Travel Tips Before You Depart
You’ve booked your tickets, you have your itinerary and your bags are patiently waiting by the door. What other travel tips do you need before you travel?
Even the most accomplished of travellers falls victim to forgetfulness. It might not be as disastrous as neglecting to book your return flight or leaving your passport in the nightstand, but with so many moving parts and the need to be somewhat self-sufficient for two weeks or more, numerous items may be left behind or forgotten.
Exacerbating this is the acute need for organisation. Your expert Travel Designer will provide you with a detailed itinerary, your flights, accommodations, transfers and activities will be aligned and Rothschild Safaris will alleviate almost all of your trip tribulations.
We will be with you through every step of your journey, providing travel tips along the way. We will be there to provide documentation and liaise with venue staff; we can help you to arrange spontaneous excursions or replace lost passports; we are always available to offer 24-hour phone support, iron out any wrinkles that may occur and ensure that every aspect of your vacation is as perfect as it possibly can be.
But certain aspects remain entirely in your hands. We can’t pack your paperwork, stash your camera or adjust the cabin temperature during your flight, but what we can do is provide you with constant reminders and valuable checklists.
Always here to assist, we have compiled this collection of travel tips and reminders for you, highlighting some of the things that can help oil the machinations of your journey and tips that we have learned – sometimes the hard way – through our extensive experience:
There is an app for everything nowadays. From guide books to flight trackers, you can hold them in the palm of your hand, and our digital devices have become an essential travel resource far beyond phone calls and photos.
The apps you might require are dependent upon your destination, explorations and even your choice of airline, but assessing your needs ahead of time and downloading the appropriate apps may well be a lifeline to travel tips you’ll be grateful for.
Flight trackers can ease the headache of delays, maps and guides can keep you informed, and entertainment is always on hand if you first remember to download while the wifi is robust. On safari, you’ll want your children to ditch the devices and stay in the real world, but on a long-haul from LAX to Cape Town, you’ll be thankful for a couple of movies and a selection of games to wile away the arduous hours.
Our informative blog shares a handful of key apps to get you started.
From your flight details to your vaccine certificates, it’s always helpful to have a digital backup of your travel documents. Photos of driver licences and passports can also be useful, despite their often not being accepted as official documents.
While it is advisable to still bring your physical portfolio of papers, this digital duplicate can save the confetti catastrophe that can occur.
Install the app, add your documents and be sure to download your documents to your device prior to departure as a handy safety net, just in case…
On the flipside of this, it’s also very useful to remember to keep a pen handy. When in transit, you are often required to fill out paperwork spontaneously, such as embarkation and customs declarations. Having a pen in your carry-on luggage will save to time and help you avoid having to beg or bribe other passengers to use theirs.
Before departure, be sure to contact your financial institution for travel tips. Some may have options to reduce exchange rates and overseas fees, or even provide designated travel cards. Companies such as Travelex also provide cards that can be pre-charged and transferred to when overseas, ensuring that your savings account remains safe.
These cards not only allow you to stick to a budget, they are also a wonderful security measure. Your regular bank or credit card may not work overseas, so a travel card provides a convenient backup. Should you lose your credit card, your entire bank account is potentially exposed and you will need to wade through the significant inconvenience of cancelling them and having new cards reissued. Travel cards are designed to be easily cancelled and replaced, and in the most extreme of cases, only contain a portion of your travel money, without any access or connection to your life savings.
They are also set up to take advantage of local fees, drastically reducing the hidden costs of spending money overseas.
Wherever you may journey to, nothing speaks louder or is more widely accepted than cold, hard cash. The US dollar is widely recognised, though you shouldn’t rely upon it, and collecting together a pocket book of local currency is also advised. Most airports, on departure or arrival, will have currency exchanges, though they often charge competitive but inflated rates, so ordering your rands, shillings or rupees in advance is a recommended travel tip if you plan to spend beyond your itinerary inclusions. This is also a good plan when tipping might be required.
With credit cards pervasively accepted, it is likely your cash will only be used in the most remote of locations, but having a hundred dollars-worth of local currency is always handy.
Pack For Versatility
Where and whenever you travel, we will provide you with the best advice and travel tips for your packing list, but the climate remains one of the greatest unknowns of travel.
Packing your entire wardrobe is not an option, so thinking versatile is incredibly helpful.
Some items, such as a light raincoat, have a singular use, but there are many options that serve multiple purposes. A Simple sarong can be a blanket during a flight, a pillow in transit, a scarf on cold, early game drives, a shade from the midday sun and an impromptu mask in dusty landscapes.
Likewise, activewear of various kinds – shorts, leggings and so on – will provide you with multiple applications from the one garment. A buttoned shirt, like a sarong, gives warmth and sun protection equally, and also provides a little class at the dinner table. Safari outfitters often carry comfortable pants that zip off at the knee, conveniently converting into shorts as the day warms.
Versatility doesn’t only apply to your wardrobe. Technology can also be refined to bare essentials. Rather than packing an electrician’s nightmare-worth of cables and adaptors, opt for a single travel adaptor that also provides USB input.
Many devices can use the same cable. It can be convenient to be charging several devices at the same time, but if you plan ahead, you will only ever need a couple of cables at most. Added to this, it is always handy to pack a powerbank, allowing you to feed your hungry devices on the go.
Gone are the days of requisite formalwear on flights, so don’t don a three-piece suit or dinner gown for your journey. Again, versatility here is essential, but so are convenience and comfort. Bulky clothing can be warm, but also uncomfortable. Though jeans can be a good choice, select a pair that are softer or even slightly elasticated to maximise comfort. Here too, activewear can be an excellent selection. Easily layered, highly comfortable and lightweight, from trainers to t-shirts, sports and activewear are perfect for cabin attire, with thinner jackets providing a warm layer or soft pillow while being compact and simple to stow.
Whether in coach or first class, a long-haul flight is quite an undertaking, but there are tips beyond clothing that can ease your travel woes. Natural wet wipes, preferably with aloe vera or other additions, will help you feel fresh mid-flight and can help clean up spills or sticky hands. A moisturiser and facial spritz assist with one of flying’s biggest discomforts: dehydration. Keeping your skin nourished can help to prevent that nasty hangover feeling that sometimes comes with long flights, and plenty of water is always a good travel tip.
Likewise, a drink or two is nice, but don’t imbibe alcohol excessively, and try to avoid coffee and salty snacks. These only leech more fluid from your system and will leave you feeling groggy and drained upon arrival.
A good-quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones will not only help you hear the in-flight movie, they will also give you some restful sleep and block out the obligatory screaming child. Just make sure it isn’t your own!
Whatever your generation, from A to Z and everything in between, you’d be remiss (or perhaps very lucky!) to not be aware of social media. You may not be a millennial influencer or even particularly active on Insta-Face-Tok, but social media can be a superb method of discovery. Even if you don’t yet have an Instagram account or intend to use it after your trip, set one up and ‘follow’ all the properties, locations and operators you will be travelling with. This gives you a powerful insight into each venue or business, informing you of opportunities you may never discover on the ground.
Your account is also a convenient and versatile way to document and share your adventures, capturing the story of your travels that you can then share with friends and family.
Even if you have no intention of broadcasting your trip to the world, you can keep your account private as a photo journal to last a lifetime.
We actively discourage our clients from viewing their entire safari through the glowing screen of a phone, but you will be grateful for taking snaps through your day and uploading them in the evening with a few words to remind you of the occasion.
Social media carries the risk of disconnecting us from the world, but used consciously, it can be a wonderful way to include others in your excitement and adventures, and to memorialise your trip of a lifetime.
Rather than bringing home rolls of film to get printed and labouriously added to an album, social media allows you to craft a curated visual diary as it happens, and many modern phones are of such high quality that you can create superb physical prints from them on your return home.
Check, Check & Double-Check
Planning your journey early is always a good idea, but early planning can also breed complacency or overlook items or situations that might arise later.
Begin your planning at least a month in advance. Set aside any newly-purchased items, begin your packing and even make a list of all you have packed and anything you need – and any useful travel tip reminders! Periodically refer back to your list, add to it, adjust it and review your early packing.
As well as allowing you to find anything you may require, this continual check-in will also reveal things that you don’t need, helping to prevent overpacking and excessive baggage weight.
We are always here to advise you, so if you are ever unsure of what to bring, feel free to contact your travel designer, sharing lists or even photos of your packing to help ensure that your planning is optimal, that you aren’t forgetting anything and you aren’t over-packing.
This also applies to your paperwork. Your travel designer will assist with ensuring that everything is in order, but creating a list of your document requirements and checking each item off will prevent last-minute rushes, forgotten visas or any other problematic situation.
Rothschild on Speed Dial
The last piece of advice we offer our clients is to be sure to add us to your digital device’s contacts. Include our international phone number, or local hotline, email address and social media accounts.
Even the most meticulous and experienced planning can unravel out there in the big, wide world, but a Rothschild team member is always on hand to assist.
Keeping all of our details readily available, you will be able to contact us or provide details to a third party, such as visa agents, so that we can help you resolve any unforeseen issue that may occur.
All this planning might seem excessive, but by taking the time to pack, plan and prepare, you free yourself up to enjoy your safari to its fullest. After all, you only get one chance to create the trip of a lifetime.
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