Summer is coming up and it is always best to be prepared. Listed below are some tips and tricks I have learned over my years of traveling. Hopefully you can apply them as they will most certainly make your next vacation outing much more enjoyable.
1. Always have extra cash
Cash is the royal necessity of traveling. Sometimes your credit or debit card can be problematic which is precisely why keeping a bit of extra cash on you at all times is nice because you never know when you might need it.
2. Don't carry too much cash
With that said don't carry too much cash on you at all times. There is nothing good that will come from being a walking ATM machine in a foreign country. Find a happy median that you can keep around without feeling terrible if it is taken by chance.
3. Wake Up Early
Most things you will experience while traveling are best experienced in the early morning. Not to mention if you are the kind of person who likes going on afternoon tours it really helps to beat the lines if you are one of the first people in and one of the first people out as event lines, especially during the summer, can get congested rather quickly depending on where you are visiting.
4. Be Patient
Patience is key when traveling. Things move at their own pace and you must accept the fact that they will probably not always move as quickly as you would like them to. Learn to embrace patience and realize that it is only part of the process.
5. Pack Only The Essentials
People tend to like to complicate what they bring on trips when in reality it is quite simple. Pack only what you absolutely need. Don't bring three pairs of sunglasses when you only need one.
6. Bring a good camera to take photos
Photos are the main thing you are going to be keeping from this trip for years to come. This is precisely why it is important that you have a good camera to take photos with. If you can't afford a camera your smart phone will usually do just fine.
7. Get a basic feel for the land before you arrive
Without spoiling too much of the adventure try to get a general idea of things before you arrive. Do some research beforehand because you never know when information (such as remembering where the local hospital is located) will come in handy.
8. If you are traveling on a dime investigate hotel alternatives
Housing alternatives such as bed & breakfast sites offer a great supplement for those who can't afford hotels. Not only is it generally cheaper but you will more than likely receive a much greater cultural experience too.
Other alternatives such as staying in hostels or couchsurfing are great and inexpensive substitutes for hotels also.
9. Keep an open mind
Remember that you are no longer back home and you should be open to trying new things that you may normally dismiss otherwise. This is important because you will probably only get to visit this area a few times at most during your life. You might as well soak up every experience that you can.
10. Be flexible
Realize that things usually don't go according to plan and therefore you should be flexible in case the situation demands it. Don't allow yourself to get stressed out or overwhelmed and instead just accept that it is part of the traveling process.
11. Experience local culture
Housing alternatives can be great here because it will give you a much better taste of the local culture than a hotel ever could. Another great way to dive into a foreign atmosphere is by asking the locals. If they are friendly enough a lot of them will point you to the good spots and steer you clear of the bad ones.
12. Get an airline credit card
The easiest way to save money is by picking up an airline credit card so that you can begin collecting mileage to put towards a flight. If you aren't currently enrolled with a credit card or you are looking to pick up a new one I highly recommend getting one that gets good flyer miles.
13. Bargain hunt for deals
Always be on the lookout for a good deal. From hotel to airfare to restaurants and shows there are deals to be had everywhere. Venues are always trying to remain filled and businesses need to make money. Remember that fact because if you are willing to do things such as travel during the traveling off-season you can scoop up some serious savings.
14. Make up for bargain hunting by splurging
Spend a few extra bucks and get that meal you have always wanted because now is the time to do it. You are on vacation after all and you shouldn't be penny pinching when it comes to the things that you absolutely want most. I mean that is why you saved up for this, right?
15. Don't be afraid to use GPS
Google Maps is a godsend when traveling. With that said it is good to get comfortable using Google Maps because it will make navigation around foreign cities much less painful. Hint: utilize the directions feature.
16. Be respectful
Remember that you are in a foreign country and not your own house. With that said act accordingly to how you would like them to act if they were visiting your country. Be mindful of things such as their culture, their property, and their people. In other words it is good always be polite.
17. Keep your valuables always in your sight
It is the open world and theft happens. That is why it is always important to keep your belongings where you can see them. The world isn't a scary and dark place but if you leave an expensive laptop unguarded someone will take it. Use common sense and make sound decisions.
18. Leave early for your destination
Whether we are talking about the local airport or your hotel check-in it is always best to arrive early because you never know what hiccups might occur between you and your destination. That is why it is best to leave early and allow as much time as possible in case delays happen or you need to re-plan your itinerary completely.
19. Travel with friends
Not only does it cut costs but it is better for safety and sanity too. Having another set of eyes on things is never a bad idea when it comes to traveling. You never know when you might misinterpret a map and end up completely lost. That can be potentially be avoided just by having another friend traveling with you too.
20. Be able to laugh at your own mistakes
Odds are if you travel enough you will make a fool out of yourself at some point or another. Be able to laugh it off when it does happen and use it as a learning experience. Whether it is ordering the wrong food at a foreign restaurant or getting the train times mixed up completely it is best to accept that mistakes will eventually happen even to the greatest of travelers.
21. Remember to leave room for souvenirs
Don't forget about the people back home. They would like a piece of your trip too. That doesn't mean that you need to go all out and load up your bags with trinkets but instead just make sure you have enough room to bring back everything you brought on the trip and a little bit more.
22. Avoid scams
As with most things in life if it looks too good to go be true it probably is. Not only that however but it is good to avoid common scams when visiting foreign countries. One of the more common occurrences is getting your credit card information siphoned by a clerk at a restaurant, store or bar. Be mindful of that fact if they try to take your card into the backroom to ring up your purchase.
23. Let your bank know that you are traveling in advance (and get a travelers debit card if you can)
Banks have been known to halt foreign transactions from time to time. That is a good thing because that means they are looking out for you. So that is why it is important that you do your part and let them know when you are traveling into a foreign country so they can know what is up with you.
If you can manage it try to also get a debit card designed for travel that way if your information is swiped from your card there is minimal money attached to that particular account.
24. If possible try to book events for your trip in advance
Depending on where you are going events can sell out pretty quickly which is why it is important to book what you can in advance. It wouldn't be any fun having to shift your plans around because you weren't able to get into that show that you wanted to see.
25. Create a budget for the whole trip
There would be no worse feeling than to look at your bank account and see that you ran out of funds halfway through your trip. That is why you should come up with a budget in advance. From food and drinks to entertainment to flight and hotel make sure to come up with a comprehensive plan.
26. Bring a copy of your passport
Like anything else passports can be misplaced or stolen at any time. There is no worse way to get stranded in a foreign country than to be unable to return home because you can't find your passport anymore. Make sure you have at least one backup copy on hand although it wouldn't hurt to even carry two.
27. Realize the voltage might be different than your native country and bring/buy a charger accordingly
A common mistake that can be very costly comes from forgetting that voltages vary in certain countries. That is why it is crucial to do a little leg work in advance and find out whether the country you are visiting uses the same voltage as your native country.
28. Bring something to pass the airport time
Find anything that you enjoy and bring it with you to the airport so you have something to help pass time while you are waiting for your flight. There is nothing worse than sitting there and having to stare off into space for two hours while you wait for your plane to arrive.
29. Save a chunk of money by leaving one night before you were planning on initially leaving
Red-eye flights have their drawbacks but if you want to save money while still getting in a whole day's worth of activities there is no better way to do that than by staying the whole day and then catching the red-eye flight back home. By doing that you are actually saving one night worth of hotel fees because you are shifting your plans up. Instead of leaving at 8 A.M. the following morning consider taking the red-eye home at midnight the night before. It will definitely save you some money.
30. Counter jet lag with flight naps
Going off the last point another reason why I like red-eye flights is because I use them as an opportunity to reset my sleep schedule on the way home. My personal recommendation for fighting jet lag is that if you can nap during your flight take full advantage of that capability because it will make the transition period back home much less painful than if you are trying to toss and turn the night before you have to go back to work.