Gypsy’s A-Z of Top Travel Tips
“Never look at your passport photo, because you’ll feel too ill to travel”.
AIRPORT CAROSEL (Top Travel Tip)
Advice given by an Osteopath Surgeon – “beware of airport carousels”. In other words, don’t just wrench your suitcase off the conveyor belt and pull a tendon off the bone! The bags will come around again if you miss them the first time.
ANTIBACTERIAL HAND WASH
Carry a small (50 ml) antibacterial hand sanitizer at all times and use often.
Travel Apps are out there by the hundreds – some are definitely lifesavers and worth downloading to make travelling a lot easier. A few of my favourites are:
AUSTRALIA POST – Send a postcard without leaving your seat (wherever you are!)
- Download the “Australian Post app”.
- Upload a photo from your IPhone
- Watch it being converted to a quality physical postcard.
- Write your message, fill in the address
- Pay $1.99 for an Aussie address (even if you are overseas) or $2.99 when forwarding to an overseas location.
- The card is delivered within a few days and all you’ve done is press a few buttons on your phone! Bargain in anyone’s language.
If you can’t speak the language, having your request instantly translated lets you show what you are needing. Plus you always get the right wine or beer you are seeking.
Both air carriers have apps that let you watch movies and TV shows on your own device. It even remembers where you were up to in a movie and restart from the same position on your next flight!
Ideal for finding a handy restaurant and make sure the price fits your budget before arriving at the front desk!
NOTE – the above links are all in the Itunes store.
Never lower your guard at the ATM. Be aware of anyone trying to stand next to you giving advice! Make sure you cover the keypad up when entering your pin.
BACK UP EVERYTHING
Regularly back up your laptop to an external portable hard-drive just in case it gets nicked.
Keep both digital and physical copies of your passport, visas, driver’s license, birth certificate, health insurance cards, insurance policy and important phone numbers ready to go in case of an emergency.
Keep spare copies of everything in separate locations, eg cabin luggage and personal bag. Include two copies of your passport with this list.
Take photos of all documents with your phone. Sounds like a lot of doubling up – but if information is needed instantly it will reduce stress levels.
For Aussies, there is a fairly new fund called “Acorns”.
This is a Top Up fund that can be used like a Christmas Club, and money withdrawn at any time.
All the cents (up to $1) from purchases with a savings card go into your Accorns account and are invested. Honestly do you ever save the 50 cents change from your coffee? This is one new way to help fund your next holiday.
BULLDOG CLIPS (The really small version)
A couple of these popped into a small zip lock bag that has other emergency odds and ends can be lifesavers. They keep curtains together to stop the light, hold a hem of jeans up and keep all those brochures you keep picking up clipped firmly together!
These magic little inventions will fix anything on your travels. From broken luggage straps to keeping a bunch of cables together – obviously! Just carry a few small ties – they can be joined together if longer one needed.
- Be wary of people offering to take your photo with your camera. This is usually legitimate, but these do-goods have been known to take off with the camera along with the memory card of holiday photos
- Make sure you get out from behind the lens and enjoy the view and life around you.
- If you get to your hotel room and find you’ve forgotten to pack your international charger – try the USB port in the back of the TV.
- Buying one universal plug will save you lugging the various different plugs needed. (Available at any major department store these days)
Top Travel Tip – Use the K.I.S.S. method.
- Keep it Simple – pack it once, wear it at least twice. Leave one-use items at home. Undies can be washed and dried overnight anywhere.
- Layer, layer, layer – this stops carrying too many bulky jackets and jumpers.
- Take a lightweight jacket whatever country, whatever season.
There are many different cultures in the world. Before you arrive in a country research their clothing standards, eg when entering churches and mosques.
- Book a mid-ship cabin on the lowest deck possible. These are the most stable.
- I use Avomine tablets for the first two days regardless of the weather.
- Sugar coated ginger and sea bands are non-drug options.
- When feeling ill sit on deck and watch the horizon – it doesn’t move.
- Top Travel Tip – Use the stairs instead of the lifts to keep the weight off…yes you will eat more!
- Take a power board – there are never enough power points in a cabin.
- Book shore excursions on-line before cruising. The popular tours book up quickly.
Take a photo daily of the date on your phone to keep photos organised and remember where you’ve been. (a newspaper, TV, daily program etc).
Hard copy diaries are again trending. Great way to relax at the end of the day – sitting in a pleasant location making notes to refresh your memory for later.
Top Travel Tip – I love my earplugs! On a plane they muffle ALL sounds, including the party animals. At your accommodation the plugs block out barking dogs, honking horns and general street noise. Definitely a traveller’s best friend.
- Take your own good quality earphones because those supplied on planes are often not the best.
- Save up and buy decent noise cancelling earphone for those long-haul flights.
FIRST AID KIT
A small container with bandaids, travel sized Pawpaw ointment and Stingose is always handy and takes no room at all.
- It’s a good idea to get fit before you leave home. Nothing huge – just regular exercise, stretching and eating a decent diet.
- Keep up the good work while on holidays!
FLOP AND DROP
If it’s a flop and drop holiday you are looking for – it’s best to head off on a cruise or stay in a resort to avoid the hassles of unpacking more than once.
- Remember the good old days when flying was all about having a few (or so) drinks and watching movies non-stop on the long haul flights. Well with age comes “being sensible”.
- Keep the glass of wine with dinner down to one (saves dehydration). When flying at night put the eyeshades on and snooze. (Helps to get into the right sleep pattern/time zone of your destination).
- Walk around the plane and do suggested leg and feet exercises to avoid the dreaded DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis). This helps prevent feet and ankles from swelling so you can walk off the plane in your shoes and not bare feet
- Top Travel Tip – If you’ve saved enough in your Acorns Account (see under B for Budget) maybe book a Premium Economy seat. Bit more expensive but worth it.
- Eat Local Food!
- Taste a bit of everything when you travel, especially if you don’t know what it is!
- Ask locals for recommendations and eat street food from vendors with the biggest queues.G
Take a spare pair of prescription glasses – both day wear and sunglasses, plus a script for lenses if you are going for a LONG holiday. Duct tape holding broken glasses together is not a good look and might frighten the locals!
HEALTH, DENTAL CHECK-UPS
Always visit your doctor and dentist for a general check-up before heading off on an extended holiday. (See V for Vaccinations)
HOP ON HOP OFF BUSES
Top Travel Tip – These buses (all over the world) are the greatest way to get a feel for the city you are exploring. If only on a short visit you get terrific audio commentary on all sights. The complete loop usually lasts between 1 – 1/2 hour
Book your Hop On Hop Off bus tickets on line, or on arrival at your destination.
Top Travel Tip – Insurance is the most important travel requirement.
- It’s so tempting to be blasé and have an “I won’t get sick” attitude, but no-one is beyond having accidents or becoming ill.
- For Aussies there is Australian Seniors Insurance. Their annual travel policy is very worthwhile and also covers you for domestic travel.
- Other favourites are RACQ and World Nomads Travel.
Top Travel Tip. These little friends give you a quick sugar fix when you’re flagging on a long journey. They are also difficult to find in many countries.
This sounds like overkill and wont suit everyone. But….the first thing I need in the morning is a cup of tea/coffee and many hotels and cruise ships do not have in-room facilities. As I prefer not to ramble around corridors in PJs I invested in small Korjo 2 cup travel jug that squeezes easily into luggage.
KORJO TRAVEL JUG – see above.
Top Travel Tip – “A Smile is worth a 1000 words”. If people smile back, say hello in the local language – this is a quick way to make new friends.
Learn the basic greeting words in a country’s language – hello, goodbye, thank you, HOW MUCH?
AND….download the Google Translate App
Top Travel Tip – Laughter is definitely the best medicine when you hit that flat spot on your travels – and everyone does!
Make a list(s) to take the stress out of remembering all the minor details before and during your holiday.
My To Do Lists are:
- Clothes and toiletries (check out smartertravel.com for lots of list ideas)
- Camera gear (tripod/memory cards) and all chargers needed.
- Itinerary – copy left with your emergency contact.
- Keep a copy of emergency contacts in your wallet and your carry-on luggage.
- Medications needed, plus small first aid kit.
- Arrange for mail collection while away.
- Transport organised to airport (if flying)
- Plane e-tickets, or hard copy plus passport in carry-on bag.
- Make sure you have no items in hand luggage not allowed on the plane.
Top Travel Tip – Pick up a few business cards from your hotel reception desk. You can then always ask for directions or catch a taxi back needless of any language barrier.
Better still download the Google Maps App. (It might just be me – but getting lost in a different city is quite easy!)
Keep carry-on luggage within the weight limit (usually 7.5kg). After all, what’s cheaper – back surgery or a checked luggage fee?
MEDICATION & PRESCRIPTIONS
- Take a copy of medical and glasses prescriptions – just in case.
- Keep your medications in your cabin luggage.
- Take Paracetemol and any other medication in the labelled box.
- Ask your doctor for a course of antibiotics for diahhorea, chest infections and the like.
When feeling stressed and uptight during travelling – find a quiet spot – maybe an empty gate at the airport and press the reset button with a bit of meditation.
A Travel Card is ideal. Just load up the $$$s (in different currencies if wished) and the only details on the card are your name and card number. No connection to bank accounts. I use Global Wallet with Velocity because you earn points when you spend. But there are so many safe travel card options these days.
If you do use your regular credit card, make sure you tell your bank that you are going overseas to protect against any fraud or skimming at ATMs.
Use Vicks Sinex Extra Fresh Menthol Nasal Spray before and during flights, waiting at airports, crowded trains, buses etc. This definitely helps prevent catching colds.
Research the area you want to go before venturing out and about in a city. The reception at your hotel or a nearby Information Centre/Booth are best options for this information.
Keep an open mind. Some cultures are so different from your own. Always remember you are the visitor and what’s the right way for you isn’t necessarily so in other countries. (As we all know from the daily news).
- Some people roll clothes, others use packing cubes and some do both. I’m a both person – do what works for you.
- Take a Sarong (yes, that’s right – even the men)
- If you ever have to share facilities and need a wrap around; walk to and from a pool; need to carry laundry; keep the sun off your head and neck, need an emergency towel – this is your ideal item. A simple cotton sarong is all you need – they are a small item to carry when rolled up.
- Take a Pashmina wrap – same comments apply as a Sarong but obviously gives more warmth.
- Pack Less! – If you’re not sure about packing something – it means you don’t need it. Generally you can buy most essentials things at your destination country.
- The exception to this is cruises, because you only unpack once, so it’s ok to take a few extras.
Check your passport’s expiry date. Many countries require your passport to be valid at least six months from date of entry.
Patience is a Virtue! (Remember that old saying?).
Top Travel Tip – When travelling you will encounter queues everywhere. Buses, trains, toilets, cafes, tourist attractions etc. – this is the time to practice deep breathing because it works! Be more flexible otherwise you could be in for a miserable trip.
Buy a bottle of wine or a bottle of Baileys at Duty Free. Enjoy this in the quiet of your room or cabin – reminisce and mentally adjust for the next exciting day of discovery.
Download e-books on to your Kindle or tablet to help with long journeys and stopovers.
A small sewing kit is beneficial – it’s amazing how many buttons pop off when travelling! (Something to do with food intake?)
- Make the most of sightseeing. Many tours will be offered to you on your travels, but you can’t beat the Hop on Hop Off Buses to get an overview of a city. (Look under Tip H)
- Top Travel Tip – Most major cities also have Free Walking Tours – another way to learn from locals about history, culture, best eateries etc.
- Hire a bike – every village, town and city in the world has them. From experience I can say this is a wonderful way to see daily life of wherever you are.
- Sit and feast your mind on the smells of cafes, flower and spice markets, rainforests, fishing villages and so on. After all – that’s why you’re travelling to look and learn about how the rest of the world, right?
Get a couple of small travel tubes of sunscreens rather than lug a huge container on your travels. Put it on your face every day from spring to autumn.
Wherever in the world you are….make sure the taxi has a meter and it’s turned on when you start the journey!
THONGS (the ones for your feet!)
Top Travel Tip – Wear these in showers to save getting that dreaded Athletes Food. Thongs are also great to give your feet a rest from the shoes you’ve been wearing all day.
Important – travelling isn’t a holiday – it’s a journey of discovery. You can have a holiday when you get back home. (Important to remember this when you get tired or grumpy)
This vital friend will keep you both dry and prevent heatstroke in the middle of summer wherever you are in the world.
VACCINATIONS & MEDICATIONS
- Top Travel Tip – It’s easy these days to find out what vaccinations you need. A visit to the Travel Doctor will answer all the questions about what needed for where. You will also get any updates on disease outbreaks that may have occurred where you plan to travel.
- I was 65 before I had a flu shot, but they say it’s a good investment when travelling.
Top Travel Tip – Use Vicks Nasal Spray whenever in crowds. Gets rid of every odour imaginable, and you will come across many!(You’ll have this in your bag if you’ve read the tip in N above.)
Now it gets up my nose at ever having to buy water, but this is a must in some countries, particularly the Asian regions.
Top Travel Tip – Ice cubes in drinks should be avoided unless in a reputable hotel. Salads should be washed with bottled water and your teeth brushed using bottled water. It’s definitely worth the effort to avoid getting what can be really severe and life threatening symptoms.
X – No tip for X yet! (all ideas welcome)
Y – No tip for Y either (ditto)
ZIP LOCK BAGS
Top Travel Tip – zip lock bags are the best invention of all times – they take no space in your luggage and are great for:
- the 100 ml liquids in your carry-on luggage
- keeping cameras dry
- keeping documents dry,
- carrying snacks,
- carrying odds n ends in one place (rubber bands, paper clips, ear plugs etc).
That’s it from me – have you got any others to share with travelling boomers?