With planes beginning to take off again, this is a great time to start preparing for a big travelling trip. So here are my top tips to help you prepare for your next big trip!
1. Cancel any unnecessary monthly direct debits
Firstly you want to start organising your finances so you can save as much money as you can during your trip. You don’t want to be worrying about monthly bills while you’re exploring paradise!
Start by looking at all of your direct debits and cancelling any you won’t need. For example any TV and Film subscriptions like Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. Also internet provider services and your phone contract. You can swap to a pay as you go sim which will be a lot cheaper.
Also, any monthly payments like on your car, paying off furniture costs etc. It’s good to organise a big travelling trip around dates when you have paid these big monthly expenses off. This way you don’t have to worry about lots of monthly bills while you are away.
2. Change your phone contract to pay as you go
This is something I did and you can definitely save quite a bit. Especially as it is far cheaper to buy a local sim in the country you are in if staying there for a long time. The data for the internet and call charges are much, much more reasonable.
Sometimes it is tricky to get hold of a local sim but the airport is the best place to start looking. Also, go to a large network store rather than smaller local stores, they are more likely to let you buy a local sim there.
Ensure to set up your switch to pay as you go a couple of months before your big travelling trip. Also, make sure your network provider changes your phone number over to your new sim.
I had so many issues where my network provider did not move my phone number over. You will be surprised at the number of accounts who need to confirm your identity using your phone number! Paypal, Gmail, internet banking, it was a nightmare!
3. Get a Monzo card
This was a lifesaver! My friend recommended this and it saved me so much money and grief when travelling.
Using Monzo won’t charge you an international or transaction fee so you can easily spend money in other countries without extra charges. Also, it provides a fair exchange rate. If given the option, always pay in the local currency to take advantage of the best rate.
You can only withdraw £200 per month so make sure you have some cash before leaving your home country.
Monzo also has a great mobile app where you can add budgets and track your spending. So a really great resource for travelling.
The only problem I encountered using Monzo is it did not work in ATMs in India. But I could pay by card in some places such as the Sivananda ashram. It did work in ATMs in Sri Lanka, Australia, America and Bali.
4. Take a small amount of currency
This is good to do in advance. I have made the mistake of rocking up at the Post Office to get local currency a few days before. Only to be greeted by the bemused faces of staff who informed me that I needed to order currency 6 weeks in advance!
It is really handy when first planning your trip to research getting hold of the local currency. It just helps in case you get there and there are no ATMs. Remember after a long flight and landing in a new country, you may not have the same brainpower or energy to locate ATMs. Also, it will be a much better exchange rate.
Just £100 in each currency will be enough to get to your accommodation and cover any emergencies.
It is also useful to bring a small amount of cash from your home country (about £100-200). This is handy if you can’t get any of the local currency. You can use it as something to bargain with if you have any trouble getting cash out.
Often there are currency exchange shops where they will swap your home currency. Great for India where it is very difficult to get local currency outside of India.
5. Plan to take 2-3 bank cards with you
It is essential to take at least 2 bank cards with you (from different banks) as some bank cards will not work in certain ATMs. Also keep these separate in case one gets stolen, that way you have a backup.
You can inform your bank that you will be travelling but I personally did that and my card was still blocked. I had so many issues due to my phone number not being transferred over, meaning my bank could not get hold of me and so blocked my account! Luckily I had my Monzo card and some cash which bought me time to sort out my banking issues.
Another quick tip is to have money in multiple accounts.
So I put money in 3 different accounts and brought 2 debit cards with me. This meant I could access money through internet banking without bringing my card. Therefore if any of my cards were blocked or stolen, I could still move money about.
It also means if someone steals a bank card, they only have access to a set limit, not all of your funds!
6. Get travel insurance
I know this is an obvious one but this is good to do once you’ve booked your flights. Travel insurance usually covers flight cancellations and sometimes if you can no longer fly due to unforeseen circumstances. So you can claim if you have any issues before your trip starts.
Usually, I will use a comparison site like Compare the Market to find the best value travel insurance. Don’t automatically pick the cheapest especially if you are going on a big travelling trip and to developing countries as you may not be covered.
Make sure you check the details of the policy before booking to ensure you are fully covered. Also, check the excess fees. These are the fees you have to pay if you want to claim.
So if you have an excess fee of £500 for lost baggage but your rucksack contents is only worth a couple of hundred, then this would not be worth it. Better to select lower excess fees. You can even filter policies so there are no excess fees.
Also, it is good to check the amount covered for medical care especially if you are going to a developing country. Imagine if you had to be airlifted out of a situation which would be very expensive.
7. Check your security recovery details are correct
This may seem like a boring unnecessary task but it will be a godsend if anything happens while you are away. Also, companies understandably need more security information when you access them from a foreign country.
Main places to check are your Gmail account, Paypal, all internet banking, and ensure your mobile number and email addresses are all up to date. This means if your bank needs to confirm your identity, they can easily contact you.
8. Backup any important documents/photos
This is a good general practice but it is especially important when embarking on a big travelling trip. So you have any important information including photos backed up before you travel.
You don’t need to invest in a hard drive, you can simply back things up on Google Drive, Dropbox or your email. Just ensures if anything happens to your laptop or phone you know you have all important documents at home.
9. Print all important documents
This is really useful and was one of the best ways I prepared for my travel trip. Before travelling, print off any information such as your e-ticket and boarding passes for flights, or flight details if the boarding pass is not yet available. Accommodation details such as addresses and contact info are super useful too.
Quite often, especially when you cannot get internet on the go, it is useful to be able to show the taxi driver, or accommodation provider your booking details.
I found this especially useful when I couldn’t pronounce the accommodation so the driver knew where they were going!
Also, it is really useful to photocopy your passport and visa for the countries you are visiting and bring this with you. Just covers you if your passport gets stolen. Some places need a photocopy of your passport to let you stay such as some ashrams in India. This way you don’t need to try and locate a printer.
I left a photocopy of my passport at home with my family in case I lost all my things and needed to know the details.
10. Take photos of your passport and visas
This is really quick and easy to do, and highly useful! Take photos on your phone of your main passport page and any visas (in your passport).
I do a second step and email these to myself. This way you are completely covered if for any reason your passport goes missing. You will have copies on your phone and email in case everything is stolen.
Sounds a bit overkill but definitely worth it just in case.
11. Download any useful apps
MAPS.ME is one of my favourite apps and saved my bacon many a time! You can download the map of the area you are travelling to before you get there. Then you can access the map when you are offline and using GPS can view where you are. This is great when trying to navigate buses and trains in Sri Lanka or India where they don’t announce the stops.
Other useful apps are travel ones for Western countries like America, Australia, and the UK. TFL is perfect for navigating the tubes in London. Citymapper helps you navigate public transport across Europe, America and Australia.
Banking apps especially for Monzo which is only operated via the phone app, are also useful.
I like to download a currency converter app to keep track of spending. You can also easily check accommodation and food bills.
12. Research and buy plug adaptors
This is really simple but easy to overlook! Before embarking on a big travelling trip, find out what plug adaptors you will need for each country and buy them.
I made the mistake of leaving this all to the last minute and then ending up buying a world plug adaptor. This can be useful if you are going to lots of Western countries but the world ones tend to be too heavy to use in developing countries. They fall out of the socket!
Personally I would recommend buying just the specific plug adaptors for each country before you go. They are a nightmare to find in the country and an absolute lifesaver!
Especially if you are planning to work while travelling so need your phone and laptop charged regularly.
The European to UK adapter works perfectly for Bali. But for India and Sri Lanka, there are specific plugs which you can buy online so ensure enough time for delivery.
13. Note down your laptop serial number and mobile phone IMEI number
Before going on a big travelling trip, I write down my laptop serial number and mobile phone IMEI number. And take this with me.
To find your laptop serial number, right-click on the Windows icon (bottom left corner). Click on “Command Prompt”. Type in “wmic bios get serialnumber” and hit Enter. Your serial number should appear in the next row.
To locate the IMEI number for your mobile phone, go to your calls screen and type in *#06#
A screen will then appear with your unique IMEI number. Make a note of this number.
This just covers you if any of these items get stolen or go missing. You can block your phone using the IMEI number and can more easily trace your laptop with a serial number.
14. Clear all history and passwords on your laptop
This may seem a bit much. But for peace of mind, I like to clear all the history and delete all my saved passwords on my laptop before going on a big travelling trip. Especially for websites such as internet banking and any card details which have been saved.
This will just make it more difficult for anyone to use your card or access your personal information if your laptop does get stolen.
You can simply access all of your security information by clicking the 3 dots in the top right corner of your Google Chrome browser.
Here you will see options to remove all passwords and autofill data such as card details and addresses. Go to Privacy and Security menu to clear all browsing history and cookies.
If you have trouble remembering your passwords or usernames you can just write them in a notebook randomly. For example, I don’t list the websites they are for. And I use prompts for passwords rather than writing them down. So I might write “usual” or “uppercase, lowercase, number” to jog my memory.
15. Write down the contact details for each accommodation
This is just a safety precaution but a nice idea when embarking on a big travelling trip. As a solo woman traveller, I like to write down each place I have planned to stay with an address, contact number and dates.
I gave these details to my grandma and sister. That way they knew exactly where I was and could access my accommodation if they hadn't heard from me. Just gave me peace of mind especially as a solo woman traveller. To know that someone in my home country knew exactly where I was staying and the contact details to get hold of me.
Sometimes when going on a big travelling trip as a solo traveller it can feel a little daunting. Well, I felt very daunted as it was my first solo trip! This gave me a feeling of more security and stability when travelling.
Luckily on my journey, I met the most wonderful people who truly helped and supported me every step of the way. That’s what is so incredible about travelling solo! You will be surprised and delighted at the amount of kindness, generosity and support you will receive from fellow travellers and locals. There really are lots of beautiful people out there.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and would love to hear from you! Let me know in the comments if you have any top tips for preparing for a big travelling trip. It’s great to share and learn from each other!
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