Savvy traveling is something that only comes with on-the-road experience. In the beginning, you make a lot of mistakes. Then, one day, you begin to move through airports and assimilate yourself into new cultures like a fish to water.
That feeling when you put something really good together and it turns out pretty amazing?
That’s what I felt like when I put together what I think is the most comprehensive list of travel tips ever devised.
This list contains everything there is to know about traveling and leaves no stone unturned and be warned: these tips will definitely make you into a TRAVEL NINJA.
Without further ado, here are the best 20 tips in the world:
1. Always pack a towel
Don’t forget your towel. It just might be the one thing that gets you through a rough combination beach and camping trip. Whether it’s the one thing that makes your picnic complete or just getting to the other side after a dip in the ocean, it’s always important to have a small towel with you wherever you go. It should be noted that many hostels offer towels, but there is no need to chance it, especially when these beautiful items aren’t very heavy or anything – they can even easily double as blanket!
2. Pack light
It’s OK to wear the same t-shirt or sweatshirt on multiple days in a row. And remember that you can always put your clothes on the list of things you’d like to have around if your tiny house doesn’t come with them! Remember, too, to only pack the essentials. Take half of what you think you’ll need…you don’t really need as much as you start packing for! You may also want to buy that small backpack I talked about – it’ll save more space than an oversized suitcase that’s less easy to maneuver.
3. Buy a small backpack/suitcase
One of the biggest mistakes that first-time backpackers make is packing too heavily. There’s a lot of pressure to load up on supplies and souvenirs at every stop, which can dramatically increase your travel weight. You might not realize it now, but if you start to carry too much weight in your bag, it’ll slow you down and could even cause you physical pain.
4. But take extra socks
You’ll lose a bunch to laundry gremlins, wear and tear, and hikers take a lot of miles on their boots. I always pack a little more than I think I’ll need because nothing beats a fresh pair of socks when you’ve been hiking for hours in the countryside.
5. Take an extra bank card and credit card with you
A backup credit card is a good way to keep you from being held up if, for example, you have your card stolen or lose it. It’s always good to have an emergency fund of some sort so that if something happens, there are no hiccups in your trip. I once had my original credit card duplicated and frozen by the bank on day one of my vacation. A friend of mine couldn’t use his either until he lined up another form of payment with the vendor beforehand. It caused him all kinds of headaches! Make sure you always line up along side method for making purchases (i.e., cash, credit card or debit). You don’t want to be that guy or gal stuck with no alternatives
6. Make sure to use no-fee bank cards
Don’t let banks keep your hard-earned money. Keep that for yourself and spend it on your travels! Get a credit/debit card without a foreign transaction fee or an ATM fee. Over the course of a long trip, you’ll really appreciate not dropping a few dollars every time they charge you those pesky fees that seem to sneak up on you just as you’re about to buy that souvenir from that little stand by the ocean front.
7. Travel by yourself at least once
You’re going to learn a lot about yourself when you travel. I’ve always believed that traveling solo helps a person figure out what he/she is capable of in life and makes them more independent. When you take that leap to go on an adventure all by yourself, it forces you to become comfortable in your own skin and learn how to fend for yourself without others there at your side to help. Traveling was the turning point in my life when I made the decision to explore this world by myself rather than being coupled with someone else at my side. It took some getting used to, but it also taught me valuable lessons, especially when I experienced things that scared me or made me uncomfortable for the first time in a long time! Just do it! And if anyone tells you this isn’t worth doing because you can just do it with someone else then tell them “No thanks, have a good one! ”
8. Don’t be afraid to use a map
Getting lost isn’t the worst thing in the world. I mean, at least you know you’re out there exploring new parts of the city. Don’t be afraid to use a map or ask for directions because it’s really not any different than being able to ask an actual local where all the good restaurants are located. If anything, they might be able to point you towards one of their favorites! Once there, don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation! They’ll probably find your travels all the more charming because of it!
9. Always visit the local tourism office.
They know about all of the happenings in town. They can point you to free activities, special events occuring during your visit, and everything in between. They even offer discounts on attractions and transportation. In fact, they’re required by law to share these kinds of insights with visitors! As a savvy traveler, you know to use this resource! This is probably one of the most underused travel tips in the world. Use a local tourism board! Save money!
10. Don’t buy a money belt — they’re stupid.
Thieves know they exist and being seen with someone like this basically shouts: “Look at me! I’m a tourist and I don’t know what I should still think is safe or not, so take advantage of me!” The more you can hide in plain sight, the easier it will be to get deals and avoid touts. If you’re worried about pickpockets, keep a better eye on your stuff!
11. When you go out, take only what you need.
By limiting the amount of money and bank cards you carry it’s easier to keep track of everything. My rule for cash is never carrying more than fifty bucks because if something does happen, chances are I’ll be able to recover quickly and easily.
12. Always carry a lock.
Locks are pretty handy if you want to keep the things that matter most to you safe and secure, and carrying a combination lock is an easy way to give yourself an added layer of protection when you’re traveling and need to lock up your belongings in a dorm room or rental apartment. The advantages of using a combo lock versus a traditional key-based one? If you happen to misplace the keys, you won’t have the added hassle of having to track them down!
13. Make extra copies of your passport and important documents.
Don’t forget to photocopy a copy and send it to yourself too. You never know when you might need to have the original on you and so it’s good to be prepared! Additionally, if your passport gets stolen having a back-up will really come in handy for your police report.
14. Ask hostel staff for information — even when you aren’t staying there.
Hostel staff are like guides. They know where to take you for cheap food and to attractions. They’re locals so they know the city very well. Ask them to give you all sorts of information. Even if you don’t stay at one, just pop in and ask for help. You’ll usually get it.
15. Don’t be ashamed to walk into a Starbucks or McDonald’s
Familiarity is comforting just like the feeling of sitting in your own home while you’re visiting someone else for any reasonable length of time. Both places have public restrooms you can use it
16. Always get behind business travelers when in security lines.
They move fast and in a rush, and they travel light. Be sure to line up in their wake and you’ll be whisked through the lines!
17. Take pictures of your luggage and clothes.
If your bag gets lost, this will help identify it more easily and speed up the process of having your travel insurance reimburse you.
18.Get good shoes.
You will walk a lot when you travel. Don’t do your feet any harm. Show them love and they’ll appeal to your sense of adventure, rewarding you with unforgettable experiences!
19. Get vaccinated.
Getting sick in a foreign country is almost always an expensive – not to mention potentially tragic – event. Each year, over 100,000 travellers get sick so the odds are against you when it comes to getting an essential inoculation while visiting another country. You can’t exactly run down to your local pharmacy so you should seriously consider the health risks of your trip before you head overseas on business!
20. Eat street food!
If you skip the street food, you’ll be missing out on a cultural adventure! It can be scary to try new foods, so if it makes you feel at ease, as a rule of thumb look for places where local kids are eating. And as far as safety is concerned, they don’t eat it if they’re not allowed to have it.
Here is my list of top travel tips! It goes without saying (but I’m going to anyway) that these are only applicable if you’re traveling with friends. A lot of what I’ve listed here is based on experience traveling with my closest friends, but it can apply no matter who you’re traveling with! If you have additional suggestions you think belong here, feel free to drop them in the comments section below!