Below is a list of my personal account on things I prepare or expect before I travel. The important ones. I do not travel much though, but when I do, these should be ticked as ready beforehand.
Things might get easier if you’re traveling solo, but remember - always appoint a leader amongst your travel group. Also, the leader must not always be the man in charge of itinerary or financial planning or the eldest one. Who to choose is yours to decide, erm well I mean, you know your friends best, right? And Insya-Allah, by following the sunnah, Allah’s blessings and barakah are always upon us throughout the journey.
Internet is a prime source of information, hands down. Make sure the hostels/buses provide wifi and your home simcard is loaded with credits for emergency international calls. If a local simcard is needed to contact your host, do a brief comparison and buy one. You can also share that one simcard number amongst your travel companions to save money. The best connectivity ever, is the ability to converse well with the locals. So read up! And learn Japanese or French or any language there is, by installing those learning apps on your smartphones.
I’ve always had a friend who would request anything related to my travel destination, be it just a keychain or a postcard. I, too, love buying collectable items and souvenirs I think are endemic (running out of words, sorry) to a particular place. If it’s Turkey, do your research on where and what’s the local price for a decent Turkish hijab or baklava. If it’s Morocco, know that you can get a good handmade pure leather jacket for 30 pounds (it’s in Fez, if you’re wondering). Hence, packing light is of the utmost importance. Leave a lot of space for these.
4) Must-snap-picture destinations.
Get a mental image of where you’re going. Visit professional photographers' website for ideas. Google street images for some familiarisation. Scroll your friends’ photo timeline who’ve been there. Fodor’s travel Instagram and twt_backpacker twitter are also worth to look at. Read, and know that star trails in Merzouga desert as well as sunsets at Pangkor Island are worth a try.
5) Recreate history.
What can get more boring than hearing some lady talking about war through your walkie-talkie in a collapsed ruin? Idk about anyone else, but I hate this kind of service, hahah. Anyway, getting back in time takes more than just read and feel. I tend to picture commoners wearing one-shouldered white toga, wandering here and there through those Roman ruins. I know that I’m not expecting fat men with turbans around Istanbul’s time of Ottoman empire, but to cherish their rise and fall, and seeking relation with the current generations’ culture, is the most sugoi (read: amazing) thing I can feel.
6) Universal tastebuds.
Expect some similarities and differences in flavour. Be a food critic. Be brave trying new cuisine, even if it takes everything just to taste that snail in Marrakech (hey it’s super-delicious I’d tried it!). They might be Kurds, but their Testi kebab makes you went “hey, this Testi kebab tastes exactly like our daging asam pedas!”. You know what they say, food connects people. This point, unfortunately, is not applicable to those who cannot appreciate food hmmm.
So there you go: the usual homework I think that is essential, well at least for me. Feel free to share yours! Oh yes, another one:
7) Be practical.
…and humble as a human. Be prepared to give. Even if it’s just a Kisses. It irks me, seeing people taking pictures of some indigenous children without leaving any smile/token behind. Some just get even worse - shouting ‘hey come here! picture! picture!’ - and then walks away like nothing happens like those kids are just a mere subject for pictures -.- These scum photographers seriously need to get a life. Also, be practical with whom you’re traveling. You would not want to bring your old parents to the top of the Petra monasteries. Just warning.