Amanda Ashford is a Brand & Communications consultant building brands with purpose and using business as a force for good. As a global traveller, Amanda is constantly inspired by the sounds, scenes and stories found around the world, and our shared passion for purpose that connects us all.
A common refrain among seasoned travellers: ‘The only thing you can count on is that something will go wrong.’ Even the best laid plans can sometimes go awry, but with a little practical planning you can be prepared to face the most common travel woes without missing a beat.
You’ve heard the saying: ‘Bring half the clothes and twice the money.’ Your bank account can solve a lot of problems, but only if someone hasn’t emptied it first. Lost or stolen credit cards can ruin a vacation faster than a bout of food poisoning from that ‘authentic’ food truck, but some simple precautions can protect your wallet (and peace of mind):
1. Give your bank a heads up that you’re travelling. They’ll appreciate the call, and you’ll reduce the likelihood of card suspension due to unusual activity.
2. Avoid unsecure connections. Public wifi networks are a hotbed for credit card theft. Use secure connections to make any type of financial transactions online.
3. Bring more than one credit card (and keep it separate). If your card is lost or stolen (or just, um, declined), you’ll have a backup ready.
4. Keep your phone locked. With e-wallets, online banking and tap-to-pay, losing your phone can mean losing your money, so level up your security with finger or face recognition and logout of financial apps when not in use.
5. Call in a favour. Designate a friend you can call in case of emergency and walk them through how to wire funds. If all else fails, cash is just a text away.
No matter how carefully you prepare for a trip, baggage handlers don’t care. Reduce the headaches of lost baggage by packing a few essentials in your carry on. Aside from extra underwear (obviously), save room for:
1. A toiletry kit. Beyond your toothbrush and hand sanitizer, pack all the products you’d use within 24 hours. Include some scented towelettes or essential oils to reduce stress (and stay fresh).
2. Pajamas. If you prefer your birthday suit then skip this one and save the space, but slipping into some comfy PJs after a long flight will help you relax. Your clothes could use a break anyhow. You’ll be back in them soon enough.
3. Chargers and portable battery packs. You can’t call the airline to check on your bag if your phone is out of juice. Make sure you’ve got all the chargers and adaptors you’ll need to stay connected while you wait. If you’re stuck without an outlet (or time to charge) a portable battery pack can be a lifesaver.
4. Flip flops (or equivalent). Nothing’s worse than landing in a tropical paradise and spending the next three days in running shoes. Flip flops aren’t great for air travel, but they’re essential for the beach. Pack a few climate-specific items so you can wait for your clothes in comfort.
You’re halfway up the summit, wind in your hair, sun on your shoulders and all you want in life is to be … in the bathroom. When you’re far from the comforts of home, any level of illness can feel twice as bad. To make the best of a bad situation, always:
1. Tell your doctor where you’re going, and when. Get preventive or proactive prescriptions (and a contact number for emergencies).
2. Refill existing prescriptions. Bring copies in case your medication is lost or misplaced. Some countries won’t have the same medications you’re used to, so know what specific ingredients you need and why, in case you need to see a doctor abroad.
3. Stock Up. Bring generic first-aid essentials, but don’t forget the products that make up your everyday routines, like vitamins, supplements, and your favourite bedtime tea blend - staying consistent with daily patterns can help keep your system stable while you’re away.
4. Always be prepared. Keep a subset of ‘worst-case essentials’ in your day pack. Kleenex, bandaids, tweezers, etc. Prepare for your worst case scenario and you’ll find that if it happens, it won’t be as bad as you think. Knowing you’re prepared for anything will reduce your anxiety so you can focus on feeling better.
Besides being good manners, knowing some basics in the native language of the region you’re in can come in handy more times than you might think. When you’re in a foreign country and don’t speak the language, navigating your way around can be hard. From maps to menus, taxis to bartenders, wild hand gestures and other bad pantomiming will only get you so far. Thankfully, a new wave of travel and translation apps lets you skip night-school Spanish and lets your phone do the talking for you. While it’s not as romantic as Julia Roberts’ Italian teacher in Eat, Pray, Love, it will get the job done in a pinch. Here are some apps to try:
Make sure you’re covered – at home and away.