Travel Survival Guide - Tricks & Tips

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End May 31, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Monday, August 27, 2012

My Top Traveller Tips for Surviving Your Adventure Abroad - This not an exhaustive list but some hints and tips that I discovered before or during my travels which served me well.  Hope they're useful. - JJ
- Bottled water is available everywhere.  Always check to ensure the seal is in place when you buy it.  Have a few water purification tablets in your pack too - I used about 2 tablets during a 7 month trip around South America.

 - Don’t bother with a water bottle.  Buy a small bottle of spring water and use this.  Saves space when flying in your bag and is easy to replace (free if you like).

 - If travelling through South America (or similar countries) take a bag with rucksack shoulder straps.  There are two advantages over a suitcase: 1. It’s rare that pavements are smooth enough where a wheeled suitcase travel easily; 2. If your packs attached to you, its one less security issue to worry about, especially when you in a new city and your mind is on finding your hostel.
- With you big rucksack on your back, wear your little rucksack on your front, and use the big bags chest strap to secure the little rucksack.  Stops it sliding off.  Again one less thing to worry about.
- Carrying more than 15kg in your main rucksack is hard work.
- Take a hold-all (the type the compresses down to nothing).  They don’t take up any space and it will be usefull if you need to store anything or want to spread out a little in a hostel.

Clear plastic pouches (like pencil cases) are really useful for small things and you can always see what’s in them without taking everything out.  Buy them at a stationary store or most travel shops sell them too (eg: Nomad).

Take a small water proof bag.  Great for the beach, if it rains or if you’re going swimming and you have nowhere to leave your valuables.  Double bagging is a good idea if you’re swimming or submerging the bag (just in case!).  Doubles as a bum-bag if you clip it to your belt.

 - If you decide to write a blog, find out what size and format the website uses for photos and movies.  If you are able to re-size prior to upload this saves a lot of time when web access is slow.

Spanish v English
 - Urban myth says if you don’t speak Spanish travelling in South America is impossible as no one speaks English.  This isn’t true.  You will need to speak a little tourist Spanish to get by but you’ll be surprised how many people speak a little English.

 - Learn to speak Latin Spanish.  It will significantly enhance your trip, through interactions with people you meet.
Don't take a pillow case, take a spare t-shirt instead; it can double as a pillow case as well. 
- Travelling light is hard work unless you have quick dry gear (often expensive).  I took 7 days worth of clothes, which bar for the weight was no great issue.  This meant laundry time once a week instead of every night.
- If you forget something don't worry about it, you can buy nearly everything you need on route.
Make sure your logon is password protected.
Do not keep any 'secret’ information on your laptop (eg: bank access details).
Make sure you have a good firewall on your laptop and set it to ‘public’ when you join a new network.  All WIFI is not secure (unless you are at home!), so other people could access your PC if security is not set correctly.
When using someone else’s PC, always ensure you log-out of any web pages you go to (eg: email).  If you close the page it doesn’t mean it automatically logs you out.  And change your password at the next opportunity.
- If you decide to take a laptop, have one with a DVD/CD drive.  You’ll use it more than you think.
If you’re not taking a laptop, consider an iPhone or iPod Touch.  It provides good entertainment, access to the internet and skype for free calls back home.
99% of the time there will be WIFI in your hostel.
- Not all hostels have PC’s available for you to use, as most people carry their own now, so check in advance.
- I took about 140Gb of photos and movies on a 10 month trip. 

Security Tips
Carry a copy of your passport, in fact have several and leave in each piece of luggage. Leave your passport safely secured in your hostel.  I carried a reduced sized colour copy which was laminated.  This was OK for most situations, with the exception of the US where they ask for ID for buying alcohol.
- If you’re not using your camera, or feel you’re in an unsafe area, take the memory card out of your camera.  The camera can always be replaced, but not your photos.  (Keep the original case or have a plastic bag to keep it dry.)
Back-up your pictures regularly.  I used a memory stick which I kept separate from my laptop and camera AND whenever I sent a package home, I sent copies burnt onto DVD’s.
Personal ‘body’ security, overrides all else, including your belongings and money.  You can always replace possessions.  If you get hurt, the outcome might not be so easy to fix.  I won’t steal his thunder; check out this website for useful tips...  There are really good tips for female travellers (not something we like to think about but most situations are unlikely and can be avoided with a little preparation – knowledge is power!)
UK Government travel advise:
Assume things are going to get stolen and make back up plans.  Something being stolen is always an unhappy moment but preparation eases the way.
- Keep your bags locked all the time, even in private hostel rooms and especially in dorm hostel rooms.  It only takes one person to ruin your day and this is the only place I had anything robbed from me.

UK NHS Health Advise:
Drink bottled water even if the water is safe in the country your visiting.  A change in the minerals in the water can upset your stomach just as much as bacteria.
Avoid all animals – you never know when they’ll bite.
Don’t forget you immunisations and malaria pills.
- Take a well stocked first aid / medical kit. Do not rely on local agencies to have sterile supplies.
- Sexual Health:  Always carry condoms; that goes for the ladies too.

- Take two pre-loaded credit cards.  One as a back-up and the other as your daily use card.  When one becomes compromised or stolen you will always have a back-up.
Avoid using your credit card for over the counter purchases.  Always buy in cash.  For two reasons:  1) Everywhere accepts cash and is often preferred; 2) Credit card details can’t be stolen if you’re not using it!
- I found maintaining a balance of 600 on my credit card covered most situations.
- Check your credit card statements regularly.
- Never carry cards which are directly linked to you current account or where all your capital is kept.
Always have U$100 in small notes in cash hidden on you.  If you get robbed this will see you get through, until replacement cash can be sorted out.
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