Sometimes a simple suggestion can change an entire vacation. Whether you have travelled the world or are having your first exciting travel adventure, good ideas on how to better the experience are always welcome. Eye See Africa has connected with travellers world-wide, and we have put together a collection of the very best top travel tips to help you with all aspects of the planning and enjoyment of your own special travel experience.
Before you go:
Just say YES!
It takes courage to face the unknown and visit a new destination or try a new adventure. If you have a strong urge to ‘go travelling’ or visit a specific new place, start saving and go for it! Don’t delay – just do it, or there may come a time when age or work commitments make it impossible to travel.
Don’t wait until “some day” - that day may never come!
Travel by yourself at least once
Travelling by yourself builds your independence and confidence, shows you what you are capable of, improves your social skills and gives you time and space to learn a lot about yourself.
Choose your priorities
If you really want to travel, make it happen. Watch your spending and don’t wait for anyone else to make your dreams come true – go solo if necessary. Those who share your ideas will join you without persuasion.
When planning, the trip is much more enjoyable if you don’t try to pack too much into a short time.
Allow yourself time to be spontaneous. Sometimes the unplanned moments while travelling can be the most memorable. Good stuff happens when you really take time to explore and spend more time in fewer places. Like life, it’s the journey that provides the fun, so travel a little slower and discover a lot more.
Bearing in mind that not only the destination but the journey is important, plan for the odd delay and don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Having patience could mean the difference between an incredible adventure or a nightmare vacation.
Find the balance between adult and child activities
If you are travelling with your family, have a family meeting to make sure everyone is happy and their needs met accordingly. Let everyone choose at least one activity to include in the trip.
Use a Travel Professional
If you are going to an unknown destination, it makes sense to talk to someone who knows the ropes and can provide all the information. In the event of things going off track, a professional is there to assist you and make sure you don’t waste your own valuable vacation time sorting out issues.
Make a list
As soon as you have decided to have a vacation, make a list of all that needs doing before you leave. Add to it as you think of things: documentation, finances, insurance, vaccinations, digital copies, systems to put in place at home if necessary, shopping, packing etc.
Book your flights 3 – 4 months in advance
This is typically when flights are at their cheapest and you can get the best price.
Check your passport/s
Make sure your passport has at least two blank pages in it and is valid for at least 6 months after your return date.
Check immigration laws and child policies
Call the embassy of the country/countries in which you intend travelling well in advance and find out what documentation you (and your children) need before you travel.
Have necessary vaccinations
Check with your health clinic before you travel and have any vaccinations necessary. Falling ill in a foreign country is no fun at all.
Take out travel insurance – Always!
If you can afford to travel, you need to afford travel insurance. A medical emergency can cost you your savings. Don’t leave home without travel insurance.
Make digital copies
Make digital copies of all important documents (passports, driver’s license, travel insurance, credit cards, important phone numbers, etc.)
Alert your bank and credit card company of your travel plans
Check that your credit cards are acceptable in a foreign country.
Learn basic phrases in the native language of your destination.
The locals will appreciate your efforts and it will make interaction easier.
Keep an open mind
Ask questions, do research and remain open-minded and non-judgemental.
Packing for your Adventure :
Pack less than you think you may need
Don’t be a slave to your luggage; pack what you can comfortably carry. According to mid-80’s edition of Rick Steve’s ‘Europe Through the Back Door’ the traveller should lay out all the clothes he’s thinking of taking, then take half of those and twice the money! Pack your older clothes so that any losses are bearable. Don’t forget to leave space for possible new acquisitions.
Pack comfortable shoes
Nothing ruins an outing like blisters and having to quit early because of sore feet.
Always Pack a hat
In the winter, a knitted hat will keep you warm and take up little room. A brimmed hat will keep the sun off your face. Either will save a bad hair day!
Pack a scarf or a sarong
This is a simple, useful travel accessory, taking up very little space and providing sun protection, coverup, makeshift towel, picnic blanket, a curtain, a dress or even an emergency bandage. It also washes and dries easily.
Pack clothing that doesn’t require ironing
Ironing is not something you want to do on vacation.
Pack and wear sunscreen
It is advisable to wear sunscreen every day, regardless of the weather temperature.
Put medication, extra underwear, toiletries & washcloth in a plastic container in your carry-on bag
It is always handy to have these items immediately available in case of a layover or your suitcase not making it to your destination the same time as you do. If you are travelling with a friend or partner, it is a good idea to put a change of clothes in each other’s bag in the event that one bag gets lost. You will then have a clean set of clothes the next day until your bag arrives.
Take extra medication with you
In the event of a minor cut, bruise or cold (or tummy adjustment to the local cuisine), it is convenient to have the medication you’re familiar with on hand. Bandages, aspirin, Imodium, decongestant, insect repellent, Tiger Balm etc. can be useful if needed.
These could be your best friend on your trip. Being able to sleep in a noisy plane or hotel room is a valuable asset and should not be underestimated while travelling.
Pack toiletries in Ziploc bags
Due to change of air pressure during the flight, containers can often leak. If your toiletries are in Ziploc bags it can save having to wash half your clothes on arrival at your destination.
Travel with Ziploc bags
These bags have so many uses, including holding cables and small items, food and water, wet clothes, waterproof maps, cell phones, cameras, ice packs and more ....
Pack a travel adaptor
It is best to pack 1 travel adaptor for the country you are going to and a multi-powerboard from the country you come from, especially when travelling with children.
And when you are there :
Call it an adventure instead of a vacation
This way, no matter what happens on your adventure (i.e. heavy weather, flat tyre, missed or cancelled flight) you will put a positive spin on your entire trip and enjoy yourself.
Beat the jetlag
To get over jetlag quickly, try to sync your sleeping pattern with the new time zone immediately.
See the tourist sites
The main tourist attractions are popular for a reason. While getting off the beaten track can be fun and offer many different experiences, the tourist sites are impressive and well worth the time and effort.
Lunchtime is the best time to visit historical sites
During lunch hour, there are fewer crowds at many historical sites, but check opening hours as many museums close for lunch.
Separate your sources of money
Don’t keep all your cash and cards in one spot. Cash and a back-up credit or bank card can be kept in a separate pocket of your bag from your wallet.
Travel should be a feast for all the senses
Try the local cuisine, listen to local musicians, smell the bakeries, local perfumes and spices. Visit the markets used by the locals, join in a drumming or dancing session, participate in local sport – immerse yourself in the moment.
Wake up early sometimes
Rise early, avoid queues and have the best attractions all to yourself. Early morning is also a great time to take amazing photos because of the diffused light.
Get off the beaten track
Often the best gems are hidden in the little side streets, food stalls and markets in regular neighbourhoods and small towns.
Get out of your comfort zone
Challenge yourself to do things you might not normally do – be adventurous, talk to strangers, dance!
Walk with a purpose
If you walk confidently and purposefully wherever you go, it’s unlikely that anyone will interfere with you.
Use a map
Don’t be afraid of looking like a tourist – you are one! Use a map when you need to.
Ensure that you drink enough water, especially if you are doing a lot of walking.
Join the locals
Go where the locals go, where they eat and where they congregate, to experience their way of life. Ask them to point out the best coffee shops and restaurants, awesome spots to watch the sunset etc. Avoid other travellers from time to time to start a conversation with a local, and say yes to local invitations to meet families, try something new or explore places you didn’t know existed. These experiences often personalize your sightseeing and make the best stories and memories.
You can never take too many photos on your travels, and they make the best souvenirs.
Take more photos of yourself to make your memories personal and different from the normal views of famous places. Years from now you will enjoy looking back and re-living your trip.
Keep a journal of people you meet, places and meals where you ate, conversations you had and all your first impressions. Evernote is a great app which you can manage on your phone and it is useful to plan your trip and save your itinerary and journal notes.
Back up everything
Back up all your photos and files online in case your phone or camera goes missing.
Listen to your instincts and use common sense
Don’t put yourself at risk or in tricky situations. Remember that good manners are internationally appreciated and that you represent your country.
Consider the others in your party
If you are travelling with others, make sure your trip fits the weakest link! Not everyone is up to 12 hours of activities and walking. Two activities a day is a safe way to go, and deciding what not to see or experience on each trip makes all the difference to your enjoyment and sense of well-being.
Leave a light on
Leave a light on behind an almost closed bathroom door so that if necessary you can see where you are going without waking your partner or travel companion.
And finally ..
Allow yourself time to chill
You may quite justifiably feel like a day off from seeing and doing. Enjoy just sitting in a sidewalk cafe or park, lazing on a beach or chilling at your hotel. This relaxation too, is part of your vacation experience.
If you have any travel tips of your own, please feel free to send them to us .. we’ll share the love and add them to the list.
Go safely, enjoy every moment, and come back safely. Happy Travels!