Let’s admit it — traveling is an incredible experience, but it can also be overwhelming and stressful. If you’re a less seasoned traveler who wants to make out of your trip, then this article is for you! We’ve compiled the best travel tips from frequent travelers to help you make your trip smoother, more enjoyable, and more rewarding.
From packing and planning to navigating new cities and cultures, these top travel tips from experienced travelers will help you get the most out of your travel experiences this 2023.
1. Pack everything in a carry-on.
You can pack everything that you need in a carry-on bag if you’re smart.
If you’re in a long trip, plan for a capsule wardrobe so you can reuse clothes and bring a small packet of detergent so you can watch your underwear in hotel sinks. Also, use packing cubes to organize your clothes and roll everything instead of folding them. This will save from extra luggage costs and the headache of losing your luggage at the airport.
Don’t forget other essentials! We always recommend bringing your own water bottle at the airport, so you won’t have to keep buying bottled water during your trip.
2. Bring a small portable first aid kit.
A first aid kit is a necessity. You never know when you’ll need one! Essentials for a first aid kit include band-aids, pain relievers, antiseptic wipes, and other medicines including anti-diarrhea, laxative, cold medication, and others that you need when you’re sick. It’s also a good idea to bring important prescription or medication in your carry-on instead of checked-in luggage, so you still have access to your medicine in case of delayed or lost luggage.
3. Always bring a sunscreen. Remember, a bad case of sunburn can ruin your trip.
4. If you’re going for an international trip, bring an international adaptor.
5. Bring a 1-day set of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on, in case your luggage is lost or delayed.
6. Bring a reusable tote bag for shopping or souvenirs.
Planning and Preparation
7. Check your passport. With all the planning for a trip, it’s easy to forget to check your passport for expiration date. Many countries require 6 months validity in the passport to get entry.
8. Download the entire city map in Google Maps for offline use. This will help you find your way around the city. You can also do this with Google Translate — download an entire language in your phone so you can easily communicate with the locals.
9. Prepare a soft copy of important documents like passport and IDs.
10. Plan your itinerary. Anthony Bourdain showed us that spontaneous adventures are great, but in real life that isn’t always the case. In fact, if you go with advices such as “Figure it out as you go” or just “Spend the day exploring the neighborhood,” what’s most likely to happen is that you’ll just wander around aimlessly and waste those previous vacation time. The key here is to plan your itineraries, places to see and activities to do, but leave space for flexibility in case something does not go to plan.
11. Read about the laws of the country you’re visiting before you go. Ignorance won’t get you a free pass if you do something illegal.
12. Learn important local phrases such as, “Please,” “Thank you,” “Sorry,” “Where is the __?”, and so forth. Oftentimes, the local will appreciate the effort and will be more accommodating to help you. Don’t assume that everyone speaks English just because you do.
13. Always have emergency cash, but not too much.
14. Get travel insurance. It’s easy to skip on travel insurance, but in general it’s incredibly important since it can help give you peace of mind and protect you financially in case of unexpected events such as medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, or other travel mishaps. Considering the cost of emergency hospital visit or even emergency repatriation where you will need to be flown back to your country, the cost of a travel insurance is a huge bargain.
15. Be at the airport early. One phrase that summarizes this perfectly is: “It’s better to be bored and early at the airport rather than late and scrambling.” It’s advisable to be at the airport at least 3 hours before an international flight and sometimes even earlier in case of holidays.
16. Expect 1 hour on flight connections. Add leeway if your connecting flight is in an out-of-the-way airport or in a developing country.
17. Book a flight with a longer layover so you can explore the layover city and add a destination to your trip. Countries such as Singapore are worth a one-day layover tour.
18. Bring entertainment with you. Flights and land transit often come with delays and waiting times. So it’s best to prepare those ebooks on your must-read list, movies, or games. If you’re looking for online games that will take your mind off things, there are websites like solitaire.org that have a range of classic card games, crosswords, the crowd-favorite sudoku puzzle, and more.
19. Make extra space in your bag for flight essentials. Eye blinds, noise-canceling earphones or ear plugs, neck pillows make a huge difference in terms of comfort especially in long flights. You might also want to consider wearing compression socks, which will help blood circulation on your legs while sitting for a long period.
20. Book a hotel room on a higher floor for quiet and increased privacy. Families usually stay on the lower floors, so you’ll most likely be next to fellow travelers.
21. Consider booking a hotel instead of an Airbnb. Airbnb is extremely popular nowadays, but over the years there has been a lot of horror stories from customers using this platform. A hotel is a safer choice. Hotels have various amenities that are worth the little price difference compared to an Airbnb; processes like checking in and out, rebooking, and asking for a refund are easy; standard quality is maintained for the rooms and amenities; free breakfast; and lastly you don’t have to pay additional fees for cleaning services and clean the room yourself before you leave.
22. Let your family know about your itinerary. One of the worst things that can happen is that you get into an accident and no one knows where you are. Give a copy of your itinerary to your family or friends and check up on them regularly.
23. Use a VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi to protect your online privacy and security.
24. Keep an eye out for scams. Every place has one — whether it’s tuktuk drivers in Thailand charging extra for a ride, strangers forcibly selling you jewelry in France, or unscrupulous people targeting foreign tourists on tours for their iPhone or other expensive items. Browse forums and Facebook groups so you know what to look out for.
25. Use a slash-proof bag like Pacsafe or a thief-proof purse when going about, especially if you’re a woman.
26. Research about safety in your destination. The world isn’t as scary as what you see in the media. For instance, Mindanao in the Philippines is often portrayed as a danger zone, but Mindanao encompasses a large region and there are numerous places that local and foreign tourists can visit. On the other side of the coin, there are seemingly “safe” cities but are actually not especially for women.
General Travel Tips
27. Ask locals for recommendations on where to go, what to do, and what to eat. This is one of the most popular travel tips and it stands the test of time for a reason.
28. Once you land on your destination, buy a local sim card. It’s cheap, reliable, and you can always connect online through the local network. If someone tells you that you don’t need a local sim because “there’s free WIFI everywhere,” take it with a grain of salt. Even in highly developed countries, there are a lot of areas that do not have access to WIFI.
29. Eat the street food! A lot of people recommend staying away from street food for fear of food poisoning. But a lot of street food are safe — and amazing too! This is particularly true for countries in Asia. For instance, India offers some of the best street foods in the world, with its array of curries and hot sauces.
30. Try the local food, but also don’t feel guilty about going to chain restaurants in foreign countries. Some people just love visiting known fast food like McDonalds abroad, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it’s also comfortable to sit down with a familiar dish after days of venturing to new places.
31. Ask people to take your photos! Don’t let the travel memories fade away. If you’re a solo traveler, you may feel embarrassed about asking strangers to take a picture of you, but often than not they don’t really mind. So strike that pose you’ve always wanted to do.
32. It’s okay to be a tourist. With everyone having access to camera and social media, a lot of people started the eternal search for “hidden gems” and off-the-beaten places. But places like Louvre in Paris are popular for a reason — because they are amazing and they offer a unique experience, whether it’s in the form of culture, arts, history, or food.
33. Consider touring via a hop-on/hop-off bus. A lot of travelers suggest against taking the hop-on/hop-off bus because it’s cheesy and touristy, but it’s actually a great way to learn and orient yourself in the city.
34. Choose the right travel companion. Sometimes it’s not about the destination, but the people you’re traveling with. So make sure that you’re traveling with someone you’re compatible with — whether it’s a friend or significant other. Do you like the same things? If you like nature while the other prefers exploring cities, can you make a compromise that will both allow you to enjoy the trip? You should also make sure that you’re on the same budget. You don’t want to plan all these activities while the other person misses out because they can’t afford them.
35. Back up your photos after your trip. It’s awful losing your photos because your phone or camera gets stolen or irreparably damaged.
That concludes our list of the top travel tips from frequent travelers!
Remember that every traveler has their own unique travel style, so what works for one person may not work for another. For instance, although it’s a common advice to just bring a carry-on bag, you may be more comfortable with bringing a luggage and being prepared with extra outfits. The most important thing is to find out what works best for you and your travel needs.
What travel tips do you live by? Let us know in the comments section below!
Get discounts on your travels!
Enjoy discounts with KLOOK using our promo code: TARALETSANYWHERE
Katherine Cortes is a long-time backpacker and a freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).