Going away? It’s definitely an adventure. Whether you’re travelling long term, or just for the weekend, it’s bound to be an exciting journey and one you’ll look forward to for a long while beforehand. The planning and preparations can often be some of the best bits – even when things undoubtedly get a little stressful! But generally, usually the only thing you have to worry about beforehand is making everyone else too jealous (or annoyed!) with how much you’re talking about it.
But what about when things don’t go quite as you’d hoped? Even small issues can get difficult really quickly, particularly in unfamiliar environments. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen a lot, but there are inevitably times when it does. Now, this isn’t to say you should put a damper on anything you’ve got in the pipeline, but it might be worth making a few little contingency plans, just in case!
- Sort out your money. You’ll need to find out the currency of where you’re going, and change it before you go. In some places, there aren’t many opportunities to do this while you’re actually there, unless you’re visiting a tourist resort. Nowadays, you can actually preload money to a pre-paid debit card, and you can even check the balance online so that you don’t go too crazy or too far from your budget. If you do run out though, try and make arrangements with someone back home – if your parents or a friend back home can send you money online, using services like Azimo, then you won’t find yourself stuck as this can be sent to anywhere in the world. You can even do it on Facebook. (The hard part is asking – and of course, paying them back!)
- Travel insurance to some people is going to sound like the most obvious thing in the world, to others, it’s going to sound like the most pointless waste of time. It’s not. It might seem expensive, it might seem like you can afford to scrimp a little, but you can’t – it’s potentially going to save you thousands. Healthcare in your home country may cost a lot – it may even cost nothing at all! – but the likelihood is, if you’re unfortunate enough to get into a medical situation, you’re not going to be covered in the same way as you are where you live. If you’ve spent a fair penny on your trip to begin with, the last thing you need is huge bills to top it off!
- In case you do find yourself in said medical situation (read: emergency, but a less dramatic way of saying it), then you’re going to want to make sure that whoever helps you out can contact the people you need to know about it back home. Store the number of your next-of-kin, your partner, and your travel buddy – whoever – under ‘ICE’ in your phone, as the Emergency Personnel and others can easily use this information. When it comes to your phone itself, remember that your costs are most likely going to be way higher abroad, even if you have an inclusive plan with your provider. Be sensible about your use, and make sure that you download great apps like Skype and Viber to lower your costs of calling home – do this through Wi-Fi, where available, as data costs will be insane. For your personal use, keep a list of numbers you’ll need – such as for your insurance, your country’s consulate, your hotel and your tour group, if applicable, just in case you need them.
- Make copies of your passport and other forms of Identification, because you don’t know who might be watching you. Take care of your stuff, because unfortunately, as a tourist, you’re a target. Back these up any important documents digitally, so that you can regain access, at least temporarily. You should always aim to make a mental note of the nearest consulate for your own country – they can provide you advice or support whenever you may need it. You can find more about consular provision for UK citizens before you travel, as well as most other countries, so it’s worth a look!
- Meet people! You can see your friends pretty much anytime back home, that’s why you should make some new ones. People from other countries with other experiences will always have a story to tell (and it’ll probably make you seem cooler at home!). When you’re visiting somewhere, you can seem a little out of place, and perhaps you’ll even feel lonely. It’s good to have someone on your side, who can teach you about their nation, help you with language barriers and legal practicalities and just generally show you around. Alternatively, at least prepare yourself for how to talk to foreign people – you should make the effort to learn a few words in their language (even if it’s just some local slang if they speak the same language as you!). Cultural practices and customs can also be different in other parts of the world, so be careful not to offend unwittingly, and observe any regulations out of respect. If you get yourself into any trouble, these things can really give you the upper hand.