I wouldn’t call myself a traveller by any means. I’ve been to a few places around the globe yes… but I’ve never had the experience of packing up for a few months, living out of a backpack and making friends with strangers… The opportunity has never really arisen for me. I mean I’ve had the option when I dropped out of university, but I felt as though I needed to get a job before I went back to study in order to survive the big wide world: I had the option when I finished university a few years later, but I went straight into full-time work and I am still here today: I have the option every time I get paid to uproot my life and not look back, but I have a boyfriend, friends, family and bills to pay – so it never really seemed like the responsible choice.
Travelling is one of those things that has always appealed, and something that I know I will do one day. I mean heck, it says in my blog bio that I have incurable wanderlust (or on checking, it definitely used to) which in some sense is true. Almost every day now I post a picture on my instagram of somewhere I have been in the world or want to visit, and I am glued to Sky Scanner in my spare time just planning my next trip. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I realised how important visiting new places is to me, and how much it helps you grow as a person to experience new cultures, foods and ways of life. I completely agree with the expression, ‘Travel is the only thing you pay for that makes you richer’ (unless you know, you buy the winning lottery ticket)
Although I haven’t travelled far and wide to all the corners of the earth in my lifetime, what I have done in the last few years though is taken a fair few short breaks here and there which have not only allowed me to experience new and exciting places in the world, but also taught me some ‘tricks of the trade’ when it comes to travelling (and allowed me to keep my job and my holiday allowance).
One day I will see the world though, mark my words!
1. Do your research!
Quite a straightforward one really, but honestly, the amount of people I have spoken to who don’t research where they are going before they go, astounds me. Yes, there is much to be said about not having a plan when you go away, but surely something attracted you to that destination? Research what is around where you are staying, where the best places to eat are, where to go at night, free things to do, walking tours, how to get to the beach, where to get brunch etc.
2. Have some sort of plan
On the same note, having things grouped together by day makes it easier for you to navigate around and spend your time wisely. Have a look what tourist spots are close together, and do them all on the same day to maximise your time on your travels. Bus tours are a great way to see a city and you can usually get 1-2 day tickets which let you hop on and off as many times as you like. I tend to spend one morning/afternoon getting my bearings and then from there I know where to go the next few days and the easiest and quickest way to get there.
3. Make a note of how to get from the airport
I mention this one because there have been numerous occasions where I have ended up in a brand new city without the foggiest idea how to get to where I am staying (like the time me and my friend convinced everyone we were on the right train to Amsterdam and ended up in Den Hague, which evidently does not mean ‘the centre’). It’s easy when you are younger as you just follow your parents out of the airport and just go with the flow, and even when you are a young adult going on your first holiday without your parents, chances are you’ll have a really organised friend who has booked a minibus, or a coach, or if you’re really lucky, your hotel might have arranged a transfer already. But if you want my advice, check how to get from the airport to the city centre and book ahead if you can because if you’re anything like me and book the cheapest flight going, Ryanair do not fly to the city’s main airport!
4. Have a look at the weather
I’m a sucker for googling ‘what’s the weather like in [insert city] in [insert month]’ and just taking it word for word, but the fact of the matter is, global warming is playing havoc with our weather every year, so you can almost guarantee that the weather won’t be the same as it was in 2014. Use iPhone weather, or the met office updates and only have a look a couple of days before you go because, like everything in this world, it won’t stay the same for long.
5. Leave some time to aimlessly wander
I did mention before that having a rough idea of things to see if a good way of getting the most out of your time, but some of my favourite holiday memories are those where I didn’t have a plan. Getting lost in a new city is a great way to see the real sites that aren’t in your lonely planet guide (as long as you have google maps ready and waiting to get you back to your hotel) and you’ll be surprised at all the beautiful side streets and interesting places to see that are just off the beaten track. This is a great way as well to not spend a fortune on restaurants that just hike the price up for being in a touristy area.
6. Don’t forget your adapter
Pretty self-explanatory. If you want to be able to charge your phone, use your laptop and straighten your hair, make sure you pack your adapter (and also make sure it’s the right one for the continent you’re going to so you’re not searching the airport in a sleep-deprived state at 6 am right before your flight to Oslo…)
7. Ask people for the recommendations
In this crazy social-media-obsessed world, the chances are that someone you have in your network has been to where you are going. I love hearing people’s travel stories and recommendations for places I’m about to visit, so ask friends, family or just people on twitter for their suggestions. Sometimes the best finds come from right under your nose.
8. Only pack what you’re going to wear
I am the worst at this, but I find I am getting better the more I go abroad. Also, I’m not one of those people who takes a year to pack for a three-night trip away. I literally will pack the day before because A) I don’t know what the weather is going to be up until that point (see point 4) B) I tend to write a list of things on my phone when I think of them so want to leave packing until the last minute C) I usually use all the makeup and skincare products I want to take with me up until the morning of my flight so I can’t pack them anyway! Aim to plan your outfits based on the weather so you don’t over pack (or at least try not to…) and always travel in comfy clothes, remembering how cold the UK is bound to be when you get back!
9. Only pack what you’re going to use
I decided to add this in as a separate point after what happened to me when I went to Germany in December. After going to Oslo only a couple of weeks before and not being able to fit a lot in the plastic bag they give you, I decided to be clever and buy my own clear makeup bag off Amazon for my upcoming trip. Except no… you aren’t allowed to do that – you have to use the bag they give you. Because of this, I ended up having to throw my deodorant, shampoo, conditioner and mini moisturiser away which meant having to replace them in the airport 5 minutes later; not ideal when you think you have the answer! My advice is, only pack what you know you are going to use; there’s no point in packing your whole night time skin routine because you’ll probably be too exhausted to do it all anyway! Also, be warned that all your liquids cannot exceed 1 litre altogether; but you’ll never get 10 x 100ml bottles in one of the bags anyway so yeah…
10. Film your travels
A picture speaks a thousand words… it sure does, but do you know what speaks two thousand words? A video! This is something that I don’t think I’ve ever done, but definitely something I am going to inflict on everyone that comes away with me from 2017 onwards! Not only are travel vlogs one of my favourite to watch on YouTube, but now I have a decent camera, I want to be able to relive all of my experiences through video as well as pictures. Even if it’s just a few seconds on your phone or a saved Snapchat story, think about how great it’ll be to play back at a later date.
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This post was written in collaboration with GoEuro.co.uk for their #travellessons blogger competition – wish me luck! Find out more information here. All views are my own.