There’s enough drama in life without fretting over your travels as well. If you’re anything like me, you’re slaving through the 9-5, so when you do end up jumping on a plane, the last thing you want to be doing in tearing your hair out over the small stuff, or ending up in the middle of a really freaky situation in a foreign country. Your priority is to experience as much as possible of this new place before moving on or heading back to reality a few days later, so it’s super important to make sure you’ve got everything sorted before you leave.
SimpliSafe wanted to know how I stay out of trouble and keep my stress levels low, so I’m going to share with you what I’ve learnt over the years to keep my life simple and my travels sweet!
Print things, copy things, photograph things! Don’t be that person who prints a single copy of their boarding pass only to suffer a mishap with your pre-flight coffee; it’s soaked thorough, the ink’s running, you can’t read the barcode and you’re seven minutes from checking in! Nightmare.
Look at all the information you’ll need during your trip – this should include your car park confirmation, or train tickets, boarding pass and other flight information, hotel email booking or vouchers, pre-paid entrance tickets for museums or attractions, copies of your passports or maps and other useful info. Now click print at least twice.
I always travel as one half of a couple, which makes things easier already. Safely store all your documents in a slim presentation folder, and do the same in another. Now, even if one of you leaves their bag on a bus or a folder gets stolen, you have a back up of all your important documents within easy reach. Disaster averted!
Also, don’t trust technology completely, don’t keep all information locked up in your phone. If anything escalates and you don’t have your phone at hand, make sure you’ve taken a note of the country’s emergency numbers and your hotels’ contact details.
No paper? No problem. If you’re keen to go paperless, another solution to keep your travel documents secure is via your smartphone.
Personally, I wouldn’t rely on this as your only option because i’m still paranoid that my phone will conk out on me at the worst moment, but it’s a great idea for yet another back up. Many big hotel and travel brands will have a dedicated app that you can download and on it, store your trip information. At check in, you just have to flash and go!
Now, I couldn’t think of anything worse that taking three or four wrong turns in the middle of a city and battling that awful knot in your stomach that comes from the realisation that you haven’t the foggiest where you are. You’re having a slight panic, and you can’t afford the data charges for Google Maps… thing is, when you’re looking like a tourist in a dilemma, it’s like having a bit red flashing beacon above your head; you’re attracting the wrong sort of attention. Sure, ninety per cent of locals will probably lend a helping hand in your time of need, and steer you in the way of ‘home’, but making yourself unnecessarily vulnerable isn’t smart.
Avoiding this situation is easy; I always download my Ulmon offline map a few weeks before I go. This is good idea because it allows me to navigate my way around the city without disgustingly high data charges, and grants me time to study the map in the weeks leading up to the trip to familarise myself with the general ‘shape’ of the city, and I get to ‘star’ all the sites I want to see, plus where my hotel is located, so I always know how to get back to base. Sorted!
Split It Up
Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket, or in this case, cash in one bag. It’s just not wise. Again, if anything happens to this bag, you’re going to become stuck. This is particularly easy if you’re travelling as a couple or a group; don’t lump one person with the responsibly of carting around all your money, instead, dish it out between yourselves and if you’ve got a safe in your hotel room, stash some in there during the day.
If you’re travelling solo make sure you’ve got some cash in a separate compartment to your purse, just in case you fall victim to some light-fingered thieves, then you’ve at least got some money to catch a cab.
‘Minimal’ is the key word here. Don’t take what you won’t need, especially if it’s something of great sentimental value or superbly expensive. If it gets misplaced or stolen, you’ll be gutted and it’ll leave you out-of-pocket if you need to replace anything of high value.
If you’ve got loads of stuff, it’s automatically harder to keep track of everything, and if the inside of your backpack looks like Amazon’s ‘technology’ landing page, you might need to re-think; you’re just increasing the chances of things going wrong. Maybe your iPad, laptop, iPhone and DSLR are handy to have around, but that could be the equivalent of thousands of pounds you’ve got on your back! If you could leave at least one or two of those at home, it’ll hopefully get your stress levels down.
Lock it and Leave it
Choosing a hotel that has a safe in the room is your best option if you’re wanting to know your belongings are secure during the day whilst you’re out exploring.
Not everywhere offers a safety deposit box in the room, so double check on the hotels’ website or through your booking website to see if it’s included in the cost of the room. If you know there won’t be one, try and keep valuables out of sight – buy a lock for your suitcase and leave them in there.
Pack your Juice
Your phone is your life line, well it is for me! And keeping my battery levels topped up is essential.
I’ve been in a scary situation where my hotel mixed up my booking and I was pretty much left on the street, my battery was in the red but I needed to make calls to our hotel booking agent! I had packed my charger and applicable adapter – life saved! Now understanding the importance of keeping my juice up, I have since purchased a portable charger which is perfect for long journey’s where I know I’ll be on my phone a lot.
Be Scam Aware
I love a city break, but if you’re well-travelled, you’ll know that some major cities have their ‘signature’ scams, and it’s a good idea to educate yourself on what to look out for, so you aren’t caught out.
Make sure to Google your location prior to leaving, there might be a few blog posts or forum discussions on the topic. Still, if when you’re abroad and you’re feeling a bit strange about your current situation, trust your gut feeling, be polite and firm and calmly walk on.
Pack your pills
Bugs can strike at any time, they don’t care that you’ve saved up for months for this trip and you’re planning on having the time of your life, if they decide you’re having a migraine to end all migraines this week, then you’ve just gotta roll with it.
Don’t bring your entire medicine cabinet, but try to pack a few common painkillers and a small selection of plasters to remedy those surprise blisters, along with any prescribed medicine you might need.
If you’re going on a long road trip or extended hikes, a small first aid kit might be worth the investment.
It’s much easier to bring a few pills with you than try to navigate a foreign pharmacy when you’re not fluent in the local lingo! Eek! You don’t know what you’ll end up buying.
Don’t Flaunt it
When you’re carrying lots of bits and bobs in a tiny rucksack, it can be hard to juggle it all. However, you have to be mindful when digging around for your sunglasses that have slipped to the bottom of your bag, not to start pulling out your tech gear, your wallet, your passport and waving it around for all to see. Same goes for when you’re paying for your meal at a restaurant; be discreet when handling your notes, and don’t flash that cash!
Google your destination and make sure your holiday wardrobe won’t make you stand out like a sore thumb! If you’re heading to religious sites or places where you’ll be expected to cover up, be respectful and follow the dress code. Flouting the rules might lead to unwanted attention, which could place you in some unsafe situations.
Additionally, dressing like a stereotypical tourist also might make you a target for pickpockets, so try and tone it down, perhaps leave the bum bag behind?
The Back Up Plan
Sometimes you’ll be in the situation where a number of your group won’t have their phone on them, or they’ve been on social media throughout the day and they’ve run their battery dry, whatever the reason, it’s a good idea to have a back up plan when telecommunications isn’t an option.
It’s never yet happened to me, but I’m always a tad paranoid that I’m going to become separated from my travel partner. Sometimes I’ll lag behind taking photos, or he’ll change direction because something caught his attention – if this sort of thing happens in crowded spaces, it could mean that we lose track of the other one and then panic sets in!
If one of you is a wanderer and may be at risk of rambling off, nominate an obvious meeting point and communicate it clearly to everyone there.
Ensure you’re Insured
If you guys aren’t doing this already, why aren’t you? Travel insurance sometimes might been seen as yet another expense to an already expensive trip, and you’re thinking, ‘well… all I get is a piece of paper’, or ‘nothing bad’s happened before, why bother?’ – think again! Now, i’m at real risk of sounding like your mother, but it really is better safe than sorry, so pay it and give yourself piece of mind. I take out annual travel insurance with ‘Coverwise’ so it doesn’t have to be a chore for every trip I go on; I pay it at the beginning of the year and then they send me a reminder to re-new after the year is up. Simple! I know that if anything were to happen, it’s one less thing to stress over.
Protect Your Pad
If you’re going away for the weekend or leaving home for while, the best way to remain worry-free is safe in the knowledge that your home in is good hands. SimpliSafe have produced this infographic that can help you check off what you can do to keep your home happy. For even more protection, visit the SimpliSafe website to shop their home security systems, and also check out their blog post about ‘Knowing your home is safe whilst travelling internationally…’ for more tips!
Remember, the most important thing is to stay alert and trust your instincts and ultimately, have the best time you can! Happy, safe travels everyone!
Let me know if I’ve missed anything in the comments below, or feel free to share your own tips and experiences!