With the autumn term well underway and dreaded deadlines looming, dreaming of our summer getaways is the perfect escape! But not everyone is an experienced gap-year jet-setter, and for some of us travelling can be a daunting prospect. So, here are a few pieces of advice that will help your adventures run a bit more smoothly.
Let’s get the practicalities out the way first. You need to consider any vaccinations and VISAs you might need, as well as buying travel insurance and letting your bank know you’ll be abroad so your card isn’t blocked. Do this well in advance so you’re not worrying about paperwork closer to the time. It’s also useful to have a picture of your passport – this will save a lot of stress if it gets lost.
Get up Early
Setting your alarm for the crack of dawn will allow you to skip the inevitable crowds at popular attractions, get sightseeing done before the relentless midday heat and cram more activities into your day. If you’re aiming for a relaxed holiday sipping cocktails then this one may not be for you, though it might mean you are able to nab the best sunbeds by the pool! Learning to be a morning person may not suit everybody but you can always take a leaf out of the Spain’s book and take a well-earned siesta!
Don’t expect everything to go to plan – it won’t! Things are bound to go a bit topsy-turvy at times, so be adaptable. Go with the flow and don’t stress if you don’t follow a pre-planned itinerary to the dot; some places may capture your interest more than others and you may want to alter the time that you spend there. That being said, booking a few tickets in advance may be cheaper and save you hours of unnecessary queuing, especially for the main tourist attractions. Patience is also key to travelling, don’t skip all the popular attractions because of crowds – they’re famous for a reason!
Do a Food Tour
Immerse yourself in local cuisine and be brave in trying new foods that you would never find at home. A brilliant way to do this is to book onto a food tour, offered in many different cities. You’ll be able to try local specialities and they often give recommendations for the best food experiences, so be sure to fit this in early to make the most of your trip. Alternatively, locals are often all too keen to point out their favourite eateries hidden away from expensive tourist traps! It’s always useful to learn a few key phrases in the local language. You don’t have to become fluent – ‘Hello’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Where’s the toilet?’ and ‘beer’ should get you off to a good start!
Pack lightly; a general rule of thumb is that if you’re not sure you need it, you probably don’t. As well as planning fashionable outfits, try to think practically and bring clothes with useful pockets, long sleeves to combat mosquitos at night and any garments needed to respectively cover up in religious locations.
Take lots of Pictures
Photos provide great memories and help keep family members updated (and jealous)! It may seem tacky but saving postcards and tickets will help remind you of every detail. Yes, they might end up in the back of a drawer collecting dust, but they’ll be fun to look back on in a few years when doing the spring cleaning! But be careful not to spend too much time snapping the sights that you don’t fully absorb what’s right in front of you.
If you’re adventurous, step out of your comfort zone and enjoy it, you can’t really go wrong!
– Beth Davies