Poor planning, time management, and preparation can make a potentially spectacular trip turn into a pretty shitty one. Follow these steps to fool-proof your adventure and make the most of all your destination has to offer.
1. Map out your itinerary
Save yourself time, save yourself stress. Planning what to do and where to go before you arrive can ensure that you organize your trip in the most efficient order to see the best of what your destination has to offer. However, I don’t believe in doing this to an absolute T. I like to choose places to eat as and when I see them, and if you have enough time, leave a day (or more!) unscheduled to fit in time to explore things you may discover that aren’t in any travel guide.
2. Change your money before you arrive
Finding yourself in a country that doesn’t accept your bank card or exchange your currency is an ultimate and unnecessary nightmare. No one wants to be in the situation where they can’t do anything, eat anything, let alone get anywhere once they’ve landed. Order your currency online or if you’re in the UK, visit your local Post Office for a good rate, but whatever you do, don’t buy it in your departure airport. They will fuck you over.
3. Bring Appropriate clothing
Because wearing fresh white Stan Smiths to a Kenyan elephant orphanage is stupid, and I learned the hard way. By packing poorly you risk damaging beloved items from your wardrobe and may prevent yourself from participating in an activity properly. More significantly, if you don’t research the views on modesty within the culture you are exploring you could offend those it belongs to, and open yourself up to an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience.
4. Stay fuelled, stay hydrated
Drinking water, sleeping well and eating responsibly will ensure you have the energy to truly reap the potential of your trip. Hunger will drain you of energy, a lack of sleep will detract from the excitement of discovering somewhere new and dehydration will strip you of the ability to think coherently let alone keep up a pace.I learned my lesson while on a solo trip in Vietnam, I asked a concierge at a tourist information desk where I could buy ‘cheap local food, like cheap Thai food… No… Taiwanese food? Where am I? Sorry, I mean Vietnamese food!’ In the space of five tragic seconds, my tired mind smashed three separate cultures and cuisines into one, entered a point of physical and existential confusion and just plain embarrassed myself.
5. Download all the necessary apps
I recommend you do this in advance because while the app may run pretty okay on your accommodation’s wifi or whatever pre-paid internet plan you get, downloading it may be another story. Do your research and see what the most useful mobile applications for the country you’re visiting are. In Indonesia, GoJek is like Uber but with motorbikes; in Hong Kong, FoodPanda is essentially JustEat; and globally, Google Translate is great for overcoming awkward linguistic difficulties and Maps.Me is essential for offline navigation – but of course, this is useless if you don’t follow the next tip.
6. Keep a portable charger
I feel strongly about communicating with locals when it comes to things like asking for directions or recommendations on places to eat and visit, however in some locations around the world, this isn’t always easy. Having a fully (or at least partially) powered portable charger can help you avoid finding yourself in a completely unknown location, unable to call for help, or even Snapchat the whole scenario – because if you don’t Snap it, did it really happen?