Since my first trip overseas in 2011, I have learnt a lot about what things to think about before travelling. I have been asked multiple times what are the important little things that are the least planned before people go on a trip.
The 5 points below are a selection of things that I hear are forgotten by so many people (myself included) until they are on their trip. They may not seem important when you’re planning things like flights, accommodation, & insurance but once you arrive you’ll be kicking yourself for not having thought of them before.
1. Sim Cards
It’s just one of those things that you don’t really know how to plan when going on your trip. Do you just cop the fees on your plan, do you just use wi-fi when you can find it or do you get a sim card for the country you’re going to?
From my experience, I have found getting a sim upon arrival to a new country a real godsend. Most phones these days can easily swap between sims in a couple of minutes so it’s not a bit deal. Much easier than trying to wi-fi hop & a lot cheaper than using your provider at home.
We did this when we arrived in England and we were so glad we did because once set up we suddenly had a month of unlimited data which we could then use to contact people and make arrangements to get to our accommodation and around town.
It then proved its worth again as the network we were with provided data and calls in 28 other European countries at no extra cost. Which meant we didn’t need to swap sims again whilst in Europe. Win.
If you’re not planning on getting a sim or using your data while overseas that’s ok, most people get by with just using free Wi-Fi where available. But it can prove a nightmare to get around cities when you can’t access your google maps to find out where you have to go.
When we were hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc I wish I had the MAPS.ME app. We made a couple of wrong turns that would have been avoided if our maps were working. But because of the lack of phone signal & wi-fi options we had to rely on the tiny map in our guidebook & actually asking directions, god forbid!
MAPS.ME is a fantastic app that has all the roads, dirt paths/roads, ski runs, trails, landmarks, animal tracks…..ok maybe not animal tracks, but you get the idea. It’s pretty much Google Maps on steroids, but for explores. Like Google Maps, all the maps are free if you download them prior to your trip with your home wi-fi (it can be expensive if you use your mobile data).
You can download MAPS.ME for your iPhone or Android here.
If you want to stick with Google Maps but don’t know how to use the offline maps feature, you can read my “How To Download & Use Google Maps Offline” guide.
3. Google Translate
Ever worry about the potential language barrier at your next destination? Then fear not, because honestly, it’s not a problem.
I’m sure you’re aware of google translate, I thought I was before we left. I downloaded it and didn’t actually use it until we arrived in Courmayeur, Italy with no accommodation booked. We found a place to stay but still needed to explain to this little old lady that we needed a room for a couple of nights, she didn’t speak a word of English and our Italian was rudimental at best, so I whipped out my phone and was able to write down what we needed.
The ability to just type what we wanted to say on the phone and show the lady was invaluable. We understood her ‘sì’ & that was that, all booked in for the next 2 nights.The app also has the function to record what was said and convert it & you can even use it to decipher a menu or any other form of text with the camera function. This translates the words to English on your screen without needing to even type them in.
And now for the kicker, just like google maps you can download whole languages to offline mode. Yes, that means you won’t even need internet for it to work. Make sure you download this app now before you forget.
4. Travel Cards
Get a second form of money. Don’t just rely on your 1 bank card or credit card. Try organising a travel card before you leave for your trip.
Banks cards are not ideal. The last thing you want is a) someone scamming your account & taking your hard-earned savings; b) the bank to shut off transactions because of the foreign location card activity; c) the huge international transaction fees associated with using it overseas.
Get a travel card, & when you do, make sure you do lots of research & even get 2 different cards. The travel card we got back in Aus was useless so I won’t be recommending that anytime soon. We should have done a lot more research than we did. We saw a good rate & went with that. The card ended up barely working anywhere & leaving us with no money or very high international transaction fees from our normal card.
In the end, Josh got a UK account (citizen perks) & I found a newish company that allowed me to sign up within 15minutes, brilliant. This company is called Revolut, & I highly recommend them.
They will send you the card for a small fee. You can add up to 16 different currencies to it & use it in over 150 different countries & all currency exchanges are made at the mid-range market rate, so the rate you see on google. As an added bonus you get UK & EU bank accounts, perfect for those, like me, planning on living & working in the UK & EU.
If you want to find out more about Revolut you can read about it in my post “The Two Best Currency Exchange Apps”.
5. Rome2Rio App
Rome2Rio gives you the best transport options for your destination, be it train, plane, ferry, car, walking or all five together. It’ll tell you how to get there and the best prices available to do it.
It is one of those apps that is a must-have when you’re travelling & winging most of it (ie. us). Saying that I could give you a whole list of apps you should have when travelling. From transport apps to guide apps.
And YES! That list does exist. Sign up to join my travel tribe for exclusive access to all my favourite travel tools.
So there you have it, 5 things for you to think about before your next trip. Have you been caught out on your travels by something you failed to sort out prior to leaving? If so please share it with us in the comments below!
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