Helpful but random pre-travel tips

I should be packing right now. Instead I’m going to tell you about random, but helpful tips I’ve come across while preparing for various trips.

Consider buying a portable solar power charger with a USB connection. I’m taking a digital camera to Everest and I don’t want to be caught out without any batteries. As a very keen photographer, I’ve also bought along a film camera, just in case my main camera freezes up. Cold can drain battery power. It’s also green and free.

If you are going to a cold country, put you batteries in your pocket.

Cameras don’t like going from one extreme temperature to another. Pop it in a ziplock bag with a silicon gel packet and wait for it to warm up before using. Reuse the silicon gel packets when you buy most packaged products or just ask any shop. It will prevent condensation on the inside of the lens.

When buying a daypack, get one which clips on the front, rather than zips. It makes it harder for would-be pickpockets to get into your bag.

Take dental floss. Unhealthy gums could lead to a heart attack. Aside from that, it’s very useful for repairing your backpack. It’s been tried and tested by me! My backpack is over 10 years old now and has gone all over the world. It’s been patched with dental floss.

Don’t forget a sewing kit!

Register with the Foreign Office. They have a service called LOCATE and can help British nationals when there’s major catastrophe, as well as helping your family and friends find you if you go missing. If anything, it will give your family peace of mind, and for the five minutes it takes to fill out the form, you might be thankful that you did.

Continuing to be the voice of doom (or responsible), remember to photocopy your passport, insurance, etc, etc and organise them into a folder  and leave with your emergency contact. If something does happen, then they have everything to hand in one place.

Take a cheap mp3 player, not your expensive iPod.

Buy secondhand books from a charity shop. Not only are they cheaper than brand new, but once on the road, you can swap your dog-eared book(s) for another read. I’m going to see how far my books travel by asking the next reader to tell me where in the world they are by jotting my email address in the front of the books.

Ladies – pack non-wired bras. They’re easier to pack and you won’t bend them out of shape.

Skype is a wondrous thing (but only then the Internet is available). If you haven’t done so, sign-up for it now! In fact, sign-up all your family and friends. You’ll get free Skype-to-Skype calls. I’ve manage several two-hour calls on €0 for a while now.

If you’re taking a mobile, turn off Internet roaming, otherwise you’ll come back home to a very nasty phone bill. I popped into my phone provider today just to make sure I’ve turned it off, otherwise I’ll be charge £8 per megabyte!

Turn on phone roaming, if you want to make calls (for emergencies for example).

Take things you can afford to lose.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. What other random, but helpful tips have you got?


4 thoughts on “Helpful but random pre-travel tips

  1. fantastic tips about the batteries etc, as someone that works as a press photographer in all weathers i would add that putting silica gel packets in with electronics is a good thing to do. it helps with the condensation issues.

    • Thanks. The silica packets are very useful. I ruined the best point and shoot camera I ever had when I was over in Iguazu Falls – the condensation got inside the lens and left water marks. Was gutted!

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