Travel Tips that make life on the road a little bit easier, safer, less expensive and more fun. Whether your trip is one week traveling through the next State or 6 months traveling the world.
We sold everything 6 years ago, left the United States and set out to travel the world. We have been traveling the globe for 6 years now and have many helpful travel tips to keep you safe, help you save money, and to ensure you have the best trip.
You do not have to leave your life behind as we did, any trip you take can be an epic journey. But, we have traveled to over 93 countries since we left the U.S. Also, we have met more people than we can count and it has been an adventure of a lifetime.
Traveling the world introduces you to new experiences every day. Each experience inspires you to seek more adventure. As we moved from country to country, we collected memories as well as travel tips and we share them with you to make sure your journey is incredible too.
1. Have Patience:
Stop worrying about what you can't control because life is too short. We've missed buses and flights but there is nothing to fear because there will always be another one. Traveling always comes with unexpected surprises but we invite you to embrace them as we did and always remind yourself that things can be worse. Instant gratification is an American concept. One of our best travel tips is to be laid-back and enjoy life at a slower pace.
2. Get An Early Start:
To enjoy all the best attractions to yourself, get up early and get out before the crowds do. We found that sunrise is the best time for taking photos, too. With the soft, diffused lighting and a chance to see nature and people before tourists flood the area. Just be aware of your surroundings because not all places are safe in the early hours of the day.
3. Observe Daily Life:
We found much enjoyment sitting in parks for hours or outside a busy cafe. Watching the locals go about their day paying close attention to noises and smells is the best way to soak up the local culture. When you take the time to relax and really enjoy your surroundings, you will experience a feeling of deep peace and see so many things you would have otherwise missed. This works well with Travel Tips #1.
4. Laugh At Yourself:
Despite the many places we have been, we still make fools of ourselves on occasion. It is a hazard of traveling to new places. Don't be scared to make mistakes or pronounce things incorrectly. Instead of getting embarrassed, laugh at yourself. Once we had to force a bus driver to stop so we could go pee on the side of the road and the entire bus laughed. Neither of us was embarrassed though and instead, we made friends over the funny story. (a lot of the other riders got off the bus, too)
5. Slow Down:
To really enjoy a place, take your time. Do not cram multiple countries into a few weeks because you will miss the thing that matters most. We found that when we took our time, we experienced things not mentioned in guidebooks, and met people that were delighted to show us places that were not on the maps. The best trips we have had in any place lasted for days to weeks, when we had time to really explore.
We love to volunteer everywhere we go whenever there are projects available. Take the time to learn about the country and make new friends when traveling by taking part in volunteer projects. The website Grassroots Volunteering helped us find opportunities in places where we were headed which brought us much joy. Make sure you research the projects first because sadly, there are scams out there.
7. Take Pictures:
Even if you plan to travel as much as we do, you still need to take plenty of pictures wherever you go. You may only see certain places and people once in your lifetime and you don't want to miss the photo opportunities. Photos are the best souvenirs and they don't cost anything.
8. Don't Get Discouraged:
Issues come up when traveling and sometimes you have to change your plans. Perseverance is important so do not give up if you have trouble getting somewhere. There have been several places we wanted to see and were told it was impossible. Yet, we have photos from these very same places today. So don't listen to those who say something cannot be done.
9. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone:
We were not big hikers when we set out to travel 6 years ago but now I have lost count of the number of trails we have hiked. Part of travel tips #9 is to embrace challenges and do things you have never tried or are scared of. Since everything is already a new experience when you are traveling, what is one more new experience? You never know what you could be missing out on.
10. Keep An Open Mind:
Never judge others that have customs different from yours. Instead, listen and learn because there is no wrong or right way. Embrace different possibilities and opinions and ask questions rather than pass judgment. We have learned so much that textbooks and guides do not tell you, all from interacting with locals and learning their customs and traditions.
11. Deliberately Get Lost:
Go explore without any real direction. Make sure you know the hotel address so you can return safely, but then set out on foot and explore. Walking through a town or city is the best way to see real people and real life. Locals are the best guides you can ever ask for.
12. Be Flexible:
This is literally our Travel Tips Mantra! Having a plan is important but we learned right away that you have to be flexible. Things can change at any moment so you never know when you may need to change the plan. We have fallen in love with several places where we only planned on staying a week or two but ended up living there for months. Always plan a few must-do activities, but then let the universe determine everything else.
13. Learn A Few Words:
Many travelers will tell you that you need to learn a language to get around but we found that this is not the case. We got through countless countries just by learning a few keywords and phrases. It is an easy problem to fix if you are not able to communicate. Don't get frustrated just teach yourself a few words. We also found hand gestures and images on our phones worked great too.
14. Take Extra Cards:
Fraud is common among travelers, so always be prepared financially. Take extra credit cards and ATM cards in case one of yours gets lost or stolen. Backup cards kept in a separate wallet are necessary for traveling so that you always have a way to access your money.
15. Write The Address Down:
We learned the hard way to always have your hotel address written down. Taking photos and using the phones for guides all day has left them dead and by the time we need to show the taxi driver our address, we had no way to tell him where to go. Even the best phones will run out of battery, so be sure all hotel information is on paper somewhere, too. NOTE: It really helps if you can get the address in their language besides having it in English.
16. Read First:
While the locals will give you the best insight into a plan, we found it helpful to read about the country or city we were visiting first. Understanding the history and culture before you arrive can make the visit more fulfilling because you already have a foundation to build on.
Budgeting is always one of our top priorities, but sometimes you have to splurge. There are many places where you can travel on a budget and not miss a thing. Every now and then it is nice to go beyond the budget and really live. Stay in a fancy hotel, eat at expensive restaurants, and spend a lavish night on the town. We do this every now and then and it only adds to the overall joy a trip can bring.
18. Ear Plugs and Eye Masks:
Earplugs and eye masks can be your best travel companion, and not just on airplanes. These are great in hotels and on public transportation. Drown out barking, yelling, and crying and cover your eyes to get sleep and prevent jet-lag as you travel around.
19. Bring A Scarf:
Having a scarf or sarong on hand is useful in numerous situations We use these regularly for sun protection, as an eye mask, to help carry things, and to cover up in countries that are more conservative.
20. Bring Water:
Plastic water bottles are not good for the environment but you also cannot trust water sources everywhere you go. We take a travel water bottle with us and re-use it hundreds of times so we are not wasteful and we never have to pay for expensive water again.
21. Keep Backpacks Light:
Take our advice and pack your backpack lightly. Beginner travelers always overpack and end up exhausted from lugging a heavy bag around with stuff they never use. Our rule is that if you have to think about whether to bring an item or not, you probably don't need it. Besides, most items that you do not bring can be picked up along the way.
22. Spare Passport Photos:
Not many people think about this, but we found out that it is important. Getting a visa for certain countries can be tough and those places do not usually have places that shoot passport photos. Before you travel, get a bunch of passport-sized photos and bring them along. It has saved us time and money on more than one occasion.
23. Extra Camera Battery:
Although many people take pictures with their phones these days, if you're like us and want larger digital pictures, you bring a camera too. Be sure to bring a spare battery because there is nothing worse than going to capture the perfect sunset or wildlife encounter and the battery dies.
24. Cheap Flights:
One of the most expensive parts of traveling is the flights. The more we traveled, the better we got at finding cheaper flights. Booking in advance by a few months saves a ton of money. As well as looking for alternative airports to destinations you plan on heading to.
25. Free Walking Tours:
Taking a free walking tour is a cheap and great way to see the local area. We found that doing these tours when you first arrive helps to get oriented to the area. This allows you to scope out areas that you want to return to. Walking tours save you money, can help you make a few friends, and are the perfect introduction to any new town or city.
26. Eat Locally:
Ask people for recommendations on food and then try everything. Our favorite way to experience the local food and culture at the same time is by visiting street vendors. You save money, avoid crowded restaurants, and experience some of the best food each place has to offer. Having a McDonalds is okay now and then, but why fly across the world just to eat what you have at home?
27. Stay Clear Of Expensive Hotels:
Hotels and resorts are the next most expensive part of traveling after flights. The good news is that you don't have to stay in these places. We always look ahead for cheaper lodging, as in hostels and local guesthouses to save money. Hostels are a favorite of ours because we get to meet so many fellow travelers.
28. Don't Be Scared:
The news loves to report the bad things happening in other countries but this should not scare you away from traveling. The world is not as dangerous as the media likes to make us think. From our experiences, we have found most countries to be inviting and friendly. As with any city, even those in the U.S., there are sketchy areas, but locals will typically tell you where these are so you can safely avoid them.
29. Get Insurance:
Never leave home without travel insurance. You may not want to get sick or injured, but you should always be prepared for it. We have had feet sliced open on volcanic rocks, car accidents, and stolen property, so it always pays to be prepared by having insurance before you travel. We use World Nomads Insurance.
30. Stash Cash:
We always stow extra cash away for emergencies. We have lost wallets and had cards chewed up in ATM machines, so having the cash is necessary. We recommend hiding the cash in your room or luggage in places like socks, under shoe inserts, or in toiletry bags.
31. Back-Up Photos:
Of all the travel tips, this is one you need to follow or you could lose all your memories. We had a laptop stolen one year which taught us to always have files and photos backed up. Since then we have come across numerous travelers that carry flash drives to protect photos and copies of important documents like your license, birth certificate, and passport.
32. Take Care Of Yourself:
Traveling is the easiest way to break your at-home routine. Our regular gym visits were next to impossible to keep up when we were out of town. Then you throw in all the good food we eat as we travel, and it can take a toll on your body and health. Take care of yourself by staying hydrated, using sunscreen, eating healthy, and exercising when you can. If you're like us, you'll take in all the hiking you can to explore places, thus getting exercise the fun way.
33. Travel Alone:
As much as we love traveling together, every now and then it is good to travel alone. You really learn about yourself when you are alone as you meet new people and try to get through unfamiliar situations. The best part about traveling alone is that nobody can hold you back from what you really want to do.
34. Take The Unfamiliar Paths:
Some of our most memorable trips involved traveling through uncharted areas and places not listed on tour guides. The popular tourist sites are great but take time to explore other areas and you will enjoy many life-changing experiences as we have.
35. Stay In Touch:
Since we have traveled for most of 6 years we know better than most how important it is to stay in touch. Call and reach out to family and friends back home on occasion to assure them you are ok and to share your travels with them. There are also social media outlets they can follow you on.
36. Make Friends:
We enjoy meeting locals and tend to avoid crowds of tourists and travelers when we go to new places. Smiling and making eye contact is the best travel tip we can offer. Making new friends with locals opens up opportunities to see places that are often hidden and what you learn is more enriching than visiting standard sights.
37. Podcasts For Long Trips:
Listening to podcasts is the best way to spend travel time. Long flights and bus rides can be tedious but the hours fly by when you are listening to stories or interviews with interesting people.
38. Say ‘Yes':
Whatever situation arises, say yes. We have had the best experiences by saying ‘yes' to invites, ‘yes' to new activities, and ‘yes' to new places. You never know what you could be missing when you say ‘no'.
So many people make excuses not to travel. ‘It is too expensive.' ‘I have to work.' ‘I have too much to do.'
The trouble is that so many people wait to travel and by then it is too late. We learned that you need to get out there and experience life because it really is too short.
You don't need to sell everything you own and become vagabonds the way we did, but you should get out and explore. Start with a weekend away to a nearby state and then expand your destination list from there.
The world is a big and beautiful place, just waiting for you. So get on the road, sooner rather than later and use our travel tips.