Travel Tips
for Independent Travellers

ToastedRaisins

By TOASTEDRAISINS

They say experience is the greatest teacher and this statement is nowhere truer than in the world of travel. There are just some things that you can’t know before you go. It can be anything from handy hints that make your life a little bit easier to key pieces of advice that can save you hundreds of dollars. This is where a long list of travel tips comes in handy.

After 3 years of life abroad including 6 months traveling around South East Asia, we have collected 20 such tips that will save your time, money and stress. The tips are broken up into different sections according to the part of travel to which they relate. If you would like to add some of your own tips, please send us a message HERE! Let’s help each other travel better!

#1 Packing For Your Adventure

So, you’re planning your big adventure. Maybe it’s one week in Bali. Maybe it’s a 6-month stint in South America. Wherever and however you may be going, packing properly will save you time and hassle down the track.

What You Need

When packing, it is key to understand what you really need and what you can do without.

For a shorter trip, you can get away with overpacking a little bit. But even if you have a luxurious 30kg to play around with, those kilos are going to feel pretty heavy when you’re lugging your suitcase down a stairwell in a hotel without a lift. And also, more room at the beginning of your journey means more room for souvenirs!

AND, if you’re planning a longer trip, you will quickly realize that you can actually do without a lot of the stuff that seems crucial to your life at home. Within the first month of our 5-month trip around South-East Asia, we had already ditched 3 bags of clothes and sent one whole suitcase home because didn’t have room for them and they were costing us big bucks at the airport.

Think critically when packing. If you’re going somewhere tropical, you will be in either shorts of long fisherman pants and your t-shirts will be used for sun protection and mosquito repellant. No tight skirts, no jeans, minimal going-out clothes. If you’re going somewhere cold, don’t waste time with clothes that look good but don’t warm you up. They will only be a burden for you. Take lots of socks and undies because they always seem to run out first!

Laundry is super cheap in some locations so it’s often better to take minimal clothing and just wash as you go.

Medication

Have a good, hard think about what medicine you’ll need when you’re away. While basic pain killers are accessible in most parts of the world, things like contraceptives, thrush creams and stronger pain killers may be harder to come by. Also, research the most popular painkillers, anti-diarrhea and anti-motion sickness tablets in the place you’re going to. You want to have these supplies ready BEFORE you need them, so stock up either at home or as soon as you arrive at your destination.

Sending Bags

If you do find yourself in a foreign country with some excess baggage to send home, then don’t worry, it will be easier than you think. DHL and FedEx are speedy and reliable services that can get your goods wherever they need to go. And most countries will have their own local couriers that are much cheaper than the big names. Ask at your hotel or google ‘how to send a parcel from X to Y. We sent a whole 20kg suitcase by ship from Istanbul to Maleny, Australia for $300 and it arrived, undamaged, in about a week.

Batteries

If you are taking any vibrating our loud electrical devices with you, do remove the batteries from them before you pack them. Trust us, we’re talking from experience. It is no fun when you’re called up to the boarding gate to ‘sort out the vibrating suitcase’. Better safe than sorry!

ToastedRaisins

By TOASTEDRAISINS

They say experience is the greatest teacher and this statement is nowhere truer than in the world of travel. There are just some things that you can’t know before you go. It can be anything from handy hints that make your life a little bit easier to key pieces of advice that can save you hundreds of dollars. This is where a long list of travel tips comes in handy.

After 3 years of life abroad including 6 months traveling around South East Asia, we have collected 20 such tips that will save your time, money and stress. The tips are broken up into different sections according to the part of travel to which they relate. If you would like to add some of your own tips, please send us a message HERE! Let’s help each other travel better!

#1 Packing For Your Adventure

So, you’re planning your big adventure. Maybe it’s one week in Bali. Maybe it’s a 6-month stint in South America. Wherever and however you may be going, packing properly will save you time and hassle down the track.

What You Need

When packing, it is key to understand what you really need and what you can do without.

For a shorter trip, you can get away with overpacking a little bit. But even if you have a luxurious 30kg to play around with, those kilos are going to feel pretty heavy when you’re lugging your suitcase down a stairwell in a hotel without a lift. And also, more room at the beginning of your journey means more room for souvenirs!

AND, if you’re planning a longer trip, you will quickly realize that you can actually do without a lot of the stuff that seems crucial to your life at home. Within the first month of our 5-month trip around South-East Asia, we had already ditched 3 bags of clothes and sent one whole suitcase home because didn’t have room for them and they were costing us big bucks at the airport.

Think critically when packing. If you’re going somewhere tropical, you will be in either shorts of long fisherman pants and your t-shirts will be used for sun protection and mosquito repellant. No tight skirts, no jeans, minimal going-out clothes. If you’re going somewhere cold, don’t waste time with clothes that look good but don’t warm you up. They will only be a burden for you. Take lots of socks and undies because they always seem to run out first!

Laundry is super cheap in some locations so it’s often better to take minimal clothing and just wash as you go.

Medication

Have a good, hard think about what medicine you’ll need when you’re away. While basic pain killers are accessible in most parts of the world, things like contraceptives, thrush creams and stronger pain killers may be harder to come by. Also, research the most popular painkillers, anti-diarrhea and anti-motion sickness tablets in the place you’re going to. You want to have these supplies ready BEFORE you need them, so stock up either at home or as soon as you arrive at your destination.

Sending Bags

If you do find yourself in a foreign country with some excess baggage to send home, then don’t worry, it will be easier than you think. DHL and FedEx are speedy and reliable services that can get your goods wherever they need to go. And most countries will have their own local couriers that are much cheaper than the big names. Ask at your hotel or google ‘how to send a parcel from X to Y. We sent a whole 20kg suitcase by ship from Istanbul to Maleny, Australia for $300 and it arrived, undamaged, in about a week.

Batteries

If you are taking any vibrating our loud electrical devices with you, do remove the batteries from them before you pack them. Trust us, we’re talking from experience. It is no fun when you’re called up to the boarding gate to ‘sort out the vibrating suitcase’. Better safe than sorry!

#2 Buying Tickets

Buy Baggage Beforehand

Most airlines allow you to add baggage to your ticket after the purchase and right up to the time you check in at the airport. Many also allow you to do this online with a few clicks of your mouse. Nevertheless, with some airlines (i.e. Nok Air) it is not straight forward and you can save yourself quite a few dollars by adding baggage immediately, even if you’re unsure of how much you’ll need.

Case in Point:

We were not able to add baggage to our Nok Air flight from Chiang Mai to Phnom Penh (via Bangkok) online because we had booked the tickets using an intermediary agency and not directly via the Nok Air website. We were advised to call Nok Air directly.

But, even when we called their office directly, we were told that we would have to wait until checking in before we could add luggage which was, of course, much more expensive than if we had simply added the extra luggage when we were buying the ticket. Now we always add baggage when buying our tickets, even if we’re unsure of how much we’ll need.

Cancelling Legs

If you buy a ticket with several legs (i.e. Krasnodar – Moscow – Doha – Bangkok), do make sure that you are on every single one of these flights. If you happen to be in Moscow earlier than planned (due to family circumstances, changed travel itineraries etc) and decide you can simple skip the Krasnodar-Moscow leg and rejoin your flight in Moscow then THINK AGAIN. If you miss one leg of your flight, the airline will most probably cancel ALL legs of the flight under your name and you will be forced to purchase new tickets on the spot for ALL legs.

Case In Point:

We were planning to fly the route mentioned above (Krasnodar – Moscow – Doha – Bangkok). However, at short notice we decided to fly to Istanbul before this trip. Rather than return to Krasnodar and then fly on to Moscow, we decided it would be easier to skip the first leg of our flight and fly directly from Istanbul to Moscow and then onward to Bangkok. At the check-in desk we were informed that the airline servicing the first leg of the flight had closed our tickets because we hadn’t been present on the first leg of the flight. They did it despite the fact that had notified the airline in writing that we wouldn’t be flying on the first leg but would be continuing our journey in Moscow.

What happened? A lovely air hostess went out of her way to let us call the airline company, explain the situation and ask for them to reopen our tickets. She even let us use her own personal WIFI as Domodedovo airport in Moscow does not have free WIFI for passengers. After 40 minutes of waiting, we were finally sent an email stating we would have to repurchase tickets for the whole trip and the cost was over ten times as much as we had originally paid. What? They cancelled our old tickets and are now forcing us to buy new ones at ten times the price? Yes.

Thankfully, the airhostess realized we were highly distressed and about to miss our flight. She weaved some magic, got us through check in and we somehow made it through immigration and customs with only 10 minutes to spare. Don’t make the same mistake as us…

Credit Card

If you, like most people these days, pay for your flights using a credit or debit card, make sure you either have the card on your person or have a photograph of the card with you when checking in for the flight. Why? Because if the name on the card used to pay for the flight differs from the name on the ticket, the airline will ask you to present proof that it is your card and not a stolen/fraudulent card. A simple photograph of the card itself it considered adequate proof.

However, if you’ve used the card of a spouse or family member or one of your own cards that you don’t have on you at check-in-time, and you can’t provide a photo of it immediately, you will be asked to buy new tickets for the flight. The airline will refund the cost of the old tickets to the card used to buy them but it will take some time. You don’t end up losing any money if the airline agrees to sell you tickets at the same price for which you originally bought them, but you will probably acquire a few grey hairs from the stress of having to buy new tickets, check-in and find your gate before the flight leaves.

Downloading Ticket To Phone

No horror stories here, just a simple reminder to download your tickets to your phone in advance. Why? Because not all airports have free WIFI and if, for some reason, you can’t access your emails at the airport and you need to show check in staff proof of booking or proof of extra baggage purchase. Then you’ll need to have the documents on your phone, ready to go.

#3 At The Airport

Open Your Suitcase

Have you ever taken the wrong bag from the airport carousel? No? Neither have we! And that’s because we always follow this simple rule. After taking your suitcase, just unzip it a bit and have a peek inside. Even if it’s got your name on it, even if it’s got the red ribbon on it that you always tie on it. Just open it, have a quick look for something familiar and then you’ll know for sure.

Checking Times

This one seems obvious, but it’s amazing what a sleep-deprived mind is capable of…or not capable of. Check your flight time, your flight gate, your terminal, your airport and the day that you’re flying multiple times. Check it when you’re booking, when you print your ticket, when you’re getting ready to leave for the airport and when you arrive. Ask someone else to check it to be double sure. Just do it.

#4 Border Crossings

Dual Passports

If you do have two passports, keep one in your bag and out of sight when crossing borders. Of course, it’s not a crime to hold two passports but if officials see that you’re carrying two in your hand, some questions might arise that could delay your departure from said border crossing.

Case In Point:

Land Crossing into Northern Laos: Official mistook the papers in my passport cover for a second passport while I was walking away from the Vietnamese border and actually called me BACK onto his side to check why I had two passports. Of course, when he realized his mistake, he smiled and apologized. But still, you don’t need any extra problems at border crossings. Trust us.

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