Traveling and seeing new places can offer incredible experiences. As you travel over time, you’ll naturally pick up lots of tips which will, in turn, allow you to travel that much better in subsequent trips. In other words, you learn from your experiences. However, to get you started, I'm going to share with you my best travel tips that I have accumulated from years of experience. Here are some of my top travel tips, that will help you travel like a pro, or least feel like one.
Check out online reviews - Reviews are very helpful and important when traveling. They allow you to make an informed decision on accommodation and services you may be considering for your holiday/vacation. Some sites such as Booking.com, Airbnb, and GetYourGuide have customer reviews which you can generally trust. Other places to check reviews is on sites such as Trustpilot, Google and TripAdvisor. One thing to note when looking is the actual number of reviews. Such as a higher number of people who have left one means you’re more liking to be able to trust the overall opinion. This is because sadly when a new brand, hotel or service starts they may get their staff, friends and family to leave fake positive reviews. But of course, people can only know so many people hence a good number of reviews (ie 100+) should be more representative and trustworthy. TripAdvisor and Yelp is one that I always rely on.
Check visa/entry requirements - Before you even book your flights, accommodation and other things for your trip be sure to check the visa/entry requirements. This is because some countries may have a complicated and long visa application time making last-minute trips difficult. Make sure to check for government offers, some official advice, or check the official government website for your destination. Be prepared to wait in some countries. Vietnam was one for me that took a little more time and a bit more frustrating.
Research your airport and the city connections in advance - Make your life easier when traveling by researching in advance how to get to/from the airport at your destination. Although there is almost always the option of a taxi, often getting a public bus, train or subway might be a lot cheaper and sometimes just as quick. It may save you some money to have your location closer to the airport. It doesn't hurt to check.
Make copies of your passport - In the event that you lose your passport, you’d have to go to an embassy and get a replacement or temporary passport. To help prove who you are and to make the process easier, make copies of your passport. You could also consider saving this in a secure place online so that you can access it easily if you ever need to.
Take an extra bank card - This doesn't mean using your boyfriend's/husbands card. You need to make sure it has your name on it. Sometimes when you travel you may find that your bank card stops working. Call any card you take before you leave and make sure they know you are traveling abroad. Or you even lose your bank card via an ATM or another mishap. To avoid getting in a bad situation of being out of the country with no means of getting cash then prepare for this in advance. This means taking a spare bank card with you. You may need to have a second bank account, or a credit card as a spare for this, but it’s better than nothing.
As well as taking a spare bank card you should also keep them in separate places. I don’t keep all my cards in one spot. So if you’re going out sightseeing or partying then leave one in your hotel, in a safe place. Use the safe if your room has one...Just don't forget the password;)
Consider overnight trains and buses - When going on a multi-destination trip, like in Europe, Amsterdam, France and Germany for example, overnight trains and buses are a great way to save both money and time. When traveling this way you could leave late evening, sleep on the transport and then wake up at your destination. This will also save you money on a nights accommodation making it a great way to travel on a budget.
Consider city cards - Many cities offer city cards which can be purchased and come with a range of benefits. Such as free or discounted entry into attractions, free use of public transport, a guide, map and various other benefits. For those who like to see as much as possible during a trip, you can often find these save you a lot of money. But always try and work out how much you’d save vs just paying-as-you-go before buying.
Download offline maps and Grab a Paper Map - Offline maps are incredibly useful when you travel. Services such as Google Maps allow you to download sections of a map (such as a city) which you can then use when you don’t have an internet connection. You can then only do certain types of search, but they are generally good enough to keep you going until you have a WiFi/internet connection. Paper maps are also useful if you don't have a WiFi connection.
Take a portable charger - If you’re traveling for a considerable amount of time then take a portable charger. This will allow you to keep your phone charged and make it much easier to navigate once you arrive at your destination. You may also have important info on your phone which would be inaccessible should your battery die.
Remember your travel adapter - Another important travel tip is to remember a travel adapter. You can also get smaller adapters which are specific for only certain regions or countries. Always research before you travel so you are prepared.
Try local food - The local cuisine can be a big part of a destination and around the world you’ll find more variety than you could ever imagine. To make the most of your trip and a top tip is to try local dishes and delicacies, especially if it’s something you’ll be unlikely to get back home. To find local food you could do some research in advance on what you should try, or explore and try your luck, or even go on a dedicated food tour. Food tours are so much fun and you meet other travelers as well. You will also find yourself trying food that you never thought of.
See popular attractions - Most destinations will have some highlights such as a historic landmark, a modern architectural marvel, or even a lake or natural feature, for example the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Westminster in London, or the wine country in Cape town, Africa. It's so important to plan ahead and make a reservation or buy tickets for these attractions. This might involve calling your travel agent for all the details;) Once you arrive you can often find leaflets and brochures available at your destination. Always ask your concierge at your hotel to help with reservations as well. I have also found lately that looking up travel YouTube's have been very helpful. A lot of those travelers will give you information on ways to get tickets in advance.
Consider a walking tour - A good way to learn about your destination is to go on a tour. Many big cities will have walking tours and sometimes these are free (with tips). Walking tours are fun, but can be quite long and tiring (normally around 3 hours) I did one in Prague and it was 6 hours. We did stop for lunch, but it was a bit long. Never do longer than 3 hours if possible. If this kind of tour isn’t for you then consider a bus tour, boat tour or something else. These are often available in most big travel destinations.
Avoid eating around popular tourist spots - Around popular tourist destinations, you may find the price of food and drinks are double the normal cost . So a meal at a restaurant near a major attraction might be a third or even more expensive than a 5-10 minute walk away. Also, the food around major attractions is most of the time not even as good and you may feel rushed so they can get in as many customers as possible. So definitely a top travel tip worth remembering.
Be wary of Pickpockets - Pickpockets can be found in most major cities and unfortunately tourists can often be there targets. They will be particularly prevalent in popular places around landmarks, as well as busy areas including subways and crowds. Although you shouldn’t spend your whole trip worrying and you will often travel trouble-free there are ways you can prevent yourself from having issues. Always wear any backpacks in the front when walking around in highly populated areas and always place your bag in your lap when traveling. Never sit your bag beside you. I have found that wearing a fanny pack is so easy when traveling. It's my new favorite fab that has come back in style! Chat with locals - This is my most important tip...Locals can share a wonderful insight into the place you’re visiting. They will most likely know many of the best things to see, as well as more hidden gems. Locals may also be able to tell you some history, facts, or interesting stories of the place you’re visiting. I have found some of the coolest spots by meeting with the locals. This is so important!
Experience traveling solo
Although not for everyone, traveling solo can be a fantastic experience. It helps you grow and develop independence and can also be quite fun. For young people, you should consider traveling this way and staying in a hostel. These are often very sociable environments and a great way to meet people and other travelers. Hostels might provide group tours and other experiences allowing you to really get to know your travel destination. (Just don't watch the movie Hostels before you vacation;) As well as traveling solo it’s also nice to travel with friends. You’ll be able to work together to plan the trip, look out for each other on nights out, and create fantastic memories together. Make sure while planning a group trip with friends is to think about everyone in the group to make sure no one is left out or unhappy and to compromise where necessary.