Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Top Tips For International Travel

I have been travelling overseas for more than 11 years now and my motto is "expect the unexpected"! Here are my top 10 tips for making international travel easier.

1. Firstly and most important: Be super organised!  Arrange your travel insurance - there are always surprises when you are travelling!  Write and distribute copies of your itinerary to your family or friends: it sometimes takes me a year to organise a full itinerary of places to stay and travel between. Also take copies of your travel documents: passport, itinerary and banking details for the inevitable phone home situation when you encounter difficulties with theft, breakages or mislaying items! We were robbed in Greece and broke a mobile phone in a backpack when it fell from a roofrack in a Portuguese bus!

2. Pack lightly, roll tightly. I go by the old ‘pile them on the bed’ method: sort your things, divide them in half, divide them in half again and that’s what you really need! Alright, I sometimes sneak a couple of things back in! I pack smallish items into shoes and wrap any souvenirs in clothing to prevent breakages. I carry a quantity of plastic sealing lunch bags useful for carry on items that have be in clear view for customs checks.

3. Always take a pashmina or scarf and long skirt or pants for those visits where modest dress is necessary. Some of the places I have needed these are the monasteries of Meteroa, the mosques in Arabian countries and temple visits in South East Asia.

4. Keep fit, you will need it for those days exploring through enticing and ancient cities with narrow byways, cobbled pavements and endless stairs to high viewpoints! I try and walk every day but housework or a busy schedule easily qualify!

5. Pack warm weather clothing and an umbrella. I always take a beanie, gloves and warm jacket for those unexpected cold weather changes and situations like we had on board an overnight ferry to Crete where we froze due to being unable to turn the air con down! I always take my hooded jacket on the flight to wear; it can fold up into a small bundle for using as a pillow in desperate situations!

6. Pack reading material for those terribly long waiting times, waiting for a connecting train or bus (5 hours in Greece once!) or waiting at airports with huge inter connecting times for flights. When travelling, I find there are usually second hand bookshops somewhere where I can buy books and donate them at the next hotel or hostel.

7. Organise your carry-on luggage! I take a backpack with my passport, toiletries, a change of clothes, notebook computer or iPad, my charging devices and power converters for the country I'm going to, mobile phone, pen, small pack of tissues, moisturiser and lip balm, a book or Kindle, pocket sized camera, water bottle, (though these sometimes have to be emptied out or abandoned altogether depending on regulations), puzzle book,  cloth bottle holder which fits across the body (I bought this in Myanmar and it’s so useful in hot countries for carrying while walking) and barley sugar (or the like) to chew when ascending and descending in the plane.

8. Make sure your baggage is easily identifiable by putting something colourful on it - I put a bright orange macramé cord on mine: this is guaranteed not to be on anyone else’s! There is always a mad dash for the baggage carousel, so make sure you have a trolley handy first thing.

9. Use wheeled luggage. When we started travelling they were not available! I now have a wheeled weekender sports type bag with an extendable handle. This will save you in big airports where you have to walk miles to the gates. Mine is also backpack convertible, although I haven’t needed to use it.

10. Arrive at your airport early – Virgin Australia is always happy to help you check in! I try to be first in line by arriving well before the regulation time and then you can roam the cafeterias, shopping and duty free area and have a relaxing beverage or two before the flight! Sometimes, you may even bag an exit aisle seat by being early- it doesn’t hurt to ask!

Now celebrate in style, you have earned it and after all, the enjoyment begins the minute you board that flight for destinations and experiences only imagined!

This post is an entry for the Virgin Australia Problogger Event travel tips competition.


  1. Very good travel tips Susan. I like your advice about packing light which is something I never get to achieve. I have to plan for every eventuality and that means far too much clothing choices! I think another good tip is to pack comfortable shoes because you always tend to walk for kilometres and there is nothing worse than uncomfortable shoes.

    1. Thanks for your comments! So very true Kathy - comfortable shoes for the day's discoveries are an essential!!

  2. All good travel tips, thanks Sue. I try to travel light but find that I keep adding until the bag is full! I like your divide in half and then divide in half again method! I will try that next time.
    I also like the snap lock bags - one for socks and one for underwear - both of which seem to get lost in the bottom of my bag!!!

    1. Thanks, Cecily! Yes my packing is never foolproof!