Through years of practice and mistakes, I’ve realized I’ve finally gotten the hang of this ‘travel thing.’ I’ve certainly made mistakes over the past six years. I’ve been scammed, pickpocketed in Barcelona and Morocco, missed a flight, and even booked a flight for the completely wrong month. Who even does that? Through all these mistakes and more, I’ve learned the ropes of successful travel and making the most out of my experiences abroad. Here are my top 16 travel tips for better travel.
One of the best pieces of advice that you’re probably not going to follow straight away (I know I didn’t): Don’t bring too much. However, believe me when I say it’s going to make traveling A LOT easier. Overpacking weighs you down, makes it more difficult to move around during your travels, and it wastes time because you’ll be spending unnecessary hours meticulously packing your suitcase so that everything fits perfectly.
Other than that, you don’t want to overpack because you’re not going to wear everything you bring. I don’t even wear everything when I don’t overpack. Plus, you’ll need extra room for souvenirs and trinkets you may purchase along the way.
I spent two months in Costa Rica and all I brought was a small ‘personal item-sized’ backpack and a carry-on suitcase and I was so happy. I fit everything I needed including a laptop and camera and I never wished I had brought more things.
This travel tip might take time to put into place, but when you get the hang of it, it’s absolutely worth it.
I think it’s smart to have a general idea of what you want to achieve on your particular trip, but don’t have it planned down to the very last detail. Allow the element of surprise to take over because you never know what you might learn or who you might encounter along the way that could change your mind.
Wear quality shoes.
When I first visited Paris, I packed Forever 21 sandals. Big mistake. My feet were sore and blistered. Pack quality walking sandals and shoes; you certainly won’t regret it.
Write things down.
It’s nice to have written word to look back on. I cherish all my travel journals and re-reading them bring tears of joy and laughter to my eyes. Let it do the same for you.
Spend more time in less places.
You’re less likely to get burnt out and you’ll actually get to learn more about the places you’re visiting instead of simply checking it off your list. Instead of two weeks bouncing around Europe, spend those two weeks in just one or two locations, for example. Slow travel is the way to go.
Put yourself out of your comfort zone.
Do things you might not ever do back home. Make this an adventure! You might find a new passion along the way. Of course, stay true to who you are, but be open for spontaneity, too.
Wear sunscreen every day.
Have you ever had a dreadful sunburn while on vacation? It can completely ruin your trip. So, put sunscreen in your carry-on, wear it daily, and reapply it when necessary. It’s not only the healthy thing to do for your body, but what’s worse than that dreaded sun-burnt, peeling skin?Color Science sunscreen is an excellent reef-safe option.
Wake up early.
Catch the sunrise and watch the world wake up around you. This is also a great tip if you want to get amazing travel photos as less crowds typically results in better images.
Read up on pickpocketing tactics before you travel.
Pickpocketing is real and it can completely wreck your trip if it happens to you. Read up on avoiding pickpockets before taking your trip.
Before traveling, make a couple of copies of your passport, itinerary, hotel details, and more. This could save you if something happens to get stolen or if your phone dies, etc.
Pack a scarf.
Scarves are one of the handiest accessories. It can be used as a blanket, a pillow, or wrapped around you when visiting religious sites. You can even purchase scarfs with secret zippers to store essential valuables.Here’s a cozy multi-purpose option for chilly nights or long plane journeys.
Limit what you bring when going out.
When going out to explore, don’t bring all your debit cards, cash, ID, or passport. Leave your passport somewhere safe, bring your ID, some cash, and your debit card if you need it.
Flying dries out your skin due to the low humidity, so keeping moisturizer handy is essential for happy skin.
Learn at least the essentials in the local language.
“Hello,” “Please,” Thank you,” and “I’m sorry.” It goes a long way and it shows a great deal of respect. Plus, it’ll be fun for you and help you feel more localized in your travels. Try Duolingo for free language learning.
Let your bank know your traveling.
Many American banks require you let them know before you use your debit card abroad or else it could get locked, which could put a temporary halt on your adventure until you can get in touch with your bank.
Get off the main touristic streets.
Typically, the restaurants and experiences are going to be a bit overpriced and likely not feel as ‘authentic’ if you’re staying on the main touristic streets.
In most cases, you’ll want to venture off those streets for dinner and experiences after you’re done enjoying the sites.
Looking for more travel tips? Here are our top beach day essentials.
Christa Adams is a writer, photographer, and sustainable traveler based in Barcelona. She’s been traveling solo since 2014 has a passion for the outdoors, coffee culture, and exploring quaint European towns. Follow her adventures at www.thespiritedexplorer.com