After traveling for some years now, I realized that several people overlook the trivial yet important things associated with travel.
Not because we don't think about it, but because we are busy with larger things like getting the visa, making plans, etc. Here are 24 tips that I learnt while traveling to domestic and international destinations.
These Tips Can Make Your Next Trip Easier and Less Stressful
1) Be Patient
This is the key. Why fret about things that you simply cannot control? If you miss the bus, train, the ATMs out of money or the food wasn’t served on time, it is okay! Enjoy the moment while you are there and be patient. The solution will come to you when you are at ease. Just salvage the moment, remind yourself that things could be worse and continue exploring the nearby area and do something unplanned.
2) Be Flexible
Talking about doing unplanned trips, be flexible while you are travelling. Things will not always go as planned, and that is okay too! Being spontaneous and flexible open new avenues that may even be better than things you’ve planned.
3) Wake Up Early
Some of the best attractions are captured during the wee hours. Even if you are not a shutterbug, it is still good to get up at sunrise to see the magical moments that are not visible otherwise. Plus, all the sketchy areas are less dangerous in the morning.
4) Keep Extra Cash
When in a foreign land, cash is the king that dictates how you’ll spend your days in the country. Always stash extra money to ensure you are covered in an emergency. My recommendations would be to keep a few extra hundred dollars.
5) Keep Money in Different Places
Don’t stash your money in just one source. This can be disastrous if you are mugged or if your wallet is stolen. I usually keep two wallets, or hide some money in socks, or between my clothes, etc.
6) Get Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is very important when you travel to a foreign country. While we do not think of falling sick or getting injured or robbed, it can happen to anyone. With travel insurance, you don’t have to worry about hospital bills or stolen stuff, in case such accidents happen.
7) Create a Backup for Everything
This was the biggest lesson I learnt while traveling to Greenwich and my phone battery died. My phone had the directions to my destination – the Royal Observatory – but I couldn’t access it. I felt so lost and helpless that I had to eventually ask people to give me directions to the closest restaurant. I wanted to charge my phone to resume my journey. That is when I learnt that it is not just important to have a power back up, but a backup for everything.
8) Pack Ear Plugs
This should be one of the many things you should keep handy. I figured this out when I was in London at the Walrus Hostel. The hostel, even though extremely friendly and nice, was very close to the railway line and Waterloo station. My earplugs were my savior as they not only muted the noise of the train but also of people on the road and in the dormitory.
9) Pack Less Stuff
While packing your stuff, try to take the minimum. You won’t even use half the stuff when you are traveling. And if you are on a budget trip and backpacking, packing less stuff can be a huge advantage. You will only learn the art of packing less as you gain more and more travel experience. But the rule is simple: if you are unsure about something, you probably won’t be using it anyway.
10) Take Care of Your Body
Travel can take a toll on your body. The new environment and surroundings, coupled with food and lack of workout or sleep can throw your body out of whack. Just remember to treat your body well, stay hydrated, eat healthy, exercise (whenever you can) and use sunscreen.
11) Always Pack a Scarf
A scarf can be one of the most important travel accessory. It is as important as packing earplugs. This simple piece of cloth can have several different practical applications. Use it to protect yourself from the sun, a makeshift towel, an eye mask, etc. The choice is yours.
12) Learn Daily Phrases of the Local Language
It is always encouraged to know the daily phrases of the local language. It can go a long way and make your host feel special. A simple “Please,” “Thank you,” “love it” and “I’m sorry” are some of the things I have learnt to say in at least 5 languages.
13) Make Photocopies of Important Documents
Always make photocopies of important documents like passport, your identification card, visa, etc. It comes extremely handy if you lose them or if they are stolen. You have no idea how handy these photocopies can be. I usually make 2 copies of each document: one goes in my handbag and the other in my luggage.
14) Put All Important Stuff in Carry-On
The right place for all your electronics, medication, toothbrush, and an extra pair of underwear is in your carry-on. The reason? Well, you can always buy these things if your bag is misplaced, but if you have them in your carry-on then you’ll save tons of money and time even if your luggage is misplaced in the transit.
15) Keep a Travel First Aid Kit
I always have a small first aid kit with me whenever I travel. It should contain most of the over the counter medicines like aspirin, Benedryl, cough drops, bandages, activated charcoal pills (a lifesaver for traveler’s diarrhoea). For all you know, you may not always have an easy access to these medicines while you are traveling or are in transit.
16) Always Lock Your Phone
Always password protect your phone when you are traveling. While most of us do it anyway, this is often overlooked. Your phone is perhaps the most valuable thing you’ve got while traveling. Personal data theft can be way worse than you can imagine. Therefore, make it a habit to password protect your phone. I recommend biometrics or number since they are safer than the geometry designs.
17) Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi
I always avoid using public WiFi when I access my online bank account. You really don’t know if your data will be safe on the network that you are using. Just try to avoid using it as much as you can.
18) Pack Your Stuff Wisely
Packing less stuff is as important as packing stuff wisely. My travel experience tells me that you should pack stuff according to its usage. For instance, if you are going to a destination with relatively colder temperature, it is wise to keep sweaters, socks and jackets on the top of your bag. Similarly, if you are traveling to a rainy area, then having an extra pair of slippers, towels and waterproof clothes on the top can be really helpful.
19) Meet Local People
Meeting local people can be a great way to understand the culture and lifestyle of the place. In most countries, basic English is spoken widely, making communication a lot easier than you may think. You’ll get to learn a lot from locals and they can enrich your travels more than sightseeing does.
20) Let Your Bank Know of Your Travel Plans
My personal experience tells me that you should let your bank know about your travel itinerary. During my trip to Sri Lanka, my bank blocked my card since I used it without informing them in advance. Now I’ve made it a habit of letting my bank know so that they don’t block my card or restrict the daily withdrawal limit.
21) Take Tons of Pictures
Take a lot of pictures while you are traveling. After all, a picture can paint a thousand words. Plus, you probably won’t be traveling to the same destination again and meet the same set of people (although I like to keep in touch in any way possible). Pictures are the ultimate souvenir and don’t cost anything. It will later remind you about the great times you spent and the numerous stories you may have of that destinations.
22) Plan Less and Ask the Locals
Unless you are traveling to cities like London and NYC, locals can be your best guides while you are traveling. Just plan where you’d like to go and leave it that. For other things, like where to eat, best coffee shops, hidden treasure destinations, etc. simply ask the locals. I’ve been led to few really interesting restaurants that would never have been my first choice.
23) Keep an Open Mind
It is important to have an open mind when you are traveling. Don’t judge the lifestyles of others if it differs from your own. Travel is a great teacher that makes you patient, forces you to listen to opinions you don’t agree with and makes you practice empathy. Try to embrace several possibilities, opportunities, people, suggestions, and interests.
24) Bonus Tip: Relax
People everywhere are mostly good and will help you if you need it. If you forget or lose something, just remember, you can buy it again. The world is diverse, and at the same time, very similar in ways you can’t even imagine. So, get out there and check it out.