After over ten years of traveling the world, I’ve definitely learned my fair share of lessons. Like the time I was robbed on a train because I let my guard down or the time Scott and I showed up at the Bozeman Airport only to find that we no longer had a car rental.
Some of these travel mishaps can be avoided and some of them are just a part of traveling. You simply cannot plan for everything. However, keeping a few important things in mind will make your travels much easier.
I’ve gathered the best travel tips and tricks to help you save money, avoid mistakes, and travel like a pro!
Don’t Forget an Extra Camera Battery (or Two)
Have you ever gotten to that epic sunset photo spot and realized your camera battery is dead and you don’t have a back up? I try to bring at least three camera batteries on all of our trips so that we don’t miss out on that perfect shot.
We always plan for delays and try not to get upset when things inevitably go wrong. Patience is extremely important when traveling!
Make a List
About a week or so before each trip, I make a mental list of items I don’t want to forget — which I WILL forget if I don’t write them down. I’ve learned that when I think of something, I need to write it down.
Learn Common Phrases of the Local Language
A simple “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry” in the local language goes a long way. I also like to learn the word for beer, but that’s just me.
Always Bring a Sarong
Sarongs can be used as a wrap when you are cold, a towel, a curtain, or a piece of clothing that can be worn dozens of different ways. Solid colors are great, but if you want something that stands out, I love a sarong.
Always Buy Travel Insurance
A medical emergency can wipe out your savings — or even worse. We use and trust World Nomads for travel insurance.
Pack Extra Underwear
Undies are small and it’s always a good idea to have a few extra pairs in case of emergencies. Another option is to pack these quick-dry underwear so you can easily wash them on the road.
Pre-plan Your Outfits
I’m a lazy, last-minute packer, so I’ve spent too many trips with all black or all grey outfits because I didn’t plan my outfits before packing. I look back at photos and wish I had put more effort into packing.
Put Electronics, Medications, Toothbrush, and an Extra Pair of Underwear in Your Carry-on
A few important items should always go in your carry-on. A swimsuit is also a good idea if you are going on a beach vacation. You can buy most of these things if your bag gets lost, but having them in your carry-on will save you money and time if your luggage gets lost in transit.
Enquire about the price BEFORE You Take Public Transportation
It’s a good idea to ask about the price before you hop on a bus, guagua, or other form of public transportation. We learned our lesson in the Dominican Republic.
Bring Lotion in Your Carry-on
I fill both sides of a contact lens case with hydrating lotion (I use this all-natural hydrating lotion) because they rarely have it in the lavatories and airplane cabins are exceptionally dry.
Make Photocopies of Important Documents
In my early twenties, I was very good about keeping a copy of my passport in a separate bag from my actual passport. Then I got lazy.
Recently, a friend of mine lost her passport at the airport. She was told that if she had brought a copy of it and extra passport photos they would have let her travel. Since she didn’t, she was forced to forfeit a $2,000 flight and a week in Europe. I now carry a copy with me.
Stay Hydrated on Planes
I know it’s fun to get drunk at 30,000 feet, but it’s also much easier to get dehydrated. Staying hydrated — especially on long-haul flights — makes it easier to get over jet lag too.
Put Your Room Number & Hotel Address in Your Phone
Am I the only one who can’t remember my hotel room number?? There has to be others out there like me.
Ask The Locals
We always ask the locals to point us to the best restaurants, awesome spots to watch the sunset, the best coffee shops, etc. I do like to tell people what type of food I’m craving though. I’ve been led to some interesting restaurants that wouldn’t have been my first choice.
Alert Your Bank and Credit Card Company of Your Travel Plans
This is a great habit to get into if you don’t want your credit card company or bank to put a hold on your card while you are overseas.
My face moisturizer has SPF. This is just something I do every day, but it’s especially important while traveling.
Book Early for Cheap Flights
Flights are always the first thing I book when planning a trip — sometimes I do this nearly a year in advance! For the most part, the earlier you book, the better price you will get. Airfare rarely goes down in price unless there is a sale (or an airline pricing error).
Momondo is the first place I check when searching for cheap flights. It searches hundreds of sites for the best fare and includes both standard and budget airlines. The calendar (or “map”) feature shows the cheapest days to fly in your preferred month of travel!
Beware of Free Public WIFI
I always try to avoid logging into bank accounts or entering any passwords while I’m using free public WIFI at a place like an airport. I’m not as strict about it once I’ve gotten to my hotel, especially if they have a password for their wifi.
Keep an Open Mind
Don’t judge other customs. You are a visitor. Be respectful.
Leave Room for Spontaneity
Don’t plan your entire itinerary ahead of time. It’s tempting, I know, but those unplanned moments while traveling can be the best memories.
Let Someone at Home Know Your Plans
This is extremely important when traveling solo, but it’s still a good idea no matter how many people are in your travel group.
Separate Your Sources of Money
Don’t keep all of your cash and cards in one spot. I usually hide some cash and a back up credit/bank card in a separate bag — not the same bag as my wallet.
Travel First Aid Kit
We pack up a small first aid kit with aspirin, Benedryl, cold meds, Tums, cough drops, bandages, Activated Charcoal pills (these are a life saver for traveler’s diarrhea and minor allergic reactions), Neosporin, and other things that we may not always have easy access to when traveling.
Separate Your Personal Items
When Scott and I travel together, we mix our personal items into each checked bag (assuming we have more than one). That way if one of our bags gets lost, we both still have some clothing and personal items.