Hello, summer. After a year of working hard, being cold, and generally feeling a little bit miserable, your reward has finally arrived. You’re about to embark on that dream vacation: whether it’s backpacking around Southeast Asia, boating around the Greek islands or boozing in Berlin.
It’s time to say your goodbyes, to pack your bags and to have one hell of an adventure. And here are some essential travel tips to make your journey all the more memorable.
1. Choose your travel buddies wisely
Whatever trip you have planned, who you pick to accompany you makes a BIG difference. Will they be willing to slum it if necessary or will they only stay in a luxurious pad? Are they prone to mood swings, especially if they don’t have a sufficient supply of snacks to hand? Are they a total party animal, when you prefer a chilled-out beer?
These are important considerations to make. Because the things that mightn’t bug you about your friends at home – you might even find them endearing – are the things that could destroy your relationship on the road. The little things can become a lot bigger when faced with the challenges of travel; so choose your buddies with care. You might even find that your best travel companion is yourself. In that case, fly solo and have a ball!
2. Check the weather
It sounds like an obvious one, but it’s one so many of us forget. We set out for India in August, excited about a sun-filled adventure… only to realise that it’s the middle of monsoon season. Or we fancy a trip to Vietnam over our Christmas break… not realising that the country has about 4 different climates, each with its own weather system. So make sure you check out the best time of year to visit certain places – and you won’t find yourself on a beach in your bikini, about to get blown away by a typhoon.
3. Set your budget
There’s nothing worse than having to cut a trip short because you’ve run out of money. Especially because you’ll have the post-travel blues anyway, and suddenly you’re stuck at home, flat broke. Not the best end to your summer! So before you set off, create a realistic daily budget. Check up the average daily spend for a tourist visiting whatever country you’re going to, and take a third of it off (I always wonder how people manage to spend so much!)
Now you have your daily budget, try and stick to it. If you’ve had a fancy lunch, go local for dinner. It ain’t rocket science – but it could stop you crawling back after two weeks with your poor tail between your legs.
4. Research local festivals
Whether it’s Songkran in Thailand or Carnival in Rio – or one of the many small and equally fun festivals going on all over the world – you’ll be kicking yourself if you miss them by a few days. So when you know where you’re going, see if there’s any fun festivals going; or better still, plan your trip around these festivals. It’s an exciting and different way to get involved with the local culture, and to have an experience that’ll stick long after your plane has touched down back home.
5. Travel light
Of course, this depends on where you’re going, but usually you can pick up all the travel clothes you need at a local market. They’re cheap, they’re colourful, and no one will have the same thing back home! Whenever I travel, I pack as little as humanly possible. I no longer burden myself with things like raincoats when I’m visiting a hot country in the summer; when monsoon season hits, I’ll simply pick one up at the market. Easy peasy.
Travelling light makes every journey less of a hassle. You don’t have to worry about paying for check-in bags, you can easily wander for ages in search of accommodation if needs be and you don’t have BACKPACKER tattooed across your forehead, setting you up as an easy target. It’s easier to blend in… plus your shoulders will thank you for it!
Well, that’s about it folks – 5 quick tips to help you have an even better summer vacation! But no matter where you go, or what you do, remember this bonus tip: stay rested. After all, you’re on your holidays; there shouldn’t be anything stressful about it! So follow whatever advice the experts give on sleep, make sure you get your 7–9 hours of sleep a night (or at least take daytime naps) and come home feeling rejuvenated and replenished. Like you’ve actually had a vacation.