Here are my top five travel tips for those who are fairly new to travelling overseas – though they also apply to those with far more experience. I love to travel and have seen some amazing places around the world that I’ve used as settings in my novels. It is the perfect excuse to do some research!
Tip 1: Search for travel bargains
There are innumerable travel websites on the Internet, in addition to the more conventional travel agencies that have existed for decades. You can also book directly with most hotels, airlines, cruise lines and tour companies, either by telephone or online – effectively becoming your own travel agent.
The options for travel are endless and every taste and budget is catered for, from luxury tours to camping trips. Try to ensure that you use a reputable travel agency, or book directly with the hotel, airline or cruise line. Search for the best value, and remember not to go into debt. Always save up the funds in advance and make sure that you are not overspending.
Be sure to read all the fine print in your travel contracts, and make note of when final payments are due. You are often required to pay in advance, and may not get your money back if you later cancel. One way to cope with that is to take out cancellation insurance, but weigh up your options to work out what is best for you.
Tip 2: Choose cruises, escorted tours or independent travel
You can travel independently, arranging your own accommodation and transport from one location to another. That gives you complete flexibility and freedom in what you see and experience on any given day. Be cautious about driving in other countries, however – it can be a hair-raising and dangerous experience. If possible avoid it and use trains, ferries and other public transport instead.
Escorted tours, generally by coach, are a great way to see the best sights in the most efficient way possible, and are ideal for your first trip overseas.
Cruises are extremely popular, and it is no wonder when you consider the advantages. At the start of your cruise, unpack your luggage in your own stateroom then sail in great comfort from one port to another with all meals and entertainment included onboard. You also have the advantage of sailing past some remarkable sights. Look at some of the itineraries that are available – you will be pleasantly surprised.
Tip 3: Travel insurance
Never travel overseas without having travel insurance: it is absolutely essential. If you cannot afford it, then please do not travel. That insurance covers you for accidents and emergency medical and dental care while you are overseas, including the cost of evacuating you back home.
Medical bills overseas, and the cost of medical evacuations, can be horrifyingly high. Those without insurance often face bills of hundreds of thousands of dollars and hospitals will ensure that the bill is paid. Some people are trapped overseas because they cannot afford to pay the cost of being evacuated home. Can you imagine the financial or personal devastation that could cause you or your family if you were in that situation?
Tip 4: Safety Precautions
Be security conscious at all times when travelling overseas. Some areas, such as the Mediterranean cities that are crowded with tourists, are renowned for pickpockets. Men should keep their passport and wallet inside their coat pocket or secured to their body with a money belt. Women should carry a cross-body style handbag with a wide, sturdy strap, and have it zipped up and in front of them at all times.
Do not wear flashy jewellery and keep your camera or phone secured to your body. Do not be distracted by taking photographs or seeing the sights, and never put your bag down anywhere or open it in public. Be aware of people around you and do not walk down deserted laneways or empty parks. Stick to where there are plenty of other people around. Be extremely cautious at night, or travel only by vehicle.
I am afraid that if you are elderly and slow, you tend to be more of a target. Keep a sharp lookout and do not allow a group of people to surround you or resort to other tricks such as falling down in front of you in an effort to distract you.
Tip 5: Photography
Photographs are a wonderful way to record your travels, especially with the great convenience of digital photography. Even mobile phones now have excellent cameras. Be sure to download your images each night to keep them safe, and preferably put them into cloud storage. You can then charge your camera or device ready for the next day.
There is no need to take thousands of photographs and spend your entire vacation with an electronic device in front of your face. When you return home your friends and relatives will enjoy seeing a few of your photographs but by the time you get to the thousandth one, their patience is guaranteed to be at an end. You will also face significant storage issues, and find that even you do not have time to look at all those photographs.
Take just a few well-chosen shots, and you will review and enjoy them frequently when you return home. You will also have more fun on your vacation, freed from that onerous responsibility of recording everything in sight.
My final (and sixth) tip is to keep your luggage to a minimum – but I’ll dedicate another post just to that subject in the future.
My previous article was about: Why I Love To Travel
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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