While traveling, it always helps to plan much in advance and certainly before you make any booking. If you have done one booking, you will either have to go ahead with other bookings or cancel the one which is already confirmed. So, I would suggest that one should make the complete day to day itinerary first and then make the Bookings.
Once you have planned your overall itinerary, set out to book the air tickets first and the rest of the Bookings can follow based on the flight tickets. Be flexible with your travel dates as that can help you save a lot on the price of flight tickets. Tickets on the same route and to the same city can be quite a bit lower a few days here and there. changing the departure and arrival dates, while keeping the duration of your holiday almost same can help reduce the overall cost especially when you are travelling in a group.
Once the flights are booked, you can book the Hotels. The ones offering refundable bookings are a bit expensive as compared to the ones who offer non-refundable confirmations. It's always a good idea to keep a note of all the bookings separately as well as you may book through different online booking sites. Ideally, note it down in a diary instead of just noting it digitally. Most of the hotels allow you to cancel the booking up to a particular number of days before the stay. Keep a track in case you wish to make a cancelation.
Multi-currency Travelcards are more economical and convenient as compared to cash and Credit cards. However, keep all options handy. I avoid withdrawing cash from ATMs while traveling abroad. Use the Travelcard, which is accepted almost everywhere. use cash for small transactions. Credit cards are good backups. In my experience, especially in Europe, it's good to have a VISA or a MasterCard as well besides American Express, which is not accepted in many places just as in India. You may inform the credit card issuer about your travel plans beforehand. To increase the limit of your credit card, you may prepay sufficient amount if funds are not a problem.
They are all over, even in the most developed and modern cities. Use caution. Do not leave your bags and cameras hanging around carelessly.
It's difficult to put together all the stuff required for traveling so I have put all the essentials in a dedicated Travel Box for convenience. However, do not store items which can expire over a period of time. Locks, weighing scales, straps etc are all kept in one place.
It's very important to keep the passports with you instead of leaving them in the hotel safe. Do keep the photocopies with yourself in case you feel it's safer to leave them in the hotel. In many European countries, it's mandatory to show the passport while shopping as you are paying through a foreign Travel or credit card.
Remember, there are more chances that you may need your medical insurance while you are not in the Hotel room. So keep it with you as it's the most important document/card which you would need in case of an emergency.
Commute by metro instead of a cab. This also lets you walk around and explore as you would be required to reach the nearest metro station. For this reason, It's worthwhile to book a good hotel which is closer to the metro station.
It not only helps you move around easily but also allows you to add on while you shop around various cities you visit.
As you pack leave enough space in your bags for new purchases. Also, ensure that there is enough scope for adding the weight while returning.
Well, we have all seen films and see it happening all the time in movies. Strictly keep your Bags with yourself and do not leave them unattended at any time. Do not go by the looks of the fellow travellers, especially while travelling internationally. A small negligence on your part can cost you very heavily.
Check out the directions to your Hotel from the Airport or the railway station as the case may be. In most of the international destinations, airports are well connected through metro. Check out the popular destinations you plan to visit and work out the best directions from the Hotel you are staying at. This will give you a good idea to plan the mode of commuting and the time involved. Know the whereabouts of the embassy of your native country, just in case you need any help in case of an emergency.
Check out the minimum and maximum temperatures Check these for the dates of your travel and not at the time of booking. You may also refer to past years weather conditions during the period of travel to get and idea. Plan your clothing accordingly. In many European countries, even if the temperature is not so low, the wind may make you feel cold. so do keep some extra warm clothes.
It helps to dress up in layers. Wear a Jacket which can be taken off or the buttons opened if you feel hot. You can take off your shirt if you have another layer inside. During the same day, as you will not return back to the hotel, you will come across a huge variation in temperatures.
Carry with you al that you may possibly need in case of an emergency. Some medicines, raincoat, water bottle, some snacks, sunscreen, sun shades, Goggles.....etc. etc. based on person to person.
Do not book an early morning flight if you are a lazy person unable to get up on time. Please do keep in mind that the early morning flight usually would also mean reporting 3 hours prior to that time. Add an hour to travel as well. These flights may be cheaper but do consider these factors as well. Same applies for sightseeing locations as well. There are closing times and unexpectedly long ques for you to enter inside. If you start late, you would end up having limited time, enjoying the place.
I have noticed a lot of people documenting the live shows on their mobile phones and video cameras, may to show their loved ones back home. rather, enjoy the show and the fact that you are viewing it live over there. See it with your eyes rather than seeing through your mobile phone screens. That's why you are there. Today everything is available online but going out and seeing it all for yourself is a totally different experience. Do not dilute it by putting a Phone between the real scene and your eyes. Simply be present in the moment and be a part of that.
It helps you to roam around with your hands-free and all the weight on the back. carry a bag which is ergonomically designed to balance the weight on the back. There are backpacks which are specially designed for the purpose of photography from brands like Lowepro, Manfrotto and Kata. Various options are available and you can choose the one which fits your photography style and the equipment that you carry around. Besides your camera, you can carry a lot of other stuff as well in the same bag.
A lot of this depends on the individual. Some may prefer to leave it all on the per configured tour packages with the rigidness of timings and schedule while others may prefer to be free to explore everything as per their own pace, be it fast or slow. You wish to stay longer at a particular spot, you are free to do so if you are on your own. at the same time you also need to be responsible enough in a foreign country to understand the timing and availability of public transport, closing of restaurants etc. so as to be able to manage the everyday affairs. I have always planned all my trips be in our own country or abroad all by myself, from Bookings to Visa to accommodation and everyday planning.
This is one of the most important aspects of your travel especially if you are traveling to a country which is rigid about their religion and laws. Respect and appreciate their practices as everyone has a right and freedom to practice their faith. Respecting others is the very first responsibility of Humanity.
Being a Photographer myself, this is one advice which i must give. Carry a good camera. While you travel all around the world covering so much of a distance, spending so much of time, energy and money, it's certainly worthwhile preserving all those memories on a good camera with a capability of shooting well in low light conditions as well. ( to avoid carrying a Flash ) You may opt to go for a good mirrorless camera if the weight of a DSLR is an issue. However good mobile phone cameras maybe, I somehow feel good clicking only with a camera. I use a canon 5d Mark III but you can also explore some good cameras in a limited Budget.
Images on this page have been sourced from pexels under CC0 licence ( Creative commons Zero Licence )
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