ON THE GO
Got multiple reservations and people on one trip? This app is excellent at organizing all of your travel details in one place. Simply forward your reservation email to email@example.com, and voila, it's imported. Keep adding until everything is added, and then invite your friends to the same trip. Every one has access and can make changes, if necessary. It's a great way to organize a trip and share travel plans.
Your phone's Calendar "Notes" section is your friend.
International travel can mean you don't always have reliable wi-fi or access to inexpensive data. I've found that the best shortcut to having information at the ready is to copy and paste details into my phone's Calendar. I put reservation confirmations, directions/locations, and handy tidbits of important reminders for viewing at any time in the "Notes" section. It has as much room as I need and has been especially handy in NZ, where wi-fi is sparse and often unreliable. If you don't see all of the notes, don't worry, simply click on "Show All Notes" if you have an iPhone, and there you go!
Communicating with charades and screenshots
Learning a few key phrases and some basic polite words will help you to communicate with locals and convey respect. Playing charades, downloading a translate app, and taking screenshots of maps are a few ways to help in a pinch, but in the end, a photo usually wins. An image is universal, and I take screenshots or photos of important directional information and maps if I'm not sure about future wifi availaibility. If you're having a difficult time remembering or pronouncing the street name of your hotel, just pull up the saved image and allow it to do the heavy lifting.
Where should I stay?
If you're not going the hotel route, it's nice to stay with friends or friends of friends. If that's not an option, a few other ideas are:
Being a housesitter or petsitter. Some world wide sites are: Caretaker, Housecarers, MindMyHouse, TrustedHousesitters, and I'm sure there are more. Kiwi-specific sites: KiwiHousesitters and Pawshake
Find a room on Airbnb
BBH, a Kiwi-network of quality backpacker accommodation. Be sure to double check the rating and leave a review.
Hostelworld is a good resource for budget-friendly options. Again, reviews are key to read and leave.
About hostels...they've seriously stepped up their game. Take a look at some of the Most Unusual Places to Stay from Hostelworld. From modern and swanky to relaxed and poolside, there's something for everyone.
Bring battery back-up packs.
It's worth investing in an additional camera battery pack. While I'm in the middle of trying to capture a sunset or magical moment, there's nothing worse than clicking away...and then...nothing. I always keep an eye on the battery level and have a fully charged replacement on me, just in case. Having that peace of mind allows me to click away and stay present.
Go past first impressions
While traveling through New Zealand I thought, "I've never been more wrong about people in my life." First impressions aren't everything, and hopping on a bus with 20+ new strangers all the time was the best opportunity to truly get to know people. Ages ranged from 18-72, and so many countries were represented. I finally realized that if I spent a little more time with someone, we'd connect in a real way.
When traveling (and once you're back home), don't forget to leave your preconceptions and biases behind. No matter how accurate I could have been about people in the past, I could have been just as inaccurate. Give everyone that extra moment to show you who they really are. You might be pleasantly surprised and make some unexpected new friends.
A Map App that doesn't require data or wi-fi.
If you know that you'll be without wi-fi or data, try this free app: Maps.me
Before you get out of range, download the area you want to view. Once the map is in your phone, you can use it as a navigation system or simply as a current location finder.
Another option is to download a region or a specific To/From journey in Google Maps. This app will allow you to view the course offline, and even navigate so you can be hands-free.
Last minute airport change? Try this app.
Many big cities have multiple airports. You may have checked your confirmation emails, verified online, and anywhere else to make sure you know where to be, with enough time to check bags and make the flight. Unfortunately, airlines can change your departure airport at the last minute, and if you haven't allowed enough time to reroute, you may miss your flight. To avoid this issue, leave enough travel time and download the Tripcase app. Simply import your itenerary, and their tools will help manage all the details.
Washing on the go
Hand washing can be your best friend, particularly in remote areas. I'd recommend a powder, rather than liquid, just in case your small container loosens or breaks along the way. A high efficiency brand can help the powder to go a long way, and will help your wardrobe go further, especially when packing light. Depending on your overall length of travel, I'd say an ounce would suffice, and you can use your sink or bathtub to freshen up those undies.
Each country has different visa requirements, depending on your purpose and country of residence. For a quick reference guide, I like to refer to the Emirates visa page to begin. It's easy to navigate and offers an overview of helpful information. Ultimately, the respective country’s Embassy will explain up to date and exact information, but Emirates is a great place to start.
For working holiday visas, check the country's immigration page for potential opportunities as well as Bunac, a company that's enabled me to work in the UK and NZ. They currently offer working holiday visas for certain age groups to work in Ireland, Australia, NZ, and Canada.
Light up the night
If you want to avoid bumps and bruises in the night, try this trick: pack a small night light! Make sure it either fits the outlet of the country you're visiting, or that you have the correct adapter. Hopefully that smidge of light removes falls and fumbles as you navigate your way to the bathroom or the door at 2a.m.
Handy Universal Adapters
The last time I purchased a universal adapter, I had no idea I'd be headed to NZ. Thankfully, I purchased one that not only allowed a US and UK plug to be converted, but included prongs for Europe, NZ/Australia, the UK, along with a USB connector. Choose something that will work for several countries, even if you're not sure you'll ever go. Having more options in one converter allows more adaptability and cuts costs in the long run. For multiple USB ports, consider something like this.
Back-up that computer!
Backing-up photos as you travel is essential, especially if you don't have reliable wifi updating regularly to online storage. I use this light and small hard drive to make sure my computer isn't the only place holding all of my valuable information. Because wifi can be unreliable, I recommend purchasing one that includes a usb cable. If you want to be extra careful, purchase some online storage as well. Better safe than sorry.
Go ahead...say "Yes!"
Sure, it can be scary to say "yes," but it can be just as scary to stay in the world of "no." If there's any part of you that is curious to do something, but it scares you, that's cool. Just don't let over-thinking talk you out of having the time of your life. Saying yes to skydiving and swinging across the biggest canyon in the world was daunting, but I have found that I now think of myself as a "yes" person. Things don't seem as big of a deal, and life has gotten a lot more fun.
Choose your luggage wisely.
Suitcases are an investment that allow for smoother travel as you navigate bus, train, plane and uneven streets. I love using backpacks or bags that allow for a backpack conversion so my hands are free, and I'm forced to pack lighter.
Recently, I upgraded my Patagonia MLC and added another backpack of the same size to my collection. Use a company that has a guarantee, such as L.L. Bean, Patagonia, or Eagle Creek. For a well thought-out weekender bag, check out the Rhodes duffel (for men) and the Catalina (for women) at Lo & Sons.
The high price on a good quality bag may initially seem unreasonable, but if it lasts for years and serves you, rather than weighing you down, I'd say it's worth the investment.