“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.
Then take half the clothes and twice the money”
[Susan Heller]

As someone who has been working in travel now for over 20yrs and who has done her fair share of personal travel, I get asked for all kinds of travel related advice on a daily basis.
There is easy stuff like ‘What forms of currency do I take?’ or ‘Can you offer any crafty packing tips?’.
Then there are the more serious queries regarding visas, passports and security questions.
Then there are the questions from inexperienced travelers like ‘Do I need a passport to fly to New Zealand? (um.. yes. It’s another country)…. And then there is just the plain weird, and kind of sad… ‘Are there any airlines that still allow smoking? If not, I guess I’ll never see my family again’. (Yep, a client couldn’t fathom flying 10hrs without having a smoke, and would therefore never see her UK family again) 🙁
All of these questions highlight to me that there really is a lot to know about packing your bags and heading off overseas. It also shows me that yes, I do actually know what I’m talking about when it comes to travel and that there are so many smart travel ideas out there that I wished I knew before I took my 1st trip.
I could write a list as long as all the cities I’ve been to, but I’ll limit it to 5 travel tips that I personally live by and that may help you out. They are my personal tips (and philosophy) to live by, so here goes:

1. Enlist the help of a professional!

Travel agents aren’t a thing of the past and we aren’t here to rip you off. If you take the time to find a great agent, build a relationship and explain your travel needs, they will have your best interests in mind, they’ll do the hard work for you, and create the perfect holiday or vacation for you.
Yes, some of you may love to sit online for 7hrs a day researching your next holiday, checking every hotel and all the reviews, then price match every travel site you come across… and if this is you, then go for it! But most of us are time poor and want actual credible advice, so a good travel agent will be able to be your one stop shop. They’ll recommend the best destination or hotel for YOU, sort you out with essentials like travel insurance AND they will be able to get you great value, if you let them.
We use professionals for everything else we do (especially when you’re spending the kind of money a big trip can sometimes cost) so why wouldn’t you use a professional to plan the holiday of a lifetime?

2. Book in advance.

It DOES save you money. In Australia there is really no such thing as standby seats or last minute specials on airfares. The earlier you book, the more you save, as there are multiple prices for each class of seat on an aircraft. As the plane fills up the price goes up! There are also some amazing early-bird deals on tours, hotels and packages if you are able to book and often pay in advance.

3. Don’t believe every on-line review you read.

With online reviews being a travel ‘tool’ that people rely on, hotels, restaurants and sightseeing companies go to great lengths to ensure that their business has positive reviews… and raking highly on review sites is their number #1 focus.
There are companies out there who specialize in writing fake reviews. Businesses & hotels give freebies to people to post a positive review and employees are encouraged to post their own positive reviews (hmmm). Last year Trip advisor changed their slogan from “Reviews you can trust” to “Reviews from our community” for their reviews section, after an investigation of allegations that millions of Trip Advisor reviews may be fake.
So beware. Talk to friends and family (or your travel stylist) about your destination, where they have stayed, eaten and visited.

4. Check your documents.

Don’t forget about passport validity & visas. You’ll be surprised how many people show up to an airport with an expired passport or without a visa. You need at least 6 months validity on your passport to leave Australia, and there are more and more countries who have some form of Visa requirement, so check it out!

5. The lighter the better!

I’ve done the world trips with big bags, and It’s a pain in the ass, and airlines aren’t as kind as they used to be. They charge for everything and I’m talking exorbitant excess baggage fees. If you are travelling with sporting goods, don’t assume the airlines will take it free, as most will not.
Do your research or enlist the help of a professional (Note 3rd shameless plug☺

There you have it! Some of my fave travel tips.

Some I’m sure you’ve heard before, but maybe there are some new ones in there that you can take note of, so I hope they were helpful.

Image source: highwaysengland

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