The Ultimate Guide for Travelers
We know traveling is one of the best experiences in life, but it can always get a little tricky. There are many situations that can be stressful or complicated if you are not fully prepared, that’s why today we bring to you our Ultimate Guide for Travelers.
Every Saturday we share on our Facebook some of our best advice to travel, so go like us and get new tips every week.
- Travel by yourself at least once
You’ll learn a lot about yourself and how to become independent. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Traveling solo taught us how to fend for ourselves, talk to people, and handle unfamiliar situations with ease. It’s made us comfortable with ourselves, helped us learn about what we’re capable of, and allowed us to be super selfish and do whatever we want! It can take some time getting used to it if you’ve never done it before but do it at least once. Make yourself uncomfortable and surprise yourself. You’ll learn valuable life skills when you push yourself!
- Don’t be afraid to use a map.
Looking like a tourist isn’t as bad as getting really lost and ending up in the wrong neighborhood. Don’t be afraid to use a map or ask for directions and look like a tourist. After all, you are one! Always use a map when you travel. It helps you get to where you need to go!
- Check travel guides before getting into your destination
Learning a little bit about your destination before actually being there is always useful, since you won’t be completely lost in a world full of possibilities but still get surprised when seeing everything with your own eyes. Have you taken a look at our city guides? You can find our best tips for Las Vegas, Cancun, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, and many more at our blog!
- But don’t be afraid to get purposefully lost.
Wandering aimlessly through a new city is a good way to get to know it, get off the beaten path, and away from the tourists. You might be surprised by the hidden gems you find.
- Read a history book!
You can’t understand a place’s present if you don’t know anything about its past. Read up on the destinations you are visiting. It will give you a deeper understanding of this place you’ve wanted to see for so long!
Tips about food
- Never eat in a touristy area or near a tourist attraction
As a general rule, walk five blocks in either direction before you find a place to eat. The closer you are to tourist attractions the more expensive you are going to pay and the worse the food (and service) will be. Use websites like Yelp, Google Maps, Foursquare, or OpenRice to find some delicious and popular restaurants around you.
Additionally, never eat anywhere the menu is in like 6 languages! That means the restaurant is just for tourists!
Locals don’t eat out every night and neither should you.
- Go grocery shopping.
You can learn a lot about locals’ diets by seeing the type of food they buy. Plus, it will save you a lot of money. You won’t regret it. Cook your food, save money, surprise yourself!
- Eat at expensive restaurants during lunch.
Most expensive restaurants offer lunch specials featuring the same food they would serve for dinner but half the price! That’s the best time to eat out when you travel.
- Try new food.
Don’t ask what it is. Just put it in your mouth and see if you like it. If you put your guard up, you might miss out on some unusual and delicious local cuisine.
- How to save money when it comes up to water.
Take an empty metal water bottle through airport security and fill it up at your gate.
Drink from the tap when you can so you’ll save money and help the environment. If you’re going somewhere where you can’t drink tap water, be sure to get a water bottle with a filter.
Tips about money
- Take an extra bank card and credit card with you
Disasters happen. It’s always good to have a backup in case you get robbed or lose a card. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere new without access to your funds.
- Make sure to use no-fee bank cards
Don’t give banks your hard-earned money. Keep that for yourself and spend it on your travels. Get a credit card and debit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee or an ATM fee. Over the course of a long trip, the few dollars they take every time will really add up!
- Don’t buy a money belt.
Thieves know they exist and being seen with one basically shouts, “Look at me, I’m a tourist with money! Rip me off!”. The more you can blend in and act like a local, the easier it will be to get deals and avoid touts. If you’re worried about pickpockets, keep a better eye on your stuff!
- When you go out, take only what you need.
Limit the amount of cash and bank cards you carry with you, so if something does happen, you can easily recover. Never take more than one credit card or ATM card with you.
- Learn to haggle.
Haggling is a fun, playful way of not getting charged the foreigner price. It’s the art of negotiating and one that will help you throughout all of life, not just at the market.
Tips about health
- Carry a basic first-aid kit.
Accidents happen so be prepared. Take band-aids, antibacterial cream, and ointments for minor cuts and scrapes. You never know when you’re going to need it and you can’t always get it when you travel.
- Get vaccinated.
Because falling prey to an illness in a foreign country is not fun — and many countries require you to get vaccinated to visit them so, regardless of your opinion on the subject, you just might have to, and because COVID-19, right?
Tips about clothes
- Take extra socks.
You’ll lose a bunch of wear and tear, and hiking so packing extra will come in handy. We only take a few more than we need. Nothing beats a fresh pair of socks!
- Get good shoes.
You walk a lot when you travel. Don’t beat up your feet. Love them as much as they love you, and they’ll take you to amazing places.
Tips about packing
- Always pack a towel
You never know when you will need it, whether it’s at the beach, on a picnic, or just to dry off. While many hostels offer towels, you never know and carrying a small towel won’t add that much weight to your bag.
- Buy a small backpack/suitcase
By purchasing a small backpack (We like something around 35/40 liters), you will be forced to pack light and avoid carrying too much stuff. Humans have a natural tendency to want to fill space so if you pack light but have lots of extra room in your bag, you’ll end up going “well, I guess I can take more” and then regret it.
- Pack light
It’s OK to wear the same t-shirt a few days in a row. Take half the clothes you think you will need…you won’t need as much as you think. Write down a list of essentials, cut it in half, and then only pack that! Plus, since you bought a small backpack like we said, you won’t have much room for extra stuff anyways!
Tips about safety
- Always carry a lock.
They come in handy, especially when you stay in dorms and need to lock your stuff up. Carry a small combination lock with you when you travel. Don’t use one with keys because, if you lose the keys, you’re screwed!
- Make extra copies of your passport and important documents.
Don’t forget to email a copy to yourself too. You never know when you might need to have some sort of documentation with you and might not want to carry your original. Additionally, if your passport gets stolen, having a copy will come in handy for your police report.
- Take pictures of your luggage and clothes.
If your bag gets lost, this will help identify it more easily and speed up the process of having your travel insurance reimburse you.
- Be open to strangers
Not everyone bites. Say hi to people on the road. Turn strangers into friends. Remember they are just like you! They want to live a happy, full life and have hopes and dreams too! You never know. You just might make some lifelong friends.
- But keep your guard up.
Some people do bite, so keep a healthy level of suspicion. You don’t want to fall for any travel scams or get yourself into uncomfortable situations. Be open but cautious.
Tips about culture
- Learn basic phrases in the native language of your destination
The locals will appreciate it and it will make your interactions easier. You don’t need to master the language but learn a few things like “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “Thank you!”, “Where’s the bathroom?” will go a long way to endearing yourself with the locals. They’ll like that you tried.
- Take free walking tours.
Besides being free, these tours will give you a good orientation and background of the city you are visiting. We love, love, love taking walking tours when we travel. You pass the time, you get to pepper the guide with questions, and you get to learn so much about where you are! Take a walking tour when you travel!
- Get city attraction cards.
If you are going to visit a lot of museums and other attractions in a short period of time, a city pass is going to save you money on admission (plus most provide free public transportation too!).
- Always visit the local tourism office.
They know about everything going on in town. They can point you to free activities, special events happening during your stay, and everything in between. They even offer discounts on attractions and transportation. It is their job to help you experience the destination better. It’s amazing how many travelers skip this when they are visiting somewhere but, as a savvy traveler, you know to use this resource! This is probably one of the most underused travel tips in the world. Use the tourism board! Save money!
- Ask hostel staff for information — even when you aren’t staying there.
Hostel staff deal with budget travelers all day, every day. They know exactly where to go for cheap meals and attractions. They also tend to be locals so they know the city very well. Ask them for all sorts of information. Even if you aren’t staying in one, just pop in and ask for help. They’ll usually give it.
- Lunchtime is the best time to visit historical sites.
Be a contrarian. You’ll have fewer crowds getting in your way as big tour buses, groups, and most travelers head to lunch. It’s always best to visit an attraction super early, late, or when people eat. You’ll have even the most popular places to yourself!
- Use Meetup, the sharing economy, and hospitality websites to meet locals
These websites will help you get an insider’s perspective on your destination by connecting you with locals in the places you visit. The sharing economy has changed the way people travel allowing you to meet locals, get off the tourist travel, and save mega money!
Here are some:
- Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting locals who can tell you much more about a city than you will find in a hostel/hotel.
- Airbnb – Another good accommodation alternative, this site connects with homeowners who rent out their homes/apartments to you.
- EatWith – There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a new friend.
- BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go!
- Gumtree – This Craigslist-like site is an amazing resource for travelers. You can find travel partners, rideshares, jobs, second hand gear, homestays, and much more.
- Lyft – Get locals to pick you and drop you off where you need to go! It’s about 30% cheaper than a taxi.
Tips about flights
- Don’t fly direct
When booking flights, sometimes it is cheaper to fly into airports close to your final destination, and then take a train or bus to where you need to go. Be sure to shop around for your flight and know that direct isn’t always the cheapest route. Our favorite flight search engines are:
- Skyscanner – This is my go-to website for finding cheap flights. It searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss.
- Google Flights – One of the best flight search engines out there, Google Flights lets you enter your departure airport and see flights all over the world in a map so you can see where the cheapest destination is.
- Book flights 2-3 months in advance to get the best price.
Don’t drive yourself too crazy trying to get the absolute cheapest fare. Spending five hours trying to save $10 will cause you a lot of stress.
- Always get behind business travelers when in security lines.
They move fast since they are usually in a rush and travel light. They know the drill. Line up behind them as much as possible. You’ll speed through the line!
- Never get behind families.
They take forever. It’s not their fault. They just have a lot of stuff because of the kids. Try to avoid getting in lines with lots of kids. It’s going to take awhile.
Tips about accommodation
- When you check in to the hotel, don’t be afraid to ask for an upgrade.
They have a lot of flexibility when it comes to assigning upgrades at check-in. It never hurts to ask. Oftentimes they can accommodate you if the hotel isn’t full. Just be super nice!
- Stay in hostels
They are cheap, organize events, you’ll meet a lot of people, and they are just tons of fun! Plus, hostel bars sell cheap beer.
Tips about internet connection
- Libraries, Starbucks, and most cafés have free Wifi.
If you’re staying someplace that charges you to connect, check out one of these places. You can connect for free.
- Don’t be ashamed to walk into a Starbucks or McDonald’s.
Sometimes familiarity is comforting and both places have free wifi and public restrooms you can use.
Tips about transportation
- Avoid taxis.
They are always a budget buster. Never, ever take a taxi unless you absolutely have too!
Instead, you can use Elife, we have affordable fares, you can book in advance and choose your car, which is better. Don’t you think?