What travel taught me in 2016

With 12 trips in as many months here’s what SJ learned from travelling last year.

What travel taught me in 2016

SJ is a regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices. Her plane essentials include noise-cancelling headphones, a solid Spotify playlist, sleeping tablets, an eyemask and a large scarf that doubles as a blanket on cold flights – i.e. every night.

I’m a true believer that travel teaches us more than most other things in life can. Last year I went on over 12 trips, involving 15 flights, 16 trains and more buses than I care to recall, and I learnt plenty. So, in the spirit of sharing and caring, here are the top takeaways from my 2016 travels. Hopefully, my mistakes and lessons – usually learnt the hard way – will help with your future travels.

1. Don’t wait
Not once last year did I get a cheaper fare by waiting. I know statistics show that Tuesdays are the cheapest day to book a flight but my bank balances shows that waiting, even a few days, does not pay off.

2. Always carry an empty water bottle
This sounds strange – shouldn’t it be full? Well, technically yes, but you can’t take a full one through most security points. So, rather than throwing the whole thing out and then buying another one on the other side, take an empty one and fill it up later. The same goes for planes – forget having to harass air hostesses for 10 ridiculous thimbles of water, just ask them to fill your bottle instead.

3. Lock in your accommodation ASAP
No one needs the stress of wondering where they will sleep at 3pm the day before they fly. Booking.com is a great way to secure accommodation as early as you like, with many places offering free cancellation up until a day or two before. Worst case scenario, you can cancel.

4. Paper beats phones
There are some rare times when technology does not come out on top. Boarding passes, accommodation confirmations, tickets, maps and itineraries are all said scenarios. A piece of paper has never run out of battery, mysteriously wiped something else or lost signal. Rather than fiddling around trying to zoom in so some poor soul can see your information, just press print before heading to the airport.

5. Heroes come in all forms …
… namely, noise cancelling headphones and eye masks. What screaming baby? Which light was on all night? Long transfers? Oh, you mean that great nap I had.

6. Limit your liquids
As someone who’s had far too many shampoos, moisturisers, sunscreens etc. thrown out at security, I feel like an expert in what not to do when it comes to liquids. For instance, did you know you’re actually only allowed one of those bags? And it must do up? I recommend sticking to the one bag and buying travel bottles, if necessary, once through security.

7. Some extras are worth every cent
I used to hate people who lined up way ahead of time for the flight. Until I ended up stuck at the back of a ridiculously long queue only to have my carry-on bag sent to the hold. Get the best of both worlds by paying to choose a seat with priority boarding and a handbag. It’s a small price to pay to get a guaranteed seat and baggage space.

8. Plan your transfers
I’m all for being spontaneous but planning your transfers makes any trip feel more like a VIP experience. Not only do you not have to worry about it, you can have peace of mind that you’re going to get to the airport and your accommodation as seamlessly as possible.

9. Always carry your chargers
Gadgets are only as good as their battery life. And battery life is only as good as the cords you have with you! This applies to adapters as well when travelling internationally.

10. The early bird gets the plane …
… train, bus, whatever it may be. The perfect example of this was on my most recent trip to Majorca when, as I was strapped into my seat on the plane, we learned a fire alarm had gone off at security and we were still missing some passengers. After a few minutes, the plane took off sans missing passengers. Thankfully, I was already through security. Passenger transport waits for no one.

I could go on and on and on, but instead I’m throwing it open to the audience. What did travel teach you in 2016?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    22nd Apr 2017
    Agree with having at least 1st nights accommodation booked and transfers organized. My travel learning tips were to ditch the big shoulder handbag for a small leather backpack to free up my hands when travelling ; pack only 1 weeks worth of clothes regardless of length of trip(i wear everything twice and wash as opportunity arrives) and buy cheap packs of undies to take which i ditch after one or two wears. Usually buy about 30 for under a dollar each . Have been doing this for years and its very liberating.
    22nd Apr 2017
    Scrub number 7, what the hell do people need a huge carry on bag for, unless they got a dozen kids in nappies? A solo traveller with a small suitcase, I don't get it, even on a 14 hour flight, what you are up and down every 5 minutes to get something from your bag in the overhead locker. I've seen such people on long haul flights, it's a flamin fetish, just like the toilets, as soon as they board, into the toilet like there's a prize for first in!
    I never found the need for anything larger than my little computer bag with essentials in it, travel doc's, chargers etc etc. That bag also fit's under the seat on shorter domestic flights.
    The sooner they charge people for all this crap they bring into the cabin the better, totally unecessary IMHO unless it is for babies etc.
    fish head
    22nd Apr 2017
    there is a problem when it is necessary to carry medications that HAVE to remain in labelled boxes. They must remain with you at all times. Three months medication takes up a lot of space I can tell you. Cut people some slack, please.
    22nd Apr 2017
    Some sound advice Sue. The old adage 'when you fail to plan you plan to fail' is what travellers need to adhere to. Booking early and planning well ahead is the safest way to ensure everything goes as good as it possibly can.
    Kaye Fallick
    23rd Apr 2017
    I take a Hedgren cross body bag - small with the essentials including passport, wallet, glasses notebook & phone, and tuck this into a larger carry bag. so when i board i can put the bigger bag in the overhead, and keep the small one with essentials tucked under seat. No up and down and up and down - pre-sorting the essentials is my best tip
    25th Apr 2017
    Ella, I learnt a neat idea from a well travelled cousin. Take only 2 pairs of undies and a packet of panty liners, then as you use a fresh one daily, your baggage gets lighter.

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