Travel Advice & Hacks we didn't take serious
Having read as much as there was time for in preparation to leave, we still were not fully prepared. Some things you just learn on the road. With one confirmed reservation for 3 nights and a flight to from AU to NZ we just winged it. With that came many solid lessons we learned along the way.
Before any planning, paying, or prepping for a big trip pack a positive attitude first.
And for for heaven sakes - BE FLEXIBLE.
If you want to enjoy your hard earned money spend on any trip - go with the flow.
Your attitude toward any event will make or break your experience.
Those who don't regularly meditate you may want to consider it to fall back on in stressful times.
Having a few tools in your travel tool belt will be key to an enjoyable experience.
If traveling Internationally make sure to double check Visa restrictions. Each country is different and rules vary depending what your citizenship is. Unless of course you like hanging out in the immigration office for two days of your trip potentially with young kids
- do your homework.
Extensions are costly, try to stay within the tourist visa time frame allowed to make your life easier.
Also check Visa requirements prior to booking a flight. Some are more costly than you may think. Getting that cheap non refundable round tip ticket to China is great, until you discover the $250 ten year Visa which is required to enter Beijing if staying over 72 hours. - We all make mistakes, double check your work as my old math teacher would say.
Get travelers insurance shortly after paying for any trip large or small. It is cheap and it can protect you if you have to cancel for any reason prior to. Be SURE to get it prior to leaving the country. Take it from us, we made that mistake. Also get it within a few weeks of payment on a flight. There are restrictions depending on the company you select.
We have been happy with Allianz Global in the past with a claim but we have also had coverage with World Nomads. Whatever you choose just get covered!
What Platform To Use and When
Don't stick to one way of thinking regarding the best route to booking accommodations. Different countries offer different options. Airbnb is often a lifesaver in some places while other demographics a hotel would be cheaper. We learned this the hard way our first ten months out. Think outside the box when booking and check all options.
GET YOUR OWN SYSTEM & STICK TO IT
Have a routine the night before relocating to a new designation the following day. Ensuring you have packed all your belongings and nothing is left behind is a bigger task than you may think. Showering the night before and having everything ready to go in the morning will make the transition smooth. Roadblocks typically happen on travel days, don't start out stressed and walking out the door with a dead cell phone and a hangover expecting to pull it off.
Have a system and stick to it. Always check under beds, under dressers, open drawers, and the shower. You would be surprised what you may find. Kids have a knack of misplacing items in odd places.
DIVERSIFY IN BANKING
Have more than one credit card as well as another bank card. Prior to leaving set up the option to transfer money online between the two accounts. Things happen even to the extra vigilant travelers. ATM’S in Asia can eat your card for no reason, you can be a victim of pick pocketing in Europe, or just flat our accidentally lose a card. Never depend on one and make sure to only carry them separately. Nothing worse than loosing all in one swoop if pick pocketed. Many companies or banks have a policy restricting the reissuing of cards mailed to foreign countries. If you are expecting your credit card company to forward your card to you outside your home address you may find yourself stuck. Having accounts which allow you to shift money from one account to the other without lengthy wait periods can save you.
ASIA : Some countries don't accept American Express, Master Card and in most local parts you will find yourself needing cash only. Cash is King in developing areas, This includes Thailand, we used cash 90% of the time.
Lastly, never go out with more money or cards than you need. Keep a system of where you keep your valuables and try locking them up or hiding the bag when leaving for the day. If required to keep a passport on you at all times bring a copy rather than the original.
BUDGET AIRLINES TIPS
When using carriers such as Allegient, Ryan Air, Norwegian, WOW, JetStart, or ANY carrier for that matter always double check your info and be prepared with water and snacks. No two airlines are alike in their rules which means you need to investigate each one individually.
Ryan air for example with charge you 56 Euro ($65 USD) per person if you do not check in online prior to the flight. Norwegian will charge you 75 Pounds ($100 USD) for each carry on over the strict weight limit of 10 kilos (22 pounds) COMBINED WEIGHT of personal item and carry on. If you have a small backpack or laptop bag and a carry on the combined weight must me under 22 pounds or you must check a bag. This includes long haul international flights.
You can save money when flying with these carriers if you stick to the rules and come prepared. If you want a hassle free flight, stick to big names such as Qantas which is one of our personal favorites!
Whatever airline you choose, research will save you hidden fees.
BUY A $5 HANDHELD TRAVEL SCALE to weigh your luggage the night before.
Then CHECK IN online!
XEROX COPIES OF DOCUMENTS
Make extra copies of your passport and important documents. Email a copy to yourself so to always have access to them, one way or another.
When traveling with minors always make sure to have a emergency plan in place with the older sibling or a trusted adult back home. Know where your nearest embassy is and take extra precautions if concerned.
We felt safe our entire trip minus the shady location of our hotel in Paris. Our solution included, extra caution with items and surroundings as well as in by 7pm for the night. Sometimes you adjust for piece of mind. It worked out wonderful.
CHECK SEASONAL WEATHER BEFORE BOOKING A TRIP
This seems to be a no brainer to many of you but for us dummies over here at Re Writing 40 have come close to making that very mistake.
Cheap flights are great when you find them but if you go when it is freezing or the flip side suffering in of 95 degrees with 99% humidity that cheap flight may not be worth the misery in weather. Seasons can be flipped depending on your location on the globe. A quick google search can save you a heap of trouble in the end.
Back up Chargers and Backing up Photos.
We live in a day of age that our cell phones are the source of maps, language translation, and some of the best handheld cameras that fit in your pocket. Keeping them charged is essential. If there is one thing I would NEVER travel without it would be a charging cable and a good portable backup battery. Having used many brands the Red or Blue ScFuel Mobile is our all around favorite. For a small back up we reach for the Goal Zero Flip 10 because of the convenience and size. Its great in a pinch.
If you ask my kids we will all agree one of the most annoying things of living abroad was not the language barrier, not the odd and sometimes unbearable food or even loving without a car. It was THE PLUGS! Keeping all systems running with laptops, phones, iPads, and the random need for a converter while using a hair tool, it can be a pain. I did discover this kit too late in our journey and very pleased it is now on order for our next trip. The Apple Travel Kit is here to save the day. You're welcome! Link in red takes you to the price.
EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
If traveling long term be sure to invest in a small external hard drive. Phones and laptops can get stolen, travelers insurance covers you but your photos will be gone forever. Forget about replying on phone backups if you are on the move a lot, they don't happen as much as you plan. Be safe - we suggest the WD 4TB My Passport for its durability and size. Just be certain to order the correct Mac version or Windows version.
TAKE PICTURES OF VALUABLES
Take pictures of your luggage, clothes, and all valuables. Email them to yourself for extra precaution. If your bag gets lost, this will help identify it more easily and speed up the process of having your travel insurance reimburse you.
LONG FLIGHTS & JET LAG
Yes it is real and no it is not just about sleeping at odd hours. It can affect each person differently or even not at all. More likely than not long haul flights will do a number on you. Hydrate, eat foods on the flight with less sodium, get an eye mask, set your clock to the next destination and use melatonin to help you sleep on the flight. Again, hydrate both before, during, and after the flight.
Besides fatigue and insomnia, a jet lag sufferer may experience a number of physical and emotional symptoms, including anxiety, constipation, diarrhea, confusion, dehydration, headache, irritability, nausea,
indigestion, difficulty concentrating, sweating, coordination problems, dizziness, daytime sleepiness, malaise (a general feeling of being unwell), and even memory loss. Some individuals report additional symptoms, such as heartbeat irregularities and increased susceptibility to illness.
So be patient with yourself and others around you as you all adjust to the new internal clock. I've had it extremely bad before and other times it was like I didn't skip a beat. Take care of your body before hand and the symptoms will be lessened.
Flying in - without a Flight out.
Having only flown round trip / return tickets internationally, this was something we were not prepared for. It blind sided me on our very first flight after leaving the ship.
Needing to show onward flights out of a country one you are IN their country is not what we are referencing. It is the "your can't get on the flight because you don't have a ticket OUT of the country you have not even landed in".
There were two specific times I was required to prove this, one of which I had to buy 5 tickets on the spot, NOT CHEAP. Again, this is BEFORE they let you on the plane of your current destination.
Our example is a US citizen flying out of AU to NZ. Get a onward ticket leaving NZ at a later date or they will NOT let you board. We are talking flight canceled no refund, your problem. We learned quickly to cross check our plans after that.
IGNORE THE TRAVEL MYTH
"DON'T PLAN TRAVEL ON AN ITINERARY OR YOUR WILL LIMITED"
FIRST, I am talking to families or those needing more than a hostel.
You will hear a lot about not sticking to a schedule when traveling long term. It's kind of a thing many backpackers say and do...solo. I took this quite literally but it put extra stress on the trip many times. Speaking directly to families, not hostel backpackers or couples without kids.
(HUGE DIFFERENCE )
If you want any sense of freedom, plan ahead. Otherwise your false freedom on the road will involve many MANY hours pecking away at your keyboard searching for a place large enough for a family..
How far to plan ahead?
For families mainly staying in Airbnb / VRBO / Booking.com, while also traveling at a "fast pace". Make it a priority to have secure accommodation planned out 2 to 3 months ahead. These are when the best rates for flights generally release if not on a special deal.
Whats the risk if I don't other than time?
When you wait and go with the flow or relocate last minute, you may pay for it in high room rates and less options. Plan as far ahead as your budget allows, and play all the other sightseeing or details by ear keeping the spontaneity fresh. Travelers insurance will cover your losses if you have to cancel a non refundable Airbnb.
AND AGAIN, GET TRAVELERS INSURANCE.
By the time we got it after a scare, we didn't need it. Don't make that mistake.
I could have had my new iPhone that was stolen covered. Instead, ...loss.
The truth of it all is you will make your own mistakes during a trip.
Just try to avoid ones that are too costly. All travelers make them, and we walk away still happy the adventure was taken. Don't freak out that you have to know everything, because you don't and you won't. We learn with each trip and still laugh and shake our heads on our bigger losses.
Just as in life, enjoy the process.