As experienced travelers, we thought we would share some of our top travel tips.
Knowledge is Power
When it comes to travelling to a foreign country, knowledge truly is your best friend. No matter the length of your trip, read as much as you can about the area you will be in. Make sure you have an easy to read map before you arrive or as soon as you get there.
Another good thing to do before you head off on your trip is to brush up on your geography. You will meet a lot of people while traveling and it is nice to be able to talk about (or at least have an idea of ) where they are from. That being said… just travel in Europe because most backpackers are from there.
A few good sources of information are:
- Travel.State.gov for travel advice, travel warnings, and travel requirements for specific countries from the US government
- The UK’s FCO also gives some good travel advice for each country
Organization is the key to successful trip. Print out and organize your travel documents. Pack light and efficiently. Label everything you own, and let someone know where you will be.
Even though you have read everything about the area you are going, you can not plan for everything! Being flexible with your timing and schedules will help you to enjoy your holiday more. Some people even prefer to travel with no itinerary and rely on the advice of their fellow backpackers. You will hear some amazing stories or about some hidden gem and you might miss out if you are not flexible.
Have an Open Mind
In the wise words of St. Augustine, “The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page.” Just like reading a book, Traveling also opens your mind because you see so many new things. But you have to be willing.
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone when traveling. It is okay to do things that scare you and you shouldn’t feel like you are always being judged. Chances are that you will never see those people again anyways and who knows when you will be back!
Everyone has a different method of packing, but one thing that all experience world travelers will agree on is to pack light. As previously mentioned, you can not plan for everything so why bring a suitcase that ways more than you do?! If you bring a big bag or backpack, you will be tempted to fill it with things that you don’t actually need. So just don’t do it! After you have finished packing light, take out even more stuff because you don’t need all that stuff. Chance are that if you actually need something, you can probably “Buy It There” which is one of Tim Ferriss’ travel tips.
Some world travelers recommend buying a backpack or suitecase that is small enough to be your carry-on item. This is especially good travel advice if you are flying around the world and frequent airports. Also, Rolling your clothes (instead of folding) will help you prevent wrinkles and save packing space.
Check out what Nomadic Matt (one of my favorite travel writters) brings when he travels the world.
By now, most people have smart phones. iPhones and Androids are some of the most powerful and useful travel gear you can buy because they serve multiple purposes. You can read about your next destination, listen to music or play games on a 25 hour bus ride, exchange contact information with friends you make along the way, or keep in touch with friends and family back home.
While many hostels and hotels have wifi, some people prefer to always have a data connection. Instead of using the same carrier that you use at home, it is almost always cheaper to use a local SIM card. This can be a bit tricky since not all smartphones can be used in every country or are locked to the carrier you bought it from. In order to use it on a different network, you must first unlocked your sell phone. Ask your current cell phone provider for more details.
**Important Note: Having a smartphone (especially an iPhone) is usually a sign of wealth in many countries. If you do bring one travelling with you, please be careful who sees you with it.**
I already talked about the many uses for an unlocked smartphone, but that isn’t the only item that should serve multiple purposes. In fact, everything should have at least 2 reasons to bring it. This will help reduce the size and weight of your luggage.
Bring clothes that serve multiple purposes and would want to wear every day. Also, bring clothes you do not ever want to wear again.
Here are some examples of some multi-use travel items:
- Combined travel charger & battery – TYLT Energi 2K
- Men’s swimsuits that look like real shorts – Billabong Submersibles
- Insulated water bottle & hot tea/coffee ftermos – Miir or Ecovessel
Perhaps the best source of information is other backpackers that have come from your next destination. Learningfrom other travelers and sharing your tips and stories too is a great way to make friends while traveling. Staying in hostels gives you many opportunities to meet new people and hear about their experiences. You will almost always find someone who just came from where you are going and they can give you the most up to date information available. This is why it is important to stay flexible.
Keep a Travel Log
The reality is that people forget things. Keeping a travel log/diary (or in our case a travel blog) will help you remember some of the finer details of your amazing adventure in the years to come. It also provides a good source of inspiration and a good laugh when you read what you wrote 2 years later.
Carry a Watch
Yes, the smartphone we told you to bring does have a clock on it, but cell phones die. Watches, be it a wristwatch or a pocket watch, analog or digital, military or standard, take much longer to run out of battery. Some even charge by motion or by sunlight.
Learn the Metric System of Measurement
Being from the States, we use the imperial system (inches, feet, lbs., Fahrenheit), but when travelling abroad, you will quickly learn that almost everyone else uses the metric system. If you don’t know it, at least know how to convert between metric and imperial quickly. Here are some quick ways to get from metric to imperial or imperial to metric:
- Temperature: Fahrenheit = Celsius *2 + 32
- Distance: 1 Mile = 1.6 Kilometers
- Weight: 1 pound (lb.) = 2.2 Kilograms
Learn from the Experts
If you have ever been to a major tourist area (like Machu Picchu), you know that the number of options can be overwhelming. Instead of trying to figure out the best way to do things, why not ask the experts?!
When we were in Cuzco, Peru on our way to Machu Picchu, we didn’t realize how many things there were to do in the sacred valley so we went into the tourist information office in seek of the guidance. The man in there gave some of the best travel advice we have heard in a while. Go into several travel agencies, listen to what they offer and how they do it, and determine what you like best. Then go and do it on your own. It is usually cheaper and more flexible to do it this way!
Travel with a Friend
It is much safer and usually more fun.
Share your favorite travel tips in the comments section below!
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