Tips & advice from our own adventures
Here at Imaginative Traveller we pride ourselves in the fact that our team are all well travelled, and thus in the best position to offer advice on our tours and destinations as they can speak from a personal perspective rather than just a sales manual! During their travels they have picked up some handy pointers to ease the whole travelling experience, so we thought it would be useful to share some of these tips with you.
- Call your bank before you leave your home country to inform them where you are travelling to, and will be likely to use your bank cards. Otherwise the bank may freeze any withdrawals or payments you try to make on that card, thinking your card has been stolen or cloned - this can result in a very expensive phone call to rectify when overseas!
- Make a note of the emergency contact numbers for any bank cards in case your card is lost or stolen.
- Always carry a money belt that is well hidden. Also consider carrying a fake wallet with expired cards and a little money, in the rare case that you are mugged.
- Always use safes in hotel rooms where they available, and do not leave money and valuables out on show in your hotel room while you are out.
- Do not walk around with money and valuables on show, and don't take your passport out with you unless essential.
- Take at least two copies of a scan of your passport with you (and any visas that you have obtained for your trip) and carry them in separate bags just in case your passport is lost or stolen and needs replacing. Also, make sure that you email a copy to yourself before you leave your home country, so that you can always make a new printout if the copies are lost.
- Save small bottles to fill with shampoo/conditioner so you don’t have to carry large or heavy sizes and you can beat the 100 ml limit for hand luggage.
- If you are a person that travels 'heavy', invest in some compression sacks which will allow you to take a few more items with you. Rolling clothes instead of folding them also saves space. On the other hand, there are considerable benefits to packing lightly!
- Pack different sections of your luggage (outer clothing, underwear, etc.) into waterproof bags or bin liners just in case your bags get caught in the rain.
- Travel towels are far lighter, more hygienic and quicker to dry than normal cotton towels. They can absorb nine times their weight in water.
- Toilet paper, wet wipes and a headtorch are essential items!
- Bring a pack of cards - for train and bus journeys and creating easy camaraderie in groups.
- Remember that most hotels and guesthouses offer a laundry service, so don't feel you must bring clothes for every day that you'll be away! Many people buy t-shirts and other clothing items as souvenirs as well.
- Some countries haggle as a way of life (such as Morocco), but others see this as an insult (such as Mongolia). Make sure you make yourself aware of what sort of behaviour is considered acceptable before you arrive - and if in doubt, ask your local guide or leader!
- In the countries that do haggle, decide the highest price that you are happy to pay for the item before you ask the price. Always keep it friendly, and avoid bargaining hard to the last penny - what can be a pittance to you can mean a great deal to the vendor.
- Always respect the traditions and laws of the country you are in. Remember that you are a 'guest' of another country, and you should avoid any behaviour that will attract negative attention. For example, conservative dress is considered the norm in certain countries, and you may need to wear head coverings or remove shoes when entering a place of worship (if allowed to enter at all). When in doubt please consult your tour leader.
- Check the top of plastic water bottles for the sign of glue. The bottles may have been re-filled.
- When camping in cold climates or at high altitude put anything with batteries in at the bottom of your sleeping-bag to stop them from draining. If it is really cold, put your water bottle inside as well to stop it freezing.
- Always make sure the taxi you take has a meter that is working. If not, negotiate and agree with the taxi driver the price of the total fare BEFORE you get into the taxi! Check if they charge extra for air-conditioning and make sure they take you directly to your destination and not divert you to their cousin's shop or an impromptu tour of a market!