You’re super excited because soon you’ll be on the road for your next travel adventure. Gosh, I know how that feels! While we can’t always expect everything to be perfect, we can at least plan our trip ahead in order to minimise our stress while travelling.
I don’t usually plan my travels from A to Z, but I always make sure that I do everything which is necessary for my journey before I leave home. What about you? Here are 12 things to do before you travel, which I hope will be useful for you.
1. Make sure that your passport is up-to-date
Don’t travel with an invalid passport. It has to be valid for at least six months after your return date. So make sure you check your passport’s expiry date before you travel.
If the validity is less than six months, update it at your nearest passport renewal office.
2. Be prudent with your money
If you save more money, you can enjoy more activities during your travels. Of course you can still enjoy your journey with less money (even with no money!), but there’s nothing wrong with having more, right?
How much you save really depends on where you want to go and for how long you plan to travel. Different people may have different needs. So it’s best for you to plan your budget yourself.
My hitchhiking buddy once said to me that all he needed was US$1,000 to travel. Now ask yourself this question: Can you survive with that amount? As for me, my answer is maybe. That’s why it’s always good to plan your budget wisely, and save as much as you can before you travel.
3. Inform others about your travel plans
It’s always a good practice to inform your friends and family about your travel plans. That way they will know your whereabouts. In case of an emergency, they will know where to search for you.
This is also a good practice for working individuals. You don’t have to tell your colleagues and bosses all about your travel plans. The most important thing they need to know is the travel period. That way your team will be able to determine what assignments or projects they can cover for you while you’re away.
4. Take your entertainment with you
Offline entertainment is important to me. I usually download useful apps that serve different purposes before I travel.
For example, I have game apps on my phone to accompany me whenever, wherever. I currently have two fun games by Ketchapp on my phone: Basketball and Swing.
I also carry an MP3 player with me when I travel. I download as many songs as I can until my MP3 runs out of space. I’m also a film hoarder. I keep lots of TV series and cartoons on my 500GB external hard disc.
You can also enjoy free in-flight entertainment and select from whatever that are available for you.
5. Pay your bills
It’s annoying when you’re chased around for money while you’re in the middle of a vacation. To save you from stress, it’s always good for you to settle any outstanding bills before you travel.
Whether you’re travelling in or out of the country, I’m sure all you want is peace of mind, right?
Imagine if natural disasters hit you and you’re stuck abroad. If you had your bills paid just before you leave, you’ll be less stressed out as you’ve got nothing to worry about back home. In a situation like this, you’ll be able to focus on yourself and your own safety — and that’s all you need to worry about!
6. Check the weather
Okay, you don’t ever want to travel when the weather is bad. Always check the weather before you leave for your travel; a week before your departure is recommended.
If you check the weather, you’ll be able to predict if there will be any flight delays. You’ll also know the kind of clothing you’ll have to bring.
I remember when I visited Vietnam in February 2016. The weather was quite cold and as far I can remember, the temperature was about 15 degrees. I brought a warm jacket with me and I even wore layers of clothes. But I forgot to take a raincoat and an umbrella with me! Indeed, the raincoat was an important travel item at that time as I was travelling by motorbike. I knew the weather was going to be cold. But I didn’t know that it was going to be cold and rainy!
7. Contact your bank
If you’re travelling overseas, you must not forget to call your bank. Failure to do so will only result to withdrawal problems. Also, check with your bank if your ATM/credit card will work at your travel destination.
In case you aren’t able to withdraw any money, get your friends to send you money via Western Union or IME. There are of course plenty of overseas transfers available for you to choose from.
8. Make a list of the things you need and start packing
Plan, plan, plan. If you plan your trip well, you won’t end up like me who forgot to pack a raincoat for a cold, rainy season. So start planning your trip if you’re going anywhere soon.
Make a list of all the things you need on a small notebook, or you can use reliable mobile apps to help you with your list. There are many free organising apps on App Store and Google Play for you to download. Some of the popular ones are:
- Todoist:To-Do List, Task List
- Wunderlist: To-Do List & Tasks
- Google Keep – notes and lists (I’m using this!)
- Any.do: To-do List | Task List
You can use any of them before and during your travel.
For me, I like to plan and organise my list because it helps me to pack light. Light travel is definitely my travel style. I only pack things I really need. Some common essentials most travellers usually have are international power adapters, inflatable pillow, sleep mask, sanitiser, raincoat, and lightweight travel clothing.
I don’t carry many clothes with me. I usually have two of every type, or I would wear clothes with multiple purposes.
What I usually have are:
- Shorts – for a hot day
- Bathing suit – for the beach or swimming pool
- Trousers – for my jungle exploration (or when I need to enter religious sites)
- Dress – for random parties
- T-shirt – everybody’s old-time favourite
I highly recommend seamless undies for the ladies. I think they’re great simply because they’re small, light, and so easy to fold!
9. Download useful apps
Apart from entertainment, you may want to download useful apps that’ll make your life easier while you travel.
You don’t necessarily have to do this, though. I understand that not everybody owns a smartphone. But if you do, why not keep some of the good ones on your mobile phone/tablet?
Belo are some of the apps I’m currently using:
- Chat apps
I use Skype, Whatsapp, and Line to stay connected with my friends and family. When I was living the digital nomad lifestyle, I relied on Skype and Whatsapp a lot in order to speak to my clients.
- Navigation apps
Navigation apps are a must-have on my phone. Google Maps has served me well during my travels, and even now. I always use it to search for the places I haven’t heard about.
When Alex and I travelled together in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, we used an offline map called MAPS.ME Offline Map + Navigation.
- Restaurant finder apps
Say, you’re vegan/vegetarian. Everywhere around you serves meat or dishes that are cooked with meat. You walk around for almost an hour looking for a vegan-friendly restaurant. But you aren’t able to find one. Even if you did, you’ve already wasted so much time just on searching.
But what if you had an app that can help you find the type of restaurant you’re looking for? Even better, it pinpoints the exact location of the restaurant you’re searching for.
Finding a vegan-friendly restaurant is usually not difficult in most countries. But it’s also not always easy to find in some countries. Apps like Zomato and Happy Cow make the search a lot easier.
10. Learn about your destination
It’s always good to read about your destination before you get there. Find out about the local weather, the do’s and don’ts, people, culture, food, and history.
If you read up on your trip, you can avoid yourself from offending the locals. For example, in some areas in the Middle-east, revealing clothing is unacceptable. Also, if you were to enter a temple, you need to have your body all covered up.
11. Get a pet sitter for your pets
If you’re going off for a trip, whether it’s short or long, you need to make sure that you don’t upset your furry friends at home. Don’t travel and leave them behind by themselves. I’m sure you won’t want to be left at home all by yourself too, right? Someone needs to care for your pets.
I adopted a stray dog when I was 7. I named her “Chip”. She came to my house and ever since that day, she became a family pet.
A year later we had new additions to our family when Chip gave birth to 7 lovely puppies. They grew up into happy and mischievous dogs. Even when my family wasn’t around (because sometimes we went out of town to visit our relatives), they always found ways to get to the road and play with their stray dog friends. We never needed a pet sitter.
But not all dogs are like Chip. I had a beautiful Toy Poodle named Mikey many years ago. Honestly, I will never let Mikey roam around the streets all by himself. Whenever I had to be away from home for work or holiday, I will put him in a dog kennel. I hated it. He also hated it. After keeping him in a dog kennel for a week while I was away, I told myself that I’ll never put him in a place like that anymore. That was also when I realised that I needed a pet sitter.
There are many pet sitting services available all around the world. If you’re living in Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, you can browse for pet sitters near you at www.petsodia.com I have an account there too. P.S. You can also make a side income by taking care of other people’s pets!
12. Recharge everything you need
Before you start your journey, recharge all your gadgets including your most important valuable — your body. Make sure all your batteries are fully charged so you won’t have to worry about running out of them when you need them the most.
Hit the hay early before you travel. Try to avoid excessive alcohol consumption a day prior to your departure.
Once I partied so hard that I ended up having a hangover on the plane. It didn’t bother me after I boarded the plane. I slept like a baby! But I was feeling groggy on my way to the airport. That wasn’t pleasant at all.
So before you travel, take note of these 12 things. You’ll have a better travel experience when you do. Want to get more tips like these? C’mon and subscribe to my stories today!