Joel Gill is GfGD's Founder/Director, and today shares his 'Top Travel Tips' based on his experience of fieldwork in Chile and Tanzania, as well as travelling in Uganda and Rwanda:
1) Sleep is very important - Go prepared with the things you may need to get a good night sleep, including ear-plugs and an eye-mask. I never wear ear-plugs at home, but when you're staying in a noisy hotel, with very thin walls and televisions being played loudly throughout the night they soon became essential.
2) Crisis Management - I always prepare at least three copies of a 'crisis management' pack, a small A5 wallet containing passport-size photographs, photocopies of my passport, visas, immunisation certificates, travel schedules, emergency contacts, medical details (UK doctor's phone number, allergies), numbers in case I lose my bank card, emergency first aid details. I carry one of these with me at all times, leave one hidden in the house/hotel I'm staying at, and leave one in the UK with family. It is MUCH easier to get a new passport if you lose one if you have a photocopy and passport photographs.
3) Language - Make the effort to learn a few words of the local language before you travel, including a formal greeting, an informal greeting, and words such as please and thank you. These can be very helpful for demonstrating to people that you recognise you are in their country.
4) Flexibility - When you travel, be prepared to change your methodology, your plans and your schedules at fairly short notice. Opportunities, challenges or problems may arise that mean things can not proceed as planned. Being willing to adapt can be very helpful.
5) First Aid - Go well prepared in terms of first-aid. When travelling to both Chile and East Africa I took packaged, sterile needles - to reduce the chance of infection should I need them. Paracetamol, itch and sting cream, imodium and rehydrating sachets are all essentials. Also plasters, bandages and safety pins. Scotch Tape is very useful, (for many things as well as first aid!). Get good professional advice before you go about what vaccinations you need, and appropriate anti-malarials.