There are several websites with useful ideas detailing what and how to pack, and how to stay safe during your travels. The following is my top 10 (+1) list based on personal experience.
- Be humble: Wherever you travel respect the culture and the people of the country. Don’t flaunt your wealth or act like you own the place, even if it’s your money putting dinner on your host’s table. In certain countries doing so not only makes you a target, but most locals are much more sociable and helpful if you show respect.
- Pack smartly. Travel light. Have your valuables and a change of clothing (only one, ladies!) in your carry bag, in case your suitcase gets lost. Everything else you can buy locally if necessary.
- Be practical. Wear comfortable shoes. Choose clothing items that can easily be combined with others in your suitcase, or items that can be worn in different ways allowing you to go from the beach to a restaurant (without being thrown out). Also consider weather changes. Relaxing on the beach, or going for a stroll in the city? If you’re planning to spend the majority of the day outside, have your sunglasses and a little tube of sunblock ready; even if it’s cloudy when you leave your accommodation. Also defend yourself against rainstorms, in form of an easy-to-carry foldable raincoat.
- Pack a pharmacy kit. Aloe vera for sunburn and insect bites, pain killer, anti-diarrhea pills, band-aids could come in handy.
- Choose your everyday carry bag wisely. Make sure your bag is comfortable to carry for hours if the day brings an unplanned adventure. Also have a reusable foldable bag with you for anything you pick up on the way. Those can be easily obtained in outdoor equipment stores or online.
- Be prepared to go offline. Don’t get stranded because you lost your 3G connection or roaming ate all your data. Have a map and brush up on your language skills, in case you need to ask for directions. Don’t just assume that everyone speaks English wherever you go.
- Local food is amazing, but be careful. The only way to truly experince a culture is to eat with them. Eat what the locals eat but be careful. Here are a few tips on how to stay healthy: use purified or bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. Wash or peel any fresh fruit to avoid patogens. Don’t be afraid of spicy food, especially when travelling to the tropics: spices like chilli and turmeric have cleansing properties, help to keep your tummy happy and your intestines clean. Avoid street vendors or make sure what you buy is freshly made in front of you and cooked thoroughly.
- Hydrate throughout the day. Start your day with a glass of lemon water: squeeze some fresh lemon into a glass of water and drink it every morning before breakfast. It helps your metabolism and helps prevent infectious diseases. But don’t forget to stay hydrated all day long. Carry a bottle of water and stop regularly to take a little sip.
- Stay safe. Mind your bag at all times, especially in crowded places. Always have your passport, credit card and phone on your person. Most street vendors will only accept cash. Have some in your wallet or front pocket and keep the rest of your cash in a secure place. If you’re paying with card, don’t let it out of your sight. Leave the rest of your valuables (including jewellery) in the hotel safe. If you don’t stay in a hotel, it’s better just to leave them home.
- Picture time. If you’re anything like me, you will take a lot of pictures during your travels. Make sure you have a way to charge your camera’s battery, and to back up your pictures. If you don’t, have a replacement for both.
+1. Prepare for insect attacks. Be it mosquitos or ticks, it’s better to be prepared. Google the local “wildlife” to find out what’s out there to get you and how to defend yourself against them.