Especially if you want to travel carry-on only. I use a bar of soap instead of shower gel, solid shampoo and conditioner instead of the liquid equivalents, and have even used solid sunscreen and solid insect repellent! LUSH is the best for solid shampoo and conditioner, so make sure you pay them a visit before you leave! My solid shampoo and conditioner bars are small, lightweight and last me around three months at a time, so they’re great for travellers! Oh, and grab a tin for them as well, so they don’t slime up your toiletries bag.
With an unlocked phone, you’ll be able to buy local SIM cards and access cheap data as you travel. Cheap data means getting to use Google Maps when you’re lost, being able to Snapchat your way around a city, and being easily contactable by your new friends.
You need a VPN for a number of reasons when travelling, whether it’s using it to access your favourite TV shows from back home or bypassing social media blocks in countries like China. One of the benefits to having a boyfriend who works in travel technology is always knowing I’ve opted for the best service when it comes to keeping my data safe. VyperVPN is the VPN we’ve been using for the last couple of years and they’re easily the best option for travellers — they’re super-fast, so won’t slow down your internet speeds, are one of the few companies to be actively and consistently working around internet blocks by other countries. After using and discarding a dozen VPN services over the past six years, VyperVPN is the only one that’s stuck around. Buy direct from VyperVPN.
I believe that everyone should try solo travel at least once. It builds your confidence, shows you what you’re capable of, improves your social skills, gives you time and space to think, and helps you learn more about what you like and need in life.
I’m often emailed by people who are taking a year off to follow the typical backpacking trail: A bit of Western Europe, a lot of Southeast Asia, and a stint in Australia and New Zealand. And yet, they don’t know anything about the places and are asking me what you can even do in Laos. Don’t follow the beaten path that every traveller takes, just because you feel like you should. What interests you? What do you want to see and learn about? One of the first stops on my trip was Chernobyl — not exactly a popular tourist destination. I didn’t know anybody who had been there, but it sounded fascinating to me. This is your trip: go where excites you, not where you feel you should go.
You won’t be able to travel if you have less than six months’ validity on your passport! Friends of mine have been turned around at the airport because they didn’t realise their passport was expiring soon.
You won’t be able to bring many items of clothing with you, so maximise the amount of outfits you can wear by checking everything goes with everything else.
Some people will want to take advantage of you, but the vast majority of people you meet when you travel are good, decent, and will want to help you. Don’t let bad experiences prevent you from trusting anyone again. As long as you have your wits about you, expect that tuk-tuk drivers or anyone who comes up to you with amazing English and wants to be your best friend for no reason at all is out to scam you, and be most wary of the people in the most touristy places, you’ll be all good.
You don’t want to offend anyone while you travel, so make sure you’re aware of any offensive gestures or behaviour before you arrive. As an example, in Thailand, women shouldn’t touch monks or hand them anything, you shouldn’t touch the local’s heads, say anything bad about the royal family, use your right hand for passing people things and paying, or point your feet at someone… Do your research!
Washing your clothes in the sink is time-consuming, a pain in the ass, and never very effective. Just pay to have your laundry done instead — it’s worth it.