When travelling for long times, a Travel Pack is your most important travel companion. It will be your most important investment for your trip.
Qualities you need in a travel pack
Durable – you do not want it falling apart en route
Water resistant – you do not want your clothes all wet in the next rain
Comfortable – you want to be able to enjoy the travels
Secure – you don’t want to be the easiest target for thieves.
Easy Access – you want to be able to find your stuff easily
Flexible – you want to be able to just take the day pack during the day
The following provides a guide of what to look for when buying one.
Water proof or water resistant material
This keeps your kit dry even when everything else is getting wet. Canvas is the most waterproof material. However, there are also some high end synthetic materials almost as good. A completely waterproof would be a dry sac. However, for a travel pack this would be overkill. As long as it keeps your luggage dry in a big storm, it will be fine.
Lockable Zippers at the base so nobody can put anything in.
The best quality zips are YKK ones. Furthermore, zips need to lock at the base to prevent anything being pushed into your pack.
There are 2 compartments. This allows for separating for example, laundry in one or travel gear in one and clothes in the other. The compartments should also be able to be combined back to one when you need the extra space.
Internal Frame (that can be taken out for washing)
There are 3 types of pack. An external frame, an internal frame and no frame pack. External packs have excess of frame that can be obstructions. No frames mean that there is no support. An internal frame in many models can also be taken out for washing.
Handles at top and side
Handles at the top and side allow a person to carry the pack as though it was premium luggage used in 5 star resorts. It makes it easy to bypass the hippy backpacker mentality that some hotels still have. It also makes it easy when to carry when you have packed the straps away to protect them during a long plane or train ride.
Padded Adjustable Hip Belt
The hip pads support the weight of the pack. A fully adjustable hip belt will spread the weight best. The best travel packs will be both durable and comfortable to wear.
Padded Adjustable Shoulder Straps
The rest of the weight is spread to the shoulders. For the same reason these need to be adjustable and durable.
The chest belt is important for spreading the weight well. It allows the weight on the shoulder straps to be better distributed.
Zippered compartment that allows straps to be hidden
The zippered strap protection compartment is important to protect your travel packs straps, especially when your pack is in transit on planes, trains and automobiles. It transforms your travel pack into high quality luggage.
A zip flap hides the zippers and makes the pack more water resistant.
The back needs to be lumbar padded to ensure that the pack is comfortable against your back. It also protects you from objects that may be pressing against the material of the pack.
Zip off day pack (can be used for cabin baggage) with internal zip compartment
A zip off pack allows you to take your essentials (minus your Swiss Army Knife ) on the plane. It also doubles as a day pack that you are able to use during the day
A 65 – 75 litre pack will be big enough to take what you need for a long term trip but not too big.
Wheels add extra weight and as such are not generally a good idea. For most people doing a long term trip as they are no good on cobbled streets, stairs, snow, dirt tracks (or roads), etc they can become quite cumbersome quite quickly.
Internal compression straps
Internal compression straps are an advantage at times to hold clothes and sleeping bags inside. They can help to reduce the size of your luggage. External straps are more at risk of getting broken.
U shaped Zips open like a suitcase providing easy access to your belongings and easier to find what you want. It is not just a small hole at the top and bottom.
Clips can be used to attach extras such as a tent or something that you do not want inside your pack.
There are a number of materials used for travel packs.
Canvas – The leader in water resistant material
Nylon – Is too lightweight, not water resistant and can easily tear
Newer synthetic materials – Lighter than canvas but not as water resistant
Holds together better. Single stitched packs will save small change and make big problems. If your pack starts to come apart, you will need to find a replacement fast as it carries everything you need on your trip.
Luggage Straps can be an advantage but are not an essential feature.
Your travel pack is an investment. Buying a poor quality travel pack may be the worst mistake you make in your trip. It can turn a good trip into a bad experience.
Asia houses a multitude of cultures, each distinctive from its neighbour. The two largest populations in the world are China and India, each with its own amazing sub cultures. From the Taj Mahal to the Great Wall of China to the Himalayas, to Ankor Wat and Pagan and the beautiful beaches and islands of the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia there is so much to see and do.
Asia Transport Options
In some places there are very fast trains such as China and Japan. In others the way to go is by bus. In others it is much better value to take the plane. India for example has good coverage for long distances with Jet Airways and Air India as well as budget carriers such as Indigo. In China, airfares can often be booked once you arrive through a hotel at a rate less that full fare.
Travel can be very cheap in this part of the world and is also relatively safe.
North America is relatively easy to travel. With USA, Canada and Mexico making up the bulk of the North American land mass. North America possesses some of the best developed ski resorts in the world and the USA’s Grand Canyon, the world’s largest hole in the ground. USA is famous for the Statue or Liberty, a gift from France as well as Disneyland, a world of make-believe.
The easiest way to travel these countries is with a combination of bus, train and air passes. Greyhound by far has the largest network of buses that traverse these countries. There is an excellent long distance train system in Canada that runs basically one track system from Halifax to Vancouver. However, as the distances are so great here, you will need to consider which legs should be done by air. To this effect, Delta, United and others have air passes for the USA and there are also a number of budget airlines that cover the routes.
In areas south of the US border, it is necessary to have some knowledge of Spanish or at least a phrase book. In some areas north of the USA, Spanish can be an advantage. For instance in Little Havana in Miami and the south of the USA in all parts Spanish can be often heard spoken in the streets.
The Countries of North America
North America also covers more exciting areas such as the jungles and beaches of Guatemala, Belize and Cost Rica as well as the almighty Panama Canal. These areas can be easily traversed on local buses. In these countries, easiest transport is by local bus. In these countries; food, accommodation and transportation is relatively cheap.
This is the place to put information that relates to North America
South America is a wonderful continent to travel for the adventurous. It can be very cheap but also dangerous for the unaware.
This continent is one of the lesser travelled continents in the world. It offers the traveller natural beauty, history at Macchu Picchu and Trujillo that pre-dates Europe’s, waterfalls that make Niagara look like a dripping tap and its fiestas are parties on steroids. It is home to amazing wildlife, with The Galapagos, Amazon and Pantanal amongst the most impressive areas. These offer some of the most amazing diversities of animal life on the planet.
The continent is best explored by bus and air passes. Food and accommodation is relatively cheap. In the south of the continent, transport may be by luxury coaches. In the remote areas in the north it may mean sharing the back of a 4WD taxi with passengers and their live chickens.
Dangers of South America
Whilst tourists can encounter problems throughout the continent, the north of the continent, houses more danger than the south. The Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama is run by terrorists, drug lords and others attempting to escape from the rest of the world. It is mainly dense jungle with alligators and large snakes. Venezuela, French Guinea, Guyana and Suriname still hold no go zones for all but the most adventurous of travellers.
Countries of the Southern Continent
The following countries are in South America
Comments and Tips about South America Travel are welcome below.
Europe is a fascinating continent steeped in history. Its buildings on average, are older than anywhere else in the world. It has diversity, where languages, culture and cuisine change from one country to the next. Some of the world’s most famous festivals, buildings and museums exist in Europe.
It can easily be traversed by either train or bus. In the north of Western Europe, most people speak at least a smattering of English and school children are taught to speak English. In other parts, English is well spoken by many in tourist areas.
Some of the most famous icons include The Eiffel Tower in France, The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Vatican and canals of Venice in Italy, Buckingham Palace in England, the mountains and lakes in Switzerland and many more.
Europe stretches from Greenland and Iceland in the north west to Russia in the east and Turkey in the south east. It spans a number of vastly different cultures and linguistic groups. Even within a country, the accents and language may vary greatly. Customs vary immensely from one country to the next. It is an area where almost all countries have been at war with their neighbours at some time.
Europe is very easy to travel. However, it can also be very expensive. Food is usually of good quality. Quite often in Southern Mediterranean countries, it is cheaper to eat a large lunch than a large dinner, especially when having a fixed price menu. This is because lunch is the customary large meal of the day in these countries.
If you have travel tips for Europe, this is the place to explain them.
Travel in Africa is not only possible, it can be quite cost effective. Africa is a vast continent with vastly different cultures. Here, two cultures share the same desert space. One will completely cover their body to deal with the heat whilst the other will wear nothing but a loin cloth.
Some areas offer everything you can find in the rest of the modern world. Others areas are purely subsistent where people sleep on the floor of mud huts and eat from the land. The ethnicities vary more than any other continent. The peoples have immigrated from Europe, India and Arab countries and have a rainbow of skin colours.
Incredibly unstable governments change hands overnight and wars can escalate to genocide in the blink of an eye. The continent has some of the most amazing wildlife sanctuaries in the world. It houses the amazing pyramids, the Sahara and Namib deserts, and impenetrable dense jungles. However, it is tainted by wars and crime throughout.
It can be a challenge to travel to some parts as major highways become so bad that road graders become bogged. In other parts, trees block the roads and the same road bridge triples as a highway, railway and pedestrian bridge.
Africa Travel – How to save money in Africa
The six most dangerous countries in the world lie in Africa. It is a continent where life is cheap and safety is a concern that overrides low cost at times. The cost of living in most countries in the continent is reasonably cheap. However, one must be on constant vigil for your own protection.
Depending on where you are in Africa, cheap hotels can cost as little as a few dollars and some very good hotels can be significantly cheaper than elsewhere. Countries such as Mauritius, Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, South Africa, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt can be travelled with caution.
That being said, local transport whilst cheap; may be limited and difficult at times. So you need to work our a route before you arrive. In some countries it is possible to hire cars. However, support for them is limited and sometimes parts can take a long time to arrive, severely hampering your trip. In many countries, such as Namibia, coverage for mobile phones is limited.
In Africa, the capital cities can be dangerous. Even the locals ensure that they are not wearing jewellery.
Australia is a very easy continent to travel around. It is one country with one official language that almost everyone speaks. It has a very good network of backpackers, budget hotels, etc. However, it can be expensive, especially cities such as Sydney.
Australia is large and mainly empty. Travel distances between places are vast. The Northern Territory and north of Western Australia have some of the sparsest population densities in the world.
Some of the best known sights are world heritage listed. These include the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock (often known as Uluru) and the Great Ocean Road. However, Australia is a country surrounded by coastline. This means that it offers some of the best beaches in the world.
Sydney Harbour is one of the most amazing harbours in the world. It showcases one of the most scenic skylines and is surrounded by beautiful icons such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
Many travellers are worried about the number of dangerous animals.
Australia plays host to some of the world’s most dangerous animals. Sharks, snakes, spiders and crocodiles, as well as poisonous jellyfish, octopus, fish and shellfish that can all kill with little effort. However, in reality very few tourists have ever been killed. Unless you actually handle or corner most of these animals, mostly it is not a problem. One case that was well publicised was an American woman who was dangling her legs over the front of a boat in an area where signs warned “BEWARE CROCODILES”.
Don’t visit Northern Queensland expecting to see sharks. “There’s no sharks here mate, crocs ate ’em all.” is a common sign in those parts.
The great Australian Campervan experience
A great way of getting around Australia is by hiring a campervan. In many instances, there may be a 28 day minimum hire. You can book one through the link below.
Choosing your flight route well is a good way to obtain a cheaper flight. Once you know where you want to go, start by joining the points (shortest distance to shortest distance). For most countries, there are one or a few points of entry or gateways, likewise for areas (Europe, Africa, South America).
Rio de Janiero
Say I wanted to fly from Sydney to Zurich, I would not only search Sydney to Zurich flights direct but also Sydney to Paris CDG and Paris CDG to Zurich. For the Paris/Zurich sector, I would also check the cost of the fast trains.
Various entry points
Each country may also have various entry points that may make more sense depending on your itinerary. In the Philippines both Manila and Cebu act as International airports. In India, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata are all international airports. In Italy, Rome, Milan and Naples are all international airports.
Weigh costs of each entry point
Some cities may have multiple airports. London has 4 international airports. The cost of getting from one airport to the centre or town may be significantly more in money or time. This needs to be taken into consideration when booking.
Better using a gateway
When planning a flight to a certain destination, look not only at direct flights but at flights to gateway cities. This can be especially true in Europe, where is may be significantly cheaper to take a flight to a gateway city and then a cheaper flight, train or bus to another destination.
One way, return, open jaw, circle or round the world
There are a number of different types of tickets. One way tickets fly from one point to another. Return will get you there and back. Round the world tickets will get you around the world in one direction. Depending on the airline or alliance, there will be various rules. Open Jaw tickets allow you to fly into one location and back from another. Consider also point to point with stopovers. This allows you to take advantage of an extra location you may wish to explore, often at no extra cost. Circle fares are just that. They allow you to fly around in a circle, stopping at various points.
Look not only at the main airlines but at discount airlines. Discount airlines can provide significant savings. You need to read the fine print. Most of these airlines only offer the fares through their own websites and are unlikely to show up on travel agents routings or even web based travel agents. Discount airlines can go out of business easily and can also cancel routings at short notice.
This being said, many have been around for many years and offer excellent routings at a fraction of the conventional airlines.
Some discount airlines worth considering are
Cebu Air Pacific
South West Airlines
Virgin Australia offers happy rates for one hour a day so get on their email list if you are looking to fly within Australia or from Australia to somewhere local. This is a great way to get a cheaper flight.
Discount airlines can charge exorbitant fees to check in at the airport. Check the rules carefully before purchasing and if this is the case ensure that you check in on line.
Other ways to a cheaper flight
Fly midweek and off peak times
A good way to get a cheaper flight is to fly off peak. Generally business people fly Monday and Friday whilst tourists fly most on Friday and Sunday. This means that midweek fares are often cheaper with Wednesday being the best.
Also, try and book outside peak times. For instance, Europe is at peak from June to August. It is also most crowded during this period. So try and book outside this time.
Early morning or late night flights are normally cheapest.
If you are a full time student, there are substantial savings available. If you are under 26 years of age and are not a full time student, it can sometimes be worthwhile to sign up for a full time course just to get the ISIC (International Student Identification Card).
Cheaper flight for children
Air tickets for toddlers under 2 years are normally significantly cheaper. If they sit on your lap or lie in a basket, they will be charged as little as 10% of the fare. Children up to 12 years of age are often charged 50% of the fare. However, on discount airlines, they are often charged full fare.
Cheaper ethnic flights
If you want to fly to a Spanish speaking country buy a Spanish newspaper, to Israel buy the Jewish newspaper, etc. These will often have discounted flights to the country you wish to visit. Also, often there are travel agents who specialise in a certain region. These are sometimes worth a look.
Sometimes two or more airlines use the same physical aeroplane to fly a route, using separate CODEs so that they can share the route. What this means is that there is sometimes a discrepancy between prices between one airline and another for the same seat on the same aeroplane. Check all airline companies to make sure you are getting the best rate.
Many airlines and airline groups (Star Alliance, OneWorld and Sky Team) have loyalty options and points systems. Points can be earned on one airline and used on another. These can significantly increase the value of your tickets. Using the points later on will result in a cheaper flight.
Search multiple sites
Search multiple sites. You may consider using companies such as Expedia, Ebookers, Farecompare, Opodo, Zuji, Travelocity, Orbitz, Kayak, AirfareWatchdog, Yapta and Hipmunk. However, do not forget to keep an eye on the airline’s own website deals. Sometimes one will be cheaper, at other times another will be the winner. In most cases, they will result in a cheaper flight.
If carrying sporting equipment, (golf clubs, skis, etc), call the airline. Some airlines have generous limits as long as it is packed the way they want. This can save a great deal of money.
Overcoming luggage weight limitations
To save weight in your luggage wear your heaviest shoes and jacket on the flight and keep photographic equipment in your carry on. This can save on excess baggage.
Getting Better Value
The cheapest airline tickets will not allow you to change flight details at all. If you are likely to change your flights this will cost you money. You will need to check your flights can be changed.
Search for inspiration
Use http://www.kayak.com/explore to find cheap flights from a particular departure point. This may give you inspiration as to the best value destinations in a certain area from your point of origin. You may also try www.skypicker.com.
If you are intending to park at the airport for a short trip, then get yourself onto their email lists. Quite often, discounted parking is available. This will make the cost of your overall flight cheaper.
Upgrade (Just like a cheaper flight)
Dress for an upgrade
If the economy section is overbooked then some people will be upgraded to business class. If you are dressed in daggy clothes you will not be chosen for that upgrade.
Fly for an upgrade
These days, dressing for an upgrade is not sufficient. You need to be flying with the company (or Alliance) regularly.
I once flew with Qantas three times in the year before taking a flight to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific (booked through Qantas Frequent Flyers). I was to be flying premium economy. Originally I was to fly business but because it took too long for my wife to decide, I missed out. I explained this to the person I booked with. I was to meet my wife and daughter in Hong Kong.
I arrived at the airport check in and was greeted with a smile and “Mr Josephs, you have been upgraded to business class”. I had just worked a one hundred hour week to ensure everything was done before the holiday and was so tired I would have slept on the flight anyway. I was in heaven.
If flying to USA, remember locks should be TSA approved. If they are not and the customs people decide they want to access your bags, they will cut off the padlocks, leaving you without any security, causing you to re-buy them at the airport.
Liquids, Swiss army knife, spare batteries, etc
Do not bring liquids in hand luggage. If flying from South America to Australia, flights stop in New Zealand. Leave any duty free wine on the plane or it will be confiscated.
Also, your Swiss army knife is now considered a deadly weapon by governments around the world and will be confiscated if brought in hand luggage.
Spare lithium batteries that are not in your camera, smart phone, etc are now deemed a threat and may be confiscated.
Have your laptop accessible as you will need to pass it through security in some countries.
If you have any special food requirements (vegetarian, kosher, etc), let the airline know in advance. If you want your meal served before others, then choose a special meal. These are delivered first.
Check your luggage to final destination
If you are not flying direct, check your luggage to your final destination. This way you can walk around the airport or take a trip to town at your stopover and just cart hand luggage around.
Flights can get cold
Planes can get cold and the airline blankets are thin. On budget airlines blankets need to be purchased. Bring an extra jacket on board.
On long flights, take your shoes off and walk around on the plane. This will make you more comfortable and prevents DVT. Some people need to wear special stockings to prevent the DVT.
Some flights still need to be reconfirmed. Check when purchasing if this is the case with the airlines you use when you purchase them.
Jokes at customs
Do not make jokes with border guards. Jokes about bombs can get you thrown in jail.
Carry essentials as hand luggage
Have all your essentials in your hand luggage (tickets for next day, money, passport, etc.). That way if worst case scenario happens and your luggage is lost, you can carry on with your travels.
If you have a long layover en route, ensure you can enter the stopover country and see or do something if time permits.
If there is no time to get to town, do something and get back, then check if there is a transit hotel. A good rest can make you feel alive and ready for a day of activity when you arrive at your destination. Without it, you may need to find a place to sleep.
If there is no transit hotel, then see if there is an option for a shower and a meal or if you are entitled to use an airport lounge for free.
When a plane takes off or lands, people experience pressure on their middle ear. Everyone experiences this differently. There are a number of things that can be done about it.
Chew or suck lollies or gum
For babies use a milk bottle
Click with the tongue on the roof of the mouth
Pinch your nose, close your mouth and breathe out
Wiggle your jaw
Arrival and security lines
Queue in the line with the business men rather that the family with kids. It moves faster and you waste less time in the queue.
Whilst most airport taxes are included in your ticket these days, there are still places where you need to pay a tax at the airport.
I recently had this experience at Tagbilaran, Philippines.
The following article provides some planning tips. When planning your trip, you will hear a lot of advice. Some may include:
Work out where you want to go and remember that some countries offer better value, some are safer.
Earn points with your credit card. Get a card that earns you points. This will save you money.
Value the savings on your trip. Quitting that $5 a day coffee habit for a year could mean at extra 2 months in South East Asia. The multiplier effect of income earned in your country and spent in the third world could mean 5 times the value in the third world. To this effect, an extra job may be worth considering.
Longer holidays mean better value. Your largest expense in travelling is getting there and getting around. Also, accommodation can be negotiated down the longer you stay.
Attend travel shows, collect brochures from travel agents, read the newspaper travel sections, search the internet, look up each country’s official tourism site, and speak to friends and relatives who have travelled. Find more remote areas for friendlier purer experiences.
You could consider renting out your home. Alternatively, you could swap houses. If you are travelling for long periods, you may need to organise someone to care for your house in absentia. You may consider power of attorney. You will also need to work out how to pay bills over the internet.
Sell the stuff you will not need any more and store the rest. Turn off the electricity at the mains. This will save the power drain when devices are in standby mode. Subscribe to email lists to turn out good promotions. If you intend to driver, remember to obtain an international drivers license.
Travel Ideology is your best place for all sorts of travel gear in Australia. Come here for all your travel accessories.
No matter what you want for your long overseas trip, we can provide it at the best prices in Australia: money wallets and money security, travel pens, day packs, travel towels, silk sleep sheets, liners and sleeping bags, water purifiers, dry packs, travel games, phrase books, guide books, first aid kits, knives and tools, clothes organisers, shoe organisers, electrical accessories, locks, silicone bottles, electrical travel accessories,torches and lights, toiletries kits etc.