You've purchased all the shiny new gadgets to record your trip, whittled down your packing-list to an art-form and highlighted and underlined the guidebook - now you just have to wait until your adventure begins. Right?
There are a few little details that so often get forgotten when you're preparing to leave which can trip you up when you're well, actually on your trip. So don't stress, here's our guide to making sure you've got them covered!
#1 notify your bank
These days, we find it cheaper, safer and more convenient to use a credit/debit card overseas than to exchange money.
So, if plastic is going to be your main or emergency source of money on your adventure, make sure to tell your bank where and when you are going. The last thing you want is for them to cancel or block your cards - when you're legitimately using them abroad - as they think there's been fraudulent activity.
#2 photocopy your passport
Border crossings, hostels, vehicle rentals or adventure sports companies may require passport photocopies, so it's useful to have three or four already with you.
It's also advisable to carry a couple of spare passport photos.
#3 create an emergency numbers list
When something bad happens, you don't want to waste time searching for the correct numbers to call. Put together a simple A4 document with all useful numbers you, your travel companion or a bystander may require in an emergency. We'd suggest contact details for at least the following:
- Next of kin and other important family members.
- Insurance claims helpline
- Country consulate
- Your banks lost/stolen card emergency helpline
And if you still haven't taken out travel insurance a couple of days before you leave - don't despair, there's still time! We recommend True Traveller and World Nomads, whilst you can find out everything you need to know before buying a policy in this guide.
#4 cancel any bills or subscriptions
There's nothing more annoying than realising that your expensive annual magazine subscription or gym membership has automatically renewed when you're not going to be in the country for the next twelve months.
Make a list and cancel everything you don't need before you leave; you want as much money for your adventures as possible after all!
It also makes sense to have a forwarding address for all correspondence, and inform all relevant companies or persons of this.
#5 currency count
Before we leave home, we always make sure we have some local currency for our first few days, and a few emergency dollars. Around $50-$100 of both currencies has worked out best.
You'll usually be able to find an ATM on arrival but a full wallet means less stress if you need to get out of the airport quickly or the cash machine isn't working.
We've found that US dollars are often the best currency to have in an airport, emergency or if you desperately need to exchange money into local currency in the middle of nowhere.
We also recommend bringing a prepaid card with you which charges zero fees for spending or ATM withdrawals overseas, and has great exchange rates. We use and recommend the Monzo card - it currently has a waiting list of thousands, but you can skip the queue and sign up for free here.
#6 make your phone travel-ready
There are some great apps which can help you on the road without a data connection. For example, Google Maps allows you to save lots of maps off-line, which continue to work perfectly with your GPS. Google Translate lets you can save an entire language off-line, including useful phrases and it makes sense to take screenshots or download your flight and hotel confirmation too.
Also, familiarise yourself with how to turn off your data and roaming charges to avoid huge bills overseas.
Lastly, back-up any important information or treasured photos somewhere safe (cloud or hard-drive) to avoid losing everything if your phone gets stolen or falls victim to your drunken night out with your new mates from the hostel.
#7 book your first night's accommodation
Once we're on the road, we'll usually just turn up to a city and take our chance on finding somewhere for the night. But nobody wants their first night to end up being their worst night - so make sure you book somewhere nice, safe and easy to find before you leave.
Contact the hostel in advance to find out exactly how to get there from the airport and how much it should cost.
Check out our beginner's guide hostels.
#8 double-check flight time and best route to airport
Right, let's get this clear. You don't need to arrive three hours before your flight, but it's stupid to arrive with only an hour to go.
Double-check when your flight leaves, confirm exactly how much luggage you're restricted to and then work out how long it should take you to get to the airport. Then give yourself another thirty-minutes as a safety buffer.
You've come this far, there's no point being late.
#9 future-proof your hand luggage
Always plan for the worst and pack your hand luggage not just for the flight, but in the expectation that your luggage is going to get lost/delayed for a few days after you arrive.
Make sure it has your key travel documents, cash cards, local currency, some toiletries, chargers and converters and a spare change of clothes.
Find out our packing essentials for any long-term trip here.
#10 charge your shit
Those last minute good-bye calls. final updates of your Facebook news feed and Instagramming the view from the plane can all take their toll on your battery before you've even taken off.
Make sure all the gadgets you're going to use on the plane are full of juice the night before, you don't want them dying on you mid-flight.
The best solution for us, which is also essential once you're on the road, is a portable power bank which can charge multiple devices. We use this one by RAVPower
Now you're covered on all the boring things, get ready to start dreaming of that beach you're going to be lying on or that mountain you're going to conquer!
planning your next adventure? check out some of these posts!