On your travels you may be climbing mountains, cycling around ancient ruins or hiking on desert trails. You don't know what opportunities may come up, but when they do you want to be fit enough to take on the challenge. It makes sense to prepare.......hiking, biking, running, yoga, whatever you enjoy. Eat healthily - once you get on the road there is no guarantee you will have access to nutritious food all the time, but at least you can start your trip feeling the optimum of fitness and health!
Get Rid Of Your Stuff
Minimise! You won't need to take much with you, so get rid of all the excess you can. When you are on the road, you realise how little you actually need, and if you are planning on travelling for a while there is little point in keeping lots of stuff in storage. As mentioned in 'Saving Your Travel Cash', selling your gear not only simplifies your life, but makes you the vital cash you need for your travels. For us, a big part of travel is living an uncluttered, un-materialistic lifestyle - the freedom to pack your bag and hit the road at a moment's notice!
Learn The Lingo
Depending on where you're going, learning a little of the language of the country you are headed to is a sound idea, sometimes a necessity. There are a wealth of methods out there to choose from. I have found Michel Thomas' language courses excellent if you want to learn a language properly. If however, you just need a few essential words, there are many short courses that will allow you to do just that. Even if your skills are basic, the locals will appreciate anybody who makes an effort to speak their language.
Do Some Research
Some travellers enjoy the planning stage of a trip as much as the trip itself. Others prefer the spontaneity of travelling without a plan. Whatever you prefer, the time leading up to the trip should be an exciting time, full of anticipation. It does however, make sense to at least do a little research. An example of when we were pleased that we had done some research was at the Thai-Cambodian border, when we foiled a regularly practised scam. Luckily, we had read about it and we were ready to deal with it when it happened, and consequently weren't ripped off. Although the 'free and easy, travel without a guidebook' philosophy is an idealistic way to go, sometimes it does pay to be a little informed.
Work Out A Budget
Working out a budget for your trip is essential. A daily expenses budget will hopefully ensure that you will have enough cash to travel for the period of time that you want to. Additionally, a small (or large!) nest egg to come back to is a good idea. (See 'On the road budgeting').
Have A Party!
Yippee! It's a great excuse to throw a party to say goodbye to your friends and family and to celebrate your escape from the rat-race and your impending adventures! Definitely worth celebrating!
Take a few ziplock bags - they are excellent for keeping bus trip/hiking snacks fresh. You can also use them to keep passports/documents dry.
Keep a journal. Photo's are great, but only capture a moment. You will forget a lot if you don't write it down. A few years down the line you will be glad you did.
Take a head torch. They are essential for camping and also useful in countries where power cuts are common.
Before you take an un-metered taxi or tuk tuk, pre-arrange the fare. Also ensure that the price includes all passengers!
Take a fleece or sweater on bus trips - sometimes the air conditioning is set high.
Phone cards can be excellent value if you don't want to use your cell phone or aren't travelling with one. A $5.00 card purchased in Canada or the USA costs two cents a minute to call the UK. Unbeatable!
Keep a copy of your passport somewhere separate. Just in case.
In India, you can buy small sachets of washing powder for two rupees each. Very convenient for on the road laundering!
Wet wipes are excellent, especially for camping, but for general use while travelling too.
Take snacks along for long bus/train rides. Depending on where you are, back ups may be necessary. For example, the three day Trans Mongolian Express isn't renowned for its food.
Small sachets of pepper, ketchup or soya sauce are easy to carry and can spice up the blandest food.
If you are are travelling somewhere a little edgy, it's not a bad idea to keep a small amout of mugger's money to hand. $50.00 or so should do the trick in the unlikely event of a 'situation'.
In Asia, toilet roll is a rarity, so keep some with you. (But don't put it down the toilet, as the system there can't take it).
Take water with you when you go for a walk (no matter how short). This is especially relevant in hot climates. It's surprising how soon you can become dehydrated. Rather obvious, but we have been caught out more times than we like to admit!
Be aware of scams! Check out the scene before you travel - different destinations are notorious for their own unique scams, so be ahead of the game. These guys are good at what they do!
A small foldaway backpack is a useful asset, especially if you (like us) carry a day pack as your main luggage. You don't have to unpack your bag every time you go out - you can just take the essentials with you in your foldaway backpack.
A mini speaker for you ipod is fab for impromptu parties or just listening to music in your room or when camping.
Always keep a couple of plastic bags - they are handy to use as laundry bags, to keep clothes dry or keep separate from other items in your backpack.
'Stuff your rucksack' is an online community that helps responsible travellers make a difference to developing countries. Basically, the idea is that you take items from home that can be used by people who really need them, but can't afford or don't have access to them. You can look at the website to see if there is a worthy cause close to where you happen to be travelling. Check it out - it's a very worthwhile cause. stuffyourrucksack.com/Share