When you go for a trip, there might be a couple of things to consider and prepare before heading off. If you are one of those people who struggle with all the pre-trip to-dos, you can follow these five tips, which will help you to be nicely prepared for your next adventure. As a nomad, I got the chance to improve my trip preparation procedure with every journey. Here I will show you what works best for me.
1. Make a checklist
Checklists help to get the chaos out of your head. Especially in these pandemic times you will need to double check for country entry requirements and local regulations. Make sure not to oversee a detail to have a smooth start. Do you need a visa? Are your travel vaccines complete? Is your passport still valid? Do you have international health insurance? Maybe your medical kit needs an update. Create a packing list to make sure you won’t forget anything.
If you are traveling for a longer period you might need to organize some things at home, e.g. sub renting or canceling your flat, get rid of unnecessary stuff etc. Go step by step through your checklist to stay calm and focused.
2. Inform yourself about your next destination
You don’t want to stress too much about all that bureaucratic to-dos but you also want to feel the excitement of your next adventure waiting for you. Go get yourself a travel guide or browse through blogs and websites to catch a glimpse of the country you want to travel to. Maybe you will find out that you have to improve your packing list, because of the weather conditions or religion. If you plan to visit religious sites you shouldn’t forget clothing that covers your shoulders and legs. If you know people who already traveled to the destination you are planning to head to, talk to them and get precious first hand travel advice.
When researching about a country, get yourself at least briefly informed about culture, history and geographics. If you are very motivated, you also could learn a couple of words of the national language to have a smooth start and get closer to the local people. Believe me, locals appreciate every single word you can say in their own language and you will have a much deeper experience and understanding of the culture.
3. Stop traveling without packing cubes
Seriously, who doesn’t know that overwhelming chaos of clothes and other stuff in backpacks or suitcases? This is just extremely annoying and can be solved in such an easy way: get yourself packing cubes. I can truly say that they have improved my travel quality significantly.
You can organize your stuff very well and don’t even need to unpack it – you can just use the packing cubes as a wardrobe where your clothes will be stored without wrinkles. No need to roll them, just put them in as if it was a shelf.
When you arrive at your destination, you only need to get the cubes out of your backpack, forget about unpacking every single item – very practical when you change your destination a lot. This year, I managed to live completely out of my suitcase, I never unpacked it, because the cubes organized everything so nicely. You can order them online or get them e.g. at Decathlon.
4. Go minimalistic
Do you really need all the stuff you are planning to carry around? We tend to overpack, especially women. Yes, I know that, I did that, too. But you will be very surprised, they have shampoo and conditioner in other countries, too 😉 Especially when it comes to cosmetics, I try to take as little as possible with me, because I can get everything locally. Of course, we will have to use another brand or product, but honestly, local people managed to live with that as well 😉 It’s a chance to try something new. Save weight in your luggage and leave the bottles at home.
If you are traveling around a lot, it’s worth taking shampoo/shower gel bars with you. They are less heavy and quite convenient. I myself love the German product Duschbrocken – a combination of shower gel and shampoo in a bar. I also sometimes use it to wash my clothes and for shaving. Generally, I am a big fan of multi-purpose products in my luggage.
When I pack, I ask myself: what do I need this product for? How often will I use it? If after months of traveling you find something in your luggage that you never used – kick it out.
When it comes to clothes, you might also reduce what you take from home. Believe me, you will appreciate having some extra space in your luggage to bring back local things that you bought at a market for example. I personally like using merino shirts, because you can wear them for at least 1 week without washing and they serve for many occasions – be it hiking, working out or just for casual occasions. Using this natural fiber, you need to pack way less. Also, it dries very quickly when you wash it. You can get basic merino shirts at Decathlon, or if you want it more stylish and you are willing to pay more, check out Icebreaker.
5. Schedule your first days of arrival
Even if you like to be as flexible as possible, I can recommend you to have a plan for your first days of arrival to settle in, get used to the climate and maybe a different time zone, as well as to digest the first new impressions.
Book your accommodation in advance, e.g. via Tryvium, save the address and contact data, make screenshots of your booking and inform yourself about the local transport system. If you travel to countries where you can’t necessarily rely on airport shuttles or an underground system, I suggest downloading transportation apps like Grab, which common in many South Asian countries. Using these apps you avoid unwanted charges as a tourist and you don’t have the struggle to find a taxi, bus or tuk tuk on the road, while you are all sweaty, loaded with your luggage and tired from the journey.
Have a look at the city on Google Maps and pin your personal “wanna-go” places, so you can book an accommodation next to these places and avoid driving around. You can use Google pins smartly for your whole trip, e.g. star what you have liked, heart your very favorite places or flag the restaurants you still want to try out.
Even after traveling for years now, I follow those 5 steps before every new trip. It makes my travel much smoother and more enjoyable. And yes it´s some work to do – but it has always been worth it. I am sure, the more you travel, the more it becomes automatic and you develop your own preferences. Let me know about your trip preparation routine!