Looking to add to my Travel Tip of the Day. What are the best tips that have helped you the most on your trips?
The best travel tip ever was given to me years ago, so long ago that I don't even remember who said it to me, "Do as the locals do". It's the one thing that's helped me the most when in drastically unfamiliar places and countries where language has also been a problem. Anything from basic traffic rules to local etiquette, buying a train/tube/metro ticket to hailing a taxi, from shopping to finding the best places to have a meal. It's the one tip that I never forget to pass forward when asked.
Keep reminding yourself that YOU are the foreigner -- they're the locals. Their country, their "normal."
I was surprised to see that this answer hadn't been said already, but for me it's rolling my clothes tightly. Saves room and then if I've rolled it tight enough, they aren't wrinkled. And if they are, almost every hotel now has an iron. I'll also frequent stuff socks and underwear and such in my shoes or any other nooks and crannies to save room.
Pack light. You can go anywhere with a carry on.
Get an app like CityMaps2Go which lets you download offline maps and travel guides for a city. It uses your phone's GPS to tell you your location, so no data required. It's handier than a paper map, and while it's fun to wander around a city and get lost, you need to get back to your hotel/hostel/Airbnb eventually.
Create a packing list on your phone. I check and recheck mine before leaving a place and as a result, I've never lost anything on all my trips.
When you book a flight, use SeatGuru to find an exit-aisle seat or one that's behind a bulkhead. Those often have extra legroom and depending on the airline, might not cost anything extra.
If you forget shaving cream, conditioner is a pretty good alternative.
Buy an portable battery charger. They're cheap and can be a life safer if you're not near an outlet.
If you're from the US, download Google Hangouts or a similar app that lets you call land and mobile numbers in the US and Canada for free.
Sign up for a credit card that doesn't charge foreign transaction fees. My go-to card is the Chase Sapphired Preferred.
To keep your belongings safe from pickpockets, get an anti-theft backpack or bag, such as one from Pacsafe.
Wear comfortable walking shoes. In Europe, I find myself walking 7-10 miles on most days.
Bring extra memory cards and/or batteries for your camera.
Take a golf ball to places like India/South east Asia as the sinks don't often have plugs and it makes it difficult to wash a few of your 'smalls'. A golf ball will block the plug hole.
Wherever you're going start conversations with local people. Basic English is spoken widely all over the world, so it’s easier to communicate with them than you might think, especially when you combine hand gestures and body language. Learn from those who live in the country you’re visiting.It can be as easy as learning there language,Learn some few words,E.g.(Swahili Language)- Habari Rafiki(Hello Friend),Jambo(Hi),Asante Sana(Thank you very Much).Cheers!!!
My best tips would be:
- Always remember to backup your memory cards used in your camera, nothing worse than getting home and seeing you've lost all your photos
- Forgot a power socket adapter and need to charge your phone in your hotel? Most modern TVs have USB slots and do the trick!
- Photocopy of your passport in case you lose it!
Expect to be delayed, late, or lost...then if all turns out perfectly you are overjoyed. Traveling rarely goes "as planned", but most times the deviations become the story!
Use Airbnb & HomeAway instead of hotels. You be staying in the comfort of someone's home often at a far cheaper price and sometimes you'll strike gold. My first three nights on Oahu were with a lovely couple, one of whom was a professional chef who had cooked for Obama, Bon Jovi, & many other celebrities. She actually cooked an incredible meal for me my first night. Shrimp, steak, broccoli gratin, dessert and all the wine & beer I wanted plus travel tips from locals. Are you kidding me? For $60 a night?
To return the favor, I took them out to eat on the third night at a restaurant of her choosing, Salt Kitchen & Tasting Bar. OMG! Best meal I had had in six months. Regretfully,Salt has now closed, but I have chef friends for life.
Disposable Clothing - Before I travel, I go to a local flea market or discount store and buy clothes for my trips (mostly socks, underwear, shirts and shorts, etc.). Really inexpensive. I wear everything once, then toss them away or leave behind. Every day, I' wear a clean set of clothes. As the days pass, my suit case or carry on, gets lighter. It also gets roomier, which gives me the space I need in case I buy something to bring back. And the best part is - I'm not lugging around a bunch of dirty clothes and there's very little laundry to do upon my return.
Start at least one of your tour days early - sunrise ,dawn and walk the city you are visiting and watch it wake up . As a Jerusalem based private tour guide I offer an early morning tour that I must admit not many take up as the hotel breakfasts are good and people feel like sleeping in on their holidays!!
That's why I wrote in my first sentence :" start ..at least one of your days ".
I can only say that to visit the Old City of Jerusalem in the early morning is like visiting a Tripadvisor 1st ranked restaurant and tasting its great delicacies as a VIP.No tourists ,beautiful light , quiet moments at all the religious sites , good coffee , time to reflect...
I traveled for a year in 2006-7 with my wife. We went to eastern Europe, SE Asia and South America. We came up with this list.
Top traveler tips:
1 - Always ask for a discount, even if the price seems non-negotiable.
2 - Things to always keep on you: toilet paper, snacks, camera and a few layers.
3 - When purchasing any kind of transportation/tour/travel activity, ask lots of questions to be sure you know what you’re getting. And don’t get upset when what you receive differs from what they told you.
4 - Always check your bed/sheets/room/shower before agreeing to stay in a hostel.
5 - When buying bus tickets, check other companies for different prices, reserve seats on the opposite side of the sun and away from the bathroom, and watch your luggage get loaded and during stops.
6 - In the third world, if a restaurant’s ambiance is pleasing then the food is probably not that good and normally more expensive. Fluorescent lighting, plastic chairs and locals normally means quality food.
7 - When a taxi driver tells you a price, always half it and work up from there.
8 - Some random useful items: can opener, wine opener, bungee chords, eye patch, earplugs, headlamps, a spork.
9 - Did we mention to always ask for a discount? With a smile of course!
Walk as much as you can. You will see more and come across a lot more hidden gems.
If you are time-poor like me, my best travel tip would be "plan ahead". The more research and planning you do beforehand, the more you can maximise your time and experience when you are there. By that i dont mean
you have to plan an hourly itinerary, but just to have a good knowledge of the good places to go, eat and see at each location so you dont just do the typical touristy things (not to say touristy things arent worth your time as some are must-do's too). Also it will help you save money because you can search for deals on flights, hotels and restaurants.
We have created a web-based trip planning tool (www.pebblar.com) to make trip planning easier (from roadmapping, idea and research notes collation to generating a print-able itinerary). I use it for all of my trips now. If you are a "planner" and have been using excel/notepad/google map/email, give us a try! we are keen to hear what you think! See screenshots of pebblar below:
Pack light. Give yourself plenty of time to do all the activities you want to do so you don't rush. Don't buy meaningless things/gifts that will just take space in your luggage.
Use public transportation whenever possible.
Bring along a real compass. (Not the one on your phone). Having a sense of direction creates a basic feeling of well being...as opposed to being lost.
My best travel tip is Don't Rush. The journey is part of your travel experience - your travel story - and if you hurry to your destination without stopping to smell the flowers along the way, you will miss out on a lot of that story.
I came across a website a while back that lets you know via text message about flight sales that leave from only the airport you choose (LAX for me). There have been a lot of sales this last week and they just posted $615 sales to Europe. Anyways, it's called theairfareinsider.com
Plan ahead. Not necessarily plan down to each day but planning ahead means you don't miss out good hotel and flight deals and also means when you are there you would know where to go depending on your mood that day. We have recently launched a trip planning tool to track your trip map and trip research. Give it a try if you want to plan your trip! (www.pebblar.com)
I always pack some bubble wrap to use to protect any breakable purchases.
Something I always do before I check my bag is take a photo of it!! If it gets lost, you have the exact photo of it. Also, I take a photo of my passport as well as everything laid out on my bed before I pack it. Experience teaches you things!
Do not put in the suitcase something that's irreplaceable. In the suitcase that was lost for two months in Italy was a portable hard drive with all my photos. Luckily, the suitcase found its way back to me and the lesson is learned forever ;-)
Ask locals about stuff, share some smile
Tip is way dependent on the trip. Common to all is to plan ahead but leave enough room for changes due local unplanned changes either from your side (good surprises like unknown events) or circumstances like weather and local events.
Travel with an open mind. Research a little bit beforehand but leave room in your schedule for spontaneity.
Always ask hotels in advance of any additional charges. I was very surprised to return home from NYC to a charge on my credit card for a "destination fee". Also ask about resort fees and make sure you understand what is complimentary or not.
Buy a phrase book for wherever you go......learn basics. wherever you go, buy the clothes you need, dont carry too many. Always carry a change of clothes in your backpack. Light clothes, buy toiletries as you go,
The best advice I can think of comes from Rick Steves, who says the best way to travel is to become a "temporary local," i.e. try your best to experience wherever you go the way the locals do. That means eating local food, experiencing local culture, trying hard to get "off the beaten path," and leaving your personal hangups and first-world problems at home.
Photocopy passport, tickets & insurance docs x 3 (travelling as a couple)Put a set in each suitcase, leave a set behind with your "emergency contact".
Half your clothes & toiletries between each suitcase.
Pack a lightweight change of clothes in your carry on.
Inform your bank & phone company of not just your destination but any layovers, even if it's only 2 hours.
Research, research, research. Join forums for your destination to get the best tips from locals, ex pats and people who travel their often.
Book rooms with a kitchenette and if you're fussy like me, ensure it's NOT a shared bathroom. Remember it's cheaper than the rest for a reason!
Take paracetamol, "tummy" tablets, heartburn tablets & sanitary products with you, they can be REALLY expensive elsewhere and possibly hard to find.
Pack a dish towel and sponge/cloth if you're self catering.
Always check your hotel bill. I once got charged for a European charger because my daughter opened the box on the desk to see what it was. Apparently a sensor went off & I had to explain to the front desk that we did not use it & I'm not from Europe so I didn't even need a European adapter. They then took the $14.00 charge off the bill. Also if you're from Europe I would bring your own adapter so you're equipped when you travel.
Remember you don't have to photograph everything. Most landmarks are available on inexpensive postcards and it will save you room on memory cards and money when it's time to develop them.
Walk everywhere possible. Stop locals to ask about their favorite restaurant or pub. My go to, at least in the US, is to stop a firemen or policeman to ask for their favorite spot. I can't count the number of debates we have started within fire departments about the best place to get a burger or nachos. And, the side info on the area is unbeatable.
For the ladies, always travel with a sarong/wrap. You can use it as a towel, blanket, something to sit on, cover up with when going to a holy place, a head wrap, an eye mask...
Go to the places, talk to the people and do the things that you have that strange sense of draw to them (while being safe). I love to get out and wander in a new place and just eat at whatever restaurant feels like it's calling my name more than the others that day. I make a lot friends with owners that way because they can tell I appreciate what's unique about their restaraunt, staff and food.
Also, I prefer to not see a bunch of pictures of a place before traveling to it because there's nothing better than being blown away the first time you see something and it's better than you could have imagined.
Make a VERY comprehensive packing list and stick to it. As your situation changes, make changes to your packing list. Keep it current and you will never forget anything again.
Whenever possible, leave a day free in your itinerary – in case you find something else worth doing/visiting during your trip. If there’s none, you can always go shopping or food-tripping or start walking and explore other areas.
Drawing maps of the towns or destinations, help me to travel easily.
I always make sure our accommodations include a kitchenette of some kind. Being able to boil some noodles, slap together a sandwich or just scramble an egg can provide just what you need, avoiding the often difficult decision of "what to eat, and where to get it" you are forced into with most hotel rooms. We use one of many sites that offer houses/apartments for short-term rentals. It has made a world of difference in our travel happiness.
Do something random - go to a place where you don't know exactly what you are looking for.
Always bring more cash than you think you will need. If anything, the extra buffer for security.
Don't try to do everything. Depending on how much time you have to travel, just pick 1-3 bases and take day trips. And take time for the mundane: go to grocery stores, community recreation centers, other boring places. You learn most about the locals when you go the less exciting sites.
Don't plan every detail of your day. Start with a couple of spots to visit and work around them. Don't stress yourself over a tight schedule and you'll appreciate your surroundings more.