HOW TO TRAVEL THE WORLD: Preparing for your adventure

Madagascar sunrise

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

I am not the same having seen the sun rise in another country, having tasted the food, met new friends and encountered different cultures. 


I don’t know about you but when I’m packing for a trip, I tend to want to take too many clothes along for the ride.  I’ve traveled to almost 30 countries and have recently learnt a thing or two that I thought might help you.

Now, some of this might seem pretty obvious but please humour me:)

TIP #1:  Count the number of days that you are going to be gone then check the weather patterns.

TIP #2:  Pack your clothes out on the bed and then make a cup of tea or coffee. It’s helpful to not pack in too much of a hurry.  That being said, I have once packed for a two week trip in 15 minutes and only forgot a few items. One of my friends co-ordinates outfits to minimize her packing.  I’m a bit more random but I like to think that I can do that.  

TIP #3:  Now this step is important — halve your clothing.  Do you really ne

ed that extra pair of shoes or t-shirt or three?  Pack your undies in a small separate bag (this helps to find your clothing on the other side too).  As you start to pack, roll your skirts, dress, t-shirts and pants.  This will minimize creasing and help you get more clothing into your suitcase.

TIP #4:  Make sure that you pack clothing appropriate for the culture that you are visiting.  We travel to many countries where the culture is often very different from mine. For example, in the Middle East we (as women) need to cover up to our elbows and ankles.  Recently, I discovered some rather nifty arm slips (they look like cycling arm warmers) and you just slip them up your arms and under your shirt sleeve.  This is wonderful especially during the summer months when the temperature can reach around 42 degrees Celsius.  These can be bought there and are not expensive at all.

Ask your hosts about the cultural expectations (if any) and if you can do any laundry while you there?   Being able to do laundry automatically reduces the amount of clothes you need to take.

Emily & myself waiting for our flight home.

TIP #5: Finances & Visas are important.  What are the exchange rates and do you need a visa?  Make sure you apply for your visa well in advance.  If you are traveling with a minor, make sure you get a police station to sign an avidavit saying that they can travel with you and take a certified copy of their unabridged birth certificate with you.  Here’s a copy of the avidavit document we used recently.

I find it helpful to always have a few US dollars in my wallet (just in case).  Familiarize with the currency and exchange rates. It’s worth your while to do a bit of research. Recently, I went to Madagascar and was told my numerous websites and people that as a South African, I don’t need a visa.  Well, on arrival I had to pay almost R800 to get a visa but it was much less in US dollars.  Fortunately, I had enough to pay in US dollars.

Don’t forget to phone your bank and let them know that you are traveling to another country.   I often buy a sim card at the airport and withdraw some cash there too.

TIP #6:  Take a few empty clear ziplock bags along with you.  These are so handy for sealing items you are bringing home with you or packing dirty clothing in or separating items if needed.

TIP #7: Pack along a small first aid kit.  The travel essentials include rehydrate, nausea and vomiting pills, diarhhea tablets, paracetamol, plasters, tweezers, small scissors, needle for removing thorns or splinters, antiseptic cream and alcohol swabs for sterilising cuts and a small bandage. Depending on the coutnry we go to, I sometimes take along a broad spectrum antibiotic.

As a rule of thumb, we always take a probiotic on our trips and normally start a day or so before we go.  This really goes a long way in keeping your gut healthy.  I prefer the chewable probiotic tablets and keep taking them as we travel.

TIP #8:  Hand luggage — those security gates are plentiful.  I try and take as little hand luggage as possible.  Not only is it easier to navigate a myriad of airports and security controls but it’s less to worryabout.  Make sure your liquids are below 100 ml and that you don’t carry any pocket knives along with you.  I get hungry often, so take along a few snacks (I normally add a few nuts or dried fruit and chewing gum in my hand luggage and more in my main bag).  

TIP #9:  What about my documents?  Keep a copy of your passport and itinerary in your luggage and on your phone.  I normally store my passport in my wallet and don’t let it leave my side.  Make sure your family and friends know your itinerary too.

TIP #10:  Embrace the fun and adventure.  Download a language app, learn about the country you are going to.  I have recently discovered an app called ‘Check My Trip’ and found it very helpful too. Eat the local food, learn a few of the phrases and make plenty of memories.  Be in the moment and enjoy it.  The world truly is a remarkable and beautiful place.

“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aesop

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