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Essential Travel Planning Tips

Essential Travel Planning Tips

It’s such an exciting time when planning a holiday, a great way to unwind, make new friends, explore new places, and create memories that last a lifetime. But equally, there are many things to consider, and every holiday can be slightly different.

It may be your first holiday or your first group trip with friends. You may want to book the ultimate adventure travelling around the Middle East or consider working abroad; so many options, but where to start with the planning?

The thought initially can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to packing, so knowing what to pack and leave behind can make all the difference in a smooth and enjoyable trip.

In this article, we’ll discuss some essential items to pack for your next holiday, so all you have to do is focus on making the most of your upcoming adventure.

Travel Documents and Money

Check the validity of your passport as most countries require a minimum of 6 months validity on your passport. If this is the case, more than likely, you will not be able to travel, as the airline will deny your journey at the airport check-in. So check your passports now, if the validity is less than six months, renew your passport immediately!

Make copies of your passport, travel insurance policy, and other important documents just in case you lose your originals and keep the copies in a different bag to your originals.

Also, remember, ‘Never’ pack your passport in your checked luggage.

Passports

Passport Photos

Obtaining visas for specific countries can sometimes be tricky, and some countries require multiple passport-sized photos. Always have a pack of 10-12 passport-sized photos printed and keep them safely in your bag, just in case. It will save you time and hassle in the long run. Also, taking a photo of your passport and emailing a copy to yourself and a family member is vital.

Visas

Depending on your nationality, many countries require you to apply for a visa in advance, while some countries do have an option for visa on arrival. Research your destination and check the countries requirements. If a visa is required, submit your visa application weeks before you fly to allow processing time.

Country Restrictions

With the catastrophe of the Covid-19 pandemic that shook the world, it is now more important to check for local restrictions, vaccine requirements and mask mandates. Be prepared to follow them before deciding where to go, as they are there to keep you and others safe.

Research

Once you have decided on the destination, we can’t stress enough but to research research research… Nothing is worse than getting to your dream holiday and finding out some places are closed on a particular day or at the airport finding out that your carry-on bag is too big for international travel. (You might end up paying an extra $100 to check it in! for example).

To get an overview of the distance between locations of where you are travelling, start plotting on Google Maps where you wish to go, as this will help you decide what you can fit in based on your time limit.

Research Travel

Travel Insurance - Never leave home without it!

Yes, it can be costly and a cost you would rather not fork out, but accidents can happen unexpectedly anytime and anywhere and having insurance gives you peace of mind. You might get sick before you start your travels, or while in some exotic location by the pool, you slip and break your leg, or what if the airline or tour company suddenly cancels their service?  Without travel insurance, many countries’ ambulance and hospital bills are sky-high.

Basically, if anything goes wrong while travelling, you have the backup of your travel insurance to cover those hefty costs that may occur. So please don’t leave home without travel insurance and factor this major cost into your travel budget. Here are our recommendations:  InsubuySafetyWingand EKTA will provide many insurance options to cover your trip.

Travel Insurance

Money

  • Consider a travelling credit card, preferably with no foreign transaction fees. Research the best available option for your needs. Some cards offer cash back, points or rewards like lounge access or discounts to restaurants and events. Generally, cash exchanges can be more expensive at airports, so try to get to your local bank or money exchange outlet at a shopping centre for better rates. 
  • Carry an extra card if you lose your original one, or it gets chewed up at an ATM! But remember to keep your second card in a different bag, in case your wallet gets stolen!!
  • Also, if you can pre-pay as much as possible when planning your trip, this will avoid having to worry about money once you get there.
  • Ensure you have enough cash and credit/debit cards to cover your expenses. Keep some cash in local currency for small purchases and emergencies.

Flights, Airport, Weather

  • When planning an itinerary, leave room for spontaneity. As you start exploring, there will always be something new to see or do.  
  • Buy your airline tickets in advance to save money. Try WayAway  or Skyscanner.
  • Always get to the airport early to allow for weather, traffic, and long queues at check-in and immigration.
  • When choosing connecting flights, ensure you allow ample time, so you don’t have to run between gates.  
  • Remember to check the weather forecast of your destination before your trip! 
  • Write down the address and directions of your hotel as sometimes Wifi or roaming can be slow or not work.
  • Keep all your booking confirmations in one place and if possible, print out hard copies in case your phone fails!
  • Share your plan and itinerary with a friend or family member.
Flights Weather Travel

Packing

Start making a packing list to ensure essential items don’t get missed. We highly recommend using packing cubes to organise your clothes and suitcase. A week before the trip, lay out your outfits so you can see everything in front of you. Take a picture of the content, so you can always refer back to it instead of rummaging through a whole bag, and ladies, always pack a black dress!  Another tip, keep a spare set of clothes in your carry-on, just in case your main suitcase does not arrive in time.

As you become more experienced in your travels, our best advice is to travel with carry-on only; this will change your life forever!! You will learn how little you need to enjoy your trip and the enjoyment of being minimalist.

Packed suitcase for Travel

Weather-appropriate clothing: 

  • Check the weather forecast for your destination and pack clothing accordingly. Make sure to bring layers if the weather is unpredictable.
  • Comfortable footwear: Choose comfortable shoes that are appropriate for your activities. Suppose you are planning to do a significant amount of walking. In that case, it’s advisable to pack comfortable sneakers or hiking boots to ensure your feet are well-supported and protected during your travels.
  • Accessories: Bring accessories like a hat, sunglasses, and scarf to protect yourself from the sun and add some style to your outfits.
  • Formal attire: If you have formal events or business meetings on your itinerary, make sure to pack appropriate clothing.
  • Carry a lightweight scarf or shawl if it gets chilly; you will have that handy in your small bag.
  • Wear compression socks during flights; your mind and body will feel refreshed when you arrive at your destination.
  • For colder climates, pack clothes made from merino wool.

Packing the Essentials

Here is a list of items to consider packing:

  • Water Bottle
  • Snacks, protein bars, mints or gum
  • Hand sanitiser, tissues, wet wipes
  • Cube bag for your dirty laundry
  • Travel pillow & blanket
  • A spare pillow case (to use on pillows wherever you stay) doubles up as a dirty laundry bag!
  • Compression socks 
  • Use beauty samples for travel. You don’t need the full-sized bottle.
  • A good book or travel guide book
  • Slippers! Great for those long flights or at your accommodation.
  • Earplugs and eye mask
  • Take an empty water bottle to fill up and keep hydrated.  
  • Travel Journal to document each night what you did, as sometimes it’s hard to remember the fun little details, especially when you’ve been on the road for a while.
  • Books/Magazines
  • Language translation app or guidebook
  • Shop Here

Toiletries and Cosmetics

Most hotels and hostels offer you necessary items, but if you want to bring your own, purchase the small 100ml toiletry containers where you can fill up your everyday shampoo, conditioner bottles, body wash, and lotions. Also any liquids will have to be placed into a plastic bag and presented at security at the airport. So bringing your big bottles takes up a lot of space in your bags and can be pretty heavy and remember if you take any bottles over 100ml, they will be confiscated at security.

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Toiletries for Travel

Laundry

You might go with days not able to do any washing, so it is handy to pack a travel-size laundry powder sachet or small bar of laundry soap so you can wash undies, socks, or anything that gets dirty while keeping the packing light.

Medication

It is always a good idea to keep a few medical emergencies on hand, as in a new country, you may not be able to find a pharmacy close by, or language might be a barrier. Some common pills to consider are;
Panadol, ibuprofen, anti-diarrhoea pills and aspirin to relieve headaches, pain, fever, and simple sprains or strains. Antihistamines to relieve allergies. Antacid medicine. Anti Nausea or motion sickness medicine and band-aids are probably the most essential.

 

Travel Medication

Electronics

  • Smart Phone & phone chargers
  • Portable power bank and an extra camera battery
  • A universal travel adapter for international travel.
  • Small combination locks for added security when checking in your bags.
  • Noise cancellation headphones 
  • Laptop / Tablet
  • E-Reader / Kindle
  • Shop Here
Travel Electronics

Safety

  • Keep a photo of your passport handy and email it to yourself and a family member in case you need it if your passport gets stolen or lost.
  • Make copies of your IDs, credit cards, and travel documents along with an emergency contact number in case of theft or other emergencies.
  • Get an RFID wallet during your travel for ease of mind.
  •  Have a copy of the contents of the inside of your luggage. If the airlines lose your bag or there is a delay, you can claim at the airport. Here the airline will ask you for a description of your bag.
  • Whether you are travelling alone or not, let someone back home know where you will be staying and the estimated trip schedule.
  • Dress like a local and try not to look like a tourist.

General Tips

  • Be flexible and don’t over-plan.  
  • Don’t stay right in the city centre if you want to save some money.
  • Find accommodation outside and near public transportation as it’s usually less expensive, less busy, and touristy.
  • Try to document what you do each day, so you can remember the small things later, especially if you have been on the road for a while; it’s always nice to refer back to when you are back home and to share with your friends and family.
  • Take lots of pictures when you travel, not only for your memories but in case something goes wrong; photos will always be proof. 
  • Most importantly, enjoy the planning process to ensure a great holiday!
Travel Hammock

Final Tips for Packing Success

Make a list: List everything you need to pack and check items off as you go.

Pack light: Pack only the essentials to avoid overpacking and extra baggage fees.

Roll your clothes: Rolling your clothes instead of folding them can help save space.

Use packing cubes: Packing cubes can help keep your items organized and do the packing and unpacking easier.

Check baggage restrictions: Make sure to check baggage restrictions for your airline and destination to avoid any surprises at the airport.

Final Thoughts

Planning and organizing for a trip can sometimes feel overwhelming, but making the experience more manageable and stress-free is possible. By considering the items on this list and following the tips for packing success, you’ll be well-prepared for your next adventure. Remember, packing light and only bringing the essentials can help make your travels smoother and more enjoyable. Happy travels!

Some links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.