HOW TO NOT BE AN IDIOT WHEN YOU TRAVEL
Travelling can be totally gorjé, especially when you’re a 20-something with part-time job cash to spare. However, it’s also super easy to get carried away with the idea of the whole thing - I’ll be travelling overseas for the eighth time in the next few days (of course I was going to take that bragging opportunity), so I thought I’d share some of my pearls of wisdom.
Maybe it’s just my personality, but when entering situations with unpredictable circumstances, I think it’s best to be as prepared as possible - I know, it’s like being allergic to anything remotely spontaneous, but when it comes to travelling overseas it definitely pays to be a little more secure than usual. Also, better you read this shit in a blog post than having to discover it the hard way.
I’ve put my top tips together to eliminate as many stresses as possible, and help you achieve a clearer state of mind before embarking on your travels so you can enjoy your time away from home to the fullest. Don’t be that idiot who forgot your overseas sim card back home.
Book all your accomm and main transport before you head over
I get the whole “I’m just going to play it by ear!!” thing, I do, but if you’re gonna be over there for less than a few months it’s really not worth spending your (expensive) time overseas stressing about booking things. Plus, the earlier you get booking those main costs out of the way, the cheaper you’ll probably get them and the more you can focus on saving your spending money for shopping, fancy dinners and nights out (+10 peace of mind points - although a lot of the horror stories about being stranded in foreign cities with no vacant hostels often seem funny in the end, I’m guessing it’s probably still something you’d rather avoid).
You’re gonna want a smartphone and some internet access
With most developed capital cities having more free Wi-Fi than imaginable, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but Vodafone has the perfect plan for overseas travels worth looking into here. Aside from wanting to obviously humblebrag about all the sights you’re seeing on Insta (#blessed #wanderlust), mum will kill you if you don’t keep in touch. Why would you worry her like that?! Don’t be a dick...
Over-budget like a motherfluffer
There really is no need to explain this one. It’s always better to overcompensate, because even if you don’t need the extra dosh for an emergency, you might see a really cute pair of shoes with those little pink pom pom things in Mexico, and hey - if you’re not gonna treat yourself while you’re on holidays, when the hell else will you? Also, this tip could mean the difference between an average punting experience and a pretty sick VIP one.
Make a bible
I’m talking itinerary, Airbnb details, flights, tickets to anything and everything you’ve booked, and contact details for all of the above. We’re millennials, which means we’re scatterbrained or something, so it’s a good idea to put it all in one place (don’t fucking lose it though). If you’re super conscientious (paranoid) like me, go the extra mile and include anything else you might need - prepare for the worst for another +10 peace of mind points, even though it sounds like I’m shitting all over your fun little getaway. Consulate/embassy details for each of the countries you visit, their respective emergency numbers, advice on local hospitals and emergency services for each of your planned destinations. Can’t hurt to chuck in a few important phrases in local languages if applicable; you never know when your English speaking just won’t suffice, and you don’t want to be the dumbass shouting “HOS-PEE-TOOL”.
Insurance is important
Travel with someone you actually trust
I’m still astounded that some people will travel with friends they’re not even particularly close with - maybe it’s the anxious motherly side of me, but why would you risk wasting your holiday because you’re not 100% sure the people you’re travelling with are actually going to have your back? Of course, this all depends on a number of things - how experienced you already are with travelling, the safety of the destinations you’re planning to visit. But it should be a pretty obvious rule of thumb that if you’ve got a gut feeling you’re not sure you can completely trust someone, it’s not worth all those hours slogging away at the Woolies checkout counter just to waste your savings on a subpar trip.
Travel cards and exchanging money before you go
I’m with ANZ, so I always set up a Travel Card with my set budget for the trip a few days before I leave. That way, I won’t have to be conscious of exchange rates, transferring money across and whatnot once I’ve left our shores. Make the time to visit your bank and see what your options are before you leave to find what works best for you, and suss out what the situation will be in your destination country. Japan is a cash-predominant country, which means you’ll be wanting to withdraw large sums at a time to avoid racking up huge ATM fees. Spain is known for having fake ATMs, so the common suggestion is to use those connected to banks. And Rome is a renown pickpocket’s dream - so maybe you don’t need to get yourself a money belt, but perhaps do some research before you board the plane.
Check the REVIEWS, not just the photos
That Airbnb may look like something you saw in an Ariana Grande video, but no reviews and sparse Host info is probably a warning sign.
Be the version of yourself you’ve always dreamed about
I know this sounds stupid-cheesy, but when you’re in a completely different country there’s nothing holding you back from being the confident, charismatic, risk-taking babe you know you are inside. Talk to people you normally wouldn’t, try new things, and traipse around city streets until your feet hurt. Obviously, me telling you to be a risk-taker is slightly at odds with 99.9% of what I’ve written above - but all the anxiety in the world isn’t worth risking a trip that leaves you saying “what if”. Being out there on your own will teach you so much about yourself, if only you let it - and people always say what a learning experience travelling is, but what they fail to mention is that half of what you’re learning about is yourself.