Everyone makes mistakes. After seven years traveling all seven continents I've made more than I wish to admit. Luckily I've learnt from them and picked up some useful bits of advice along the way. Hopefully some of these quick-fire tips will make your next adventure a little easier.
- Don't take everything so seriously. Plans get ruined, things break and the unexpected happens. It's all part of the journey.
Don't spend your whole trip behind the lens. Take a few snaps and then enjoy it. When the journey ends, it's the friends and family back home that will be there. Stay in touch. A carry on backpack will save you on checked baggage fees and force you to travel light. Let your bank know you are going abroad to avoid them freezing your account. Travel in-between off and on season to get yourself a good deal. When buying anything online, also search for a discount or coupon. You'll be surprised what you can find. Get a travel rewards credit card that will earn you points for future trips. You will also need to learn how to maximize your redemptions. Don't bother with padlocks with keys as you know you'll lose them. TSA 4 digit combination locks are best. Have copies of your passport, credit card numbers and travel insurance with family and also save them in your email drafts to access anywhere. Backup all your photos both on a USB and Dropbox. While you wait to leave, get into a travel book such as On The Road by Jack Kerouac, The Beach by Alex Garland or The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. Learn the basics of the local language to make the experience easier. If you're feeling homesick there's nothing wrong with seeking familiarity like a pizza or Starbucks. Take a free walking tour whenever you go to a new place. Not only are they informative but it will help you get your bearings. Going anywhere without travel insurance is foolhardy. You always think it won't be you but then it does happen. Update your social media with your location. Not only does it let people know where you are but it also brings out people who have already been there and can offer travel advice. Learn how to haggle to avoid being overcharged but don't overdo it. They need to make a living too. Get better at swimming or learn if you don't know how. It's useful for so many experiences abroad. If you're on a bus, train or just waiting at the airport, keep a wrist or ankle through the loop of your handbag or day pack to deter opportunist thieves from running off with it. This is especially important if you're prone to falling asleep. Research local laws before you visit a country. Chewing gum in Singapore, wearing heels at archaeological sites in Greece or feeding the pigeons in Venice are just some ways you can fall foul of the law. Re-use your plastic bottles and don't have fresh bed sheets and towels at a hotel to help the environment. Resist the urge to check your valuables when you see a sign that pickpockets are operating in the area. All you're doing is signalling to pickpockets where your valuables are! There are so many cycle friendly cities so hire a bike and get exploring. Always have a backup credit card and money that you keep separately from your wallet or purse. Avoid touristy restaurants if possible. Usually these will have a menu in several different languages. When checking in to your accommodation, pick up their business card. Don't assume that taxi drivers will know the place you are staying. Start a blog. Not only is it a great way to collect your memories but it might turn out into a career like it did for me. Never pack anything you aren't willing to lose or break whether its expensive or has sentimental value.Be present in every moment. Look a round, take a deep breathe and absorb everything you can about where you are, the sights, the sounds and smells. It's easy to get distracted by your next social media update, your plans that evening or how low your travel funds are running. Be present.