August 22, 2002
Here are some useful tips to make travelling a lot easier.
- Buy a good backpack. If you're doing a lot of hiking, probably a top-loading backpack is the best option.
- Good travel packs come with a small day-pack that zips on to the main bag. This means when arriving somewhere, you can lock away your main pack (never just leave it lying around), and travel with the lighter, more user-friendly day-pack.
- A good travel pack should have alloy strips inside for support and be made of heavy-duty nylon. It must be comfortable on your back. When testing it at a store, fill it up with things so you get the idea how it feels when full.
- If you buy a new backpack, go to a specialist store and get expert advice. If you are buying a secondhand one, make sure it is comfortable.
- Before buying a backpack, speak to other backpackers to see the differences - inner frame, outer fame, etc.
- If you are going to be away for a while, make arrangements to keep in regular touch with your family.
- If you have never had a credit card, now is the time to get one. Speak to a bank and discuss options. A credit card is a back-up for emergencies.
- When travelling locally or overseas, you'll be on a strict budget. Remember your credit card is for emergencies, not for impulse buying.
- A cash card entitles you to withdraw cash in the currency of the country you are visiting. However, if you're travelling to remote parts, forget it.
- Other than Europe, the US dollar is the best form of currency. Make sure you have dollars in hard currency and in small denominations, especially if travelling to a Third World country.
- If you are going overseas for a few months and intend travelling around, investigate rail or bus passes before leaving SA. They are specially designed for overseas visitors and can only be purchased outside of the country.
- In South Africa, there are hop-on-hop-off buses. The Baz Bus is a dedicated backpackers' bus and operates throughout Southern Africa. Because the distances are vast, the trips can be long. Baz Bus is accommodating about luggage and will even take mountain bikes. You can contact Baz Bus on 021 439 2323, fax 021 439 2343, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or check the website: http://www.bazbus.com
- Pack light but take one good outfit in case you need to dress up. As a rule, when crossing borders the cleaner and neater you look, the more likely you are to get into a country.
- Travel with an emergency number on you so that in case of an accident, somebody around you can contact your family or friends.
- Usually decent hiking boots are essential - light quality and waterproof. Wear them in before you go. Sandals are better than trainers in hot countries. Trainers soon stink.
- When choosing sleeping bags, buy the best you can afford. Always air it.
- You need a money pouch to keep your passport and money and travellers cheques glued to your body. Never, ever leave it unattended.