I've been traveling (almost) full-time since January 2019 so I thought now might be a good time to write about it. The idea is for this post to act as a resource to others (and probably myself) to use when they are planning their next trip. I'll try to cover everything I can think of and feel free to throw any questions my way over on Twitter and I'll answer them here so they can help others.
I've always traveled with a carry-on and a backpack. I wouldn't really stress on the carry-on, just get a good one that is sturdy and won't fall apart on you. As for the backpack, I use the small travel pack from Aer.
I got it during the Black Friday sale last year and even then it cost a lot more than I ever thought I'd pay for a backpack but it's totally worth it. The quality is great, there is a separate compartment for your dirty clothes or shoes which packs into it's own section when not in use, a lot of other backpacks don't have that. Watch this video to get a better idea of what I am saying. It also has a super useful quick access pocket where I store most of the stuff I probably need access to multiple times a day.
I was previously using the Verdiater by Seute. 3-4 cheaper than the Aer but not bad at all. The quality is nowhere close to the same but it gets the job done. If I had to start over, I'd still start with the Verdiater. It comes at a price where you can get it and be like I am just figuring out if this life is for me and then once you do, upgrade to something nicer.
Within my backpack, I use some really cool stuff that makes the journey much more easily navigable. Let's go over those things super quick:
- Compression Packing Cubes by Eagle Creek - The name kind of does the job, doesn't it? These packing cubes have a lot more space than you'd think. Get a couple of them and you can easily move them between your backpack and your carry-on based on whether or not you have any issues regarding space or weight.
- Travel Adapter by Targus - Been using this for two years now. Never had any issues. Works everywhere and with everything. I'd recommend this every day of the week.
- Packable Daypack by Quechua - It doesn't look like much but it gets the job done. I generally take it to the beach or on a hike and it packs super tiny so it's always in my backpack if I ever need it. You can even take it grocery shopping and it'll work just fine.
- Travel Wallet by Amazon Basics - A little too big for my liking but again, it gets the job done. I use it to safely store my passport and all the necessary supporting documents and also my backup stash of cash (but don't tell anyone that). It has plenty of space/compartments and it fits well into any backpack.
Trying to think of some general advice that I can add here. I am not quite sure how much detail I should go in here as a lot of this comes naturally to me but it may not be the case for you if you aren't tech oriented.
- Offline maps. Use Google Maps and before your trip, just download the map of the city you're going to so that you can use it even if you don't have any data available. One small caveat here, for some reason, Google doesn't get walking directions when you download a map offline, just driving directions, I don't know why and it bothers me on a personal level.
- A currency exchange calculator. I use this very often, mostly to figure out how much I am paying for whatever I am paying for in my home currency but also at currency exchange stores to see if I am getting a decent rate. I use xCurrency. It's pretty, lets you add multiple currencies and is always accurate.
- A ride hailing app. Make sure you get one because even though Uber is in a lot of countries, it isn't everywhere and you're probably better off already having one on your phone than not. I built this excuse of an app at an airport while waiting for my flight. I will try (but I can't promise) to make it more useable at some point.
- Local sim cards. These are great, you should get this. They're better than getting a global sim and are significantly cheaper. I have a dual-sim phone so I always have my primary sim card in there and I always buy a local sim the moment I land at the airport in a new country.
Proof Of Travel
- An onward flight. Make sure you have one, this could simply be a return ticket to wherever you flew in from. I never know where I am going next or even when I am leaving, but the authorities don't necessarily like that so I rent my flights. I recently started using TopOnwardTicket. I've also used BestOnwardTicket in the past. But please do your own research and ideally get an actual flight, especially if you know your next destination and/or your trip duration.
- Proof of funds. You know, proof that you can support your stay. You probably don't need this, but it's a nice to have. I need it because I have an Indian passport.
- A visa. Make sure you have one? If you need one that is. I built this thing so you don't have to worry about scouring the internet trying to find up-to-date, accurate visa information.
This section is going to be more of a brain dump than anything else. Uncategorized, haphazard but useful advice.
- Cash. Carry some. Yes, I know, we all want to be cashless and use our credit cards for all those points but it's better to have some because the country you're traveling to may not be very card friendly yet. Always do your research beforehand and even if it is, keep some cash on you. I always get some USD before I start because I can convert those anywhere I want and it doesn't hurt to hold onto them.
- Currency Exchange. Don't do it at the airport. They have the worst rates so you're better off doing it in the city. Also, do some research? As an example, when I was flying to Bali, I found out that doing INR to IDR isn't a great idea but doing INR to USD to IDR is the better way to do it, so just keep an eye out, yeah? Generally, I feel like you're better off having USD on you, especially if you're doing a multi-country trip.
- A water bottle. Carry one. Mostly because why not? But also because over time, it saves you so much money.
- A good credit/debit/forex card. Spend some time doing research on this. Ideally you want something that doesn't have a lot of charges when used internationally. Think currency conversion charges when you reload/swipe the card or withdrawal charges when you use an ATM. I used to use the forex card from HDFC bank but I wouldn't recommend it to my worst enemy. I recently switched to and absolutely love using the Niyo Global card.