When you travel a lot many things just become second nature. The things you’ve learned to help you along your way aren’t thought about anymore, just practiced. Newer travelers don’t benefit from this wealth of experience and in my discussions with many of them could learn from some of the more travelers among us. Here are my top 10 Travel Tips (in no particular order)!
Be Patient While Traveling!
There are a lot of things that you can’t control while travelling, Did you miss your bus? There will be another! Did you forget to pack something? They sell it down the street! Cheap Flights delayed? Great, go and explore the area! Rather than stressing about these issues focus on the things you can control, number one being your attitude towards the situation! A positive attitude will take you further than any impatient, stressful one could! Good planning can really help take the edge off as well, I found a great blog post about travel planning that can help!
Engage with the Locals!
We travel to see the sights, explore new places and engage new cultures but I can’t count how many times I see travelers grouping together. Bunching up and speaking only your common language may feel nice and safe but it detracts from why you came… Engage with the locals! They are 99.9% genuinely great people who want to see you enjoy your discovery of their country and culture. Even if you don’t speak the language (see tip 3) you’d be surprised how much you’re able to interact with some simple gestures and a smile.
Learn the local language!
It’s a little far-fetched to expect you to learn an entirely new language for each trip you take. A few hours of preparation, learning and practicing the most basic words though will go a long way with the locals and their respect for you. Try for a greeting or two, “my name is”, “what is your name”, please, thank-you and most importantly “I don’t understand” and “I don’t speak X”
Get away from the tourist traps!
That flashy restaurant at the beach? Overpriced and unauthentic! If the menu is printed in more than the local language the food is likely going to be lackluster. Watch where the locals eat, shop and relax and frequent these locations. You’re in for a much more authentic experience at cheaper local prices and you’ll have a chance to engage with the locals (see tip 2) who will tip you off to other authentic experiences!
The saying goes, cash is king. I suggest carrying some emergency cash and stashing it in different places in your belongings. Typically I keep about $200USD tucked away in various spots in my bags and on my person during an extended trip. When your card stops working in the local ATM’s, your wallet gets stolen or you simply get yourself into a tight spot you’ll be glad you did!
Pack light for Travel!
Do you really need that second dressy outfit? That third pair of shoes? The answer is no. Stop dragging along unnecessary items in your backpack. Pack smart with multifunctional travel specific items. Not only will it be faster and easier to pack or unpack and simpler to fit in the overhead bin on your flight but you went be left lugging it around when (not if) you miss that bus or tram.
We all have good intentions of being able to recall names and places but that’s rarely the case. Bring a notepad and jot down people, places and things you want to remember, even better, use your smartphone and take a video,a photo or type a note. You’ll appreciate this trick when trying to recall your travels or tell stories at a later date!
ABC – Always be charging!
When you get to your destination, charge everything! Laptops, cell phones, cameras etc… There’s nothing worse than taking off on a day trip to somewhere you’ve really wanted to see and photograph only to have your battery die after two photos! Always charge your devices and if possible bring an extra (charged) battery (or three) with you while you’re out!
Get up Early!
Yes, you’re traveling, you’re on vacation, I get it, sleeping in sounds just perfect to you. Do so at your own peril. Tourist attractions are always busiest in the afternoons. As a Photographer I’m typically up in time to shoot sunrise anyways and I always get to photograph and enjoy the touristy spots without crowds! My thoughts are that sleeping in is only acceptable if there is nothing better to do, AKA Never!
The world is nowhere near as dangerous as mainstream media would make you think. Keep your eyes open for sketchy situations and using a little common sense will go a long ways to keeping you safe on the road. Remember though, 99% of people are good, caring, generous and helpful and wish only for you to enjoy your time in their country!