I am proud to be a Ghumakkar, so are all of you here. With each new story that we read and write, we are sharing our ideas with all the travel enthusiasts. Often, stories describing the variety of experiences we have had in our trips come out as posts. While some are about lonely travellers, most others are group tours, some are specifically about road trips while many others encompass a wider variety of other trips.
But surely, there is one thing in common in all our expeditions. It is the seed of thought on our mind which grows and matures into a fully well planned and executed trip. A thought about where to go next is the seed I am talking about. While some of us get inspired by learning about places from friends, the new trend I see is the trend to explore the unexplored virgin places. Not bad at all, isnt it?
Each of these kinds of trips that we make require some planning- where to go, how to get there, where to stay, what to see in and around that place, what to eat, what to buy, what activities to do etc etc. These wh questions need definite answers for a trip to be called “well planned”. However, sometimes when Lady Luck favors us, even unplanned trips bring us tremendous long-lasting memories (bad experiences also stay long on our minds, dont they? ;) )
The purpose of this little article is to put together some essentials of a general checklist. This post therefore caters to the travellers for a better experience – slightly outside the topics on Ghumakkar until now? Spare me if I am going way beyond the scope :)
Here is my humble list for eager travellers:
Check to see when is the best time to visit the place: though some places might be good in any weather, there are few places which need to be visited during specific seasons to either ward off the extreme climatic conditions prevalent there OR to enjoy the place’s best form in a particular season. This info might also help if you want budget trips. The popular tourist destinations are close to double the costs in peak seasons.
Visa and passport for international tours: Some countries might not have any visa restriction for certain nationalities. However, for Indian travellers, most places might require a separate visa. This point doesnt hold good for local travellers anyways :)
Fitness quotient and physical stability: Hiking, mountaineering, rappling, sky-diving and the like are our favourites on the “to-do” list. However, as we all know, these require some training and fitness quotient. Travel and tour organizers these days do advice us about the fitness levels attached with such trips. However, we should also take personal care to prepare ourselves to face the challenge posed by such places and activities.A wealth of information is available on the internet about diet and exercise regimes suggested for different levels of fitness required to travel to such places which demand them :)
Native language basics: Local travellers too need to pay attention to this as some regions within India too are very phonetic (Any place that you can quickly think of?? err.. let us take that offline ). In such cases within the country or outside, it becomes inevitable for us to know some basic phrases to communicate with the natives of any land. Our dear friend google and our dearest gadgets like smart phones do have several apps to help us with this. But for a person like me, I would rather learn it up myself than looking-up for phrases each time!
Local Currency: International credit cards come in handy in such cases! But ready cash is equally essential since some emergencies might not accept cards (though not an emergency, taxi drivers prefer cash mostly!) It is also essential to look-up for currency conversion before you exchange your money with the local currency so that you are not cheated or mislead.
A guide book and a map: These are first on my checklist! While other things(finances) are handled by my husband, I take the guide book and map into my custody :) These are available in different languages and come in handy for you to get to places in and around a city. Maps of the city, metro maps, train/bus maps are generally available at the tourist information centers. It is a must for you to collect a copy of it for your use through out the trip.
A prepared itenerary: If it happens to be a planned trip, then it is also important that you carry your itenerary with you since it helps you to meet the schedules and the order of preference as planned. But if it is dynamic decision making, then the guide book might suffice.
Travel kit: Clothes, eatables, medicines, caps, seasonal clothing, etc etc go into this. Though we have copies of the checklist with us, we inevitably forget some essentials :) Call it jinx or sheer forgetfulness, this is sure to happen! However, let us try to eliminate this by keeping a travel kit ready with some important medicines and the like in it always!
Camera and its accesories: Did this have to be the list-topper? Yes, indeed! But I am of the opinion that we rarely tend to forget it. Even if we do, we have gadgets like our mobiles which surely substitute the absence of a camera in case we forget. And for the avid photographers, I am sure that they might forget their extra clothes, but will seldom forget their cameras! Right? ;)
Permission letters : Though not always valid, a permit letter from respective officials might be needed if you are planning to visit some secure / prohibitted area like most country borders. I first came to know about this when we travelled to Sikkim. We had to collect a permit letter to go to the China side after crossing the border. Since we dint have it, we could go there :( Lessons learnt since then!
Discount coupons/vouchers: Frequent travellers might have earned points which can be redeemed at certain locations and resorts. Carry a copy of the letter which states the redeemable option or if you have received any voucher, donot forget to take that with you.
Tickets and reservation proofs: Last but surely the most important thing is the travel tickets/ entry tickets and the hotel reservation proof. It is a common practice these days to do all bookings online. This makes the confirmations online and in electronic format of proofs. However, it is very essential to carry a printout of these proofs with us while we travel.
Address & phone number of your hotel: In any case, it is a good thing and a vital thing to carry a copy of the address and ohone number of the hotel where you have made your booking. It comes in handy when in case you face issues to get to the hotel and when you need their assistance.
Also, leave behind a set of documents for your family/guardians: This set should contain phone numbers and contact details of people who can give your folks sufficient information about your where-abouts in case they want to reach you.
PS: The list is in no particular order of preference. However, I will not be wrong when I say it follows the order in which they occured to my mind.
I am quite sure that I might have missed out certain essentials from this list. However, since we all are experienced travellers, travel checklist and preparedness come to us as a habit. But this surely is my attempt to list a few points for novice travellers. Also, this is going to serve as my personal one-stop checklist from now on! :)
Travelling is good… Preparedness makes it better :)