A Helpful Checklist

Trip Start Oct 18, 2012
Trip End Dec 14, 2015

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Flag of Germany  , Baden-Württemberg Region,
Thursday, January 2, 2014

Howdy folks,

As December 2013 clicks over to January 2014, I look back at the last 3 years of travelling with a lot of satisfaction. The experiences that I have had or shared, the friends that I have met or reconnected with and the places that I have been to and seen are things that will be staying with me for a long time to come. Hopefully with a few more journeys yet to come...

But none of it would have been possible without planning, preparation and execution. Many people have differing levels of getting ready to travel; even if it is just for a long weekend, but everyone has to do it. Thanks to my experience, I know that there are certain things that I don't need to plan for, but there are certain things that always have to be figured out. I also know there are about a million websites that already cover this topic, but I am throwing my two cents in. Here are just a few things to consider...

1. Questions, questions.
What do I need? This is usually followed up by 'What will the weather be like where I am going?' or ' How much can cover my time away?' Don't take a winter jacket if you are travelling someplace warm, but don't assume it will always be warm! I am quite happy wearing the same clothes over multiple days or washing them on the road, but others don't. There are plenty of checklists available where you can compare what you need. But I remember reading a good quote which goes, 'Take half of what you think you will need and twice as much money!' You can always buy what you don't have, mostly...

2. Route Planning.
Chances are where you are going is someplace you have never been before. So might want to think about how you are getting from the airport to the city centre or the bus station to the hostel. Google Maps has been my saviour plenty of times, but giving yourself a little heads up is always good. Taking a bus or walking for 10 minutes could save you some easy money.

3. Time Management.
Possibly the most important thing about travelling. Don't assume that the taxi will get you to the airport without a traffic jam, give yourself a bit of time. What if you arrive at the airport and the check-in line is a mile long? Waiting around at bus stations and airports sucks, but better than having to book a new flight. Things usually take more time than you think.

4. Quick Food.
More than once I have been caught in the middle of a museum or on a bus at 2pm and wondering when I will get the chance to eat lunch. Pack a few museli bars or a banana and you can last another hour or two. Chewing gum is great as well especially if you forget to brush your teeth! A bottle of water to wash it all down is never a bad idea.

5. On The Go.
Some things you can't change one you are already moving. Things like recharging cameras and mobile phones is much easier done at home than on the move. A spare memory card or some deoderant is never wasted. Have a drink of water and use the toilet before you leave. A little forward thinking can make a journey more pleasant. Angry Birds or my iPod, yes please!

6. Day Bag It.
Ever since I started travelling, I always used a day bag. And by that I don't mean a backpack, but rather something smaller like a large camera bag or a man bag. Just big enough to carry around the import things like a camera, passport, ticket, map, bottle of water and a museli bar. Most times you don't have to check it into museums and it isn't so heavy that you can't carry it around for a day. If you get hot then take off your jacket and put it over the bag! Hey presto...

7. Emergency Planning.
Thankfully I have never been caught in anything serious, but a few things have caught me off guard. Just before I flew to Christchurch in March 2011, they had a huge earthquake that destroyed the city centre. Luckily I still had enough time to plan around it and minimise the amount of time that I was going to spend there. I have missed trains and things, but you can always find out when the next one is. If you need information, always ask an official, a cop or an employee. Most people will help you out or point you in the right direction. Stash some cash for just in case as well.

8. To See List.
Even more important than a 'To Pack' list is a 'To See' list. Sure you can read up about your destination, on the go or in the hotel room, but you have more time to do it before you even leave. Good sources for information are guide books, Trip Advisor and of course friends and locals. Don't be afraid to ask the information desk if you left it to the last minute, because they could give you some good tips.

9. Don't pack a pharmacy. This is usually one area where people go overboard. What if...? Packing a chapstick and a few bandaids won't take up much room, but don't clean out your whole pantry and throw it into your first aid kit. If you need something then you can usually find a pharmacy and buy it. Most stuff will just end up weighing you down.

10. Be flexible. If you are planning a full on adventure holiday, jumping from city to city and walking around every day can be pretty tiring. Plan in a rest day or a rest evening where you can just relax without all that rushing. After my Trek America tour in April 2011, it was really great to have a few days relaxing on the beach in Los Angeles before jumping on the train up to Portland. After all, a holiday is supposed to be relaxing as well as exciting!

11. Don't Forget to Take Lots of Photos.
If you don't take a photo then it is so, totally like, it didn't even happen! Even if you just have an iPhone and upload them to Facebook. Make your friends jealous!

12. Take a look back. After your trip it is always a good idea to look back and see how well you did. Did you take too much or not enough? What would you change next time? I still do that even after all of my adventures because every trip is different. The weather and climate and itinerary will always change. I once read a fantastic quote which goes:

'The more you know, the less you pack!' or 'je mehr man weiß, desto weniger packt man.'


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