It’s no secret that travelling can be expensive and, at times, stressful. While there are so many benefits to travelling, there are a few pitfalls with most trips, especially longer travel experiences. After travelling for quite some time, I’ve come up with a list of travel tips for you to help minimize any pitfalls, stress and hopefully costs. If you follow a few of these travel tips, your next trip will surely be one of your more fun trips you’ve taken. Maybe you’ve considered some of these options, maybe you haven’t.
Research But Don’t Plan
If you’re like most people, you probably love to have every day of your trip planned out before you leave. While this can be perfectly fine and enjoyable, it doesn’t really leave you open to new opportunities.
Have you ever gone on one of your pre-planned trips only to learn of something really interesting once you arrive, but you have no where to fit it in? Sometimes the most interesting attractions in a location are the ones you can’t research on the internet beforehand.
So go ahead and research as much as possible about your destination beforehand, but please do not plan anything. Or if you must plan, leave a few days empty, just in case. This might be the most important travel tip you’ll get anywhere.
I bought a one way ticket and my only plan was to meet a friend in a relatively unknown city, and it was probably the best decision I ever made. The people I met and the places I went and the things I saw would have been completely unknown to me if I had pre-planned anything.
Be Aware of Your Safety but Don’t Let It Drive You
Always in the back of my mind is my mother saying “be careful, be safe, don’t be stupid”. And while she is right to worry about my safety, if I were to listen to her and everyone else about going places that weren’t ‘safe’ then I’d never leave home, and you wouldn’t either.
You should always be very aware about your safety and do not do anything that might endanger yourself while travelling. But you also shouldn’t stay in your hotel the entire time because you’re too afraid to walk in the streets at night.
Sure you hear a lot of scary things in the news, but those tend to be isolated incidents that likely also happen in your own hometown. You’ll find that people are generally very nice, hospitable, generous and willing to help you.
Know how to keep yourself safe, where the local authorities are, don’t flash around your money or wear expensive things in a city you might be worried someone will rob you. Be smart about how you travel and be aware. Otherwise, if your mom is like my mom might come after you.
Don’t Be Afraid To Splurge Sometimes
This is one of those travel tips that might not make much sense to you. But if you’re afraid to spend your money on that extra trip because you’d prefer to buy a new pair of pants, frankly you’re being ridiculous.
If you’re travelling on a budget like most, then your money is very precious to you. However, in the end you’ll be more glad you splurged a little to take that extra trip to some unknown part, or you even just treated yourself to a nice meal in the middle of all the budgeting. You might just find something completely unexpected.
Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
Travelling is all about new experiences and breaking out of your comfort zone. You’ll meet new people and do new things. These new people will encourage you to do something you never even dreamed you would do. If you haven’t planned your whole trip out, then you’ll be open to trying new things outside your comfort zone.
You’ll learn there are people out there with different ideals, opinions and interests. Don’t judge them, but try and learn what life is like for them. You don’t have to agree, but be open to different possibilities. Make a list of all your fears before you travel and try to conquer each one.
Pack What You Need – Then Remove Half
On my first trip, I left with a 50 litre bag jammed full of stuff. By the end of the trip I didn’t use a lot of what I had brought. On my next big and longer journey I made sure to get a backpack that would be small enough to carry on to any airplane, and it was just 38 litres, and even then it seemed like I had too much stuff for my 9-month trip through chilly mountains and humid rainforests.
I host a lot of travellers through Couchsurfing at my place and the most common complaint is that they brought too much stuff with them and they leave things behind for us to pass onto other Couchsurfers.
So, moral of the story, the best of travel tips is to pack less. You can always buy something when you are abroad. While they might not have the exact brand of band-aid you want, the country you are in will have band-aids.
Meet Or Stay With Locals
So often you go to a hotel or hostel and meet other travellers, but they do rarely leave the hostel and only talk to other travellers. Even though meeting and talking with other travellers is great, you do not really get to experience the culture of the country you’re visiting. It’s a shame when you meet someone who has been travelling around South America for over 6 months and they still cannot speak a word of Spanish.
At the very least, you should make an effort to meet locals, and if possible try to stay with locals. Couchsurfing is a great resource for meeting or staying with locals. It connects you to people and places you’d never meet otherwise. What better way to get to know a city than with a local. Don’t be shy, just say hello. If you want to be a traveller and not just a tourist passing through, then this is one of those travel tips you’ll want to listen to.
Volunteering is another great way to get to know the local culture and people. Just make sure you find a local program upon arriving in a city. A lot of the larger NGO’s that charge you over $1000 for 2 weeks of volunteering are not quite the same experience and a lot of the fee you pay to volunteer never goes to the actual program. You can find volunteer programs you do not have to pay for.
Buy Travel Insurance
I met someone who was hiking up a snowy mountain, hours away from anywhere and she fell and broke her leg. Luckily the people she was with were strong enough to carry all 6’1″ of her back to the nearest town. She didn’t have travel insurance and had to pay a lot of money to stay in the hospital for weeks and have her leg heal.
Or another guy who did have travel insurance and had to get emergency surgery on his teeth that would have cost $2000 but everything was covered, worry free.
Get travel insurance. Listen to these travel tips.
Take A Lot Of Pictures
I know this might seem like a no-brainer. But I was not one to take many pictures and now I do not have many things to show off my trip or keep for personal reminders. With the digital age you can always delete the ones you do not want to keep.
If you take a lot of pictures there will be a few spectacular ones that you can print off and frame in your home when you’re done travelling.
You can get some pretty amazing point and shoot digital cameras how that easily fit into your pocket. So get one and take as many pictures as you can. Just respect the locals and always ask before you take someones picture.
Pack A Sarong
Now you might be wondering why this is on my travel tips list, but a sarong actually comes in very handy. You can use it as a back up towel, you can put it on the bed in a hostel you are unsure of the last time they cleaned the sheets, you can tie it so it becomes a bag (good for taking laundry to the laundromat), you can use it as a blanket on the beach or use it as a window cover for privacy.
There are infinite possibilities with a sarong. They come in so many different colors that men can get non-flashy ones and use them too. They are lightweight and take up almost not space when they are folded, perfect for any one trying to save space.
For more travel tips check out my post on the Long-Term Multi-Climate Packing Tips for any trip.
What do you think of our best travel tips list, do you agree with what I have included? What is one very important tip you think I have missed?