10 Things You Should Never Skimp on When Travelling

A few smart splurges can make your trip a lot more fun.


Travel should be pleasurable — not stressful. While it’s almost inevitable for something to go awry from time to time, you can avoid most issues with a little foresight and planning. Sometimes all it takes is investing a bit more upfront in order to ensure a better travel experience.

I’m not including accommodation or method of travel on this list because I think those two items are relative. Some people like five-star hotels and first-class seating, while others are perfectly fine in hostels and economy class. To each their own.

1. Luggage

Good quality luggage is an important trip component for several reasons, but mainly because it needs to hold up against all the wear and tear you’ll put it through in your travels. I’m not saying that cheap luggage will fall apart and expensive luggage is war-proof, but there is something to be said about brands with a reputation for quality — and that usually comes at a cost. I won’t endorse any particular brand but this little feature does and may prove useful to you.

Ask any frequent fliers you know what they would recommend; and if any of your mates is cabin crew then they’re absolutely your best bet for solid advice.

2. Comfortable Shoes

A lot of people holiday in warmer climates. And why not? There’s an abundance of things to see and do when the weather outside is perfect. But before you head out to explore, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes and socks that can handle a day of walking without killing your feet. These should be the real deal — and definitely not right out of the box.

You also want to avoid going sockless. I’ve worn both canvas slip-ons without socks and flip-flops on heavy walking days, and both footwear choices resulted in bloody, painful feet.

3. Personal Safety

Because I’ve travelled all over the world, I’m generally not afraid of new surroundings: seedy-looking neighbourhoods, dark streets, or people who look like they might be up to no good. I stay vigilant, of course, but I don’t want to let a black cloud of fear follow me wherever I go just because the area doesn’t look like it’s maintained by Ritz-Carlton. However I would always spring for a cab rather than walk if I wasn’t sure; I carry a small but loud whistle in my pocket at all times; and my mobile phone is always to hand.

Safety first, people.

4. Making the Most of It

I’m an activities-oriented guy, and I like to be out and about experiencing everything I can in the short time I have in a location. The problem, however, is that an unforgettable experience can be costly. Still, it’s not something on which you should skimp — your fond memories of your trip will last much longer than any tchotchke* — and there are ways to make it affordable.

Remember when I mentioned earlier that the preference for high-end flight and hotel accommodations are relative? They still are, and personally this is how I justify splurging a bit on a great experience — I choose to stay in modest digs and fly the cheapest way I can, so when I get to my destination I can have all the fun I want without feeling guilty about spending too much money.

5. Travel Insurance

I once went on what was meant to be an unforgettable European vacation that included London, Dublin, and finally, Paris for New Year’s Eve. But thanks to Mother Nature and an incompetent, famously low-priced Irish airline that shall remain nameless, my hopes of ushering in a new year in the City of Lights were dashed. The worst part? I was young and dumb and I didn’t have travel insurance. Hotel, train fares, and airfare all went out the window — along with my usually jovial attitude. Don’t let this happen to you, especially if you’re planning a special-occasion trip. Spend the extra money to protect your investment.

6. Vaccinations

I suspect that pre-travel vaccinations are not only overlooked a lot of the time, but are probably actively avoided due to the cost and relative inconvenience. In that case, let’s play a game of “Would You Rather..?”

Would you rather pay for pricey vaccinations that will help you avoid common illnesses, or would you rather spend your trip becoming best friends with a toilet bowl or visiting the very questionable local hospital?

Get advice and get the proper vaccinations before you depart. If you can’t afford it, don’t go. In some cases, it really could be the difference between life and death.

7. Health Care

Speaking of questionable local hospitals, they’re the very last place you ever want to visit while you’re travelling — sometimes even worse than jail. If you’re ill, spring for quality medical care.

Blogger behind Broke Girl Gets Rich, Chelsea Baldwin, just wrapped up a few years in Asia and soon she’ll embark on an extended stay in South America. As someone who has caught her fair share of stomach bugs while travelling and was subsequently treated at public health facilities, she advises better-quality healthcare as well.

“If the public health care in the country you’re visiting is known for its quality, that’s fine, but otherwise it’s always worth the extra cost to get more attention and better care from a private doctor,” she says. “Most American health insurance companies will cover you for emergency situations overseas, but if you think the cost of visiting a private doctor at your destination could get expensive, there are numerous travel insurance companies you can get plans from to help cover you.”

8. Mobile Phone Data

When I travel to destinations outside my network provider’s coverage area, I try to stick with the hotel’s free Wi-Fi. If you want to be fully connected — and it’s not a bad idea, despite the faction of people begging us to unplug every once in a while — there’s a solution that will cost you just a few bucks but will be MUCH cheaper than the fees you may incur from roaming.

“Buying a SIM card upon arrival in a country will cost you little more than $10 – 15 and it’s invaluable for all the times you get lost or you’re unable to communicate with your cab driver,” says Matthew Newton, CEO of Tourism Tiger. “Many small emergencies are solved through the simple asset of a SIM card charged with one gigabyte of data.”

9. Bottled Water

I generally don’t buy a lot of bottled water after a few days to acclimatise to a new environment, but Dr. Irene S. Levine (who moonlights as a freelance travel writer) makes a good case for bottled water when you’re travelling.

“There is no reason to take a chance,” she says. “Even if tap water is safe to drink, it may have a different mineral composition that is upsetting to your stomach and can potentially ruin your trip. Additionally, don’t try to save money by not drinking enough water. When you’re travelling, it’s easy to get dehydrated either on planes or in hot climates when you’re more active than usual.”

As someone who prefers tap water, I agree that this is a good practice to adopt. And to save money and waste, I try to buy a few large jugs of distilled water with which to fill my permanent (sturdy) water bottle, instead of buying many single plastic bottles throughout the whole trip.

10. All-Purpose Jacket

A good quality lightweight waterproof/windproof coat with sealable pockets is essential for all conditions. Keeps you warm in the cold, dry in the rain; pack it away when you don’t need anything and you’re all set. The best quality jackets cost upwards of $100 but I think it’s worth it and my own has lasted over ten years already and has plenty of wear left.

I came across these recently and you may very well like to consider one for your next trip. http://www.jaktogo.com/

* tchotch·ke


noun: tchotchke; plural noun: tchotchkes; noun: tsatske; plural noun: tsatskes
  1. 1.
    a small object that is decorative rather than strictly functional; a trinket.
  2. 2.
    a pretty girl or woman.
1960s: Yiddish.

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