Thursday, 13 February 2014

My Top Tips for Travelling

Top tips for travelling - sitting in hammock Fiji

This post is a little bit different from the usual posts I do, but one of my New Year ‘blogging resolutions’ was to write more lifestyle posts and this is my first attempt at doing just that. I thought I would start by posting a #throwbackthursday and talk about when I went travelling with my boyfriend for 6 months in 2011 and share some top tips that might be of interest to people who are thinking of doing something similar. I’m also going to try and do individual posts about the countries we visited, as if I included all of that in this post it would be far too long! But, just for info during our time away we visited LA, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia and Thailand and each country was a completely different experience! 

Although before I went I read books and got advice from people who had been travelling, there are a few things I wish someone had told me and a few things I did which were really usesful, so I’m going to share these with you.

Top tips for travelling - long boats Thailand

It’s all in the packing! - Pack light, pack wisely and roll your clothes to save space. Backpack wise, I’d recommend buying one that unzips at the front and opens up like a suitcase. That way you can easily access your clothes, toiletries and anything else you need without having to get everything out time and time again. Trust me, I learnt the hard way! Also, think about what you’re going to need when packing up from one place to the next and pack these essentials at the top.

Top tips for travelling - Fraser Island tour Australia

Get a currency card where possible – We had a New Zealand and Australian dollar Cash Passport card from Travelex and I would highly recommend these. You can get one in Tesco’s, or online, and the post office do similar cards. When registering for the card you receive an online account where you can load it with the amount of money you need and top-up whenever you want. This then converts into the currency the card is in, such as Australian or American dollars and you can use it like you would a debit card and withdraw cash and or pay for transactions without getting charged. This means you avoid the hefty bank charges and changing currency exchange rates. It also means you won’t have to carry large amounts of cash around at any one time. The only downside is that they are only available in certain currencies, so I’d also recommend getting a credit card that has 0% on foreign purchases if possible for use in case of ‘emergencies’. 

Top tips for travelling - Hollywood walk of fame LA

Take a bumbag or money wallet, preferably one that's waterproof – This is so you can keep your valuables on you when you’re sightseeing or when you want to go into the water. I didn’t have either of these and I wish I did after getting robbed blind in Thailand! It was probably my own fault as I put my bag on the floor on an overnight coach and someone reached underneath my seat and took the money out of my purse, putting my purse back so I didn’t realise it had gone until we arrived at the hotel! After a hysterical phone call home and a lecture from my parents I learnt my lesson! 

Top tips for travelling - whitsunday island Australia

Girls, leave the heels at home - Be realistic about what you need to take away. Do you really need 4 pairs of shoes or any high heels? No Amy! Think about the places you are going and what you will be doing. If you’re going to be trekking a lot of mountains or doing outdoor sports and activities then maybe pack a pair of hiking boots or walking shoes. If you’re mainly going to be sightseeing and living on the beach, then flip-flops and a decent pair of trainers will be fine. Also, if you’re planning on working whilst you’re away, think about what clothes you will need and maybe pack something smart for an interview. Whatever you pack, if you’re going away for longer than a couple of months then, trust me, you will hate every single item of clothing you own by about week 4! 

Top tips for travelling - Sydney Bridge opera house

Plan your food and meals as it will save you a lot of money in the long term - If you’re travelling in a big group then split the costs and share the basics like bread and butter. We met our friends in New Zealand and planned big meals with them to cut costs. If you’re travelling on your own or as a couple, ask the people in your hostel if they want to eat with you and share the costs of ingredients. When you’re in the supermarkets think about what you’re buying and ask yourself these questions:
  • How long will it last? 
  • What else can you make with it, or the leftovers? 
  • If you’re moving on to another hostel soon, can you take it with you? 
Food in Australia is expensive and planning your meals is a good way to cut costs. We bought a freezer bag to keep stuff in when we were travelling from place to place in Australia and put a padlock on it when it was in the fridge to avoid things going missing. A common occurrence when sharing communal kitchens - we never did catch those jacket potato thieves! 

Top tips for travelling - Surfers paradise

Be prepared to be shocked – It doesn’t matter if you’ve travelled all your life, or never travelled outside of the UK before, expect to see at least one thing that will shock and upset you whilst you’re away. From cockroaches, rats or people living in poverty, if you’re travelling somewhere like the Far East, Fiji and other undeveloped countries, it will probably be extremely different from what you’re use to.  Chicken feet for sell in a Fijian supermarket was a major vom! 
Top tips for travelling - Snorkelling in thailand

Try and stick to your budget – Plan your budget for each place before you go and always over estimate what you’ll need. Do some research and try and work out roughly what you want to do and see in each place before you go. Companies such as STA Travel are good at helping you plan your trip and you can also pre book activities through them. Find out the average cost of food, drink and hostels/hotels for each country and then decide how much you want to budget for each place you’re going. Most hostels normally run deals and include free meals when you book a bed, so make sure you ask at every place you stay. 

Top tips for travelling - whitsunday island whitehaven beach australia

That's all I can think of for now and if you’ve made it to the end, thank you! If you want any more info email me or tweet me @amysimmons_89

Amy x

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Amy x