You might think that all you need for a successful trip is an open mind and a well stuffed wallet but travelling is all in the detail. Make like a Scout and be prepared. If you’re prepared, then the journey itself should be plain sailing.
It is worth putting a bit of thought into your luggage. Do you want a suitcase or a backpack? Should it have wheels, compartments or a hard shell? Then consider size. Luggage is proof, if any were needed, that size does actually matter. For an efficient exit from any airport or station, consider whether you would be better off with a carry-on bag. The benefit of a carry-on is that it could double up as a day bag. A wheeled duffle bag, for example, is the perfect multi-tasker.
Depending on your destination, you will need to pack for the usual eventualities – rain, heat or cold. Look out for high tech fabrics as they can help you cover all the bases. Many travel clothing brands incorporate everything from sun protection to cooling systems into their fabrics. And keep it simple. As the Spanish proverb says, on a long journey even a straw weighs heavy. When you are building up to a trip, you might not want to think of something as mundane as dirty laundry but tuck a handy plastic bag into your case for when the socks and shorts start to pile up.
Medication and toiletries
Your toiletries bag should contain the staples of the well-prepared traveller: Immodium, malaria tablets, paracetamol and antihistamines. If you take any regular medication, take a copy of your prescriptions. If you wear contact lenses, then pack a contact case and lens solution as well as a back-up pair of glasses. It is worth throwing in some wet wipes, antibacterial hand gel and the all important sun cream. The bag itself should be sealed to avoid any nasty surprises.
Your mobile phone will help lighten the load. You can carry all your music, reading material and a high quality camera in your phone. While you can ditch the weighty beach reads and iPods, you will need a charger and a plug converter. Don’t forget your headphones either.
Getting all the paperwork may be the least exciting part of your preparations but it is the most important. Without your passport, your tickets and boarding passes, there will be no trip. Another priority should be insurance documents, particularly medical travel insurance. Email yourself a copy of all of these too for extra security.
Last and not least, try out the local comedy scene wherever you are. Stand-up comedy can often be the best way to tap into the local population. You will find out what the locals are getting worked up about and what makes them laugh. Best of all, comedy nights are often free so it is worth checking out any local listings for details.