After over 2 years travelling in South East Asia I’ve learnt a lot. Mostly learnt the hard way from shitty experiences along the way. I’ve lost bank cards, had phones and a MacBook Pro stolen, been locked out of banking apps. Had my email account hacked and my identity stolen.
Below are the top 10 tips I would give to new travellers to help make the travel experience as trouble free as possible.
1 – Keep a pay as you go sim from your country
Everything these days wants to send a verification code to your phone number when logging in – if you lose your phone with your sim card and no longer have access to the number its a nightmare to access pretty much anything. I now keep a pay as you go sim with an English number but leave it locked away safely in my locker and then get a sim for the country I’m in or just use my phone without a sim.
2 – Take more than one credit/debit card
It’s always good to have at least one backup when it comes to accessing your money. You never know what’s going to happen, and stressing about money is not how you want to spend your time when travelling. I know because I’ve been there. Personally I have a Monzo and a Revolut card. I also now take my bankcard as backup as well, because I got locked out of the apps for a bit when losing my phone and had 2 cards that were both unusable.
3 – Don’t feel pressured into accepting the people who offer you taxis straight off of a bus.
If you’re unsure on what the right price is walk away and take a moment to get your bearings and work out your options. You can always go back to these people if you don’t have another way to get to where you want to go.
4 – Back up your photos.
Phones get lost and stolen quite often when you are traveling. Phones can be replaced easily enough but if you don’t back them up then the photos of all your treasured memories can’t be. Make the effort in advance you will be glad you did.
5 – Learn a few basic phrases for the country your in.
“Hello” “Thank you” “No thank you” and “How much?” are the ones I try to learn as soon as I get to a country. Of course if you’re travelling to lots of countries it can be hard to learn too much. But Just enough to be polite, and also help with bartering on prices and getting unwanted salespeople to leave you alone more easily is reason enough to learn a few phrases.
6 – Write down the address of your hotel or hostel
If you have booked a hostel and have a long journey to your destination there is a good chance you won’t have battery when you arrive. Of course you can always find somewhere to charge your phone and get wifi if you don’t have mobile data. But this can be stressful after a long journey, especially if you haven’t had enough sleep. You will probably be glad you took a minute to write down the address.
7 – Keep a smaller backpack with all your valuables in.
When you’re travelling on busses and trains and leaving backpacks unattended underneath busses it’s definitely worth having a small day pack to keep with you at all times. Also if you arrive at a hostel a long time before check in it’s good to be able to leave your main backpack at the hostel and just keep the valuable stuff with you in a smaller bag.
8 – Carry spare passport photos with you
There is a good chance you will need them for a visa on arrival at some point and having some photos with you already saves having to find somewhere to get photos done when you have lots of other things to think about, and are quite possibly in a rush.
9 – Have some US dollars.
Often when you get a visa you need to pay for it in US Dollars. Keeping some with you for this reason saves you having to find somewhere to transfer your money at the last minute.
10 – Don’t worry things will go wrong
No matter how many tips you get from me or anyone else some things will definitely still go wrong at some point. But look on the bright side at least you will have good stories to share with other travellers you meet along the way. And I can pretty much guarantee someone will always have a much worse story than yours.