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Going on regular holidays for a couple of weeks at a time is a great way to unwind from work, relax on a beach, try new food and experience new cultures. These holidays have become a permanent fixture on our annual calendars and even have some known health benefits.
Stress is a large factor when considering the underlying reason for poor physical or mental wellbeing and holidaying regularly can really help to reduce stress and help you find a bit of tranquillity. Recharging your batteries is linked to increased intelligence, a better sense of confidence, an increase in creative thinking and generally better moods.
Similarly, you’re also likely to do more natural exercise – like swimming in the ocean – when on holiday, which will help to improve your fitness. An increase in sunlight also leads to a boost in Vitamin D levels, better sleeping and better nutrition from eating a wider variety of meals.
However, although all of these benefits are great, they pale in comparison to the opportunity of going on a lengthy travelling stint for 6 months or a year. This kind of adventure can be a great way to gain a deeper sense of independence and break out of your comfort zone for a long period of time. People who go travelling often say they have come back a new person; with a greater understanding of the world around them, more confidence and a clearer idea of who they are.
Here, we give you all the information you need to know before planning a long trip around the world; from the vaccines, you’ll need to how to plan your first day.
Before you head off anywhere or start packing, it’s important to visit the health clinic to get your vaccinations. Without getting the proper protection, you could be at risk of contracting a potentially life-threatening disease.
Depending on where you’re planning to go, you’ll need to get a different set of vaccinations, however, a professional at a travel clinic will be able to guide you through this.
If you’re heading to Southeast Asia, like thousands of Brits do every year, you’re likely to need jabs for both hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tetanus, rabies and get a course of mediation to help prevent malaria. For Africa and South America, you will need the same jabs, as well as jabs for yellow fever and TB respectively.
It’s important to first book a consultation with a nurse at the private travel clinic and heed their advice on what vaccines to have because, if you do contract a disease when out in the wild or in an underdeveloped country, you may not be able to receive the proper medical help in time. Especially when it comes to a disease like rabies, that could mean life or death.
If you’re planning a trip that’s going to last months or even years, it can be a confusing process knowing exactly what to pack and how much to pack. On the one hand, you want to have everything you need but it’s also important not to overpack as you’ll be on your feet and on the move a lot of the time which can become hugely labour intensive.
The real trick when packing for a long journey is to pack enough stuff to suit a wide variety of climates, but not so much that it becomes overbearing and difficult to get around. With that in mind, you’ll want to pack enough for about a week’s worth of clothing and then expect to do washing relatively regularly.
In terms of clothing, you’ll want about five different t-shirts: a few quick-dry t-shirts for humid weather and a couple of regular cotton t-shirts. It’s best to go for darker coloured t-shirts so that any stains don’t show up as easy. You’ll also want a thermal top, a light waterproof jacket, a thin fleece and one cotton button-up shirt for nights out or any religious festivities you might find yourself in.
The same principle applies to your bottoms. You should opt for another thermal layer, a pair of suitable walking trousers, a smart but comfortable pair of trousers and a handful of shorts, skirts, dresses, bikinis or swimming costumes. In terms of underwear, bring a week’s worth of pants and socks. If possible, buy some quick-drying pants, one pair of thick walking socks and 5 or 6 pairs of thin socks. For shoes, you’ll just want one pair of flip flops or sandals for hot weather and one pair of suitable walking shoes for the rest of the time and for any treks.
With toiletries, you’re going to have to keep these topped up as you go, but should start off with a basic cache of one toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste, soap, shampoo, suncream, a travel-sized razor, disposable feminine hygiene products and some deodorant.
For the regular traveller, you’ll also want a hat for hot weather and a beanie, some sunglasses, a fast-drying towel which can be compressed, a pillowcase to stuff with your clothes when you get caught short in the wilderness, a torch or headlamp, a travel cup, plug converters, a money belt and your electronics. When it comes to electronics, you’ll want a camera to capture all of your memories but something that is easy to carry around whilst still having good quality. If you’re bringing a smartphone, this can double up as your camera. Similarly, it might be an idea to bring a decent tablet with a click in keyboard if you decide to do any work or writing on the go.
This list accounts for pretty much everything that you’ll need without going overboard. Again, it’s all about having items that will give you flexibility without overbearing you.
Before you get packing, however, you’re going to have to make some plans for the first few days or weeks. We’re assuming that, by now, you know what corner of the world you’ll be setting off to so these plans should all be about that initial arrival period. Part of the whole fun of travelling is the not knowing what’s going to happen, so you don’t want those plans to become dogmatic as it’s likely they won’t end up how you imagined. Instead, create a loose plan with room for adaptation.
To help you settle in and find your feet, it might be worth knowing what you’ll be doing for the first few days. First of all, know exactly what time your flight, train or bus arrives at its destination and where that destination is within the city or town you’re arriving in. Have a look and discover the quickest or cheapest way to get to your first hostel or hotel and make any bookings necessary before you set off.
At this initial period, it might be an idea to stay in the same city for the first few days, so you can get to grips with the new area. Make a booking at a hotel or hostel for a week or so and then you can utilise that as a base for your first adventures. Once you’ve arrived, sit down and read through your guide book, collect travel and tourism information, see where the buses and trains take you from that location and, perhaps most importantly, try and make friends with other travellers who have already explore the area. Making these connections is an invaluable way to gain local knowledge and learn from other people’s mistakes.
Having a base for that first week, taking a little time to consider where you want to go, for how long and drawing out a vague list of areas you might want to visit means that you can then start getting a semblance of an idea of the best order to do things in. You may even find that there are people going that way too and you’ll be well on your way to having your dream trip.
Duality Health is a private medical centre based in Northern Ireland that provides a number of medical services to the community that we operate in. As well as providing the necessary travel vaccinations from our private clinic, we also provide a number of other medical services including urgent out of hours care, sexually transmitted disease treatments, family planning, allergy testing and men’s health.
We understand that the NHS does a great job under increasingly difficult circumstances, but that pressure has led to rising waiting times and a decrease in the quality of service. However, for the patients in Northern Ireland, we provide an alternative solution.
Our team of highly trained medical professionals are on hand to provide all of the advice and treatment that you could need in a wide array of medical fields.