Please appreciate my new nickname that my Gran very lovingly gave to me. We all know that I've done a lot of travelling this past year, but I didn't exactly do it the traditional backpacker kind of way (two pairs of pants and only one pair of shoes? No. Just no.). It all worked out well though, people would take pity on me and just carry my suitcases before me because I clearly looked like a weakling. Even so, I like to think I've managed to pick up a few hints and tips that a few of you might find come in handy...
- Travel at night: This way, you get to sleep on the plane and arrive at your destination feeling (slightly) refreshed and you don't miss out on any valuable exploring time. Evening and nighttime flights tend to be cheaper too, plus you get to avoid traffic and huge amounts of people at the airport, so you're saving time in every way possible.
- Hostels aren't always the cheapest option: Hostels and backpacker accommodations just aren't as cheap as they used to be. I stayed in both during my time away and found Air BnB to be so much cheaper. People say you miss out on the experience of meeting people, but I did shared accommodation at Air BnB and ended up meeting some amazing people, who showed me the sights and introduced me to new people.
- HostelBookers is great: Previous tip aside, if you are looking to stay in a hostel, then I couldn't recommend HostelBookers enough. With reviews, ratings, comparisons and information all in one place, it makes it so much easier to find a place to stay.
- The more you travel, the better you become at packing: Don't worry if, the first few times you travel, you end up taking everything and the kitchen sink. It just takes a little practice. Admittedly this is a bit of a pot calling kettle situation (two suitcases, Mary Poppins' handbag and two laptops...) but I'm getting there... I no longer take the kitchen sink.
- Make copies - passport health insurance travel documents etc: I don't drive, so going on a night out and having to show ID can sometimes be complicated. I usually take my passport, but there's always that worry, especially after a few drinks, that I'm going to lose it, so I always make sure to carry copies. Some bars don't accept photocopies, but you should be good for everything else. It's always good to keep a few spares in your suitcase too, just in case anything gets stolen.
- Plan ahead // Plan and group things together making the most of your time: I spend the few weeks prior to my trip researching my destination. From typical tourist destinations to hidden spots and the best places to eat, I like to be prepared and plan my trip out day by day. That way, I can group things together, saving travelling time and just spend it exploring the place I'm in.
- Home comforts: I'm not the type of person that gets homesick. In my eyes, home is wherever I am, but that doesn't mean I don't like to take a little reminder with me, and it's something I've recommended to a lot of friends. I know a lot of people who hate flying or just being away from now, but they find that small things such as their favourite perfume, a cushion or some photos from home help.
- Comfy shoes: STORY TIME. I know two people who were once on the same flight as Blake Lively and she was dressed in casual clothes, converse, no make-up and her hair in a bun. Blake Lively is me. Well, not really, but a girl can dream. She later got changed in the airport toilets, ready to greet the paparazzi. Even Blake Bloody Lively (not her official name) wears trainers on a flight.
- Always carry mini first aid kid plus carrier bag for sick: especially when flying with a budget airline, some of which no longer provide sickbags. Some do provide them but they're so small that I don't quite understand how you're supposed to get it in the bag without classily vomming all over yourself. Also, at least carry paracetamol and ibuprofen, because there could come a time when you are so ill that you tell the plane staff that they're going to have to give you drugs or do an emergency landing, and all they will give you is Calpol, which they say will knock you out. I speak from experience: it doesn't, it didn't, I cried a lot and I think everyone on the plane hated me.
- Expect the unexpected: Even though I like to have a plan and know what's going on, you can't exactly prepare yourself for every occasion, you've just got to go with the flow. Like the time a family held a funeral with an open top casket in the communal area of the Air BnB I was staying in in Singapore and left it there for three. days.
- Take photos and buy a selfie stick: I am a horder, especially when it comes to memories and anything sentimental, which is why I take photos of everything and anything, just to try and remember every single detail about my trip. Because I travelled alone for a while, I understand how hard it is to get the right Instagram, so I'm all for using a selfie stick, just don't be that obnoxious person that repeatedly hits people in the head with it while trying to get 'the perfect shot', because if it's me you hit, I'll grab it and either hit you back or throw it far, far away.
- As much as you think you need the pillow, blanket and headphones: and TUC biscuits offered on flights, you'll just end up with a collection and end up throwing them away at the end. Leave them on the plane to be reused (just thinking about that will probably put you off using them all together...
- Sleep on the plane, train, bus etc.: Wherever you can, as much as you can. I like to hit the ground running when travelling, with early starts and late finishes so make sure to get plenty of sleep in the lead up to my trip and again when I'm back, all while getting as much sleep as I can wherever I can while away.
- Drink plenty, especially on the plane: Stay hydrated, I genuinely don't think people understand how important that is, but your skin loses five times the amount of moisture on a plane as it does at ground level so drink, drink, drink. Most airplanes now offer moisturisers too but if you're not comfortable with that then take your own. I can actually sit and watch my skin drain, start to peel and go very blotchy and red if I don't drink, so tend to drink a few litres on the plane, just to avoid all of that. Also, be that person that carries around a large bottle of water with them while out and about exploring. You'll only have to keep stopping off for some if you don't, and the fact that you have a large bottle will encourage you to drink it so that it isn't as heavy.
- Planes want to stay in the air: If you're scared of flying, just remember that planes want to and are designed to stay in the air. A little bit of turbulence is perfectly normally and if you look out the window and think you see the plane swaying a bit from side to side, that's normal too! It might not seem like it, but that actually means that the plane is flying smoothly. I have been on planes that have been struck by lightning, dropped over the Mediterranean sea because of bad weather, had engine failures and, most recently, HAD TO BE JUMP STARTED. How is that a thing?! I'm not scared of flying but even I was glad that was a short haul flight, but that might have been because the child behind me kept threatening to be sick on what was quite possibly the smoothest flight of my life.
- If "Will I wear that?" crosses your mind even the slightest bit, you don't need it: Now this is a piece of advice that I definitely need to follow. Having tried a few techniques, I'm a great packer and can fit a lot into one suitcase, even managing not to get anything creased or broken, I just pack too much of it. I almost come up with an excuse to take something that I know I won't wear, so from now on, I'm going to take my own advice and attempt to pack lighter. Will I really need a canary yellow blazer that I haven't worn since 2011 in Australia when it's Winter? The old me would have said no but that I might be invited to a fancy dress party and I could go as Kim Kardashian circa 2012. The new me would... Well, we'll see about that.
Any other tips that I've missed out?
Let me know in the comments below!