Even More Travel Optimisation Tips
With so many trips under my belt, surely there’s some next-level wisdom I can pass on? These tips are around travel optimisation, how to get the most of your time away. There’s a few new things I’ve started doing over my more recent trips to make sure that a) I have a great time and b) nothing goes to custard. Other than custard, which I could eat/ drink all day.
Using idle time
- I have a list. It’s of all the things (I should) do when I find myself waiting in airports, trains, restaurants, queues. I’m rather restless and no minute should be wasted (but I get lazy). Some of the items I (try to) remind myself to do with my idle time:
- Set alarms
- Clear my photos
- Edit/ mark some photos
- Switch batteries/ charge my phone
- Top up on water and snacks
- Repack the bag
- Plan my next route
- Post some updates back home
- Use the toilet and wash hands
- Download maps/ apps
- Check the forecast
- Change my outfit
- I used to dread Duty Free shops at airports but my stance on this has now changed. If you have absolutely nothing to do, you might as well test some scents. At the very least, it’ll help mask some of your travellers’ smells.
- Speaking of samples, every shop at Istanbul airport gave up Turkish Delight samples. Nom Nom. Hardly happens though.
- Whilst actually buying anything at airports/ terminals is at inflated prices, sometimes its okay since it helps to kill time.
Back at base
- A pro of staying in hostels – you’re more likely to wake up early and not sleep in, so you get a head start on the morning. Make use of the kitchen to save on eating out.
- Back at the accommodation? Use any leftover energy to plan the next day and get any packing/ sorting done.
- Check the forecast (I do this a lot).
- Always having something charging overnight. So many devices, so little time.
- Unpacking is just as important art as packing. Never put things away in locks and cupboards unless you’re certain you won’t forget them. It’s better to leave things lying about in obvious places, like literally, in the space to the door.
- Anyway, do a clean sweep before leaving any accommodation regardless.
Packing and planning
- Bring your own water bottles people! Save the planet and your money (unless the drinking water sucks, which is does in a small subset of places).
- Always have a backup plan for critical travel routes. I tend to take the second to last train as you never know when a delay might pop up.
- Hand luggage only! And pack lightly (dress heavily) to avoid having to check in your luggage. But if you’re unlucky to get tagged… well, there’s nothing stopping you from removing said tag (cough).
- Too much crap? Take photos of receipts and pamphlets and then bin them. Bin them good.
Getting to and fro
- Confused where you are? Check your GPS to see if you’re heading in the right away straight away.
- Travel optimisation but no data? Download offline maps before you go. And the Google Translate pack too.
- On a bus? Sit at the front or the top or the front and top for the best view and easiest exit.
- Don’t take the disabled seat at busy hours – you’ll probably lose it anyway.
- Fair life tip? Take photos of people and then ask them to take photos of you. Avoid bothering locals as they might ask for payment, or worse, run off with your camera.
- Try speaking the local language, you might get some credit for trying.
- Do walking tours and befriend other solo travellers for a little company (tip from my friend Jude!).
- Also, for longer tours, I find it helps to gravitate towards a few people so you get to know at least a few people.
Be in the know
- If there’s only one thing you read before you head away, check out the Wikitravel page. It’s of a good quality and condenses all key information to a single (but long) page.
- Flights delayed? Use your time to look up EU261 law to see your rights. If it’s two hours you get some compensated food and drink and three hours – boom – compensation. I haven’t ever been that lucky though.
- If in doubt, just ask people. It’s better to appear as the stupid tourist and not the law-breaking one.
- After asking someone, then ask someone else and compare the results. Rinse and repeat until consistent.
- Take photos of EVERYTHING. Signs, doors, landmarks. It not only helps the scrapbook, it helps in case you have issues with translation or if you need evidence for a complaint/ issue later on.
- Screenshot EVERYTHING. Especially tickets and boarding passes but EVERYTHING. So much hassle saved.
- And take lots of photos. Have a big enough memory card because if you take a hundred pics, there’s bound to be a few that are worthy.
- When it comes to big, multi-level museums I take the elevator to the top floor and work my way downstairs. This minimises walking up stairs as well as going against the flow of the crowd. It doesn’t work all the time though.
- Most museums have a few key exhibits, so keep this in mind so you tick them off, since most of the time you want be able to see everything.
- No map? Take a photo of one!
- Most museums will have the cleanest toilet facilities so use these (and maybe top up water) before you go.
Of course, have a great time and have lots of optimised fun. But not too much.