8 Essential Travel Tips
We all get excited for trips abroad but sometimes get stuck on where to go, how to plan, and the hiccups we might experience once we get there. Roll with it. It’s all part of the process. We all look for tips on exploring cool destinations and how to streamline the process of getting there. Here are mine!
Backpacking: A Way of Life
I’ve found backpacking to be the easiest way to move with luggage because, this is an obvious one, it’s carried on your back. Having my hands free to navigate a new city is super important. The Kelty Redwing 50L is my favorite thus far; it looks small but can hold more than you’ll need for a month long vacation. Just don’t make sharp turns in crowds or lines because you’ll absolutely knock somebody over.. not that I’m speaking from experience, or anything.
Airport Do’s and Don’ts
Do keep all of your essentials with you and in your carry on. I’m talking all electronics and important documents. If there is anything you’d miss if it were lost, make sure you keep it in your carry on.
Don’t check luggage cause baggage claim takes too damn long! And theres always that chance your luggage could be lost. Pass on that!
To Hostel or Not To Hostel?
Short answer: definitely stay at a hostel. Europe especially has some really cool ones that are a ton more fun and way less pricy than staying in a proper hotel. For me, hostels are the easiest way to meet likeminded people and get the lowdown on hitting the city on a budget. Most hostels organize events in house and are able to book excursions for you through their affiliates or point you in the right direction. Hostelworld and Booking.com are great sites to compare hostels at your destination.
Pro Tip: Be sure to pack earplugs and a sleeping mask for your hostel stays. Staying in a dorm room means people coming in and waking up and different times, so the potential for noise and sudden bright florescent lights is always high.
Walk Your Face Off
Walking tours are so major on your first or second day in a new city. I’d suggest searching for the free walking tours rather than paid ones found online or at your hotel. Free walking tours are operated and curated by locals and always have a gem or two of interesting information you didn’t know you needed to know. The guides will give you good tips on getting around the city, what things should cost, where to eat, drink, and how to avoid the tourist traps. At the end of the tour you pay what you think the tour was worth/what you can afford.
Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions during and after the tours. I always ask the guides for recommendations on local cuisine and their favorite bars.
Why Did You Carry So Much Cash?
For some reason it is popular thought to bring a ton of cash in your home currency to your destination and exchange it for local currency at the airport or your hotel. I’m telling you right now thats the quickest and easiest way to get ripped the hell off. Best practice is to withdraw from an ATM or go into a bank to withdraw local currency.
Example: At one popular hotel in the Caribbean, the conversion rate for both the US Dollar and the Euro was $2.70EC when at the time the Euro should have been $2.98EC. It might not seem like much at first, but these things add up. Lets say you’re exchanging $100, thats damn near $30 you’ve thrown to the wind.
Pro Tip: When making purchases, make sure you ask whether you’re paying in the local currency and know the exchange rate. Countries that use the dollar sometimes have vendors who want to take advantage of tourists charging them 3x what a service should cost simply by not specifying local dollar or US dollar from the beginning.
Speak Like A Local
Lean key phrases in every country you visit. Being able to order dinner, call a taxi, ask for and understand directions is super important while traveling abroad. You’re less likely to be taken advantage of if you understand a bit of the local language.
Most importantly: Keep your wits about you. Not everyone you encounter is trying to hurt you, but beware of those who are trying to take advantage of you. A general rule is, if anyone approaches you and speaks perfect English, run.
Take All of the Photos!
Seriously. Take all of them! And not just of the sights, take photos of yourself, in front of the sights, with friends, of strangers (with their permission of course). Every human in the universe has the same photo of the Eiffel tower, but they don’t have the photo with you in it!
What are some of your travel must do’s and don’ts? Comment below!
Thanks for reading, xo.