Wanderlust is a natural human feeling. Being able to explore, adventure around the world, and see new places is usually on everyone’s bucket list. So if you get the opportunity to take a trip, you should. Even if it’s just a short distance to the next state over, being able to leave your routine and comfort zone and take a little vacation can be quite enjoyable. However, as anyone who does it frequently can tell you, traveling isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It can be incredibly stressful and even infuriating at times. Between forgetting some of the essentials while packing to delayed flights and tourist traps, there’s a lot that can go wrong before the trip even begins.
Fortunately, you can reduce the chances of your trip and travel being a total nightmare. Simply consider following these useful yet uncommonly shared travel tips recently shared.
32. Regal Rental
If you need to rent a car, rent from a place that is within a short cab drive distance to the airport as opposed to the car rental locations at the airport itself. The difference saved me $500 on a recent trip to Florida.
31. Befriend The Concierge
The concierge at your hotel is your best friend. If you’re looking for something interesting to do off the beaten path, ask them. Need directions? Ask them. Best food in town? Yup, they know.
While staying in Madrid one year, my mom and I decided that we wanted to see a flamenco show. We asked the concierge for his recommendation. Instead of just telling us where to go, he called up the venue for their showtimes, booked our tickets, gave us written directions for how to get there on public transportation, and told us the best place to sit when we got there. It was a fantastic night out, and he earned himself a nice tip when we left.
30. Wandering With WiFi
When you’re in wifi, you can put your trip on Google Maps. Then turn off your wifi, and Google Maps still tracks your location so can keep your map on and get a visual on where you need to go. It’s nice for Europe where you have to walk everywhere.
29. Sanitizer And Sayings
If you’re traveling to Japan, buy some hand sanitizer and a handkerchief when you arrive. There were a ton of bathrooms that didn’t have paper towels/hand dryers and some that didn’t even have soap, so having a way to dry and/or clean your hands is a life saver.
Also, the two most useful phrases you could ever learn in Japanese: “Sumimasen” is basically “excuse me” and it is a polite way to get someone’s attention, get a waitress to come over to your table, get through crowds, etc… even if that’s all you know and start speaking in English after. The other phrase is “Eigo no menyu wa arimasu ka?” (Do you have an English menu?) Every single place I went to had either an English menu or a picture menu and you can just point at what you want and say “Kore” (this).
Got us through so much of Japan!
28. Safe Travel Money
Get a checking account through Schwab bank before you go (give it a month to be safe because it can take some time). You have to make a combo brokerage account but don’t worry as it doesn’t need to be funded and you don’t need to use it. The account is 100% online so you never have to visit a branch. There’s a credit check but no big deal. Once you make a transfer into the account, Schwab mails you a debit card.
Now you can safely keep your travel money here without worrying about your normal account somehow getting breached if the card gets cloned or whatnot. You can also use just about every single ATM worldwide without paying ATM fees. Foreign ATM fees and transaction fees all get refunded a few weeks later.
If anything happens to the card, I hear Schwab is great about helping you out and will even overnight a replacement to your hotel.
27. Shopping Ahead Of Time
I like to put in an order at the department store for pick up when we go to Orlando. I order diapers, snacks for the kids, sunscreen, etc. I pick the order up when we get there. We save money because we have snacks and breakfast at our hotel. Plus, then we don’t need to pack diapers and other baby items.
26. Pre-Flight Relaxation
If you’ve got a long flight ahead of you, consider checking yourself into the airport lounge. For about £30, you can get three hours of free food and drink, unlimited free WiFi, charging stations for your electronics, comfortable seating, a great view of the planes taking off (usually), lots of boards around so you can see your flight times, etc.
Forget upgrading to business class. You can have a pleasant airport experience for a fraction of the cost, and that’ll make the eight hours you’re about to spend on a plane that much less stressful.
25. Apartment Rental Accommodations
Airbnb or other apartment rental-type accommodations are usually a better deal than hotels. You can get an entire apartment for the price of a room, which, in turn, can save you money on eating out, coffee, etc.
24. No Polyester On Planes
Don’t wear polyester on a plane. Polyester traps oil which is what makes you stink. Merino wool everything on flights.
23. Be Careful About Bed Bugs
Don’t open up your luggage on the floor or bed until you’ve inspected your room for bed bugs. When you return home, immediately wash all of your clothing. If you’re really paranoid about bed bugs, as I am, you can put wool items in the freezer to quarantine them in case any bed bugs have hitched a ride.
22. Stuff Your Shoes
When packing shoes, stuff them with smaller clothes like socks or underwear to conserve space
21. Listing Your Luggage Items
Everyone struggles with packing before and after a trip. They lose stuff, they get nervous because they don’t want to forget anything, and they take a long time because they don’t know what to take with them.
I do something very simple. That helps me with two things:
I write down everything I have on my suitcase as I’m packing.
When the time comes to come back from the trip, I cross out everything I put back on the suitcase as I’m packing. Once I crossed out everything I know that at least, out of everything I brought from home, I’m not forgetting anything.
Then when I’m going on a trip again, I look for that same piece of paper. There are common things that you always carry on every trip, so if I keep my list, I only have to add items specific to the new trip.
20. Passport Picture (In Case Of Emergency)
International travel: take a good picture of your passport and email it to yourself. It helps if you lose it when you go to get a replacement. I’ve made a habit to carry my passport for domestic flights. A guy at a conference had his wallet taken in a street robbery. He was scrambling to get his wife to overnight his passport so he had a government ID to fly back home with.
19. Easy Way To Make Friends
Bring a deck of cards. The cost/value/weight ratio can’t be beat. There are limitless game opportunities, but more importantly, it’s a great way to meet/interact with folks on long train rides. A bonus is that many games are known internationally and common language sometimes isn’t important. Also, earplugs and a sleeping mask are necessary for when the games are over.
18. Careful With Customer Service
If you have trouble with your flight, such as a cancelation: Go online, find the customer service number, and call for help. You’ll be put on hold, but just wait. Presumably, you’ll have nothing but time standing in line at the gate desk anyway.
When someone picks up, you’ll be able to tell almost immediately if this person wants to help you or not. If they do, great. If they don’t, tell them the gate attendant wants you and hang up. Call back. You’ll get someone else. Keep repeating that until you get someone who actually cares about serving customers.
This seriously saved my vacation once. It made the difference between getting there 12 hours late and canceling the whole thing.
17. Powerstrip Hero
Take a power strip with you in your carry-on. Bust that bad boy out in the gate area where everyone is trying to charge their phone and you will be a hero.
16. Avoiding ATM Fees
Forget about foreign exchange places. Go to an ATM and withdraw the money that you will need in that country.
The ATM fee is going to be less than the exchange fees wherever you go, and they’ll always be real bills. If you have a bank that refunds the fees, then even better!
15. Trickery In Your Plane Seat Selection
If you can choose your plane seats and are traveling with a companion, choose seats “A” and “C” or “D” and “F” depending on the plane layout so you and your companion are in the window/aisle seats leaving the middle seat between you. Most people will not choose the middle seat so if the flight isn’t fully booked, odds may be that no one sits there and you have a row to yourselves.
If someone does sit there offer to switch to sit near your companion. Because most people hate the middle seat, they will oblige. If you get the one weird person who says no just passive-aggressively converse over them the entire flight.
14. Get A New Wardrobe
Except for socks, underwear, and shoes, all my clothes come from thrift stores back in my country. I can pack enough for my trip, then just discard them or re-donate them while I travel. I don’t have to worry about doing laundry on my vacation, I save room in my luggage for souvenirs on the way back, and I get to do a bit of clothes shopping when I come back home.
13. Avoid Suspicious Activity
Inform your bank you are traveling so if you use your credit/debit cards they won’t get flagged for suspicious activity.
12. Dodging The Taxi Drivers
Did this in both Bali and Thailand: When you land at the airport you will be rushed by tons of “taxi” drivers. Everyone just comes at you… so I would wear sunglasses no matter what time of day, earphones in my ear connected to my phone, and pretend like I’m on the phone talking to someone. Walk out of the airport, breathe, and then find the reputable taxi drivers. I travel alone a lot and this was huge for me. Just act like you know what you’re doing and where you’re going.
Also, when in Asia most towns now have ATM’s everywhere, BUT your pin better be five digits or less because a lot of the ATMs are old and they can’t accept more than five characters. I was in trouble one time when this happened to me. If you have a pin longer than five characters, change it in the USA before you leave.
11. Skip The Foreign Dryers
If you are going on a longer trip in a different country, bring a portable clothesline that doesn’t need hangers. I went to Europe for a little over two months and it saved me. The dryers are completely different than the ones in the States and they take forever to fully dry the load. It was nice to just hang the clothesline off of my bed and have my clothes drying when I was out and about.
10. Road Trip Penny-Saver
If you go on a road trip, especially with many people, bring a loaf of bread, a bag of clementines or apples, and a cooler with peanut butter, jelly, salami, cheese, and other sandwich toppings that don’t go bad fast. And don’t forget to bring lots of water! You will save so much money and time from not stopping at restaurants, and it is much healthier. If you are going to be sitting all day, you don’t need the extra calories anyway. Save the money and splurge more at a couple nicer restaurants when you get to your destination or go through a city and have extra time.
9. Plane Precautions
If you’re on a long flight, avoid the window seat. When your bladder is bursting and your seat neighbor is passed out on sleeping pills, you will understand why the aisle seat is superior. Also, walk around when you are able to keep blood flowing in your legs and avoid blood clots. Wear loose pants if possible, no skinny jeans!
8. Flaunt Your Flag
Stick the flag of your nation somewhere on your bag, especially if traveling alone. It can be a great way to meet people if you are in a fairly obscure country. You would be surprised how many people notice even in a busy city center. Also, it’s a good conversation-starter with people who aren’t from your home nation as they often approach with, “Oh, I have always wanted to go there.”
7. Printing On The Go
If you need to print while traveling and you’re staying at an Airbnb or any other place that has no printers available, walk into a youth hostel and ask to get it printed. If they say you have to pay, you pay. Otherwise, many times it’s free and they don’t even check if you’re a guest. I found this very useful while in Krakow one night right before our bus trip. All the print shops were closed, but the hostels are always open. Also: bathroom codes. It’s common in Europe to have codes in the bathroom to access it (so that no one can just walk in from the street without buying something). Just grab a used ticket from a table or the trash (easy to reach, try to not look homeless) and show it to the cashier when asking for the code.
6. A Resourceful Scarf
Take a large, thin, soft scarf. It can protect you from the cold or sun, cover stains on shirts or ripped pants, replace the strap on a bag that breaks while you’re out, can be fashioned into makeshift swimwear, be tied into an extra ‘bag’, act as a headband in case of a broken or lost hair elastic, etc. A very valuable item!
5. Making The Most Of Time
Avoid tours (especially those giant bus ones). Go on the internet, create a general plan, and send it. You’ll have way more fun, save a ton of money, avoid tourist traps, and learn a thing or two along the way. If it doesn’t go exactly to plan, who cares. Make the most of it.
If you have a layover of a decent amount, and don’t want to or don’t have time to expand it, still go out in the city and explore anyway (time permitting). You never know what 3 hours in a city could bring. Plus, it’s way better than sitting in the lounge eating tiny croissants. You already paid for the flights, so it’s basically a “free” trip in disguise.
4. Being Choosey About Who To Travel With
Beware who you travel with. No matter how well you think you know them, you will get to know them a lot better, for better or worse.
Another way of looking at this tip is: Consider traveling at least once with your romantic partner before you seriously consider marrying them. If you come out of it hating each other, your prospects for a steady marriage may not be great.
Traveling with someone (including the planning, the finances, the compromising, the agreeing on what to do it and where to do it, the sharing of space) is, I would estimate, a good microcosm for what a long-term relationship is going to be like.
3. Bring A Fan
This one is random, and probably dumb to most people, but I travel with a small fan because I need the white noise, and a lot of hotel air conditioners don’t run continuously. I have found that Quality Inn usually has continuous fan units. Their breakfast is usually somewhat bearable too.
It also doesn’t hurt to ask hotel staff if they happen to have an extra fan. Sometimes it works, but not that often.
2. Always Pack Back-Up Vision
If you wear prescription glasses or contacts, bring an extra pair as a back-up in case you lose or break the ones you’re wearing.
1. Enjoy It
Enjoy the moment.
The worst thing on a vacation is planning too many activities in advance. It’s best to have a vague imagination, e.g. visiting the Louvre in Paris, but not every single hour is supposed to be determined. Go with the flow and wander around the city. Enjoy a restaurant which you can’t yet find on Tripadvisor!