I love learning new things and challenging myself. When I was about to make a career change I knew I should try something completely different. Following this train of thought, I set off on my first solo trip. Just like every novice traveler, I had to figure a lot of things out and if I knew some of the travel tips I’m going to share in this post, I would definitely have saved a lot of money and time.
While I’ve never been the one to sell everything and burn the bridges behind, I spent almost three years working and living on the road. Returning home does call for summing things up. So I’ve decided to put together a list of travel tips that come from my personal experience. Check them below to reach your travel goals and tick your favorite travel destinations off your bucket list.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
This is perhaps the most important travel tip. Never set off on a trip without proper testing your gear and equipment. Gadgets, backpack, travel adapters, and, believe it or not, blindfold with earplugs. I do my best to feel comfortable with everything I use before traveling to a new destination.
I once traveled to Spain. I checked a big suitcase, carried my backpack on the plane and had them filled with the stuff I thought I might need. And you think what? I ended up in flip-flops, t-shirt and wearing the same shorts most of the time. When I go country with a cold climate, I often prefer clothes that I can layer over bulky items.
The thing I have learned through the years on the road – minimalism is a king. Whether I pack for two-week trip or I’m looking for an ultimate multi-day hiking packing list, the lighter my backpack, the better. You can buy pretty much anything you could possibly need in most places around the world.
Resisting temptation to try and see everything can be very rewarding. If you only have three days in a place, spend them exploring the neighborhoods around, people watching, and strolling the streets.
Not only it allows to understand the foreign culture but also makes your wallet smile. If you stay longer in one place you can negotiate long-term stays and drastically reduce your transportation costs.
While flip-flops would not normally take up too much space and fit great into your backpack, they can save you from a fungus that grows in warm, damp environments. Whether it a dorm shower, outdoor showers or public bathroom, a cheap pair of plastic flip-flops would protect your feet from the nasty stuff. Even when I’m out hiking I always bring a set pair of dedicated shower thongs.
Do you agree that the best things in life are free? Yup, you, of course, can learn basic phrases in the local language to minimize troubles while interacting with locals. But the thing is that body language is far more important.
People will be a lot more inclined to help you if you don’t take yourself too seriously. A smile is free and can do wonders. It costs absolutely nothing to give one but once you start doing it you’ll realize how powerful this gesture could be.
Staying healthy and fit on the road is essential. While there is always a risk of pre-existing diseases and allergic reactions, I would recommend visiting your doctor for a checkup before you leave. If you’ve been sick recently, talking to your doctor can help you determine whether it’s safe to travel abroad and what vaccines you might need to travel safely.
This is a no-brainer that changing currency at the airport or train station is the worst way to exchange money. I have noticed that fees may vary from 10% to 25% on average. Don’t be fooled by the enticing “no fee” advertisements. The exchange rate will be less than favorable or the fees may be called something else.
I’m not talking about eating cockroaches and crickets. Yup, I’m not brave enough to try them. But I still enjoy trying and discover local food. When I was in China, trying new food was one of the ways to experience the traditional Chinese culture (that is about dumplings, noodles, and rice). It isn’t scary. In fact, you’ll build your confidence up as you eat more street food from vendors.
You’ve probably heard this expression a thousand times. But do you know that finding a place off the tourist trail is a lot more difficult than it sounds? Oftentimes people are looking for something completely different even when traveling to popular sites.
There are plenty of hidden gems in Europe and the United States, so you don’t have to go to remote areas to experience something new. You should only figure out what kind of experience you are looking for.
The grass is never greener. While we’re all different, we’re still incredibly similar. Everyone just wants happiness, peace and a sense of certainty. I met a lot of people who didn’t have a clue what to do with their own lives. They felt lost in life, not knowing who they are. Don’t live your life based on what other people believe to be right. Make your own decisions based on what you think to be true.
This travel tip should actually be #1 on the list. Water is the key nutrient that allows you to get over jet lag after a long-haul flight. Staying hydrated is very important because severe dehydration may result in low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and extreme thirst. Do your best to drink at least five glasses of plain water a day 2 days prior to a flight.
That is a no-brainer, that you should know the price of a typical ride. Whether it is a rickshaw or tuk-tuk, negotiate the price before hopping in. The small mistake I made in Vietnam when I was in hurry cost me extra $10. That was a severe lesson.
With so many free Wi-Fi hotspots in public areas, it can be tempting to take advantage of using them. But not all public Wi-Fi networks are created equal. I tend to skip free Wi-Fi at airports when it comes to logging into bank accounts or entering any passwords. To keep your data secured stick to hotspots with a password that most coffee shops and stores in the airport offer.
There are plenty of awesome reasons for trying new things. Not only they often make you a better person but also give the perfect opportunity to break out of your comfort zone. I remember that taking my first solo trip wasn’t that easy. Hitting the road showed me the things I was panicking about and boost my self-confidence.
Its been almost 9 years since I quit my regular job and traveled to over 20 countries. While I love taking beautiful photos of the places I visit I never considered turning myself from a subject into an object. And that is the reason why I only have around 150 photos of me around the world. Don’t be shy to ask someone to take a photo of you or buy a selfie stick. Yup, these look weird but what is important – they make photos look very special.
Stop stressing about the things you can’t control. There was a time when I considered flying long-haul flight a torture. There was literally nothing to do but playing games and reading books. Eventually, I learned to appreciate it, enjoy it and make the most of it. This is the time when I can focus on writing posts, reflect on the past and create some new itineraries. Travel is about the journey, not the destination.
This is the most important thing that you will never want to use. Any trip abroad requires travel insurance. And I can’t recommend buying one enough. I’ve heard a lot of stories about injured travellers, stolen expensive gear and huge hospital bills to ignore getting proper travel insurance. I have been using World Nomads insurance for a while and I’m pretty happy with their policy.
With so many “off-the-beaten-path” posts around the Web, one can get confused easily. Figure out what destination interests you. Don’t be fooled by the posts like “places to visit before you die”. While some of them are totally worth visiting, some can be kind of a tourist trap that sucks money from your wallet. I love exploring under-the-radar places that allow me to keep a balance between the cost of getting there and my actual interest.
Long layovers, or technically, a stopover is a stop or visit to a location en route to your final destination. When a flight is routed through an airline’s hub city, there is a chance to extend your travel day and discover a new place for however long the rules permit. Check the places I visited during my three-day-long stopover in London.
Travelling the world can be inconvenient. Soon after I set my foot on Vietnamese soil, I started missing some simple things from back home. Food I got used to, my friends and family to name a few. I was lucky enough to be born in Germany that has one of the highest standards of living in the EU. Thus, I could feel the difference between the privileged part and the rest part of world population. I was shocked to the core. Traveling gave me a new perspective on life. While sticking to core values and enjoying the big moments can bring you happiness, I found focusing on these little things more appealing. But don’t get me wrong – it is all about happiness, not selfishness.