So, you've got your gap year "adventure of a lifetime booked". Well done you. Now comes the stressful part: packing.
Forget clothes, shoes, underwear... we're focusing on the stuff you really need. From special sandpaper to pack-a-macs and bumbags, we've made a list - and there's even pictures - of things you definitely should not leave the UK without.
Or, you could just do what Joseph Grist did and:
But swiftly moving on. To mark the release of their The Book of Everything, which contains, pretty well everything, our friends over at Lonely Planet have given the low-down on how to beat jetlag, so you can start the fun as soon as you touch ground.
Author of the new traveller bible Nigel Holmes suggests prepping for your jetlag even before you get on the plane. Controversial.
BEFORE YOU GO:
1. Try to shift your sleep pattern. Go to bed one hour earlier or later depending on which direction you are flying - but no more than one hour per night - for as many time zones as you are going to cross (or as many as you can manage).
2. If you are going on a really long flight (for instance, from Europe to Australia) take melatonin* for two to three days before the trip.
For shorter trips, don't take it before you go, see "when you arrive" for when to use it.
3. Ginger tea is thought to be a good way to counteract jetlag. Ideally you should drink it at the start of your trup, an hour before you take off, but often that's not possible. Instead, you might take a small piece of fresh ginger to chew on the plane - but beware, it's hot and spicy!
ON THE PLANE:
1. Go to sleep as soon as possible. Wear loose clothing, a mask and earplugs.
2. Don't take sleeping pills. They will interfere with your sleep pattern when you arrive at your destination.
3. Don't drink alcohol or coffee. They dehydrate you and that emphasises the effects of jetlag, because your body is stressed by being dried out. Just drink water.
DID YOU KNOW?
Jetlag is less pronounced when you travel west, and gain hours.
Jetlag is worse when you travel east and lose hours.
*Melatonin is a sleep-inducing hormone that occurs naturally in your brain and it controls the body's daily rhythm. You can buy it without a prescription. It is available up to 3mg but a lower dose (0.5mg) has been found to have the same effect. So less is better.
Lonely Planet author Joe Bindloss has told HuffPost UK his tips on things you can’t live without whilst travelling:
A pen – with a pen and something to write on, you never need to forget what time the bus leaves or how to find that sharp-looking bar that you stumbled across in the backstreets.
An LED torch – for power-cuts, wandering back to the hotel after dark, and that all important last look under the bed before you check out of your room.
A needle and thread – make do and mend is an excellent motto to live by when living out of a backpack. Handy for tent and backpack repairs and fixing rips in your favourite board-shorts.
An alarm clock – sleeping late and missing your flight is a sure-fire way to ruin your travels. Carry a travel alarm clock, or use your mobile phone, and you won’t have to rue the day you almost saw the Taj Mahal.
Music – an iPod, or anything else that plays your favourite tunes, for instant privacy on crowded trains, and killing time when your rattletrap bus breaks down a hundred miles from the nearest mechanic.
Other top tips for backpackers:
Travel light – it’s an unwritten rule of travel that you carry as much as you can fit in your bag, so bring a small bag and avoid gruelling treks from the bus stand and back-breaking climbs up hotels with no lift.
Carry flip-flops – no, that’s not a fashion tip. Cheap slip-on footwear is the best protection against verrucas in grimy shower cubicles. Also perfect for kicking off before entering mosques and temples.
Split your valuables – the backpacker version of ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ is never keep all your cash in one bag. Store an emergency fund somewhere away from the rest of your travel money for bonafide emergencies.
And, if after all your backpacking, trekking and "finding yourself", you realise you actually just like staying in five star hotels, then maybe you should think about a visit to the St.Regis Bangkok. The Thai hotel has just launched a "gap year package", meaning for £140 you can ditch the dreads and swan around in the spa. Go on, we know you're already fantasising over those 300-thread count sheets...
Lonely Planet’s The Book of Everything is out next month. According to the folk at LP, it's an "indispensible how-to guide of essential tips and tricks for travellers". To be fair, it does include advice on how to prevent a hangover on the road (probably a regular occurrence) to how to ride a camel. Sorted.
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