With my trip to Istanbul (Turkey) drawing nearer, I’ve been getting even more excited (and a bit anxious). A lot goes into the planning and preparation for travelling to an all new city/country. To be completely honest it can get quite stressful! However, there are a few ways in which I can ensure that my trip goes as smoothly as possible and so I thought it would be nice to share some of the travel preparation tips I usually follow.
1.) Passport: When will it Expire? Make a Copy!
The very first thing to do before any travel is check the validity of your passport. Will it expire in the next 3-6 months? How long will the trip be? Will the trip exceed the expiry date of your passport? What a catastrophe it would be if you were suddenly stranded in a foreign country without a passport! Also try to ensure that you at least have one copy of your passport on hand in the unfortunate event that your passport gets stolen or lost while on your trip.
2.) Locate Your Country’s Embassy
If you run into troubles while on your travels, knowing the location of your home country’s embassy and/or their contact information will come in quite useful.
3.) Do You Need a Visa?
Depending on the country you choose to visit, you might need to apply for a Visa. Ensure that you research the travel policies of your intended travel destination beforehand to avoid the embarrassing scenario of being denied access into a country. (I almost booked a ticket once to Moscow without realizing I needed a visa for the visit, yikes!)
4.) Check Airline Policies
Nothing is worse than arriving at the airport and realizing that you were only allowed a carry on rather than a check-in luggage! (Hello, unexpected extra fees). Avoid this by always double checking your airline’s baggage policy. Airline fine prints can be so tricky, especially when it comes to budget airlines. These airlines often offer base prices for their flights which DO NOT INCLUDE THE COST OF CHECK-IN BAGGAGE. If you’re planning to travel with any budget airlines (Spirit, EasyJet, RyanAir etc), I would urge you to check ahead of time what the baggage stipulations associated with your airline are. It’s also wise to read up on the restricted items on flight to prevent losing any personal items (Ciao, Swiss Army Knife!).
5.) Packing In Advance (Yay!)
When travelling I typically begin packing a week ahead of time, that way I’m certain I’m fully prepared. Depending on your destination or the type of trip you’ve planned there are an array of essential items you may need to pack. Some general essentials I like to carry along are: a first aid kit and general medicines (painkillers, antacids) and comfy shoes (for when I need to do a bit of walking).
6.) Exchange Money for Local Currency
It’s always a good idea to exchange cash into the local currency of the country you’re visiting, especially in places that do not use credit-cards or have few ATMs.
7.) Learn a Bit of the History of the City/Country
Exploring a new country/city is always much more interesting when you know a bit of it’s historical background. It gives you more insight into the people and their culture and a deeper appreciation for what it has developed into today.
8.) Read Up on Current Events
Being aware of the local environment can be helpful when travelling as it may inform you of some of the places or things to avoid and be aware of while there.Take a few minutes to read your local newspaper, listen to the radio or google what’s currently going on in the country/destination you’re going to visit.
9.) Research the Cultural Rules or Etiquette
It’s important to know the cultural background of the country you’re visiting as some may have specific cultural etiquette that you may need to abide by, especially those that do not follow western cultural practices.
10.) Check the Weather
Checking the weather at least 1-2 days before your trip can be quite useful/informative as it can tell you the type of clothing or accessories you may need to carry along (maybe a light winter jacket or an umbrella). It can also help you to determine what type of itinerary you should plan.
11.) Buy/ Download a Map
Save yourself the trouble of getting lost by simply buying a map of the city/country you’ll be visiting. Google Maps actually offers a download option of specific regions within a country (you can download as many sections as you like) that do not require internet access. I find this useful on my travels as I don’t have to stop as many locals to ask for directions AND I can easily pinpoint the various destinations I’d like to visit.
12.) Pinpoint Key Locations of Interest
Before leaving for your trip, try to select a few places of interest you’d want to visit. These may be landmarks, museums, restaurants etc. While a great deal of the fun of a trip is to be spontaneous, there are almost always places that are a must see!
13.) Learn About the Local Cuisine
One of the most exciting parts of travel is discovering the local cuisine! Food can be prepared in so many ways and through travel we get to experience many different styles of cooking. It’s a good idea to read a bit about the types of dishes your travel destination is known for so that you can have an idea of what dishes interest you. It’s also a good idea for persons with food allergies since you can avoid any dismal scenarios!
14.) Learn Basic Words in the Native Language
Although English is an international language, I always like to learn a few words in the language of the country I’m going to visit. Simple words such as, “Hello” “Good Morning/Evening”, “Thank You” should be easy enough to learn. Learning just a few words or phrases can put a smile on the locals faces and will also show them your respect for their country and culture.
Now you’re all set for your trip! Enjoy it!