1. Where to Stay
Over my years traveling, I’ve have some amazing experiences with places I’ve stayed. I’ve also done the whole hostel thing for a good portion of my 20’s. You don’t really end up spending that much time in your hotel room unless it’s a beach vacation anyway, however, here are some helpful tips in finding the perfect hotel.
I always look for new hotels that have been open for less than six months. The reason I do that is because these hotels are looking for positive Tripadvisor reviews and the service you get is so much better than other hotels. A lot of these hotels end up upgrading your rooms or end up throwing in some freebies like a meal or a massage if it has a spa in order to make sure you have a better experience.
Also, because these hotels are less packed, the staff pays attention to you and your needs more. Don’t shy away from boutique hotels, they are truly a gem.
2. Packing for Your Trip
This is usually a point of contention for a lot of people. I know it’s hard to pack light, but it truly makes your life so much easier if you do. You really don’t need to take every hair, face, makeup product you own. Take the basics that you absolutely cannot live without. Buy the travel sized bottles and fill them up with your favorite shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, or whatever else you need.
Limit your clothing by planning your outfits and taking a couple of extra outfits just in case. There is no need to take 17 outfits on a five-day vacation.
While traveling, you don’t know what kind of streets you’re going to have to drag your baggage through (I learned the hard way when I had to drag a huge suitcase on a cobblestone road, definitely less than ideal). Do not take more than one piece of luggage if you can help it.
Wear your heavy boots and hold on to your heavy jackets when you are flying, makes it easier to have more manageable baggage. Lighter baggage means easier ability to use public transport to get to where you need.
3. Make Photocopies of Important Documents
God forbid you lose your passport or wallet. You want to make sure you have a photocopy of all of your documents just in case, it will make your life a whole lot easier.
4. Traveling with a Credit Card
I don’t usually convert much cash. I just convert enough to get me by with transportation, street vendors so I can enjoy the food, and street merchants selling something I may like. If you convert more cash than you need, you usually end up losing money when you convert it back, so there’s really no point to it. I’ve found it so much easier to have travel friendly credit cards such as Capitol One and Chase. These companies don’t need notice that you’re traveling abroad. They also don’t charge you any transaction fees while you are abroad and have so many perks.
Both Capitol One and Chase will pay for Global Entry in the United States, which is huge.
Chase Reserve also gives you access to lounges at airports and discounts at so many resorts all over the world.
5. Bring a Travel Charger
If you use your phone as much as I do (I love downloading audiobooks and music), you will definitely need a travel charger. You have no idea when you will find an outlet to charge your phone otherwise.
6. Book Early for Cheap Flights
For the most part, I’ve found better deals on flights the more time I’ve had before my trip. However, there have been certain anomalies and I’ve booked last minute local trips (thank you, Southwest). Take a look at Momondo, Google Flights (it’s actually pretty great), and Skyscanner.
I try to stick to a certain airline or group of airlines so I can collect points (thank you, Star Alliance). You get better upgrades if you fly enough with these airlines.
7. Be Open to New Things
The last thing people all over the world want to hear is, “this isn’t how it is in America.” Don’t be one of those tourists and really just open your mind to new experiences and new things. Get out of your comfort zone, don’t have expectations of how things will be, and really just go with the flow. You will enjoy your trip so much more.
8. Traveling During Off-Season
Don’t be scared to go places during the “off-season.” I’ve been to Italy during their “winter” but the weather was still wonderful and places were way less crowded. My last trip to New Zealand was during the start of their spring but I got all sorts of weather, it made for a really exciting trip. Visiting places during the “off-season” means less crowd and that it will also likely be less expensive. You don’t have a bunch of other tourists driving up the hotel prices.
9. Traveling with Other People
Be picky who you travel with. Your best friends might not make the best travel companions. Go with people that want the same experiences as you. If you’re the type to jam pack everything into your days, make sure the other people you’re with want to do that as well. If you like to just play it by ear and take experiences in as they come, make sure you go with laid back people. Traveling with people with different ideas of fun and a great vacation can really change friendships.
Also, be open to making friends while you travel. I’ve met some amazing people and learned so much in almost every country I’ve been to. Hostels are such a great way to meet people if you are a solo traveler.
10. The Best Food Experiences
You don’t have to only eat at Michelin starred restaurants in order to have the most amazing food experiences. Food is extremely important to me when I travel. I do so much research by looking up food the country or city is known for and where to best have it.
Street food will give you the best taste of the country, don’t be scared to try it, but make sure you bring some probiotics or Pepto with you just in case.
Don’t be scared to try things you normally wouldn’t eat. You won’t know until you try it right?