I absolutely adore travelling. As someone who spends every bit of cash I have on jetting off to a new city for a short break throughout the year, or saving up for a week long getaway for the summer, you’d think I’d have this travelling malarkey down to a tee – but I don’t. These are some things I wish I’d known before stepping on that plane and they are applicable for all sorts of trips and destinations.
- Don’t underestimate the weather
I am hopeless at this one. When I went to Croatia this summer I knew it would be hot, but 32 degrees is a lot hotter in real life than it sounds on paper. I wish I could afford a villa with a pool to cool down whenever I wanted or to be able to get in an air conditioned taxi to chauffeur me around, but walking everywhere and getting on cramped, sweaty buses makes that 30+ degrees feel a whole lot hotter. As I sat down at the side of the road, literally dying, with heat rash plaguing my body and a sweat and suncream concoction dripping off me, a beautiful lady swooshed past me in her chiffon sun dress holding an umbrella to protect her from the sun and wiping her arms with wet wipes. Be more like this lady.
The same goes for winter breaks. I learnt that a jumper, coat and hat just won’t cut it for Denmark in December. If you’re heading off for a winter break, especially in Scandinavia, double up on those socks, wear two jumpers, heck – wear two of everything, you’ll need it. A great hack for cold weather is to wear leggings or tights under your jeans for extra insulation.
- Pack like a Pro
If I’m honest, this is one hack I feel like I’ve perfected. I regularly travel with just hand luggage, which saves on luggage charges and also makes life a lot easier for you, especially if your hotel check in starts at 2 pm and your plane lands at midday. Get in a few hours of exploration with just a backpack to carry instead of a suitcase!
Pack light with one practical pair of shoes (boots or trainers) and one stylish pair. Try and choose items of clothing that you can mix and match with others. (If I’m going away for 3/4 days I tend to wear a pair of jeans and pack one). Folding is key too. Roll up t-shirts and put your underwear in your shoes, keep liquids to a minimum and decant larger liquids into travel sized bottles or buy travel sized essentials. If you’re going away for longer, use laundry rooms at hostels and even buy travel detergent to limit the number of clothes you pack. Also – don’t forget your travel adaptor to charge your phone!
- Look up public transport systems and maps before you get there
I’m horrendous at navigation so this one is my boyfriend’s responsibility whenever we go away. Look up the metro/tube map of the city you’re visiting and either print it off or screenshot it on your phone before you leave. Work out what bus route or train you need to get to see the things you want to see and look up ticket prices. If necessary, purchase travel and attraction packages for unlimited use. However, these are almost always a waste of money. As European cities are generally very small, everything may be within walking distance, and ticket prices are usually very, very cheap…a 24 hour travel pass in Berlin was €7!
- Sometimes the touristy stuff just isn’t worth it.
Don’t just go for the first excursion an over enthusiastic woman on the side of the road sells to you. Collect the leaflets that they give you, go back to your hotel and research the hell out of every company. Trip Advisor is your best friend to make sure you’re getting the best trip for your money, and whether it’s worth going to in the first place. If you do go somewhere touristy, avoid the peak times for the least stressful experience and to actually enjoy (and see!) what you want to see.