Travelling with friends is super exciting because – duh! – you get to share so many memories with them.
However, you gotta make sure you are well prepared, especially if you are a first-time traveller or if you’re travelling with first-timers.
We wouldn’t want a bad experience to ruin your holiday, so we’ve put together a list of some hacks and tips, that you may not have thought about, to help you prepare.
First up, the plane and boring airport stuff:
1. Take your time to board – but don’t miss your flight!
Sometimes, if you are one of the last few to board – and if you smile enough with the cabin crew – you may get upgraded to Business Class seats, or at least moved to a row with less people so you have more space. We can't guarantee this will happen, though, but airlines are know to sometimes upgrade their customers to First Class. So, let's hope the day you travel is your lucky day.
2. Bring a pen
Yes, we know this sounds stupid and shouldn’t be on this list but trust us, you’ll thank us for this. Before touching down, you will be given an arrival card to fill in. If you don’t have a pen, you can always fill it in once you get to the airport, where they have stations with pens for you to do the necessary. But imagine this: both people sitting beside you didn’t have pens to lend you, so once you get off the plane, you look for a station. You find that there is already a line of people waiting to do the same. After you’ve finally gotten your turn and completed the card, you head to the immigration checkpoint and see that there is a super long queue ahead of you because of all the time you wasted to fill in your arrival card. You would’ve wasted a good deal of time at the airport. Why go through all the hassle and waste your time when you could’ve gotten it sorted out on the plane, in three minutes, right? So don’t forget to always carry a pen with you.
3. Use a brightly coloured padlock, or tie a ribbon to your checked-in luggage
This is something busy-body aunties are likely to tell you. Again, this may sound stupid and unnecessary but it’s actually really useful. It’s way easier to spot your luggage on the conveyor belt if it has a bright lock or a ribbon on it to differentiate it from similar-looking bags. Unless your luggage has your face hugely printed on it, there is a possibility of someone mistaking your bag for theirs. It’s also easier to spot your bag in the event of theft. It’s always best to be prepared for such circumstances.
Next is money matters. This is super important because on vacation, you can’t just ask your friends to pinjam
you money first – they would run out of cash too! These two aren’t really hacks, but rather, a very important reminder:
4. Convert more than enough money, and bring along some Ringgit
You might think that RM1,500 is enough for a six-day trip to Bangkok. But three days in and a swallowed ATM card later (don't ask, long story), we learned the hard way that you should always bring more money. It’s very common for groups of friends to run out of cash because of all the sudden plans and spontaneous decisions that we youngsters are known to make. So, lesson of the century: ALWAYS bring more than you’ve budgeted for (but make sure you have enough self-control to not spend it all)!
5. Enable international withdrawals for your ATM card
In case you do run out of cash because you’re a rebel and ignored point #4, your ATM card should be your best friend. However, for your ATM card to work overseas, you need to enable international withdrawals. You can do so through the ATMs in Malaysia, or by calling your bank. (This is not a one-time thing, and only lasts for the number of days you specify.) Be sure to do this before you leave, even if you don’t intend on withdrawing overseas, so that you will always have a backup source of cash. Be warned that transaction fees may be quite high – depending on which country you’re in (for example, in India it’s about RM6 but in Thailand it’s over RM25 per transaction) – so minimise your withdrawals and take out more than what you need, all at once, to be safe and to save.
One for getting around:
6. Save screenshots of the places you want to go
Simply Google ‘distance from A to B’ and it’ll show you the address of both points A and B. Often, an image will be there too, to help all you tragic blur cases out there. Also, the result of this Google search tells you roughly how long it takes to travel by car, train and walking. In one screenshot, you'll get the name of the place, image, address, travel time and travel route! This is especially helpful if the taxi driver doesn’t understand English – you could just flash him the screenshot and you’re good to go!
Next, a listception for packing:
7. Packing hacks you NEED to know:
o Body wash, shampoo and face wash in straws
Use a lighter to heat up and partially melt one end of a straw, then press it flat. After you’ve sealed one end of the straw, pour in your liquidy shower stuff (moisturisers and foundation can be stored in here too!) and seal off the other end as you did earlier. Simply snip off one end to open your drip-free and leak-proof sticks!
o Tangle-free jewelry
Straws to the rescue, once again! String your necklaces and bracelets through a straw that has been cut up to suitable lengths, and you won’t have to spend another hour untangling your accessories from the bunch!
o Roll, don’t fold
If you haven’t already heard: rolling your clothes saves way more space in your luggage compared to folding. There are tons of videos on YouTube that show you how to roll your clothes to use luggage space more efficiently.
o Rolling belts around jeans
With all your clothes rolled up, pick out the thickest roll – which is usually jeans – and wrap you belt around it. This way, you won’t risk a crack or fold in the leather or PU coating on your belt.
o Shower caps for shoes
Another popular YouTube packing hack: place your shoes in shower caps to keep the dirty soles off your clothes.
o Stuff your shoes
Now that you’ve got your shoes in shower caps, stuff the inside of your shoes with small things like chargers, perfume bottles and other breakables to save space and protect fragile items. Just make sure your shoes don’t stink!
o Eyeshadow on-the-go
Swab your cotton buds in a few coats of eyeshadow and store them in a zip-lock bag. This way, you can have different shades of eyeshadows without having to pack your complete eyeshadow palettes.
8. ‘Steal’ the hotel’s stuff!
Being total cheapskates, we love swiping (free) hotel stuff! Many people may only take what they think they need but really, just take everything. Hotel shower gels, shampoos and shavers are great for your guest room or for the next time you travel. Most hotels (except backpacker and budget ones) provide a fabric bag in the closets for laundry. If you aren’t using that to store your dirty clothes, take them home for the next time you travel. They always come in handy!
9. Don’t over prepare
Traveling is all about spontaneity. Now that you’re traveling with your friends, you get to do what you want when you want, without having to be mindful of your family’s travel needs, be it a tired elderly or sulking kid. So go with the flow, make spontaneous decisions and just have fun!