Dabbling in Jet Lag
Are you interested in planning your next vacation or embarking on an epic adventure or traveling to see all the world has to offer? It has been nearly 8 years since I started traveling, and since then I have traveled to more than 40 countries. I have had a lot of adventures, from getting lost while hiking in Iceland to being dropped off (accidentally) in the middle of nowhere in Kyrgystan, and it has been a wild ride. I have made lots of mistakes and learned tons of useful travel tips and tricks along the way.
Here are my best travel tips to help you plan your next trip and get the most out of your travel experience.
My Best Travel Tips
1. Don’t Over Plan
When it comes to organizing a trip or a vacation, there are two main types of travelers: those who like to have everything planned from A to Z and those who plan nothing. Over the years I have learned that somewhere in the middle is happiness. When I travel, I typically pick a starting point, then 2 or 3 things I really want to do or see. This allows me the flexibility to change my plan. You never know who you will meet or what you will stumble upon along the way. If you like a city and want to stay, not over-planning can give you the flexibility to stay longer.
2. Be Prepared for a Language Gap
Not every country has English-speaking citizens, but you don’t need to be fluent to travel. I like to learn a couple of key phrases or words to help me communicate. Learning how to say Hi or Thank you goes a long way and is usually much appreciated. Because I know I am terrible at pronouncing new words, I often write down the name of the city in the language. Languages apps, such as Google Translate, a pen and paper, and hand signals are also useful.
3. Step out of your Comfort Zone
Try new things, meet new people, and challenge yourself. You might hate it at first, but you will never regret it. I remember taking a very up-close picture of a massive anaconda in the Ecuadorian Amazon, then being told we would go swimming in the same lake with anaconda and piranhas. I panicked, but then just jumped in knowing I might never get the opportunity again. Life is short, live as much as you can while you can.
4. Take a Lot of Pictures
Whether you are a photographer or not, capturing your experience is priceless. You may only travel to these places once in your lifetime. Pictures are timeless, and you will have them forever. One thing I regret is not taking enough pictures when I first started traveling.
5. Take Extra Money
This ATM is out of cash. Your bag gets stolen. You’ve lost your wallet. Everyone’s worst travel nightmares. Carry extra money stashed in different locations in case of the unexpected. It will put your mind at ease, and in the worst case, you will have extra money for another adventure.
6. Don’t Panic
The bus didn’t arrive, or it broke down. There is no ATM, and you have no money. We’ve all been there. It is important to remain calm so that you can think of alternatives. There is always a solution. If the bus breaks down, take the time to talk to some of the locals. If you have no money, locals are almost always willing to help, or, even, give you a lift. It is easier said than done, but remaining calm and taking a few deep breaths will be more useful than losing your temper.
7. Pack Light
You will never need everything you pack. Remove half and thank me later. Carrying excess clothes and equipment is exhausting. We have all packed that shirt or pair of pants that we never wore. Are you traveling for only 2 weeks? Do you really need 1 L of body soap?
Most items can be bought at your destination, and it is usually cheaper than home. If you ever hesitate about an item, chances are you don’t need it. So, save yourself the hassle and just leave it at home.
8. Always Carry a GPS
Nature can always take a turn for the worst, or turn down the wrong city and now you are in a sketchy neighborhood. If you don’t’ have access to the internet, having a GPS can really help in these situations.
There are several apps and devices that can help. I always download maps.me before traveling. You can download any country, and delete it when you are finished. You can also mark places you visited so you can refer back to them later when you talk about your travels. It works offline, and it is updated regularly.
9. Bring a Power Bank
I guess I don’t need to say much here. Having an extra power bank to charge your phone or computer is essential. If you have a long bus ride, you don’t want to be out of battery when you arrive at your destination.
A power bank comes in handy in lots of situations. The power goes out, no outlets while camping, etc. As an example, I had no electricity during my hike to Song Kol, and I got lost several times. Without an extra charger to power my GPS, I could have been in serious trouble. A power bank provides peace of mind, and I never travel without one.
10. Carry the Address of Your Hotel/Hostel
You arrive at 3 am at your destination, and you did not sleep on the plane. Now you have to fill out visa paperwork, get your luggage, and find a ride to your hostel. That was my story when I arrived in Thailand. It is always a good idea to have the name and address of your hotel written down on a piece of paper.
It can be used to fill out your visa documents. You can show it to a cab driver instead of handing over your phone. There are endless scenarios where this information would be useful, it is just good to have it around.
11. Learn about the Country
Learning about the history and the culture of your next travel destination can only enhance your experiences. Every country has a rich history and unique culture. Having a background before you travel can help you interact with the locals, and appreciate some of the sites and cities that you visit. You might also learn something that is off-the-beaten-path and uncover something new.
I always read a guide book, a couple of blogs, and learn about the history before I travel to country. I find it incredibly interesting, and I often discuss with the locals to get their point of view.
My #1 Travel Tip – Travel More!
Of course, this one is my best tip. Travel more. We always tell ourselves that we would love to visit this or that place, have that adventure, swim in that ocean. Then we say, maybe one day. But why not today? The world is so beautiful that it should not be missed. Even if you can only travel for a few days, taking the time to experience something new will be something you remember forever.
Useful Tip: If you can’t travel, consider some alternatives. Here’s a great article on how to travel when you are stuck at home.
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Read More About My Travel Adventures
Hope you found my travel tips useful. Here are a some of my traveling adventures, where you can learn how I came up with this list!
- Con Men and Curry: My Scariest Travel Story
- Getting Lost in Kyrgyzstan: Hike to Song Kol
- 10 Days in Jordan – The Ultimate Itinerary
Have questions about traveling? Are there any tips or tricks you have learned while traveling? Send me a message in the comments below!
Interested in more travel tips & tricks? Check out my other posts for more travel tips.