“I wish someone had told me” is a series of posts that feed into our inquisitive nature at CN&CO. Each week we hear from someone in our network about something interesting or surprising that’s recently happened or occurred to them – or lessons they learnt. These blogs are a way to pay it forward and form part of CN&CO’s belief that the world can be a better place – and we all have a responsibility to make it so. This week’s post is by Carel and comes at a time when he is off to work with a few CN&CO clients in France, find European opportunities for SA partners and run the Medoc Marathon with fellow CN&CO shareholder, Rob Christian – both wearing bright – and tight – outfits.

New York City

I love travelling. Whether it is far, far away, around the corner or reading a book and being transported to as-yet-undiscovered places.

I am lucky in that my mum was an avid traveller who, from an early age, taught me how best to travel. Some of these lessons I don’t always follow (she was a way better packer and fitted far more in far less space than I do!), but many others have stood me in good stead from Ethiopia to the Maldives to America – and a few places besides.

Along the way I have also developed a few of my own tips – some by chance (post an eye operation in Arizona, wearing an eye patch, I realised how easy sympathy gets you an upgrade …) and others through stupidity (never, ever pack sunscreen without checking the top is crewed on tight). Here are a few travel tips that may come in handy:

First and foremost – travel as much as you can, as often as you can. And remember, going across town to an undiscovered corner or reading about a country you have not been to, counts as travel in my book.

Secondly – when you travel, try everything. At least once J Be safe – as much as you can be. But try stuff. All of it. I crossed the border from Jordan into Syria. Once, and quickly. That was stupid and maybe illegal?! But I don’t regret it. And linked to this trying stuff bit – don’t expect or want what you have back home. If you do, stay home J

Thirdly – travel alone. And also with people. In small groups. And big groups. I have found that all these combinations work – and offer different benefits.

And now for the more practical stuff:

  • Have a travel file. I use a plastic folder and the contents are, in order:
    • Cover sheets showing name of trip, destination and period away
    • Copy of flight bookings
    • Copy of accommodation
    • Copy of medical insurance (with back up on my phone – in my case using the Discovery app)
    • Blank page where I write in the days before the trip what I want to do and who I want to see
  • Travel insurance is a waste of money. Make sure you have great medical insurance and take your chances on the rest
  • Always have a book, a magazine and music (noise cancelling earphones by Plantronics a bonus) in your hand luggage – be prepared for delays
  • Have a travel wallet and keep in it your passport, cash, spare passport size photo, a pen (there are always forms to fill in), yellow fever certificate (you never know…), store cards for overseas loyalty programmes (Costco and Desigual are my must haves)

    Club Med Sensations Val Thorens, France

  • Travel light. The lighter the better. Take less. I can’t emphasise this enough (and hardly ever listen to myself!) Basically, for men, jeans, clean socks and underwear, one pair of shoes, one warm item. Shorts, T-shirt. Leave you nice stuff – and valuable stuff, including jewellery, at home. Pack socks and underwear in shoes. Pack stuff you will use first, last
  • Pack a clean shirt and underwear in your hand luggage. If your bag goes missing, you have emergency change of clothes. Keep your medicine – if you have any – here also
  • Label your luggage and make sure you can identify it easily. And when you wait for your luggage at the conveyor belt, stand where the luggage comes out so you prevent people taking yours by mistake
  • Book your seat when you make your booking – aisle if you want to walk around and don’t mind standing up for people, window if you don’t want to be disturbed. Sit as close to the front of the plane – you get off first and clear customs quicker
  • Board as quickly as possible – and find your hand luggage space quickly
  • Have a light jacket/jersey for changing temp in the plane. Layer up
  • In your small, plastic bag in your hand luggage, keep a small handwash jar (many germs on planes!) and Bactroban Nasal – prevents colds and flus from fellow travellers
  • Join a loyalty programme – I find Emirates best by far. Upgrade using points – not cash
  • If you are flying economy, book a special meal – easy on Emirates and no extra cost. You get served first
  • Be very nice to check-in folk and gate-boarding people. They have your upgrade in their hands. In fact, when you travel, be nice to everyone. You’ll end up getting to places grumpy folk never see
  • Read. Firstly, it helps to pass the time and secondly, it helps to broaden your mind. My two favourite travel books are
    • Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
    • Around the World in 50 Years by Albert Podell, the first man to travel to every country in the world

Ask kurt@cnandco.com or rikus@cnandco.com what else 🙂 We’ve had some epic trips together to Thailand, Bhutan and the USA – and many more trip to come with them and other great mates!

Finally, have fun! Learn. Make up your own rules. Go with the flow. Carpe diem! Bon voyage and see you on the other side!