Tip 1: Prepare But Prepare Less
Two years ago, I went travelling for 6 weeks. I carried with me a lot of things. I had one big suitcase that I forcefully packed all my clothes in, a small suitcase with all my other belongings such as shoes, electronics and chargers and I also had a small backpack that had my laptop, camera and more stuff in it.
I brought everything “Just in Case” I needed it. My trip was in summer and every country I visited was warm, but I still brought a thick jacket, long pants and a beanie “just in case” I faced a cold day in Europe. I brought my laptop with me “just in case” I needed it to watch a movie on the airplane. I brought clothes that I never even wore at home “Just in case” I changed my mind and wanted to wear them overseas. My bags were full, heavy and I drag them with me everywhere I went.
The TED talk opened my eyes, and I’m pretty sure it will open yours too. Since watching it, I’ve got rid of most of my belongings, I packed and donated 3 full-sized bin bags of clothes that I never really wore and donated them to the salvation army, sold most of my other possessions that I hardly used and kept only the things that I truly need.
Now, Instead of saying “Just in Case” in every decision I make about what should or shouldn’t I take with me travelling, I ask, “Does this thing add value to my life? Do I really need it?” And if the answer is no, then I won't bring it with me.
Tip 2: Packing
My 3 top Packing Tips:
- Use Packing cubes: to keep everything super organised and easy to access. I put all of my t-shirts in one cube, pants and shorts in another cube, and leave my underwear and socks in the third cube. You can buy cheap packing cubes from eBay or Amazon just like I did or you can option for better quality expensive ones if you like. Either way, you must get some; they will make your life much easier.
- Roll your clothes: don’t fold them. You’ll save loads of space this way and keep all of your clothes wrinkle free.
- Bring A plastic bag or use one of your packing cubes to keep your dirty clothes and laundry separate from the rest of your clothes: I personally use the apple store plastic bag (the one you get when you purchase things from Apple). These bags are great, stylish, quality material, large enough and got shoulder straps to use for carrying your dirty laundry to the Laundromat. Note: you don’t need to purchase an item from the apple store to have one, you can simply approach one of the staff there and ask for one.
An overview of what I am packing with me:
Passport and travel documents.
iPhone and laptop chargers.
iPhone portable charger
Bluedio Headphones (cheap but incredible sound)
A Book (to keep me entertained on long flights or bus trips)
Jumper (for when it gets cold in the airplane)
Headache tablets and bandaids (because I am a bit clumsy)
A water bottle.
Healthy Vegan Snacks (to keep me satisfied in my flight)
Tip 3: Travel Insurance
Getting travel insurance is an obvious thing to do, but so many people disregard it including me. But let’s face it, we get sick and accidents happen, even if the chances of an accident happening are very slim, no one wants to deal with being in another country with a stressful situation and short of money.
What type of insurance cover should you get?
The most important cover that you need to have is medical. The medical cover should be the minimum type of insurance you're covered with during your travel.
The second type of cover that I highly recommend is theft, loss or damage of property cover. Deciding whether you need this cover or not depends on:
- The cost/value of the items that you are bringing with you travelling?
- Being able to replace your belongings during your trip without causing any financial stress to yourself.
To help you choose the right type of cover for your belongings, you need to calculate how much does all of your valuables worth and then decide which type of cover suits you the most.
Most insurance companies offer different levels of insurance, usually “Basic” and a “ Premium” or a “Plus” cover.
I got the Basic cover, which includes up to $2500 for property loss and theft because the valuables I am bringing with me are not worth more than that. Ben, on the other hand, got the Plus Cover, which includes up to $7500 for theft, loss, and damage to property because he's bringing more expensive things with him.
There are many other additional covers offered by insurance providers for an extra cost. I stuck to medical and property covers and didn't get any extra covers because I don't think they are necessary for me.
What does your policy actually covers?
Your insurance policy sets all the rules out about what’s included in your insurance cover and how you can have a successful claim when "shit hits the fan". The problem is that these policies are not written clearly and are very long and complicated to read.
Policies differ from company to company. Usually, the cheaper the insurance is the more hidden things and the more rules you will find in their policy.
Most Insurance providers offer unlimited medical cover. You shouldn’t have problems with it when claiming (unless you have a pre-existing medical condition, if you do, please read your policy carefully as you might not be covered for certain things).
When it comes to property claims, insurance companies can be very dodgy, unwilling to pay and usually have a long list of rules on what qualifies for making a successful claim.
Here is a snapshot of page 15 of my policy (with InsuranceGo) with a long list of exclusions and rules for property loss, theft or damage claims.
3 steps to have a better chance of making a successful, hassle-free property cover claim:
- Notify your insurer as soon as possible. Make it a priority to let them know as soon as you realise that you’ve lost your things.
- Notify the police/authority within 24 hours of finding out that you’ve lost your item. Make sure you get and keep a police crime incident number or any proof from the police that you have reported the incident so you can show it to the insurance company once they ask for it.
- Provide a proof of ownership. Insurance companies may refuse to reimburse you if you can’t prove that you are the owner of the claimed lost or stolen items. Most companies will require you to provide a receipt of purchase as proof of ownership when making a claim. So, make sure you have the purchase receipt for your items, or at least a copy or a photo of it. (I recommend taking photos of your receipt and emailing it to yourself as a photo won’t fade out like receipts do).
Other ways to find a proof of ownership if you don’t have a receipt:
- Search your email for electronic receipts or proof of purchase emails.
- Search your bank statement for the paid transaction (if you paid by card).
- Find the serial numbers of your items and record them somewhere or take photos of them and email them to yourself as proof of ownership.
- Take photos of your belongings your bringing with you (preferably with yourself being in the photos with your items)
Which insurance provider should I go with?
Do your own research; there are many great websites that compare insurance companies and their prices. Make sure to read reviews from independent websites before choosing an insurance provider.
For Australians, I found GoInsurance Travel to be the cheapest by far with great reviews. Ben and I are both using them for our trip overseas. (use the promo code FINDER10)
Tip 4: Banking and ID's
Get an overseas friendly bank card that doesn't charge you extra fees when withdrawing money overseas (google or ask the banks in your area for information about travelling with an account from their bank) and also check if the bank has an overseas presence (branches, ATMs and/or partnerships). The more ATM's or associations they have in the country you're visiting, the fewer fees you'll be paying.
For Australians, I recommend opening a CitiBank account because they have so many branches and ATMs in most major cities overseas that let you withdraw money with no extra fees at all and a very accurate exchange rate.
Notify Your Bank:
Let your bank know that you are travelling to avoid the risk of having your card locked while you’re away. It’s a 2-minute call that will save you lots of time and stress.
It's important to have copies of all of your Identifications such as passport, driver's license, and bank cards when travelling just in case you lose them. Many people take physical printed copies of their identification documents and cards but It isn't necessary to do that in this digital age we live in. In fact, it is much safer now to just take photos of your IDs and send them to your own email address and even someone's else's email to be more secure (a close friend or a family member).
Tip 5: medical Check
Get all the Vaccinations / Tablets you need
If you are visiting certain areas such as Asia or Africa, there is a big chance you need some travel vaccinations and tablets to protect you from certain diseases like Malaria or Hepatitis. The best way to know exactly what type of vaccination you need for the areas you're going to is by visiting your doctor (but you can also find out by doing a quick google search).
Make sure to tell your doctor way ahead of travel time because some vaccinations require you take them in a period of time prior to travelling (could be up to 6 months long).
Make your own first aid medical kit (optional)
I personally only carry headache tablets and band-aids as all the areas I am visiting have pharmacies and shops around where I can buy whatever I need when I need it. But if you are going to different remote areas, doing lot's of hiking and exploring the wilderness where there aren't many pharmacies around, then I recommend you buying a first aid kit or making your own one.
Other Useful Tips (optional):
- Keep Your Mobile Number
Your mobile service provider will cancelI your sim and take your phone number back if you don't use it for a while (in Australia, after 6 months of not using it or adding credit to it).
To avoid losing your mobile number in your home country, make sure to top up with the minimum credit you can get every 6 months or so (ask your service provider about the time it takes to lose your number if not used).
- Get a Portable charger for your phone
Being trapped in places with low battery and looking everywhere for a wall outlet around you doesn't sound very fun especially when you have long flights or bus trips and you really need/want it. A portable charger that can charge your phone to full again so it lasts you for a whole day is always a good idea.
- Get all your questions answered
My final tip to prepare for your long-term travel is to explore the internet about travelling, google as many things as you can, watch youtube videos, read reviews (especially for hostels and restaurants), get Happy Cow app (essential finder app for every vegan traveller out there).
You can find almost every answer to any question you have online plus it is super fun and exciting to look all these things up before travelling.
Happy Travels :)