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For many people travel isn’t just a holiday. It’s no longer merely a short term escape from a mundane 9-5 existence, once a year for ten days. Going on adventures is a way of life. Travelling feeds the soul, expands the mind and is a generally pretty amazing experience. To put it in it’s most raw form travelling gives you an opportunity to become a part of a global community and do a world of good. Depending on what choices you make.

Whether you have two weeks or two years to travel a few simple considerations and you can do a world of good in your travels.

Tourist or Traveller?

Firstly ignore any advice that starts off with are you a tourist or a traveller? It’s a manufactured ideal that’s commonly used by utter twats to justify their superiority complex over you and the rest of humanity. There is no difference. We are all tourists in travellers shoes. Go explore.

Local choices result in local benefit

Choose local whenever possible. From accommodation, to food and experiences. Whenever we travel we love engaging with local guides. It’s a wonderful experience when you are travelling with someone who is passionate and knowledgeable about the area you are going through. Sometimes it’s the simple things like where’s the best coffee in town.

A note on guides – Guides can really make or break your trip. A good guide is going to explain everything to you and keep the flow of your tour going. Great guides will have local knowledge and connections as well as knowledge on basic first aid.

We are still friends with our local guides from our Cycle Indochina G Adventures tour back in 2014.

Respect the communities that you are travelling within.

Take a moment to consider your wardrobe choices. Now I’m not saying that you should go all grey nomad, zip off pants, full metal grey jacket. Though sun protection is always a good idea. Perhaps those butt revealing cut off denim shorts should stay at home? Not every community will be welcoming of your little outfits.This is irrelevant to where you identify with on the gender scale.

Beware the booze.

One Bingtang, two Bingtang, three Bingtang oh no you’re in jail and for a brief moment on the front page of an online newspaper looking less than fabulous. The next thing you know your mum is trying to explain to your grandmother what a pingpong show is and why you are on Youtube. Hopefully not. Alcohol in many countries is rather cheap and easy to obtain (not Australia. We are both expensive and difficult to buy and consume. Sorry about that!). Countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Bali (Indonesia) are currently reviewing and undergoing changes to current alcohol purhcasing laws.

In some countries alcohol consumption by locals is not allowed. Raja Ampat for instance has severe punishment for locals caught drinking or in possesion of alcohol. This has come about as a result of issues within the community and alcohol abuse. Yet you can easily buy beer at your resort.

Enjoy a few drinks. Look out for your friends and avoid jail time. Remember that every destination you visit is someone else’s home

Change starts here

Right here. With you. Not with my little space on the world wide web. By choosing wisely where to spend your dollars. We can’t always make the right choices, we’re not perfect. A little research and a little determination to really help local communities when we travel can and does make a huge impact on people’s lives.

If you’re not changing, you’re not growing. Isn’t that what life is all about?

What’s that in your bag?

Backpacking can be an exhilarating sport. Especially when it comes to packing. Rather than wobble along like a fat turtle it’s important to consider what you are packing. Do you really need an industrial hair dryer and a straightener with you? Confession I made that mistake on our first big trip to Europe. I felt like a twat and had to carry around 6kgs of wasted space – hair dryer, books, shoes. These days I still travel with far too much ‘stuff’ but generally manage to keep it under 15kgs. This is the top end of my weight that I’m willing to carry and generally includes items like a sleeping bag, matt, clothing and books. If I don’t need these extra adventure items then it’s carry on weights only!

There are some things you shouldn’t skip- First Aid Kit

A well stocked first aid kit should be an essential item in any backpack, but it really isn’t necessary to go overboard. Just the simple basics will do.

Pain relief medication -Paracetamol,  panadol, panadiene, what ever you want to call it or use. A low level pain killer is a must.
Sudafed – Especially great if you’re travelling across the world and into a different climate.
Condoms – even if you don’t need these you’d be surprised who else might need one. Always a great way to make friends by helping keep them safe.
Plasters (band aids) – a small pack in different sizes works wonders.
Antiseptic cream/wipes – I travel with Soothe cream. It works wonders as an antiseptic cream and also helps with burns and general injuries.
Gauze – A basic dressing with many different uses.
Medical tape – To tape things with.
Basic crepe bandage– Multiple use items are the best. Nowadays you can get teeny tiny crepe bandages.
Tweezers – Not just for your eyebrows.
Scissors – For cutting all the things.
Imodium – for the dreaded travellers tummy. Remember as our friend Mike, the Bemused Backpacker says, these are a short term solution.
Electrolyte tablets – For those days when you have travellers tummy and need to keep up your fluids. Some days plain water can become tedious and upsetting when you’re stuck in the bathroom pooping.

You rode a what?

Touched a tiger? Rode that elephant that lives in chains? Drank coffee that was popped out by a supposed cat in a cage? I get it. You really want that enviable profile pic. Do guys not lying next to sedated tigers in their profile photo ever get the girls on Tinder? Animal exploitation is exactly that. Exploitation – To be avoided at all costs. Recently in the media we’ve seen a lot of large companies publically denounce tours and services which exploit animals. Many companies are now refusing to advertise operators which offer such services.

Tourism can be a means for positive interactions between tourists and animals; however, where such interactions are not carefully managed or do not exhibit best practices there is potential to jeopardize animal welfare, the well-being of the local community, or the travellers’ experience. You have the choice when you travel to minimize negative social effects on animals. Don’t ride the elephant, touch the tiger or drink that caged coffee.

For more information on animal welfare standards check out the G Adventures Animal Welfare Policy

If you are in Thailand and would like to help elephants why not check out the Elephant Nature Park
Enjoying the magic of Myanmar? Why not visit the Green Hill Valley Elephant sanctuary

Are you in good company?

Choosing a travel companion can really impact on your adventures. Take the time to consider who you want to travel with and how that might affect your travel experience and friendship. There’s a difference between how your BFF reacts to a delayed train before brunch to a cancelled flight, local bombings and the dreaded travellers tummy.

If you’re going to choose a tour company this one is a really big issue. Like a make or break you holiday kind of issue. Now we’re adventure travellers. We love getting out into the local communities and having a great time. We love travelling with like minded people.

Which is why we chose G Adventures to pop our travel tour cherry. Neither James or I had been on a tour before. We knew that we wanted to travel with like minded people who aren’t afraid to have a good time. Being a couple and past the age of 25 we really didn’t want a shag & tag bus style tour. We also didn’t want to book with one company only to discover that our group was combined with another company which caters for the more mature traveller.

Travelling with G Adventures gave us the confidence that we would potentially be travelling with like minded people, who understood the values that G Adventures lives and breathes.

Ask on Twitter, message boards, forums, and Facebook about the companies get an idea as to who goes on their tours. Even a quick scroll through Instagram using the companies official hashtag will give you a good idea of who does what when on tour.

Travel Insurance

Flight delays, over booked hostels, lost luggage and stolen underwear. These are just a  few of the fine things that all travellers face every time we leave home on an adventure. Yes you do need travel insurance. Think I’m kidding? Go on and read my compelling argument – Do I really need to buy travel insurance?

Travel Insurance

The Little Things Turn Into Big Things

When you’re travelling it’s the little things that turn into big things that turn into tears. Being prepared to the best of your ability is number one step. The next step is accepting that things happen and you can’t control the world.

Our friends at G Adventures are offering all Traveling Honeybird readers Up to 25% Off Adventure Travel Deals on one of their 700 tours around the world.

Is there anyone small thing that you do before going travelling that makes your travel life easier?

Did you enjoy this article as much I enjoyed writing it for you? I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts below or why not connect on Facebook or Twitter?

Feeling friendly? Share the love! And by love I mean this article.

Jeanette

Jeanette

Founder, Principal Blogger & Coffee Drinker

Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame. Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.
Disclaimer:

This article contains affiliate links. If you do decide to purchase any items from the links above we receive a meagre sacrifice from the accounting gods. These funds help us continue to live, feed the dogs and go on cafe runs. Which Milly really does appreciate.
Any and all views and opinions expressed are entirely my own based on personal experiences when travelling and are honest and factual without any bias.

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30 Comments

  1. Yes ignore the tourists or traveller question! I hate being told I am not a traveller because I don’t stay in hostel dorms! Definitely respect communities and cultures, I couldn’t agree more – and keep an eye on those drinks! We had a tasty incident in Phuket with a spiked straw!!

    Reply
  2. Your description of the people who ask, ‘Are you a tourist or traveler’ is a classic! My thoughts on the booze would be don’t drink too much because you will have a hangover the next day and not be very active! Those G Adventure deals seem pretty attractive!

    Reply
  3. We enjoyed reading this article. These things seem petty but they are really very important. We love exploring like a local that said when we spend more time amidst the local a bit of knowledge about the local do and don’ts needs to be well researched. While this helps easy mingle with the locals we also need to respect their culture and way of leaving.

    Reply
  4. Such an informative and useful post! I come from a small touristy town in south India and I can totally relate to a lot of the points you mentioned. I always try to go local when i travel and try to put the money back into the local communities instead of big international chains.

    Reply
  5. I always make sure to wear the appropriate clothes when I travel. It is a must to be able to blend in with everyone. I have made a lot of mistakes in packing my stuff before I travel. I just like to be prepared but I have learned that there are things that I can buy at a local grocery store abroad.
    I have not sought out help from a tour company yet. I think they charge high but I might check out the G Adventures.

    Reply
    • G Adventures are all inclusive on pricing which helps.

      Reply
  6. I like that list of important things for a first aid kit! Those are all really important to have. I once had a road burn on my leg, and it was really lucky that I packed all those antiseptic creams and bandages to treat it!

    Reply
  7. This is such a great article! I especially like your point on shopping local; it proves the point that we can make a difference in small steps at a time. I also totally agree with the travel insurance, its always murpheys law that you need it when you don’t have it. great read!

    Reply
  8. Thank you for this! First, I love what you said that we’re all tourists in travelers shoes! It really is a superiority complex when people act like they’re better than standard tourists! Also you had some great tips for backpacking!

    Reply
  9. These are fantastic tips!! Travel insurance is super important. As much as I’ve traveled, I’ve actually never been backpacking! Definitely something I want to do. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  10. These are such good tips– I agree with every one of them. I think it boils down to being respectful. You are going to someone else’s home (country), treat them well and treat their home well.

    Reply
  11. I like the idea of helping the locals. When I go somewhere I usually try to engage the help of locals. And I agree that travel insurance is definitely a must for everyone!

    Reply
  12. Good tips to remember. Very well composed.

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  13. Great insight! There’s sooo many things that we really need to consider when we travel. 🙂 I agree on the travel agency part. It can really make or break your vacation or travel experience 🙂

    Reply
  14. I nodded through your entire post. I absolutely agree with you on moderate dressing, respecting wildlife and local food. I follow them rigorously. Thanks for this post.

    Reply
  15. Such a valid reminder to be mindful of the impact of our actions when traveling. Living in Cambodia, I so often see tourists wearing tiny outfits that are SO outside of the cultural norm here. Also, love your joke about tourist vs traveler! I totally agree. They are synonyms, give it a rest people!

    Reply
  16. I mostly go with a flow and sans any plan. But as I am evolving as a traveler, I understand the need for pre travel planning, especially when I am not traveling solo. However, like you, I also pack my bags judiciously.

    Reply
  17. These are such good tips. I’m so glad you mentioned the animals because that’s something I’m really passionate about. They’re not there for our entertainment, and we need to do the research before we support any kind of animal “attraction.” I really want to volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park!

    Reply
  18. So much to think about especially when it is a long trip. I agree you really need to do you research on things, especially tourist attractions or tour companies. Also, I love your idea of making sure to buy condoms, I agree you could be a real life saver.

    Reply
    • Even if you don’t need them someone else usually will 😉

      Reply
  19. I really love your writing style and these tips are all great. Thank you for sharing 🙂

    Reply
  20. Great article! Really great tips and viewpoints especially about choosing local. I loved the “We are all tourists in travellers shoes”, very good point that everyone should remember!

    Reply
  21. So many important points 🙂 And yeah, the Tourist vs Traveller debate really should be forgotten!

    Reply
  22. Thanks for the tips. A great reminder on dressing appropriately and not exploiting animals. Oh and wholeheartedly agree on having insurance. You never know what could happen

    Reply
  23. Hi, thanks for writing a blog on the small things that we might forget before traveling. Thanks for touching upon important issues like not harming the community that we live in. Precautions like these go a long way in sustaining tourism in a community.

    Reply
  24. This is so spot on! I’ve long been frustrated by the pointless tourist v traveller debate and the one-upmanship that goes on in the travel community. Great tips for travelling locally and ethically too – it’s such a privilege to be able to travel, and we should all strive to do it more responsibly.

    Reply
  25. So many important ideas here. I think there’s a tendency at times to view South East Asia, where things of every kind are viewed as ‘cheaper’ therefore don’t deserve the same kind of consideration you might afford them at home. Having a little mindfulness when you travel goes a long way. And travel insurance!! Always!!!

    Reply
    • Travel insurance is a must. No matter what.

      Reply
  26. I live in an important touristic city in Spain, and really the difference between traveler and tourist is every day bigger.

    Reply
    • Dear Microsoft Photographer- there is no difference. Please see above description and take note.

      Reply

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