After many years of traveling and planning vacations for clients, here are my top travel tips to help you avoid the common mistakes and help you travel like a pro. Traveling the world and seeing new places can offer incredible lifetime experiences and following these tips can help make your travel much more enjoyable.
The number one travel tip that you will hear from me…. Get your travel insurance. How many horror stories have you heard about thousands of dollars being spent on medical bills? The option is there for a reason and the second you reject that option, things could turn sour. Don’t think that it won’t happen to you because you will find many travelers with big debts who felt the same way. When designing your travel, I provide options to protect your vacation. This will always be the most important of my top 10 travel tips.
It is not difficult to learn the basics of a language. And the locals appreciate the effort to communicate with them in their language. It is fun and respectful. Key words such as hello, please, thank you, sorry, goodbye will gain you a lot of respect from the locals. In Europe, many locals will speak English, but please attempt their language and do not speak louder to force understanding. iTranslate is a great app to download before you travel abroad. READ OUR BLOG ABOUT OUR FAVORITE TRAVEL APPS HERE
Share Taylored Tours’ app of your vacation itinerary (included when you plan your travel with us) with your family and friends to let them know where you are and how you are traveling. It is always a good idea to let your loved ones know where you are going to be located. It’s also a good idea to check in with family and friends through Skype and other systems periodically during your travels.
What better time and place to experiment with foods than when you are traveling. The local cuisine is always the best option when eating out and is a big part of the whole experience. There are a lot of local cuisines that you may not be able to try back home so make sure you make the most of your experience and opportunities. To find the best areas and knowledge of local cuisine, make sure you do some research prior to traveling. Ask Taylored Tours about your destinations that may have dedicated food tours.
Download maps and travel apps (Again, refer to our Travel Apps blog HERE). This was a huge help when I was traveling in Ireland. Being able to know the transport times and having an understanding of the correct train and bus lines are a necessity. Having these apps will limit the likelihood of getting lost. If you have limited wifi or data, then invest in local maps and travel timetables. These are a lifesaver and will keep your anxieties down.
6. Break out of your comfort zone. Everyone loves to live in their comfort zone. It is safe and constant, however, sometimes your comfort zone will not allow you to grow and spread your wings. Leaving my comfort zone allowed me to start traveling overseas on my own to find the best destinations, tours, activities and restaurants for my clients. It is something I would have never imagined doing years ago, but I understood it was the only way I could grow, learn, and live one of my dreams to become the best in my field. It helped me overcome my anxiety of dealing with the things I was most nervous about (that actually never really happened). Remember…you are always a phone call or FaceTime away from your loved ones. And it introduced me to new experiences and people that I would have never imagined if I did not leave my comfort zone. You don’t get many opportunities in life to travel. So take the opportunity and remember how lucky you are.
7. Make copies of your passport and important document. How many people have gone traveling and have either lost their passport and documents or had them stolen? It is far too common and the safest way around this issue is to make copies of everything and store it in a safe location. If you do happen to lose your passport, you will be required to go to the local embassy and get a replacement, and they will ask of proof of identity. Just like travel insurance, you always think it won’t happen to you…until it does. Therefore, be prepared and don’t let anything that can be avoided, ruin this magnificent experience.
8. Carry a basic first aid kit. This is one of the most important tips when traveling. If you pick up the odd bump and cut along the way, you will not want to be caught short. It does not have to be anything special. Just the basics, so you are able to patch up and keep moving. Remember you will want to be traveling light. Also remember that you will have travel insurance, so anything big will be covered by your insurance. Remember the number one rule is to be prepared for any outcome that will not ruin your overall experience due to lack of planning.
9. Take a good camera or upgrade your smartphone. I had to add some photography into the mix. In years to come, you will want to look back at your travel memories. These photographs might be some of the most important memories in your life so make sure you invest in a good camera or phone, and learn how to use it before traveling. Take photographs with the locals if they consent. It is always nice to remember the local that helped you or spent time talking to you on the long train journey.
10. Wake up early to avoid crowds. You may think that sleeping in and not having the stress of having to wake up is living the dream. However, when you are traveling, sometimes that is the opposite. Sure, rest some of the time, but make the most of the time you have. The greatest secret of all is being able to visit the greatest places on earth at the least populated times of the day. Many popular destinations will get crazy busy, especially during peak season. Also, heading out early may mean you are first in line for the popular attractions which get huge queues throughout the day. Remember to plan ahead and be early.
11. Be aware of when your passport will expire. Many countries require a validity of 6 months from your travel date and some countries require you to have blank pages. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports.html
12. Take Cover. Some countries now require proof of health insurance coverage before being granted entry.
13. Plan to have rest days in your itinerary so you can unwind and recharge. You do not want to burn yourself out on vacation.
14. Pack healthy snacks for your flights and stay hydrated.
15. On arrival after a long haul flight go for a jog, a brisk walk or swim, to get your blood circulating and help with adjusting to local time.
16. Stay fit on your travels. Use a hotel's fitness center where available.
17. Take a business card of your hotel and take a picture of it in case you get lost and need to catch a taxi/Uber back.
18. Discuss your trip with your doctor. Note too that some vaccinations might not work in some destinations. (e.g. high altitudes)
19. Carry all prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines in their original containers.
20. Carry a copy of prescriptions in case your important medication is lost.
21. Always carry Imodium in your carry-on gear (it is usually sold at airports).
22. Visit your dentist before you leave.
23. If you wear glasses, take a spare pair.
24. If you have a hearing aid, take extra batteries as they will possibly be hard to find.
25. Ask a local. Your hotel concierge can be good, but the friendly waitress at the local coffee shop or juice bar could be better.
26. Alert your credit card providers as to when, where and how long you will be traveling. Ask if you will need to use a pin # when using your credit card abroad.
27. If traveling with a companion, swap extra credit cards. If you lose your wallet your companion will have your backup card. It is also a good idea to divvy up your travel cash and credit cards into multiple safe spots.
28. Before you leave, go through your wallet and take out everything except the necessities for your trip.
29. Have a record of your passport details that can easily be accessed in the case of loss. Make copies!
30. Understand your insurance coverage for:
• loss of items
• cancellation of booked travel arrangements
• illness or accident while traveling
31. Make sure you know who to contact and how to make insurance claims to avoid any extra stress.
32. Suitcases with four wheels will definitely be appreciated.
33. Turn your data roaming off on your cell.
34. When traveling outside of North America you will probably need an electricity converter, and often a voltage adaptor. A double head converter is useful for multi-chargers.
35. A plastic poncho could be very useful, and super glue and a Swiss Army style knife (in your checked luggage)
36. Download your airline’s app and other helpful travel apps. Here’s a list of our favorites: https://tayloredtours.wordpress.com/2021/12/22/theres-a-travel-app-for-that/
37. Always check your bags every time they are loaded in vehicles, airports, hotels, etc. Mistakes and mischief can happen.
38. As soon as you have settled into your hotel room, check out where the nearest exits are in case of fire and mentally plan your escape.
39. Store your passport in your hotel room safe AND keep one of the shoes you plan to wear on your journey home in the safe. You're not likely to get very far — let alone all the way to the airport — in one shoe, are you now? This way you won’t forget your passport.
40. Make sure you leave room in your luggage for souvenirs and new clothes.
41. When arriving at a hotel early in the morning and your room might not be ready, it helps if the hotel has a pool, spa or business floor where you can relax. Remember to pack your swimsuit in your carry-on.
42. Plastic and zip lock bags are very useful. (i.e. dirty clothes)
43. Bring some small packets of laundry detergent. Socks and underwear washed in the hotel bathroom dry quicker when rolled into a towel like a sausage.
44. Compression stockings are supposed to combat deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) on long-distance flights. Medical experts recommend a walk and a stretch as often as possible, drink lots of water and avoid alcohol. Some doctors also recommend aspirin.
45. Before each flight make sure you remove from your luggage old tags and barcode stickers and check you have contact details on both, the outside and inside of your luggage.
46. Smart suitcase packers bring clothes in neutral colors that can mix and match and only pack shoes that can be worn with multiple outfits.
47. You may only carry liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) in your hand luggage in containers that have a maximum capacity of 100ml each, all packed in a re-sealable transparent plastic bag, the capacity of the bag must not exceed one litre.
48. To avoid baggage fees, be aware of restrictions on the weight, size and number of bags you may take.
49. Take along a change of clothes in your carry on in the event your luggage gets delayed or lost.
50. Always pack a smart outfit. You never know when you will need it.
51. Use several “bright” labels for your checked luggage so you can quickly identify them at the carousel.
52. Visiting local pubs and farmers markets give you an insider's view of the people and region you are visiting. Food is a big part of the travel experience so it is a must to try local delicacies.
53. Rolling your clothes keeps them free of wrinkles and helps to organize your bag. You can find your clothes much easier than the traditional folding and stacking method. Packing cubes are also highly recommended.
54. Pack your patience. When traveling, don't stress too much as everything will probably work out in the end. Sticky situations can often work out to be a highlight of your trip.
55. If you are concerned about your hotel room security, hang the “do not disturb” sign on the door when you leave.
56. To avoid scams, be alert for distractions such as thieves who pose as willing and helpful locals. Example: dropping a shopping bag, being asked to complete a survey, even bird poo on the back of your jacket!
57. If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This day and age, it’s a must.
58. On cruises, arrange optional shore excursions before boarding the ship. Doing so will help you avoid long lines and allow you to disembark earlier than those scheduling excursions at the last minute.
59. Consider using a purse with a top zipper to keep your cash away from pick- pocketers. Do not to put any valuables (wallet, phone, etc.) in an unzipped pocket while traveling.
60. You should carry sanitizing wipes. They are very useful for T.V. remotes and phones which are the biggest carriers of bacteria in a hotel guestroom.
61. Make sure you pack comfortable walking shoes.
62. A small bottle of hand sanitizer can be very useful in some countries where it is sometimes hard to find a bathroom with soap and water.
63. Work out a simple currency conversion formula before you go or ASAP upon arrival (e.g. $1 equals xx in new currency).
64. Use your own calculator or a trusted currency converter app when working out exchange rates.
65. It is good to know the tipping culture of countries you are visiting. Always carry small change to cover tips.
66. Make sure your carry-on luggage is suitably tagged with correct contact addresses.
67. Pack a small foldable backpack for sightseeing.
68. To speed up the security process at airports and avoid losing things, put as much loose gear (e.g. camera) in your carry on. It is possible to get distracted and forget loose items.
69. In some countries you can be detained for photographing such things as police and government buildings. When in doubt ask for permission.
70. If you wear contact lenses, bring glasses for the airplane. The recycled air could dry out your eyes and make you uncomfortable.
71. Buying foreign currency at the airport can be expensive. Travelex offers online purchase of most currencies with pickup and delivery (for a fee) options. At destination most countries allow you to withdraw local currency from ATM's using your bank card.
72. In some countries US dollars are an official or unofficial secondary currency so it is wise to keep a few greenbacks at the ready (small denomination and good condition).
73. Store important travel documents, including itineraries, airline tickets, passport copies and insurance details, in an online cloud storage system such as Dropbox or Google Drive, so you can access them on all your devices or even from a computer at a hotel. An alternative of course is to photocopy them.
74. Take a travel journal. It is a great way to track your trip and a handy place to keep phone numbers and email addresses of people you meet along the way (great too for reading years later).
75. Keep your phone charged. Our phones are used for so much these days that it’s important to keep them charged. Consider investing in a portable charger power bank.
76. Don't fly straight to altitude and begin strenuous activities on day one. Plan a few days of easy activities to help acclimatize.
77. If you are concerned about losing your luggage, consider purchasing AirTags to place inside your luggage to track the location.
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