Article courtesy of Komail Noori.
Preparing for a trip or vacation
Travelling broadens our perspective of the world in which we live. Going to foreign countries provides exposure to different cultures, different food, and different languages. Many countries encourage international tourism as a way of boosting their local or national economies, but there are some countries and cultures which view foreigners with suspicion and do not particularly care for strangers in their land. Even in some popular ‘civilised’ travel destinations it is easy to become a victim of thefts and criminals who will take your luggage, assault you to steal your jewellery and valuables, or cheat you in the price of taxi fares or other services. Your best protection is to be alert, book your tours through trustworthy agencies, and never travel alone to an unfamiliar destination. Make sure that you know the traditions of the land where you want to travel before you start your trip.
Planning a trip can be exciting, as long as you take the necessary precautions. Travel advice will help you decide what you need to bring with you, like travel clothing and supplies. Contact your travel agent if you have any questions during your trip preparation.
Scheduling your trip involves careful planning. Travel agents can help you to organize some of your preparations. First of all, take care of your travel documents. Some countries require only passports, but others require passports and visas. Do not wait until the last minute to obtain your passport because this may require several weeks. To get the best deals for your transportation and hotel accommodations, you will need to make your reservations well in advance of your travel. The best bargains can be obtained during the off-season when demand has diminished. Airlines that provide food service can accommodate special dietary requirements if you give them at least 24 hours advance notice.
Along with your passports and visas, you may need to take along vaccination certificates, and prescriptions for any special medicines that you need. Before embarking on a trip, check to make sure that you are allowed to travel with your medicines. Some medicines sold over the counter in the United States may be considered illegal in other countries and vice versa. There is nothing more unpleasant than starting a vacation on the wrong foot by having to explain to the customs authorities why you are carrying so many “drugs”.
As a result of terrorist activities, airports have increased their security inspections before allowing passengers to board. Get to the airport with plenty of time to manage the check-in congestion. Also, don’t exceed the container size limits of carry-on liquids, gels, and aerosols, otherwise, your toiletries will be confiscated. All liquids, gels and aerosols must be in a 84 millilitres or smaller containers, and they must be placed in a single, quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag.
The following checklist can help you to prepare for your trip.
– Passports – check the expiration date two months before your trip
– Hotel reservations, take along confirmation numbers
– Travel reservations, take along airplane tickets
– Travel insurance to cover the duration of your trip
– Driver’s license, registration, insurance cards (leave unnecessary cards at home)
– Money or foreign currency (cash, traveller’s cheques, credit cards)
– Carry some emergency cash in a thin sock attached with a safety pin to the inside of your underwear.
– Car keys, house key. (leave unnecessary keys at home)
– Stop the newspaper and mail.
– A pile of newspapers or a stuffed mailbox tells thieves that you are not at home. You may come back from your trip to an empty apartment or house.
– Turn down thermostat at home
– Arrange for someone to water your plants and take care of your pets.
– Don’t forget to leave the keys and itinerary.
– Do not pack your travel documents or money in a suitcase that may get lost. Take your important documents and money in a wallet or purse that you can access at all times.
– Make sure that your luggage has a tag with your name, address, and telephone number.
– Tie a colourful ribbon or attach distinctive stickers to your luggage so that you can identify it easily, and other travellers will not take it by mistake at a busy terminal.
– Shirts, blouses, pants, dresses, hats, coats, sweaters
– Rain protection – travel umbrella or raincoat
– Underwear, socks
– Toiletries, cosmetics, shaving needs, deodorant, shampoo
– Dental floss, toothbrush, nail clippers, nail file
– Contact lens preparations
– Camera, batteries, recharger, voltage converter, small flashlight, travel alarm clock, hair drier
– Swimming suit, beach towels, sun block cream
– Sleeping bag, backpack
– Cell phone
– A printed list of emergency phone numbers or address book may be handy if your cell phone batteries die or you lose the phone.
– Aspirin or analgesic
– Decongestant or cold/sinus medication
– Antiseptic spray
– Mosquito repellent, anti-itch cream
– Special medications
– Food supplements
– Canned food, can opener
– For international travel, do not take fruits and non-sterile foods such as dried sausages because they can spoil and are usually confiscated by customs.
– Check tyre air pressure, including spare
– Tools for changing a tire
– Check oil and gas level
– Sun block, sunglasses
– This is important on a long trip when the sun may be shining on your arms and face for a long time.
– Trash bags, moist towels, napkins
– Insulated bag for cold drinks and fruits
– Take water for drinking, for the radiator, or windshield washer.
– Soft drinks may be OK for you, but they cannot be used for the car.
– Granola bars or other emergency food
– You may be stuck in traffic for a long time when you least expect it.
– Cellular telephone
Camping or Beach Vacation
– Dry snacks (granola bars, nuts, trail mix, jerky) and bottled drinks
– Ice chest
– Beach umbrella, folding chairs, beach towels
– Sunblock, sunglasses, wide-brim hat
– Swimming suits
– Life vests, inflatable flotation devices
– Sports equipment (baseball, bats, beach ball, surfboard)
– Sleeping bag, air mattress
– Tent, stakes, ropes, hammer, shovel
– Portable stove, pots, pans
– Lantern, kerosene, batteries
– Emergency signalling equipment (cell phones, radio, mirrors)
– Maps, compass, Global Positioning System (GPS)
– Survival Gear (knife, axe, waterproof matches, saw, fish hooks, fishing line)
– Water purification tablets
– Insect repellent, snake-bite kit, first aid kit
– Hiking boots, jeans, long sleeve shirts, coat
– Before a hike, spray insect repellent on your shoes, socks, and pant cuffs to discourage ticks and insects from crawling up your legs
– Hunting equipment (rod and reel, guns, ammunition, bows, arrows)
– Make sure that you have proper permits for guns and licenses for fishing and hunting.
– You may need a tape measure and a spring scale to make sure that your catches are of legal size. Use guns safely!
First Timer Tips:
So you’re about to finally make that first step into the weird and wonderful world? Good for you – you won’t regret it! There are a few things you should know before you leave to help you on your way. While on the road we recommend you follow your gut-instinct, but some things are worth knowing about before you leave…
Don’t pack what you don’t need, especially if you’re backpacking. There is nothing worse than lugging around a pile of bricks on your back when arriving in a new city and trying to find a place to stay. Just remember, if you need something, you’ll be able to buy it on the road. It is easier to travel with a pack than with a suitcase – suitcases don’t like crowded streets, rocky roads or stairs (and subways have a lot of them)!
AVOID JETLAG & AIR SICKNESS
Flying internationally causes jetlag because of the fact that you are crossing three time zones. Some precautions to take include:
a) Drinking plenty of water and no alcohol intake.
b) Sticking with a bland diet.
c) Adjusting your watch according to your destination’s time clock and attempt to adhere to your arrival schedule – the sooner, the better.
d) Take some sleeping pills on that long flight over, sleep is golden and you’ll be thankful for it when you arrive
DON’T DRAW UNWANTED ATTENTION TO YOURSELF
When travelling in some countries, it is best to leave your jewellery at home – the richer you look, the more of a target you’ll become for pick-pocketers. You also might want to take one ‘nice’ outfit in your backpack to blend in with the locals. Wear shorts and hiking boots in cities such as Venice and you stand out like a sore-thumb. And don’t forget to spend some time away from the tourist traps – immerse yourself in the local way of life!
CARRY THE CORRECT FORMS OF CURRENCY
Exchange just enough money to cover your expenses for your travels. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a new country on your first day with no local currency. Make sure your ATM card can be used in the places you are visiting (you’ll find a logo like the ‘Cirrus’ one on the back of your card) – some places in South America won’t accept this so ensure you have enough cash on hand. It is safest to take a mixture of currency with you – a credit card, some cash, and perhaps some travellers cheques. This will cover your butt just in case that credit card declines or a machine won’t accept your ATM card.
RESPECT THE CULTURE OF LOCAL CUSTOMS
Some countries, especially in the Middle East and Asia, dress more conservatively than we do. You shouldn’t wear shorts or sleeveless tops in these places, so ensure you have some other forms of clothing packed in your bag. It is also handy to have a long-sleeved top packed in your daypack – places like St Peters Cathedral in Rome require you to cover your arms when entering the building. You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to see such fabulous places just because you don’t have the right top with you!
PACK A GAME OR TWO
There will be times where you will be sitting around waiting for flights, buses, places to open, etc. Ensure you pack a travel game, diary or something to occupy yourself with.
BE EDUCATED ABOUT WHERE YOU’RE GOING
Always read up on the city before you get there. It pays to know a little about the basics such as transportation, weather, do’s & don’ts and an orientation of the city. Once you’re there, go to a Tourist Information Centre first – that way you can get an idea of what is going on, so you don’t miss out on the good stuff.
CARRY THE RIGHT THINGS WITH YOU
Always take an extra pair of clothes in your hand luggage – there’s nothing worse than being in a new country, where you don’t speak the language and where the airline has lost your luggage – at least you can have a clean change of clothes this way.
DON’T FORGET TO USE YOUR FAMILY CONNECTIONS
Very distant relatives are close enough when you need somewhere to sleep – and assure them you’ll return the favour if they ever come down to this neck of the woods. Oh and hey – phone your Mum sometimes! – she wants to hear from you.
In light of all these tips, just use plain common sense and intuition. Travelling should not be overwhelming or dangerous. In fact it should be one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences in your life… Enjoy!