I don’t really believe in travel experts. We could be in the same place at the same time and still have completely different experiences.
Having said that,I’ve been lucky enough to havetraveled to all seven continents over the last seven years, which has afforded me the opportunity to make a bunch of mistakes and learn from them.
Below are 50 bit-sized pieces of travel advice which could help make your next trip a little easier:
1. Know where your passport and credit cards are at all times. With these two you can get out of any jam.
2. Always have a backup credit card and money that you keep separately from your wallet or purse.
3. Let your bank know you are going abroad to avoid them freezing your account.
4. If you can be flexible, try traveling to a destination during fringe season, just after the peak season finishes. You can grab yourself a bargain.
5. Consider getting a carry on backpack, which will not only mean you pack less, but you’ll also avoid checked baggage fees.
6. Get yourself a discount card like a YHA membership card or a International Youth Travel Card. Small savings add up.
7. If you’re traveling relatively unplanned, check your next destination doesn’t have a large event or festival on which will drive up prices.
8. Before you buy anything (not just travel items), Google the item nameand discount code. You’ll be surprised at what you can find.
9. Traveling on a budget makes your trip more affordable and can extend how long you are away, but treating yourself is still important.
10. Don’t bother with padlocks with keys, as you know you’ll lose them. TSA four-digit combination locks are best.
11. Get a travel rewards credit card that will earn you points, but more importantly learn how to maximize your redemptions.
12. Have copies of your passport, credit card numbers and travel insurance with family and also save them in your email draftsto access anywhere.
13. Ever dropped your camera in the ocean and have your laptop break on the same day? I have. Back up all your files, particularly your images either on a USB, Dropbox or both.
14. Even if you aren’t staying at a hostel, dip in for the low down on what’s going on in the place you’re in. They are always very knowledgeable.
15. Before heading to any destination, learn a few pleasantries in the local language and the essential numbers. Talking to locals will go a lot smoother.
16. If you’re getting antsy before you leave, get your head in a travel book such as, “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, “The Beach” by Alex Garland or “The Alchemist” by Paul Coelho.
17. If you’re on the road a long time, there’s nothing wrong with seeking a bit of familiarity to avoid homesickness. Everyone couple of months in South America I would visit a mall, get pizza and watch a movie.
18. If you have the facilities at your accommodation, don’t eat out and shop for local produce at the supermarket instead. It’s cheaper and always an experience.
19. Befriending locals is an excellent way to explore a destination. How can you do that safely? Try using Meetup.com. They have meetups in most major cities, and have every interest you can think of. Running club in Medellin, anyone?
20. Going anywhere without travel insurance is foolish. You always think it won’t be you, but then it happens.
21. Most hostels will have or know of a free walking tour. Take these whenever you go to a city. Not only are they informative, but they will help you get your bearings.
22. Make sure your travel vaccinations are up to date. Your health is not something to be taken lightly.
23. Learn how to laugh it off. Things break, t-shirts get ruined and chicken buses take forever. It’s all part of the journey.
24. Build wiggle room into your travel plans for the unexpected. Better yet, don’t have any travel plans.
25. Never be afraid to travel solo. It’s not only exhilarating and life defining but it easier than you think.
26. Wear sunscreen. Even if it feels cool, the sun is stronger than you think. Sunburn is no joke.
27. Get up early. Ever been to Machu Picchu when it’s nearly empty? It’s even better than when the crowds arrive.
28. Taking photos is important, but don’t spend your whole time behind the lens. Take the snaps you need and then enjoy what you’re doing.
29. Earplugs are incredibly vital if you plan on staying in hostels. Silicone earplugs are the best and don’t forget to pack spares.
30. Download podcasts for those long journeys. I personally like podcasts such as “The Tim Ferriss Show,” “Andrew Hansen” and “Tropical MBA.”
31. When checking in to your accommodation, pick up their business card. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have got into a taxi and they didn’t know where the place I was staying was.
32. Keep in touch with family and friends. It’s easy to get caught up in what you’re doing and neglect those whowill be there when the journey ends.
33. Even if you’re traveling in the tropics, having a hoodie or light top in your day bag goes a long way. Those air conditioned transportation methods can get quite chilly. It also doubles up as a pillow.
34. If you’re comfortable driving abroad, hire a car and go off the beaten track. Pick a random town and drive there. Take your time and several stops along the way. You never know what you might come across.
35. If you’re on a bus, train or just waiting at the airport, keep a wrist or ankle through the loop of your handbag or day pack to deter opportunist thieves from running off with it. This is especially important if you’re prone to falling asleep like me.
36. Update your social media with your location. Not only does it let people know where you are, it also brings out people who have already been there and can offer travel advice.
37. Add people you meet on social media. You never know when you might meet again or when a casual acquaintance may become a life-long friend.
38. Don’t get overcharged because you don’t know how to haggle. Practice makes perfect, and it’s always fun to banter with a local.
39. Get better at swimming or learn if you don’t know how. It’s amazing how many activities involve water when you go traveling.
40. Consider hiring a bike to explore a city if walking isn’t your thing. There are so many cycle-friendly cities.
41. Know your local laws before you visit a country. Chewing gum in Singapore, wearing heels at archaeological sites in Greece or feeding the pigeons in Venice are just some ways you can fall foul of the law.
42. If you’re single, have a travel fling. They are spontaneous and fleeting, but that’s what makes them fun.
43. Always carry Imodium in your first-aid kit for when those tummy problems occur. Also, have a basic first-aid kit.
44. Try and be a green traveler. Reuse your plastic bottles and don’t have fresh bed sheets and towels at a hotel.
45.Start a blog. Not only is it a great way to collect your memories, but it might turn out into a career like it did for me.
46. Resist the urge to check your valuables when you see a sign that pickpockets are operating in the area. All you’re doing is signaling to pickpockets where your valuables are.
47. Never pack anything you aren’t willing to lose or break, whether its expensive or has sentimental value.
48. If you’re on a big adventure, look into a round the world ticket, which could work out much cheaper than single fares.
49. Food is nearly always better at a restaurant that is not in the tourist areas. Here’s a hint: If it has its menu in several different languages, you’re sat in a restaurant for tourists.
50. Be present in every moment. Look a round, take a deep breath and absorb everything you can about where you are, including the sights, sounds and smells.
It’s easy to get distracted by your next social media update, your plans that evening or how low your travel funds are running. Be present.