Errghhh long haul travel. Its a necessary evil to get to epic places, but man you have to pysche yourself up for it. Or more importantly, be prepared. It's amazing how much more enjoyable it can be with a little planning in place. With this in mind we've pulled together this short list of tips for you to think about before your big journey abroad.
Pack LIKE A CHAMP
The way you pack has the potential to make or break your trip. It’s easy to quickly go through your wardrobe and pull some of your favorite things, but you can easily lose track of how many of the same type of shirt you’ve packed and how few pairs of socks.
You may have seen on Instagram lately that people who travel for a living or regularly neatly lay out every single item they plan on bringing on the floor and then pack it all away. This is extremely helpful because it allows you to see exactly what you have, and make smart decisions about what to leave home and what to make sure you have with you.
Once you’ve narrowed down what you want, roll everything instead of folding it. This is a great space saver. It’s also super helpful to buy a couple mesh bags to keep things like socks and underwear together but separate from the rest of your clothing. This also helps in keeping track of how many pairs of underwear you have left before you’ll have to do some washing.
Be strategic! Think carefully about what you’ll want to have with you on the plane, and where to put it in your carry on so that it will be easily accessible. If you’re bringing a larger backpacking pack with you, it can be helpful to pack what you’ll want on the plane into a smaller, lightweight bag so that you can pull it out and keep it under the seat in front of you while your larger pack is up in the overhead bins.
WHILE IN THE AIR
The first part of your journey will likely involve what will feel like an endless flight, but have no fear! Follow these tips to ensure you stay comfortable, happy, and well rested for your next experiential travel adventure.
Don’t skimp on the things that make you comfortable in your everyday life.
Have a favorite pillow? Some socks that make you feel like you’re walking on a cloud? Bring them! Any flight longer than four hours will likely feel like an eternity, so anything that will make you feel like you’re taking a nap in the sky is worth bringing.
Consider bringing along:
- Your favorite pillow (and an extra pillowcase for later because planes are pretty gross)
- Your warmest socks
- Birkenstock sandals (allow you to keep socks on for getting through security, can be easily slipped off during the flight, and won’t make your feet stink!)
- A Nalgene water bottle - Most airlines walk the aisles several times throughout the flight with little cups of water, but once you’re through security, you can fill your own water bottle up pretty much anywhere in the airport and ensure you stay hydrated. If you’re traveling in a country that doesn’t have potable tap water or reliably safe drinking fountains, find a coffee shop. Most airports these days have a Starbucks (or something similar), and they’ll fill your bottle up for free.
- A warm sweatshirt with a hood
- A Buff - You may have seen these on Survivor, but a Buff is a piece of material (generally lightweight) that can be used for just about anything. I use mine as an eye mask when I want to sleep a bit, as a headband if my hair is bothering me, as a hair tie if I’ve lost mine...the possibilities are endless.
- Several options to keep you busy - You never know what kind of mood you’ll be in once you finally settle into that seat, so bring a few different things along to help keep you busy.
- A book
- Playing cards (good way to make friends with the person sitting next to you if you’re traveling alone!)
- Adult coloring book and colored pencils (bit heavy but very entertaining)
- A journal and a pen - If you have any interest in journaling about your experiences while traveling, it’s great to start from the very first moments. You’ll likely be feeling several different emotions, be both stoked and a bit nervous for your trip, and it’s great to have a place to get your thoughts down on paper as well as to have those memories saved for later. The pen will also come in handy when filling out customs forms!
- Streeeeeetch. Get up and move that body. It's important for blood circulation, but its good for your body too to not be confined for too long in the same position.
YOUR FIRST PORT OF CALL - the Hostel
Hostels (or backpackers) are an awesome place to stay while traveling on a gap year abroad, they’re mostly full of people ages 18 to 30 so they’re a great way to meet some new people and potentially make some great friends!
Although hostels generally provide a pillow, a quilt, and a towel, it’s always nice to have a few things of your own to make you more comfortable. This is especially true if you’ll be staying at the hostel long term.
Consider bringing along:
- A blanket - There are blankets that pack down super small but also keep you nice and toasty, and they’re awesome for those nights when the other people in your room decide to leave the door open in the middle of winter or refuse to turn on the heater.
- Your pillow - You already brought it for the flight over, but now you can flip the pillowcase around and cozy up for an extra good night’s sleep!
- A towel - Hostels generally (but certainly not always) provide a bath towel, so it’s a safe bet to just bring one along. Loads of outdoor retailers sell ‘quick dry’ towels that pack down quite small, so it’s a small and easy thing to bring with you while traveling that you’ll certainly be glad to have.
- A headlamp - Most beds have a reading light, but some don’t. If you like to read before bed, bring a headlamp along.
- Shower shoes - Communal showers…fun. No one wants to get a skank foot bug at the start of their trip, so bring along a pair of cheap plastic sandals to wear in the shower. These will also be nice to wear around in the hostel as they’re easy to slip on and off.
- A padlock - Most people staying in hostels have nearly everything important in their lives with them, so it’s in their best interest not to mess with your stuff in exchange for you not messing with theirs. If you’re in a less safe area, or certain countries (do your research), bring a padlock to either lock your stuff up in the provided locker or to lock the zippers of your bag together.
- There are locks that can be placed over the handle of the door in order to lock it from the inside (once you’re in the room) if the hostel seems a bit sketchy. This obviously wouldn’t be practical if there are other people staying in your room, but if you know everyone and you’d like a bit of security, it’s great to have along.
For most people, a long haul flight would be the start of their trip when they join us at Pure Exploration on an epic tour of New Zealand. Whether it's summer or winter, a gap year or a find yourself year, a semester abroad or an internship, we have all your options covered!
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Written by Kaylee Pickett
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References Atchley, Casey. "Rustic Recs | What to pack this summer." Rustic Recs | What to pack this summer | Rustic Pathways. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 July 2017.Stock, David. "How To Wear A Buff Headwear - It's Easy!" Divergent Travelers. N.p., 18 Mar. 2017. Web. 02 July 2017.Target : Expect More. Pay Less. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 July 2017