There are so many things to consider when you're planning a trip. Whether you’re heading off for a few weeks of adventure, or full on gap year, you’ll have loads of questions buzzing around your head as you start packing the bags.
At Real Gap Experience we like to think of ourselves as travel experts. Together we’ve travelled to hundreds of countries around the world, experiencing everything from island hopping the Philippines and sunrise at Angkor Wat, to volunteering in South Africa and surviving all night Full Moon Parties. Got a travel question? We are the ones to ask!
We’ve pulled together some of our most frequently asked questions to help you plan, and pack for your travels… You’re welcome!
Should I take a Backpack or Suitcase travelling?
We can guarantee that this is one of THE most frequently asked questions in the office and it regularly starts the office debate, backpack or suitcase?
In general, it depends what you’re most comfortable with and what type of trip you’re going on. If you’re booked onto one of our ‘Experiences’ and will be travelling around to different locations regularly, we recommend a backpack. However if you’re staying put on a TEFL course or volunteering trip, then suitcases are sometimes that bit easier.
As an office we generally prefer to take backpacks. They are easier to carry around, especially when getting on ferries, busses and tuk tuks. If you do decide to take a backpack, try to make sure you get one that opens sideways like a suitcase does. There is nothing worse than having to remove ALL of your belongings just to get that one that’s right at the bottom of your bag!
Should I take cash or a bank card when travelling?
We don’t recommend carrying a large amount of cash with you, just in case you misplace your purse/wallet or are unfortunate enough to have it stolen. We always recommend making sure you’ve got small amount of cash in the local currency, so you have money for a bus or taxi to the hostel if needed. If you do need to take large amounts of cash with you, it's always a good idea to split the cash and store it in different places.
Some banks charge a lot of money to withdraw cash and make transactions, so we recommend using a currency card. Our favourite is a Caxton FX card which locks in the exchange rate at the time of uploading money onto it, so you can make sure you get a good rate and make the most of my money.
If you do decide to use your normal bank card, make sure you let the bank know the destinations you’ll be travelling to. If you don’t, they might think it's being fraudulently used and stop transactions.
How do I contact friends and family back home whilst I'm travelling abroad?
If you're travelling through Asia, you'll notice that you can get free WIFI in most hostels, hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants, so it's easy to FaceTime, Whatsapp or Skype home. In other destinations like Australia or New Zealand, you often have to pay to use the WIFI, so it's a little more difficult. If you’re staying in a country for a while, it’s worth looking at get an international SIM card, which allows you to phone and text your friends and family as you travel around. Alternatively, you can pick up a SIM card in each country that you visit.
Our office top tip? Don’t forget to put your phone down once in a while and enjoy your travels!
Any tips for staying in shared hostel rooms?
We recommend always making sure you’ve got a padlock with you when staying in a shared room or hostel. It’s worth making sure you’ve got a section of your backpack or suitcase that you can padlock to keep any valuables or passports in.
Also, our must pack for staying in hostels? Make sure you have a pair of flip flops with you – you’ll be using shared bathroom and shower facilities so you might want something on your feet at all times!