How to prepare for the long haul and overall trip

You have a visa, now what?

One international trip, suddenly I’m an expert in travel?

Err no, not an expert but I like sharing experiences. First and foremost, all your documents have to be in order, double check if they have correct names and dates.

Research

Knowledge is power, cliché as that is, it’s no lie. Familiarise yourself with the country of your destination. Check the weather, food and drinking safety, as well as the rules in terms of what’s legal and what isn’t.

Also educate yourself about the airline you will be using for your travels, get to know their rules, what you can pack in your bags and what you can’t.

Finances

I assume you planned your trip knowing very well what your destination exchange rate was against your country’s currency, right. So, depending on your bank, but mine, Nedbank has a travel card that allows me to load up to 8 currencies.

Most people use credit cards, make sure that it is valid and has a high enough credit limit in case of emergencies. Get that sorted with your bank and ensure you’re well able to shop, and withdraw at the bank, ATM of your destination.

I also advise to make sure your bookings are as they should be and solid, that way you avoid paying extra costs.

Sort out your itinerary. Draw up a list of places/ tourism sites you’d like to visit. Check the prices of everything you’re planning to do and arrive with an idea of how much you will spend on what.

Sim-card and data

This was a rude awakening for me. Before I left, I had a chat with T-Mobile about a sim-card. I was only going to be in LA for two days and the cheapest plan they have is a 30 day sim card loaded with unlimited data but I said I won’t be needing it, because I mean just two days? No. Boy was I wrong, I needed a sim the minute I landed at LAX and ended up paying $76 for the 30 days sim with unlimited data. At least the data really was unlimited.

Checklist of tools and materials

Obviously, it’s all up to your reason for traveling but having all the tools you will need is important. A camera is standard or your smartphone, if it takes great photos. Maps, if you’ll require and anything else you might need.

Grooming, beauty and fashion

Is your hair done? Manicure and pedicure? Do you have all your outfits ready for all your activities? Along with bags and accessories?

Dress comfortable

I like being comfortable. 9 hours to Dubai and 15 more to LAX doesn’t sound comfortable at all, so I had to ensure I minimise my irritations.

You don’t want to be stuck in a tight jean in a long haul, the looser the pants, the better. I wore tights from MRP, a t-shirt, a jacket or a knitted jersey or a hoodie and sneakers, I wore my Puma Varsity Bow shoes, which I could slip off and on as needed. Ticking two boxes; comfort and stylish is always a must.

A small blanket

Or a fleece if you will. If you’re anything like me, fear of the cold and the air-con, it’s best to carry a small blanket to keep you warm and help you rest easy.

Emirates and I believe Etihad, does give you in flight amenities such as a blanket, headphones, socks, a toothbrush and a paste, sleep mask but it’s always safer to bring your own belongings.

Backpack

In-flight luggage can be a duffel bag or a backpack, or both. This is where you pack your essentials, from chargers, earphones/headphones, laptop, socks, gloves, toiletry, makeup and medication if you take any. But please make sure that any medication you have is cleared by your doctor and that you have a valid doctor’s letter, depending on which country you’re jetting off to, it’s important for them to know you’re taking the drugs for medical reasons.

Entertainment

Again most airlines provide a vast array of entertainment. Emirates has various radio shows, audio books, movies (latest ones even), series, music and more. I played catch-up on my favourite shows on my flight as I hardly ever have the time. But I also had books to read because I love reading and I am sort of a traditionalist when it comes to reading, I like hard copies, I like the smell and feel of them.

Another thing to remember is to keep your documents close and safe. You’ll need them when you land, you don’t want to lose them and struggle to get through airport security checks.

Jet off and when you get there, mingle with the locals and have fun.