FINDING THE JOY IN TRAVEL
20 Easy Travel Tips
Travel isn’t rocket science. While it can be challenging, with expert travel tips it can become simple, smooth and even enjoyable, making the journey as much a part of the experience as the destination.
We can all book a trip, board a plane and reach our destination with relative ease. Traveling well, on the other hand, is a fine art, desired by the many yet perfected by the few.
When juggling passport, baggage, flight details and children, all while locating the correct gate and boarding time, it can be infuriating to watch others treating travel without inconvenience, breezing through the terminal as if it’s second nature, groomed, happy and relaxed.
They also seem to be carrying exactly the right amount of hand luggage, somehow containing everything they might need but nothing extra. There are no signs of feathers being ruffled, clothes being creased, or nerves being gnawed.
It is perfectly infuriating! How DO they do it, and where did they learn the expert travel tips to make it all seem so easy?
One might be tempted to think it is all down to experience… but sadly it isn’t so. Somehow, years of jet-setting do not translate into a talent for seamless air travel. It really is a matter of know-how.
Fortunately, our extensive experience has given us insight into the seemingly mystical realm of easy travel. Tried and tested travel tips have served us well, shared amongst our team and onwards to our clients, assisting them in finding the ease and joy of travel time and time again.
No more tedious layovers, no more chilly flights and no more frayed nerves or last-minute panic as you hear your flight boarding without the faintest idea of where your plane is parked.
No matter how long your journey or how many transfers may be required, these travel tips will ensure a smooth and successful trip, from two-hour domestic flights to multi-stop long-haul travel:
1. Be Travel Designer Savvy
It’s impossible to know everything about your destination – from how to get there to what to see when you arrive. Fortunately, our Travel Designers have traipsed across every step of the journey beforehand, building extensive knowledge of air travel and the locations you will be visiting. Imparting this knowledge upon you prior to your departure, we are able to allay any concerns, answer any questions and ensure that you are well-informed even before you leave home.
2. Insist Upon Local Knowledge
Local Knowledge is the golden ticket to a successful adventure. By liaising with locals, an expert Travel Designer is able to provide you with a list of adept contacts who will ensure that your every while or concern is fulfilled. It may seem as if your Travel Designer is casting you into the hands of strangers, but this local knowledge ensures that only the most trusted and knowledgeable contacts are trusted with every step of your journey. These connections both guarantee the success of your trip and uphold the impeccable standard of excellence that we insist upon for our clients.
3. The Right Bag
Your choice of baggage can make or break the convenience of travel. Having traveled every route before, an expert designer will know the travel tips and tricks of the trade to help you select the correct luggage for your specific journey. We know that one bag does not fit all purposes and have taken the time to create our very own Rothschilds duffel bag for the purpose. Capacious yet compact, it provides the space you need while being suitable for light aircraft transfers as well as long-haul freight. What’s more, its distinctive color and design will make it easy to spot on the airport carousel, speeding your transit upon arrival.
We can also recommend the best criteria to look for when selecting appropriate carry-on luggage – the bag’s style, size, features and, most importantly, what to pack for your comfort and convenience during your flight.
4. In the Bag
We receive numerous questions of what to pack in hand luggage. It can be tempting to pack everything, including the kitchen sink, but weight and material restrictions imposed by airlines can inhibit what to bring onboard.
These are some of the essential items to pack in your hand luggage for in-flight comfort:
Noise-cancelling BlueTooth headphones. Ideally, headphones with a standard audio connection cable are good to choose. This will allow you to plug into in-flight entertainment and enjoy a movie or two during your flight.
A sarong or shawl. This applies to both men and women. A thicker sarong that can still be worn as a scarf will double as a blanket on a chilly flight, keeping legs warm and helping you get a good night’s sleep. On arrival, it can also be used as sun protection or for some added warmth on early morning game drives or when sitting around the campfire enjoying sundowners at the end of your day.
A GREAT sleep mask & pillow (forget about the complementary aircraft options). We are all different, both in our preferences and body shapes, so one size most certainly doesn’t fit all. Your local travel store will be able to offer advice and let you try samples of both sleep masks and pillows to give you the best fit for a more comfortable and restful flight.
The perfect jewellery/ valuables pouch. It can be so frustrating having to remove and replace jewelry and valuables when passing through the obligatory airport metal detectors. By packing a single bag (or possibly allocating a specific pocket on your carry-on bag) you only have to perform the task one time, safe in the knowledge that your valuables will be safely stored in one convenient and easily-remembered place.
A lens kit for your phone. While we strongly recommend taking a reasonable DSLR camera to capture your experiences in high resolution, phone cameras have come a long way in the last few years and attachable lens kits provide increased quality with far less weight than a full, professional camera kit. View our extensive photography tips here.
5. Pack Light
Really light. Even lighter than you think light.
Our packing guide offers valuable information on what items to take on safari, but we all have a tendency to over-pack. By preparing your items well in advance you are able to assess the essential and superfluous items. Better still, our Pack-Right Concierge Service gives you personal advice and assistance in assessing your wardrobe. Inquire about our Pack-Right Concierge Service here.
6. This Stressbuster
Just breathe. We’ve heard this slightly patronizing adage touted a thousand times, but the power of the breath is drastically underestimated. Taking the time to take three deep breaths can have a profound effect on your mental state, switching your body and mind from the sympathetic nervous system – the fight-or-flight stress response – into the parasympathetic – the relaxing ‘rest-and-digest’ mindset.
Simply pause, take a long inhale (about 6-8 seconds) first into the belly and then into the chest, pause for a couple of seconds, and release in a long, controlled exhale – ideally twice as long as the inhale. Repeat three times and feel a wonderful sense of calm wash over you.
Better yet, you can practice the ancient yogic technique of nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing. This very quick and easy meditation harmonizes the hemispheres of the brain and can be done anywhere in 16 seconds.
- 1 – 4 SECONDS – Simply place the thumb against the left nostril and inhale through the right one for four seconds.
- 5 – 8 SECONDS – Then use the ring finger to close the right nostril and exhale through the left one for four seconds.
- 9 – 12 SECONDS – Inhale through the left for four seconds.
- 13 – 16 SECONDS – Release the ring finger, return the thumb to the left nostril and exhale through the right one for four seconds.
7. C’est la Vie
Mindset is essential throughout your travels. While some travel tips, such as the breathing techniques above, can be actioned spontaneously, developing a positive mindset is more of an ongoing philosophy and can be particularly useful when traveling with youngsters.
A delay in flights, for example, can be incredibly frustrating but can be seen as an opportunity to go on a spontaneous shopping excursion in the terminal, begin writing a travel journal, purchase a game to play with the family or catch up on the latest episode of your favorite series.
I was once at an Apple store waiting for over two hours with my wife for her computer to be serviced. As she was losing patience, I began imagining the voices and conversations held by the other customers. This led to fits of giggles and broke the ice of the tedium, and we continued to joke for the remainder of our wait. The hilarity that ensued is still held as a happy memory, not one of arduous and wasted time.
8. A Giggle a Day
Humour can be your secret weapon in many ways throughout your journey. Finding a giggle a day can ease the seriousness and stress of a situation and bring your group – be that a couple, a family or extended traveling party – closer together.
By instilling humour into your travels, you can alleviate stress as well, and even the most trying situation can be greatly eased with a few impromptu chuckles.
9. The Early Bird
Allowing plenty of time for your flights and transfers ensures that you won’t miss your flight. No surprises there, but by arriving early – and preparing yourself with a good book or entertainment plan – you will immediately set a precedent of relaxation.
On safari, early to bed and early to rise is the modus operandi, and this will allow you to witness the best game times with fewer crowds. In cities, hawkers and salespeople often begin work a little later in the day, so you are free to roam at your leisure.
10. A Little Cash in a Clever Cranny
Tipping is a valuable part of your safari experience, so always having some cash on hand can both help get the very best service and avoid embarrassment. A secret pocket inside a backpack or a handy money belt are great ways to keep your cash and credit card safe.
Added to this, a backup plan is always advisable. Travel credit cards are an excellent choice, kept in your luggage and left at your accommodation. Should you lose your cards or wallet, you will always have a source of cash. Travel cards can also be charged instantly and are often better for daily use, topping up with only a small amount of credit each day. That way, should you fall victim to a scam or lose your travel card, you’ll only ever lose a small amount of funds and not your entire life savings.
Rest assured, safari camps are safe and secure and the chance of any loss is highly rare. But urban areas can be a little more volatile, so planning for the worst, however unlikely, is advisable.
11. Live on Safari Time
When visiting any new location, the temptation is to see everything all at once, but in doing so, one can often overlook the nuances or true essence of a destination. Don’t be afraid to slow down and take every day as it comes. Over-planning can be stressful, and you never know what each day may bring. So take your time, drift with the ebb and flow of your journey and embrace spontaneity.
12. Back Up
The ‘bush telegraph’ isn’t particularly reliable and, though a wonderful asset to travelers, the ethereal cloud may not always be your best option. WiFi is generally available, though can be slow and not guaranteed. If you plan on taking a portfolio of images, a small hard drive might be your best option for backing up your photos, and taking several memory cards for your camera is always recommended.
But photos aren’t the only thing that might need saving. Downloading your travel documents to your phone or other device is a good way to ensure that anything you may need is always at hand should you lose your hard copies.
There are numerous cloud storage options, most with the option of a small free account or paid upgrades for more storage.
- Google Drive (up to 15 GB)
- Microsoft OneDrive (up to 5 GB)
- Dropbox (up to 2 GB)
- Apple iCloud (up to 5 GB)
- Amazon’s Cloud Drive (unlimited storage for Amazon Prime members)
13. Learn Three Phrases
No one can be expected to be fluent in Swahili or Khoisa the moment they first set foot in Africa, but learning a few words shows courtesy and gains respect.
“Hello” “Thank you” and “Goodbye” are all you need to completely transform any interaction. Wandering the markets of Nairobi, you may be offered items at a certain price; with a couple of ‘jambo bwana – habari yako’s (‘hello sir, how are you?’), the asking price may well be instantly halved.
Courtesy and respect are greatly appreciated in any tourist destination, so with these simple phrases you will find locals significantly more welcoming.
14. Gain a Local’s Perspective
Avoid being restricted to your own itinerary and ideas during your travels. Locals always know best, so by entrusting at least a small portion of your journey to the advice of staff and guides you will gain an insight into the country and environs that few get to witness.
Connecting with local villagers and staff can often make the difference between visiting a country and truly experiencing it.
15. Men & Women of the Cloth
While customs often dictate local dress, there is also an aspect of practicality to regional apparel. The kikoi is a prime example of this. A staple of Kenyan and Tanzanian dress, the thicker cotton sarong is comfortable and versatile. Often locally woven and in a range of traditional colors, they make a wonderful memento of your travels, but are also wonderfully practical.
You will come across these cloths throughout the developing world and there is good reason for their ubiquity. Locals will use them for dust and sun protection, as a towel, sack or temporary sling, as a pillow or blanket, and for a whole range of applications limited only by the imagination.
16. Trusting Your Travel Designer
Offering your permission to your Travel Designer to perfectly tailor your journey even when it might not adhere to your original plans will invariably create a better itinerary. Being firmly set in your ways will often undermine the breadth of experiences available. Trust that your Travel Designer knows best – it is their job to do so – and allow them to craft the itinerary not around your specific requests but upon your rough and flexible ideas.
You may have learned of a particular property or location from a trusted source, but this might not be the best option for your specific itinerary or budget. Allowing your Travel Designer the flexibility with which to craft the perfect journey will always make for a better experience in the long run. We have been to every camp and experienced every activity for ourselves, so we will only ever provide what we know is the very best option specifically for you.
17. Put Pen to Paper
Whether it is the old-fashioned ink and papyrus or a virtual pen and notebook, journaling your journey offers numerous benefits. Most obviously, it helps you to recall and relive every step of your trip for years to come, but journaling has more less-apparent perks.
Taking the time to write about your day’s activities helps you to slow down and relax. It creates a greater appreciation for every aspect of your travels and increases the sense of immersion in every moment. And who knows? Maybe you’ll begin the workings of a Times best-seller!
18. Invest in TSA PreCheck & Mobile Passport App
Though quite costly, the TSA PreCheck system is one of the handy travel tips to save you substantial stress and inconvenience. The system reduces wait time at customs and security, allowing you to bypass the need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets, fast-tracking you from groundside to airside in half the time. Though still not globally available, this will at least hasten your departure from and return to the US.
Though currently only available to US, Canadian and a handful of other passport holders, the free mobile passport control app allows you to submit your passport and declaration information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) via your mobile device instead of completing the traditional paper form. Not requiring pre-approval and free to use, the app helps to avoid searching for a pen as you descend or waiting in line to fill out the obligatory paperwork upon your arrival.
19. Speaking of Apps…
There seems to be an app for everything these days, from guided meditations to translation, currency conversion to identifying flora and fauna. From keeping young ones entertained to enjoying a more informed journey, exploring your provider’s app store well prior to departure will line you up with a host of valuable travel tips and tools.
Discover many superb travel apps in our recent blog.
20. Embrace Wellness
Traveling can be particularly taxing on the body. Learning a few simple stretches can quickly revitalize the body while in transit or arriving at your accommodation. Yoga isn’t about tying yourself in knots and there is barely a single person in the world that can’t do yoga. Even in its simplest form and practiced for a matter of minutes, it can be wonderfully refreshing and invigorating, Websites, YouTube, Apple’s Fitness+ and numerous yoga apps can provide simple yoga practices to keep the weariness from well-traveled limbs.
In addition, many airlines are embracing the global recognition of yoga, meditation and wellness and many include facilities, services and travel tips for a healthier flight experience.
Some of these include:
- United Airlines & Swiss Air: Meditations via the Headspace app
- JetBlue: Headspace meditation including fear of flying and sleeping upright videos
- British Airways: Wellbeing in-flight channel with meditation and stretching
- Cathay Pacific: Travel well with Yoga
- Turkish Airlines: Fly Good Feel Good foods including herbal teas (rooibos, sage and lavender) and an energizing blend of mate, mint and ginger
- American Airlines: Casper-designed pillows, blankets and other products, If you fly Premium economy you also receive a lumbar pillow and a soft cotton blanket, and international first and business class passengers can enjoy mattress pads, pillows, blankets and pyjamas
Gone are the days of suffering a long-haul flight in discomfort, twiddling thumbs while you anticipate the maelstrom of airports, or struggling uninformed through your journey, relying on hearsay and a borrowed, dog-eared Lonely Planet guide.
Convenience, comfort and many easy travel tips are at our fingertips, and embracing these 20 hacks can help even the most challenging of travels until you reach your blissful final destination.