Travelling for me is always a good time, though that’s not to say Ed and I haven’t had a fair few hiccups this past year, including leaving our passports on the plane and having them voided, getting fined €120 on the train in Berlin, losing a camera, and being stung with a €300 cab fare because we didn’t plan our transport in advance. You learn from your mistakes, but unfortunately, there are always going to be plenty of mistakes to make. As somewhat of a seasoned ‘weekend break taker’, and one who’ll cram as many trips into a month as possible (I’m writing this en route to Portugal where I’m spending 24 hours…!), you quickly learn that being sloppy with the finer details means money, more tears and more frustration. Travelling requires organisational skills to be on point, and having learnt that the hard way several times myself, I thought I’d share some of my key pointers for how not to be a sloppy traveller. So here goes…
If it wasn’t for some serious begging, Ed almost got charged for being Ed Clark on his boarding pass and Edward Clark on his passport. I mean, seriously. But hey, how do you think these low cost carriers make so much money? They’ll squeeze you for ANYTHING. I find booking flights SO exciting, not to mention addictive, but be careful when you’re punching in those digits and letters. They can cost you.
You won’t realise how much you value your passport until you lose it. Ed and I stupidly left our travel wallet with our passports in it on the plane on the way back from Iceland, which meant two weeks of pure grief for one minute of carelessness. I don’t think I’ve ever cried for so many days straight (we were going to Copenhagen the following weekend so it was STRESSFUL and expensive having to get them fasttracked). Look after it like your life depends on it because if nothing else, that Passport Office at Victoria Station is the worst.
It sucks when the €30 bus transfer you were planning on taking from the Alps to the airport doesn’t run on a Tuesday so you have to take a €300 cab ride instead. Yeah, THAT HAPPENED. Plan your transport people. And check it runs! Google Maps does tend to be pretty honest but check websites and ask people too. Similarly, locate your airport before you book the flights. Some of Scandinavia’s airports are a good 1.5hours from the city you thought you flew into. No fun.
I’m that person who always, always buys public transport tickets, even if the barriers are open. The one time I didn’t in Berlin on the way to the half marathon, Ed and I got stung with a €120 fine. DAMN IT. The simple solution: always buy tickets.
Ed is that person who religiously buys the €4 cup of tea and €2 Twix on every EasyJet flight, whilst I’m in the ‘starve and dehydrate’ camp. (I’m not spending €4 on a tea.) The easy solution to saving money and being less miserable? Take snacks. Biscuits, flapjacks, and dried fruit are a trusty travel companions.
Keep a close eye on your things. And check you’ve still ogt them every 60 seconds. Okay, I’m being a little extreme but seriously, don’t slack. I’m pretty sure I lost my Nikon camera in Barcelona by leaving it on the table in a restaurant. How dumb? One minute you have it, the next you don’t. Be careful.
Leaving things on planes is our speciality. Passports, Beats headphones, books… I’m surprised we can still afford to travel. I remember as a kid, I used to take so much stuff in my little hold-on just so I had options of things to play with. Now, it’s more a case of only travelling hold-on luggage where possible, but still, get out as few things as possible and you’ve less chance of leaving stuff on the plane.
When we got back from Iceland, we realised that not only was the place damn expensive but we’d been charged a pretty hefty fee every single time we used our debit or credit cards. Irritating. Get a wad of local currency out when you arrive and stick to cash where possible (and I say a wad, because you get charged every time you take cash out from the ATM too, so do this as few times as possible).