Traveling is one of the most enriching experiences that one can have. It broadens our perspective and exposes us to different cultures and ways of life. However, it can also be stressful and overwhelming if not planned properly. That’s why we’ve compiled these 10 golden Tips for Traveling to help you make the most out of your adventures. From packing efficiently to finding the best deals on flights, these Tips for Traveling will save you time, money, and hassle, so you can focus on enjoying your journey. So, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or embarking on your first trip, read on to discover how to travel smarter.
1) If you want a cheap flight, be knowledgeable and flexible.
Finding good flight prices can be a headache. In the past, there used to be certain days (such as Tuesdays) that had better fares. Those days are gone. Promotions run throughout the entire week, so there isn’t necessarily a single day that’s better than others. But never fear; there are three things you can do right now to set yourself up to find cheap flights:
- Sign up for Scott’s Cheap Flights email newsletter. This is customizable for international travel, so you can opt to only get emails for flights from your airport hub. There is a free version that sends a portion of the flight deals and a premium membership for all of the deals (and well worth the annual fee).
- Sign up for The Flight Deal email newsletter, which is another free resource. This is great for domestic travel. Although the newsletter is a bit more cumbersome to read through versus Scott’s Cheap Flights, it is worth signing up for because it covers many more destinations per email.
- Sign up to be on the email list for airlines. While it can be annoying to get spammed with frequent emails, you’ll also be the first to know when a promotion is going on.
The first step is knowing which places you’d like to visit and how many days or weeks you’d like to spend there. Keep that list somewhere handy because you’ll feel much more confident booking a flight as soon as a flight deal pops up. Hemming and hawing on a decision can be costly since prices can go up within several hours as they are generally based on demand.
The next step to capitalizing on cheap flights is to be flexible with your dates. Couple this with your list of destinations, and you’ll have so many options in front of you. Finally, if you are still on the fence, keep in mind that most airlines have a 24-hour cancellation policy. If they do, you can always book the flight and continue to research the feasibility of your trip within that time period. Cancel the flight if things don’t work out; no harm done.
2) Carry on instead of checking a bag
Losing luggage at the beginning of a trip has the potential to turn into the worst day ever. Packing more efficiently, bringing less, and carrying on belongings can save time at baggage claim and reduce stress about lost luggage. The key to packing smart and fashionably is to bring items that coordinate easily (neutral tones and solid colors with a few prints), do laundry during the trip and change up your outfit with different accessories such as scarves and hats.
Of course, there are some instances where you will be checking in a bag. If you have to do this, consider buying travel insurance. Certain travel-focused credit cards, such as the Chase Sapphire, even have lost luggage reimbursement programs, so check to see if you have similar perks.
3) Use Wikitravel, TripAdvisor, and blogs for trip planning
When starting at ground zero for trip planning, it’s always helpful to begin by reading the destination’s Wikitravel page to take a pulse on history, climate, transportation, things to eat, and notable features. From there, head over to TripAdvisor and look at the “things to do” list. Most of us only have a limited amount of time in a place, and it’s hard to decide between the hundreds of activities or landmarks to see. Look at the top 20 items on lists to get a sense of which sites are worth visiting. Of course, every traveler has specific interests, so don’t write anything off if it doesn’t rank well; this is just a basis for comparison.
Reading travel blogs can provide personal opinions from those who have visited the same areas. Travel blogs can give you a different perspective of a destination and might also come with hilarious stories that’ll prepare you for anything. There are travel blogs for every kind of niche out there – solo female, amputee, history, vegan, couples, food, fashion, and more. Guidebooks and generic websites simply can’t convey these kinds of perspectives
4) Create a single Google document for your ideas
Once a flight is booked, and travel plans are being made, creating a Google document and sharing it with companions can be important Tips for Traveling. This method involves writing out every date of the trip from departure to return, with bullet points underneath each day for arranging ideas and scheduling activities.
Each day includes the city or activity, accommodation information, and a brief overview of plans. General notes can be added to the bottom of the document, including sections for things like local cuisine, email correspondence, or other useful information. At the beginning of the document, important information such as currency rates, languages spoken, visa requirements, travel shots required, or safety precautions can be highlighted. Using one document can consolidate all travel notes and make it easier to manage when it’s time to go.
5) Print copies of your itinerary and passport
Many people rely heavily on their phones, but there may be times, places, or situations where they cannot use them. For instance, if a phone is dropped in the toilet on day 2 of a trip while in a remote village in Vietnam, it can be problematic. It is recommended to always have a printed copy of the full itinerary with contact information for accommodations and tours, as well as carrying a printed copy of the passport just in case anything should happen to the real one. It is important to keep the passport in the most secure location at all times, usually on the body, as losing it could easily transform the trip into the worst day.
6) When you arrive in a new place, take a walk around by yourself – Listen and observe
Entering a new location can be overwhelming at first, whether it’s for a new job, school, or country. One may feel like an alien on a distant planet without any idea of where to go, what to do, or how to communicate. Alternatively, one might also be eager to explore and have a list of places they intend to visit. Regardless, it can be helpful to take 15 to 20 minutes to walk around a new place.
This can aid in understanding the vibe in a non-intrusive way, familiarizing oneself with the neighborhood, and sparking curiosity about the people one has yet to meet. Subtle head nods and smiles can go a long way, even if you don’t speak the same language.
7) Download offline Google Maps
Traveling without constant access to wifi is common, but many people navigate using Google Maps to get around. It’s advisable to download an offline map so that one can keep track of their location without draining their data or hotspot battery life. Keep in mind certain features such as bike routes, transit details, and walking directions won’t work offline, but you will still be able to search addresses and businesses and get yourself over to them.
Instructions to download offline maps
- Download Google Maps on your phone
- Type in the city or area, such as “Quito, Ecuador”
- Click the 3-line menu bar in the top left corner, then select offline areas
- Under “download, an offline area,” click “custom area.”
- Zoom out of the area as far as it can go, and hit download
- Once the download is complete, you can rename the area you’ve downloaded, so it makes sense, such as “Quito, Ecuador.”
- Offline areas are kept for 30 days and then expire automatically
- If you need to keep the area longer than 30 days, click on it and hit “update.”
8) Traveling to another country isn’t necessarily the time for you to go “off the grid”
When it comes to wifi, having access to it whenever possible can greatly enhance your travel experience. In today’s world, it can be difficult to fully disconnect from work messages, even while on vacation. Although it may be tempting to disconnect completely, having internet connectivity can be beneficial for researching contextual information, translating languages, finding restaurants, communicating, and navigating while traveling abroad. It’s not uncommon to stop and explore a neighborhood, and in these situations, doing some quick research on a phone can help you better understand what you’re experiencing.
9) Order what they’re having
How will you discover your favorite local dish if you never get a chance to taste it? It may seem like common knowledge, but don’t forget to use your intuition when it comes to travel and food. If a restaurant is crowded with people and it smells good inside, you’ve likely hit a gastronomic jackpot. Don’t know how to read the menu? It’s all good (and perhaps even better that way). Just look around, spot something that piques your interest, and order what they’re having. The very worst thing that might happen is that you don’t enjoy the dish and will have to order another one. Not a lot to lose and much to gain by unearthing a tasty treasure.
10) Global Entry will save you precious time
If you are a person who travels frequently, it is advisable to consider getting Global Entry. This would allow for easy passage through processing lines, eliminate the need to fill out customs paperwork, and also give access to TSA PreCheck eligibility. Global Entry is available at major US airports, and its application fee is around $100. Once approved, the Global Entry status would be valid for 5 years.
Though the application process involves an online application and an in-person interview, it is worth the effort, as time is a valuable commodity. The TSA PreCheck program is also available for an application fee of $85 and is valid for 5 years upon approval. However, Global Entry covers TSA PreCheck, making it a better option for those willing to pay a little more.
Traveling can seem daunting at times because there are so many components involved– saving, research, strategy, wrangling people together, contacting companies, and so on. It’s a labor of love that we do because we’re curious about the world, and we’re compelled to see it with our own eyes. We hope these golden Tips for Traveling will help you more efficiently. Also, we suggest you take a look at the 52 Creative Ways to Save Money for Travel and Bucket list ideas from world-class travelers to get travel ideas.
Do you have any advice of your own on traveling smarter? We’d like to hear about it in the comments below!