I’m a big fan of travel. Infact, I love it! I’m writing this in late February 2018, having already left the country on 3 different trips (one of which I wrote a blog about here). I have a further two overseas trips booked before the end of May. I just love travel. Given how frequently I travel, I have really needed to nail down my essentials for a trip. In today’s blog, I’m going to share with you my travel essentials and top travel tips. None of the products or services mentioned are paying me for an endorsement. A lot of trial and error has got me to this point, hopefully, these tips save you all of that.
I’m not talking about the obvious things here. We all need underwear, toothpaste and so on. These are things that I take with me to make my trip easier and also to save money. Some of them are simple and free, some incur a cost. All of them help me out greatly when I am overseas. There may well be alternatives to what I discuss so if you know of some that you feel are better, pop them in the comments and I may try them out. A lot of what I now rely on has come as a result of a costly error, or by chance. My essentials are the first things I check on before the packing etc begins.
Travel essentials 1 – A good mobile phone sim card
Ever been abroad, used your phone and come home to a huge bill? You are not alone. Nowadays, most phone operators will offer a cap on spending or a package (at a cost per day) to allow you to use your phone when overseas. The sim card of choice for me is from Three and is called the Advanced plan. This is a sim only deal and costs £14 per month. What’s so great about this compared to others I hear you ask? Well, firstly the main package for the UK is pretty good. I get 12gb of data, unlimited calls, and texts plus a “go binge” package. Go Binge allows you to stream things such as Apple Music, Netflix and TV player for free, without using your data package.
Now here comes the good bit. With the Three Advanced plan, you get access to “feel at home” which allows you to use your phone in 71 different countries at no further cost than if you were at home. I travel to the US quite a lot, which is included in feel at home. It also includes common holiday destinations such as Spain, Greece, France, and Italy. This sim deal has saved me an absolute fortune and I would highly recommend it. It allows me to use all of my social media when away, just as if I were in the UK. I’m also only tied to a one year contract, which is fantastic value.
As a little extra bonus, Three users now get access to Wuntu, a rewards app for Three customers. Once you have downloaded the Wuntu app, you tell them a little about your preferences. From here, you are given regular access to offers and discounts that you may like. As write this, the latest offers for me are 11 free e-books, 2-4-1 theatre tickets, discounts at Bella Italia/Cafe Rouge and much more. It’s a great little app, if you sign up to Three, make sure you also sign up for Wuntu.
Travel essentials 2 – A good travel prepaid card/credit card
It’s not very practical (or safe) to carry your wedge of holiday spending money with you in cash. Much like I mentioned above, many of us have likely returned home to see charges on their account for overseas card usage. This could be anything from a fee for the currency exchange, to an ATM withdrawal. All of these charges are coming out of your hard earned spending money!
I’ve used many different options over the years but my current weapon of choice is the Monzo card. There are a number of really good options about Monzo to help you spend more wisely. It’s really simple to use and to load and all controlled via an app on your phone. You can view your balance at any time and top up within seconds. When you use the card, the payment shows immediately and sends an alert. I’ve sat in restaurants and my app has told me that my card has been charged before the waiter even returned to my table.
Within the app you can categorise your spending, so if you are that way inclined (like me) you can easily see how much money has been spent on eating out, transport, entertainment etc. Monzo card users ‘top up’ in sterling and then when a payment is taken, the app converts your sterling at the best rate to the local currency. It’s worth noting that if you find yourself faced with the option to pay in local currency or “your” currency, always choose local to get the best out of the card. You have an allowance per month that you can withdraw from an ATM without a charge too.
Monzo is free to join, although currently only by invitation.
Travel essentials 3 – a USB plug
I only own a small number of travel plugs. Depending on what devices you use, you may often find that you have to rotate in order to power/charge them all. This tip only really works if there is a country that you travel to quite often, for me, America. I stumbled across this option but it’s now one of my travel essentials and lives in my case so that I don’t forget it. You can buy plugs for the country in question where your USB cable attaches to the bottom of the plug. If you are an iPhone user in the UK, you will be familiar with this style.
A few years back I bought a Kindle from the US. When I opened the box, the power plug was made for American plug sockets. I had not considered this at the time and I worked around it in the UK, by using my iPhone plug. In the reverse, I can now use this plug when in America to charge my iPhone. This leaves all of the other travel plugs free to charge cameras, laptops and power hair dryers and such. Very handy.
Travel essentials 4 – a plastic wallet
I take a plastic wallet with me when I travel to keep all of the important documents together. I find that it is easy to get confused when you have a passport, a boarding card, maybe some transfer info and then a hotel voucher. If there is one thing that will make a holiday flow easier, it’s being organised. I know that when I leave the house, I have everything I will need in the wallet. This is then placed in my hand luggage and not touched until called upon at the airport.
If you are unfortunate enough to have to claim on your travel insurance when on holiday, it’s vital that you keep hold of receipts. My travel wallet stores all paperwork I acquire whilst away. I then dispose of what I don’t need once back home. A small sturdy plastic wallet may cost a few quid, but that’s a small price to pay to be organised (in my opinion).
Travel essentials 5 – good travel insurance
Speaking of insurance claims, always get travel insurance. You might think that’s obvious, but some people don’t do it. I had my case go AWOL when on holiday once, I would have lost a lot of money if it were not for travel insurance. You need to make sure that the cover provided is right for you. Travellers who love winter sports, for example, make sure that your expensive equipment is covered. A good travel insurance policy is worth every single penny however it is only as good as the cover that you choose. My preferred travel insurer is Columbus Direct. I use annual travel insurance because of how often I tend to travel. An annual policy will cost more but may provide some extra benefits.
An excellent benefit offered by Columbus Direct is free airport lounge access if your flight is delayed by more than 2 hours. Delays can put a real downer on your holiday and drag out a trip back home. This option allows you to relax in comfort, away from the hustle-bustle of an airport. You do need to register your flight(s) in advance to be eligible, which is simple to do.
Follow my travel adventures
If you are not already aware, I vlog a lot of my travel adventures. Be sure to check out my Youtube channel to stay up to date with all of the latest action. You’ll also find that I’m active on Twitter and Instagram when I travel.
If you have any travel tips of your own, I would love to hear about them in the comments below.
Until next time…