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Top travel tips

backpackingIntrepid group leaders and travellers tell us their best tips to make your time on the road more fun, safe and hassle-free.

Here’s some of the latest travel tips that we think are top ideas…

photo for back-up – Take a photo on each camera SD card you are going to use of your email address while you are on your travels, for example a hotmail address that you can access while away. If your camera is lost then maybe someone can contact you by email and you may be reunited with your camera while away. Don’t photograph any personal home address details, just your travel email address. Also do this with any mobile phones you are taking. Annie Wallace

hear, hear! – Get some silicone ear plugs, not the foam or plastic ones. The silicone conforms to your ears and allows you to actually get some sleep, no matter how noisy it is where you stay. Molly Huddleston

did someone say dental floss? – I never leave home without it, not just for dental hygiene – but it makes a fantastically strong thread for mending anything, particularly backpacks and other travel kit where cotton thread isn’t strong enough. Tania Spriggins

green painter’s tape – I always carry a roll of this tape while traveling. I rip off a bit to cover the peep-hole in hotel doors. While in India I put tape under the hotel room door frame as there was a gap between the wood and the tile and at night with the inside light on, bugs would come inside. This prevents entry. Also wrapped a fellow traveler’s sandal with the tape when the sole of her shoe broke away. Valerie K.

laundry day – do not buy “travel soap” to wash clothes in. A. It is liquid and therefore could leak. B. Persil Concentrate, (or similar powder) takes up less space, is lighter and actually cleans clothes. Repackage a small quantity into an empty plastic jar or zip lock plastic bags. Isobel Gregson

postcard perfect – arriving in a place without having first done your homework? Avid travellers doing it without a guide should take time out to be prepared for what might be in store for them on their arrival, but sometimes plans can change. You might find yourself with no idea what you ought to see or do in a place. I always take a few minutes to check out the postcard racks outside the railway station or airport. These will be packed with cards of the most iconic places of interest there. This is a great way to help you make your plans, or to reinforce why that place is important. Imagine if you’d unexpectedly had a day to kill in Agra and you had not discovered this was the city where the famous Taj Mahal stands, and you missed it!

While on postcards, I word up my friends and relatives to keep the cards I send them, they later form part of my travel memoirs, rather than them ending up in the waste bin after the month on the fridge door at Mums! Good to read them over in years to come too!” Judy Ross

email back-up – email a scanned copy of your passport to yourself at your travel email address so you can produce it if your passport is lost or stolen. Email a copy of your flight tickets, credit cards and other important documents as well. Jackie Sevcik

tea time – I’m not a fan of the supermarket at the best of times, so the last thing I fancy doing when I get back from holiday is lugging my bags through the supermarket. But I always love a cup of tea when I get home, to relax after the flight/ journey back from the airport. Rather than stopping off to pick up some milk for my cuppa, I put some in an ice tray before I go on holiday. That way, when I get back I can just pull the ice tray out of the freezer and put a couple milk cubes in my tea and ease my way back into reality. Daniel Chee

cash for the unexpected – take your credit card for those ‘let’s do it’ moments. My best one was a hot air balloon trip in Kenya… expensive but never regretted. The memories of such decisions are invaluable. Frances Smith

sarong for the ladies – pack a light weight sarong as it can be used as a bath robe, a night dress, a pillow cover, a skirt in mosques, a scarf for head or shoulders, a bed sheet, a towel, a pouch for groceries, a table cloth, a washing basket and a dress! (just to name a few uses!!!) Susan Yule

stitch in time – my best travel tip is an old one but a good one – always bring a small sewing kit with you when you travel. There are many compact sewing kits that you can buy but it is easy to make up your own. Include a small scissors, half a metre each of basic coloured thread, e.g. white, beige, black and grey (wind this around a small piece of card), three of four sewing needles (these can be inserted into the card as well for safe-keeping), and three buttons. Choose clear coloured buttons as these will suit a range of colours. Go for a range of button sizes. The final touch to your sewing kit would be a couple of safety pins – for those moments when something rips and there’s no time to sew! Stephen Corkin

keep it clean – travel size waterless hand sanitiser gel. You can use it for everything from washing your hands & feet, underarms to wiping down a table, cleaning etc…wouldnt leave home without it! Loran Blades

do your homework – read up-to-date information about the culture, history and politics of the places you’re travelling to. Watch television news and documentaries. Libraries often have DVDs for loan about a wide range of countries. Chat to people who have been to places you’re going. Ask them about climate, clothing, money, local culture, when to speak and when to remain silent (which can be essential at times). Many remote places are now on-line telling people about their corner of the world. Download and practice basic greetings and phrases in the local language. Jean Bennett

a step in time – if there is going to be walking involved I would totally recommend priming up before an adventure. Get out of the streets, walk a dog, hold you partners hand, run on the beach or lake, get those legs moving so you can fit in and handle as much adventure as possible. The best way to see a place is on your feet rather than public transport, so be prepared for it! Kylie Hickey

sleeping beauty – on your flight, you are likely to receive a sleeping eye mask to block out the light. Keep this eye mask for the rest of your trip as your hotel room may be bright or you might like to catch up on sleep during the day. This will help you get some sleep and enjoy your holiday even more! Danielle Anawati.

love those zip lock plastic bags – these re-sealable plastic bags are great for avoiding ugly spills in your backpack and I even use them to separate dirty clothes or stinky shoes. Of course now airlines insist you use them in your hand-luggage for any liquids. Sarah Henderson

pack your iPod or MP3 player – this is essential for those long bus or train trips that have loud local music on repeat mode. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of local music, but if its repetitive and really loud this can ruin the whole experience for me. I recommend even taking the little portable speakers as there are times when you have time to have a beer or play some cards and a bit of background music for you and your mates is great. Rami Hazou, Intrepid group leader

money matters – I always carry some small notes and coins in a pocket then hide the rest of my money somewhere safe. That way I don’t have to dip into my money belt or wallet in open view. Charlie Wilson

Charcoal tablets – let’s start at the bottom, these can be a great comfort if your tummy is a bit upset and your system needs help getting used to unusual foods. Since I love trying unusual local delicacies, I never leave home without them! Sue Elliot, Express Editor

Roll your clothes – a friend told me I’d fit more in my backpack if I did this and although I didn’t believe her, it’s true. Plus things are easier to find and they come out less crushed. Michael Redmond

Dress appropriately – I’m not meaning that you have to glam up, but in my experience if you dress like a local and respect their culture you will be more warmly welcomed and a better holiday is enjoyed by all. Christine Langdon

Head torch is tops – you’d be surprised how often a head torch comes in handy. The obvious is reading at night, but it can double as a bike lamp, is great if you are trying to open a frozen zip tent in Nepal, perfect for cooking over a campfire and ideal if you are heading underground. Paul Thompson

Bubbles of fun – instead of giving sweets, pens or money directly to local kids (which is not ideal for a whole range of responsible travel reasons), carry a bottle of bubble mixture with you for some instant good fun. You can bring it out to play when you meet young children, but best not to leave the bottle behind and add to their plastic rubbish. Sonya Chadwick, Intrepid group leader

What would you add to this list?
Click here to let us know your best tips or travel information so there are a few less bumps when we hit the road.

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