys in developing countries often stop at squat toilets where there’ll be no toilet paper. At which point, you’ll be unbelievably grateful you have some of your own.
Download the Google Translate app before you leave and use the camera feature for translating menus, signs, posters, and anything else you need to read. You simply press the camera icon, aim your phone at the text, and it translates it all in real-time for you. This was so unbelievably helpful for menus in Taiwan, where I had no idea what anything was.
Traveling in places where you don’t speak the language is surprisingly easy, but get ready to mime a lot. You can mime eating to ask someone if they’re serving food, mime sleeping to ask someone if there are any beds available in the hostel, and I even mimed that I needed to go to a train station by saying, “choo choo!” and drawing a picture of a train in my notepad for a taxi driver in Taiwan!
You’re probably not drinking enough, especially if you’re traveling through hot, humid countries. If you can drink the tap water, make the most of it and get your two litres of water a day. If not, help the environment by bringing a Steripen along, rather than buying dozens of plastic bottles of water — a Steripen kills more than 99.9% of harmful microorganisms, including giardia, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, making tap water safe to drink.
Shoulder season is my favourite time to travel. The weather is usually mildest, everything is more affordable than in high season, and there are fewer people visiting, too.
That’s why street food is so delicious! While you’re travelling, look for places that only do a handful of dishes rather than offering 500 options. There’s a better chance of stumbling upon an amazing dish when someone only makes that one single thing all day everyday!
So many travellers preach that it’s all about experiences not possessions, but you know what? Sometimes possessions can offer beautiful reminders of the experiences you’ve had. I only started buying souvenirs from every country I visited in the last year, and I wish I’d been doing so from the start of my trip. And if you’re worried about space in your backpack, just mail them off to a friend or family once you’ve bought them and your pack will be none the heavier. My friend Jaime collects magnets from every place he visits and I’m so jealous of his collection!
The lighter your backpack, the better. If in doubt, leave it behind. Trust me, you can buy pretty much anything you could possibly need in most places around the world. You’ll soon learn that all you need when you travel is a change of clothes, some money, and a passport. Everything else is adding to your comfort.