- Wear in your shoes before you leave. You only need: 1 x rugged, waterproof shoe, 1 x utility sandals (optional), 1 x flip flops.
- Upload pictures, contacts, video and writing regularly to a blog or Google Drive.
- With so much information about, create your own, personalized guidebook.
- Bring a USB stick to share your photos and videos with other travellers.
- Create a phrase book for each country, print them on cards that fit in your pockets, or write them in your notebook. Locals appreciate you trying.
- Your GP can give you free shots that the Travel Clinic will charge for.
- Buy medication on the road, when you need it. You don't need to be walking pharmacy, and the weight adds up.
- Carry a pack of cards or a pack of UNO for group fun at airports, train stations, prison cells.
- If you're charging multiple cameras, tablets, iPods, e-readers etc each night, consider bringing a power bar with multiple sockets so you only need one adaptor.
- Plan ahead when travelling over high season/New Years Eve/Xmas! Accommodation is booked up and usually overpriced. Even cities like Rio are dead on Xmas eve (good luck finding a place to eat!)
- Book your flights early. The sooner you do, the sooner your trip becomes reality (as opposed to a wishful thinking).
- Pack a pair of jeans. Yes they’re heavy and don’t dry quickly, but if you plan on hitting bars and clubs, you’ll wear them more than anything else in your backpack, that I assure you. Jeans: Bring them.
- When buying the five garments you’re going to wear for the next 3-12 months, make sure they work well together (my grey shirt and grey shorts made me look like a mole.)
- Call the credit card companies and authorize your cards to be used in foreign countries.
- Stash $50 and a backup credit card somewhere in your backpack, just in case you lose your daypack.
- Know your bank fees when withdrawing from your credit or bank card. Sometimes it pays to withdraw more at a time, sometimes it's not a wise idea to be walking around with too much cash.
- Get a cheap, inflatable neck pillow. You might actually sleep on a flight, and they come in handy when your hotel/hostel gives you a dishcloth for a pillow.
- Leave everything shiny at home.
- Never, ever trust a wake up call.
- Bring a reliable alarm clock.
- Leave space in your luggage to buy cheap clothes and souvenirs along the way. At least a third empty: trust me, it will fill up quick.
- You only need to carry one book. Trade it with travellers or hostels when you're done. Chronic readers like myself should invest in an e-reader.
- If you're travelling in hot climates, you don't need a towel. A sarong will do.
- Budget more for transportation. Remember, you’re traveling a lot, and buses, trains, taxis, boats and internal flights are more expensive than you think.
- If you're buying bottles of booze, make sure they're well wrapped with clothing.
- Keep all your tubes (sunscreen, toothpaste, contact solution) firmly sealed in a zip-lock bag.
- You will panic about things you forgot. Remember: They can send it, you can buy it.
- If going to Asia, practice the “squat.” You’ll need those muscles when your butt is hanging over a hole you really don’t want to fall into.
- Bring an extra pair of shoelaces. I'd use them to secure my luggage to my leg when dozing off on dodgy public trains.
- Check-in your Swiss Army knife and nail scissors, or watch them magically disappear at the airport.
- Whatever time you plan to go to the airport, leave a half hour before that. Why rush, why stress?
- Like electric fencing in a quiet friendly neighbourhood, a wire mesh for your backpack only draws attention to the fact that you have something valuable to steal. Everyone I’ve met who bought one discards it as soon as they realize it is heavy and completely unnecessary.
- Upload all personal info (banking details, passwords, scans of passports) in a password protected do to your webmail.
- Check out any upcoming travel talks. These are a great way to get first hand info, ask questions, and get that little bit of inspiration you need to book the ticket.
- Rolling clothes really does save space.
- Compartmentalizing is key: If everything has its place, it's easier to see what you've forgotten.
- Buy generic drugs, save money.
- I’ve read that real travellers only take two pairs of underwear. Well, I don’t. I take eight (one week plus one). I must be a fake traveller then.
- Budget for unexpected Visa fees and airport departure taxes.
- Travel with a cheap tablet for the music, movies, surfing on free wifi and calling back home on Skype.
- Don't pack anything you're not prepared to lose in your backpack. Keep your valuables on you, or locked up.
- Trust that there's always someone around better prepared, better equipped, and ready to help you find whatever you need.
Planning on a big, overseas adventure? Here's some tips I wish someone would have told me: