From preparations to packing, route planning to on-ground navigation, traveling can be an unnecessarily stressful task. Accordingly, it can be as easy and swift as you will let it be.
Of course, everything can be difficult without some guidance. On my first backpacking trip Europe, I had so much excess luggage, that I properly lost some 10 pounds just by carrying things I didn’t need.
Now I know better 🙂
As with me, lots of travelers have first-hand experiences with the must-dos for any trip. Below are 10 useful travel tips that will make your journey smoother.
1. If you plan on traveling more, having a good bank card will be extremely useful. From collecting points to major discounts, the right card can save lots of money. Stephanie from The Roving Fox suggests opting for a no-fee ATM card.
One piece of advice I’d offer new travelers is to open a no-fee ATM card. One great option is the Charles Schwab checking account. Their cards can be used in any ATMs around the world, accept the transaction fees on-site, and the bank will reimburse your out of pocket expenses within a few weeks. This card has saved me at least $100. It also gives me peace of mind that I won’t be charged outrageous transaction fees no matter where I travel to!
2. Ensure that your banking is sorted. From notifying your bank of your travel plans to ensuring that your credit cards will not expire on a trip, keep track of your banking information on the road. Also, have a backup card on hand in case your credit card is lost or stolen.
3. Always check the country entry prerequisites. Whether it be vaccinations, visas, or entry fees, an unknown requirement may lead to denied entry! This goes hand-in-hand with medical checkups and travel insurance before embarking on a journey.
4. One of the most important things to do prior to a trip is to have backups of all your travel documents. I can’t emphasize enough how stressful it is to not have copies of my passports, IDs, and other travel documents when it’s needed. Elizabeth feels the same way:
To help reduce travel stress, one of my most useful travel tips is to make sure we have all of our important travel documents in two places.
This includes plane tickets, all booking confirmation numbers (flights, hotels, car rentals, etc.), phone numbers we may need, and any maps or directions.
We organize one set on our phones, usually by taking photos of everything and placing them in a specific folder for that trip. We also print out everything on paper and keep it in a folder in my purse. That way we know we have everything and can access it easily so we can relax and enjoy our trip!
5. When it comes to packing, the amount of clothing is largely dependent on the individual and the occasion. But there are certain things that will be helpful no matter where you are going.
Jenn notes that one such thing is a wet-dry bag:
Having a wet-dry bag has become an essential item for storing soiled and wet clothes. Many times we've had to check out of our hotel room and spent time in the pool before catching our flight. Or the time I spilled sauce on my blouse and washed by hand. Using a wet-dry bag in these situations has helped keep the wet clothes contained so the rest of the luggage doesn't get soaked. Also works great for sweaty workout clothes! I prefer the bags made from PVC, but there are also fabric bags that are lined with waterproof material.
Get yours here
Another useful packing item is a sorting cube. These things not only keep my luggage organized but they also help separate my clean laundry from dirty ones during my travels. They are very useful when it comes to keeping things in order and lessening the chaos travelling can create.
Get yours here
Lastly, always carry a body wallet. I keep needed change in my purse and the larger bills in a body wallet that goes under my shirt. I also sew a few hidden compartments inside my bags and purses so that I can put important objects inside a hidden space when on the road.
Grab one here
6. A great item to have handy is a personalized luggage tag. Luda says:
One of my favorite useful travel tips is to tuck your business card or a piece of paper with your contact information into your luggage, preferably where it’s easy to see (such as in the mesh pocket).
If your luggage ever gets lost and the tag is ripped off, airport workers can easily identify the owner and send it back to you as soon as possible! If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can take some washi tape and tape it to the back of your luggage. Don’t forget to write your name, email address, and phone number (preferably one that works without a SIM card, like WhatsApp or Telegram).
7. Lastly, before getting on with your trip, download all needed apps that will help make the journey smoother. Aside from translators apps and the like, Bailey notes that Maps.me is a great tool for navigating tourist hotspots.
Getting around a new place when you’re traveling can be difficult. Simple things like finding your hostel or a bus station can be challenging without a map. For me, I always like to know where I am going by having a map app on my phone.
Before leaving on your trip, be sure to have a map app downloaded on your phone. I personally love the app called “Maps.Me” for traveling as it shows the location of popular tourist destinations as well as handy places like banks and grocery stores. Google Maps is also a great alternative.
The best part with both Maps.Me and Google Maps is that you can download maps of specific areas ahead of time so that you can still use the map when you don’t have WiFi or mobile data. While overseas, it is likely you won’t always have internet access so having these maps downloaded and saved will come in really handy. I honestly don’t travel anywhere without having my maps downloaded ahead of time!”
During the Trip
Safety is the most important aspect of any trip. Having had many a not-so-fun incident, I am increasingly aware of the preparations needed for a safer trip. For starters, always have travel insurance so you don’t fall victim to the insane foreign medical fees. Trust me, I speak from personal experience.
8. Darja says the most useful travel tips are preventative methods against being scammed:.
Insecure and lost-looking tourists are a perfect pray for scammers and 'entrepreneurs' selling products with an additional 'tourist tax' (i.e. total rip-offs). Besides looking like you know where you're going and not falling for things which sound way too good to be true, there are a couple of precautions you can take to avoid frustrations.
- First of all, research common scams in the destination before your arrival. This way you won't be taken by surprise.
- Second, ask your host how much do things typically cost so that you can easily compare and negotiate.
- Third, sadly, don't trust overly friendly and helping people who approach you. Especially in bigger tourist hubs there are often police impersonators with fake badges and uniforms who will try to share some 'insider tips' with you. Remember, a police officer will rarely be the first to approach you.
- Last, read travel blogger stories from the same destination. This will give you a better idea of what to expect and how to get around. The more informed you are, the lower the chance of stepping into a tourist trap.
9. Jamie from Crashed Culture recommends everyone to stay connected with someone back home.
My best piece of travel advice is to always keep in touch with someone back home. From the most minor problems to the worst case scenario, being in regular, daily contact with someone who knows where you are and where you’re planning to go can make you feel that much safer, at the very least.
For example, are you a woman traveling alone and some strange man is making you feel unsafe and uncomfortable? Get a male friend on the phone to claim he’s your boyfriend and he’ll probably back off. Did you go wandering off the beaten path and are you starting to get worried that you might be too lost? Let a friend know that you’re worried and send them a GPS signal.
Even when we’re all alone, we’re never really alone, thanks to modern technology. I advise you use it to your advantage! Always keep yourself just a little bit connected; you never know when you’ll need that extra bit of help!
10. James from Travel Collecting gives a few pointers on the best ways of taking local transportation:
When you travel, taxis (and tuk tuks, pedicabs, cycle rickshaws, etc.) are an easy way to get around, but you need to follow some basic guidelines.
1. Never assume that a meter is running. Whenever I get in a cab, the first thing I do is check to see if there is a meter. Even some countries like Sweden don't always have meters.
2. If there is a meter, make sure it is running. If not, ask the taxi driver to put it on.
3. If s/he won't, or if there is no meter, it is time to start bargaining. NEVER wait until you have arrived. Don't leave until you have agreed on a price.
4. It helps to know what the price should be. You may pay a little more than the locals – but you need to decide in advance what you are willing to pay. If the driver tries to charge more than that, get out and try another one. If a city has Uber, you can check the Uber app to see what they would charge to give a rough idea. I also ask at the hotel what the fare between two places should be. Sometimes they don't like to say so they don't undercut a fellow worker, but they will often give you a general idea. Then you can work from that. It often helps to ask several people and triangulate the responses!
5. When bargaining, always clarify what is included. If you are two people in a small tuk tuk or rickshaw, state clearly that the price is for both of you. If you have luggage, state clearly that the price includes your luggage. The clearer you are, the less chance there is for the driver to turn around and claim that something is extra when it's time to pay.
6. Try to have different denominations of money so you can give the exact price. Taxi drivers almost never seem to have change (and if they ask for more on arrival, you can pay the agreed price and leave).
7. A final word of warning – in some countries, flagging a taxi on the street can be unsafe – always check online and with your hotel before doing so.
8. Finally, don't let any of this scare you. With these basic precautions, you will be taking taxis and tuk tuks like a pro in no time!
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