Do you want to have happy memories of your summer travels this year? Are you hoping to come home telling stories of adventure not horror? Have no fear. Soton Tab is bringing you some golden oldie tips as well as a few obscure pieces of advice to ensure your travels go (at least moderately) smoothly.
1) Safety and Security
Making sure you’re safe and sensible when travelling can seem tedious, but the Soton Tab has a few tricks up its sleeve that might make all the difference.
On buses and trains always keep your belongings close to you – do not leave them in overhead storage or out of sight – and preferably have a strap wrapped around your leg in case you doze off. Our very own Co-Ed-in-Chief, Lucy Dyer, told us about her experience of public transport while travelling (do not make Lucy’s embarrassing mistake):
I once got stuck on a bus in Italy because my rucksack got caught in the door
It is popular among poor students to stay in hostels and cheap accommodation when travelling, which is ideal until your purse goes missing. Keep a padlock handy for when you’re asleep or don’t want company in the shower.
An obvious but classic tip for keeping money safe is to split your cash: make up a fake purse with random receipts and a few bank notes that could buy you more time exactly when you need it. Do not leave visas and vaccinations to the last minute as some inoculations have sets of jabs that must be weeks apart!
2) Local Knowledge
Advice from locals can be invaluable when travelling so never take their opinion for granted. Before you leave make sure you can speak a few words of the local language so you seem respectful and not entirely stupid. If you speak to the right people you may discover the best places to go and worst parts to avoid. Alex Gledhill told us about the advantage of local knowledge from his experience:
If you’re going somewhere a little more exotic, see if you can get advice from locals, or better, a guide… One in Dominica took us river running and helped us explore waterfalls, which was pretty cool.
It’s also worth checking up on local events before you leave such as bank holidays and festivals which could affect your transport or be worth hanging around for. Researching the culture and traditions of your destinations is important too, in order to avoid offending anyone, for instance consider appropriate clothing and polite greetings.
3) Effective Packing
Don’t forget any of your VIP (very important paperwork). It sounds obvious but a few scraps of paper may just save your life! Photocopy any important travel documents – such as passport, EHIC, insurance details, visas and transport information – and keep them in separate places. If you do lose your passport it’ll be much easier to make the necessary arrangements with the correct details.
Make sure you’re prepared for the weather. No matter how hot your destination is always tuck in a fleece (not a hoody)- they pack small, are a saviour on transport with air-conditioning and can double up as a pillow. In terms of sun protection, we can all learn from Lucy’s mistakes as her photo shows exactly why sun cream is a necessity.
There’s nothing worse than being lost in a new place when you don’t speak the language. Take a map and phrase book to ensure you’re prepared for anything, but only get them out when you really need them. Photos and memories will be your main method of reminiscing so pack your camera and a journal so you don’t forget anything.
Most importantly, remember to pack your brain! Joel Foreman told us about his experience of leaving his intelligence at home:
In Spain once we ended up washing our socks and underwear in our sink because we’d run out, only to later realise the place had a limited water reserve and we’d used up all the shower/toilet water for the day.
4) Get in the spirit!
The most important thing is to enjoy yourself- travelling is not meant to terrify you. Let your hair down and immerse yourself in the place by tasting new food, learning new skills and meeting new people. You’ll never forget it!
Your travels can change the way you see the world so don’t be afraid to take risks that you would normally avoid.
Any tips we missed? Let us know in the comments below!