Here at Imaginative Traveller we pride ourselves in the fact that our team are all well travelled and thus in the best position to offer advice on our tours and destinations as they can speak from a personal perspective rather than just a sales manual. During their travels, they have picked up some handy pointers to ease the whole travelling experience so we thought it would be useful to share these tips with you!
• Call your bank before you leave your home country to inform them you will be abroad and will be likely to use your cards. Otherwise the bank will freeze any withdrawals or payments on that card, thinking your card has been stolen or cloned
• Carry at least two copies of a scan of your passport with you and carry them in separate bags. Also, email a copy to yourself and to a trusted parent or friend before you leave your home country. This way the scan is readily available. Make a note of the emergency contact numbers for any bank cards or travellers cheques
• Always carry a money belt that is well hidden. Also, consider carrying a fake wallet with expired cards and a little money, in case of being mugged
• A simple bit of advice for lone female travelers worried about people entering their rooms in the middle of the night - just buy a doorstop and wedge it in the door. It makes opening even an unlocked door practically impossible, and would at least make plenty of noise to wake you
• Save small bottles to fill with shampoo/conditioner so you don't have to carry large/heavy sizes and you can beat the 100 ml limit for hand luggage
• If you are a person that travels ‘heavy’, invest in some compression sacks which will allow you to take a few more items with you! Rolling clothes instead of folding them also saves space. On the other hand, there are considerable benefits to simply packing lightly!
• Pack different sections of your luggage (outer clothing, underwear etc…) into waterproof bags/bin liners in case your bags get left out in the rain on the runway or en route to the hotel
• Travel towels – far lighter, more hygienic and quicker to dry than normal cotton towels. They can absorb nine times their weight in water
• Always bring padlocks with you on trips, as often lockers are provided for you to leave valuables in
• Toilet paper and a torch/headtorch are essential items!
• Always carry a pack of cards – for train and bus journeys and creating easy camaraderie in groups
• Pack a sarong – good to lay on when on the beach, can be used as a towel, covers your shoulders for temple visits etc… even men wear them in South East Asia!
• Pop in sachets of ketchup, tabasco, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, etc to improve any bland food
• Remember that most hotels, guesthouses and backpackers offer a laundry service, so don’t feel you must bring clothes for every day you’re away. You’re sure to buy t-shirts and other clothing items as souvenirs anyway
• Always decide with the taxi drivers the price of the total fare BEFORE you get into the taxi. Also, make sure you are comfortable paying that price. Check if they charge extra for air-conditioning and be wary of offers to take you to their uncle’s cousin’s brother’s hotel which is the ‘best in town’.
• Some countries haggle as a way of life (Morocco), but others see this as an insult (Mongolia). Make sure you understand what sort of behaviour is considered acceptable before you arrive
• In the countries that DO haggle, decide the highest you are happy to pay before you ask the price. What can be a pittance to you can mean a great deal to them. Keep it friendly!
• Respect the traditions of the country you are in. It is not only the correct way to behave when you are a ‘guest’ of another country, you will avoid any unnecessary attention. For example, in certain countries, female travellers should dress conservatively. They may also be barred from visiting certain religious temples. Alcohol in Muslim countries is always a contentious issue – check before you crack open that bottle of duty-free whisky as you may offend the local Berbers when trekking in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Discretion is the best way forward – and just because someone else is doing it does not mean it is right.
• Smell the top of plastic water bottles for the tell-tale sign of glue. The bottles may be re-filled
• When camping in cold climates or at high altitude put anything with batteries in at the bottom of your sleeping-bag to stop them from draining. If it is really cold, put your water bottle inside as well to stop it freezing
• Ladies, if trekking and you don’t feel like ‘baring all’ during toilet breaks, buy a ‘she-wee’. Horrid, but it makes sense!
• Remember that no matter how experienced you are as a traveller, if you are in a foreign country you are a ‘tourist’, and are not entirely privy to their unique social conventions.
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