How to be a better traveller
Some people are naturally organised in every area of their lives.
You know, the kind of people who never lose their passport 30 seconds before they board a plane. They always wear matching socks, they know exactly what they’re doing next week and their lives seem to run like clockwork.
I am not one of those people.
But I REALLY want to be.
I can lose my passport 8 times between leaving the house and getting to the airport. I’m the kind of person who will only pack one shoe and will book a taxi to pick me up from the wrong airport. I once got so lost in a train station that I actually missed my train.
I don’t blog about this very often because I’m meant to be a ‘travel expert’ (whatever that is!?) and I try not to shout about what a shit traveller I naturally am.
After years of practice I’m starting to get better. I’ve picked up tips and tricks from naturally organised people and I’ve applied their tricks to travelling.
I feel like I’m faking this organisation because it doesn’t come easily, but I’m getting there. Each trip gets slightly more organised and I’ve only lost my passport 5 times this month…
Here are my tips to be a better traveller:
#1 Have a brightly coloured passport and ticket wallet
Great for: Anyone who panics they’ve lost their passport
I have a fluorescent orange passport and ticket holder from Flight 001. They don’t stock them anymore but this is a really good one that will help keep all of your documents super organised.
The bright colour means it’s easy to find in the depths of my bag (and we all know hand luggage can get messy).
I print out my tickets and confirmation emails for everything, even when an app ticket is available, just in case my battery dies before I check-in – yep, that’s happened.
I also write down the details for any activities I’ve booked and I print out my travel insurance details.
#2 Pack light
Great for: Anyone prone to losing stuff
This is a simple one; the less stuff you have, the less you have to lose. Also, when you have a small bag you’re more likely to notice when something is missing.
Check out my secret to packing light if you’re an over-packer.
#3 Have clear directions to your accommodation
Great for: Anyone prone to getting lost
This is especially important in countries where you don’t speak the language. Plan how you’ll get to your accommodation before you arrive because it might not be simple to figure it out when you get there. You can’t always rely on Google maps and some countries have overly complicated public transport systems.
#4 Always carry your accommodation address
Great for: Everyone
This is habit everyone should get into, whether you’re trying to be a better traveller or someone who never gets lost. You never know where a quick walk will lead and if you get hopelessly lost you can ask for directions or hand the address to a taxi driver. This is especially important if you’re staying in an apartment rather than a well-known hotel.
#5 Have a rough itinerary in mind
Great for: Everyone, even spontaneous travellers
I love the idea of turning up to a new city and just seeing what happens. Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10 nothing will happen because you have no idea what to do, where to go or how to get there. There’s nothing worse than getting home and realise you didn’t go to see the biggest attraction in the area.
Research your destination before you arrive and you’ll have a much better time when you get there.
If you’re feeling super organised you might even want to write down addresses and opening times too. If you’re ridiculously organised, plot the places you want to visit on a map.
#6 Carry local currency for when you arrive
Great for: Everyone, even people who rely on credit cards
Make sure you’ve got at least a little bit of local currency in cash before you arrive.
I never used to do this until it almost landed me in trouble. I arrived in Oslo close to midnight with no cash at all. The cash machine in the airport was out of order but after 20 minutes I eventually found one that worked. When I tried to use it I realised my bank had frozen my account so it took me well over an hour to get some cash. By this point I almost missed the last bus out of the airport.
Moral of the story, always have some cash!
#7 Know your banking log on details and have backups
Great for: Forgetful types
While we’re on the topic of banks, make sure you know your logins for telephone banking and internet banking. It makes things much faster if you need to call your bank in an emergency. You should also have a backup way to access money in case your wallet or purse is lost or stolen.
#8 Empty camera memory cards as soon as you get home
Best for: Snappy happy travellers
We’ve all had that moment when you’re about to take the best photo of your life and a message pops up telling you your memory card is full. Arggghh!
In my quest to be a better traveller, I now clear my memory card and backup my photos on an external hard-drive. (Feeling very smug about this level of organisation)
#9 Always carry drinks and snacks
Best for: Anyone who suffers from hanger
There’s nothing worse than feeling tired, hungry and dehydrated while you’re travelling and being unable to find ANYTHING to eat or drink. I’ve arrived in new destinations late at night and been devastated to find all shops and restaurants closed. Nothing can ruin your day like hanger.
#10 Download and update
Best for: Smartphone users
Download new books, magazines, music and apps to your phone before you leave. Hotel wifi is often too slow for large downloads like this.
Also, make sure your phone and all your apps are updated. An outdated phone is slow and a nightmare to use. You don’t want it freezing when you need it most.
#11 Write a list
Best for: If you’re still horrendously disorganised
If you’re still struggling to be organised, write lists for everything such as:
- Things to do before you leave
- Packing list
- Leaving the house checklist
- Important addresses
I do love a fresh note pad waiting for a list
#12 You only really need 4 things
Best for: If you’re still a disorganised mess
Better travellers know that you really only need 4 things to travel:
- Credit Card
- Phone charger
Not a lot can go wrong when you have these 4 things. I try to remind myself of this when I’ve, once again, forgotten to pack something vitally important . If I’m leaving the house in a flustered panic, I just do the 4-item check and I know I’ll be OK.
This post is sponsored by Barclaycard. As always, all thoughts, opinions and lack of organisation are all my own.
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