I have been traveling on and off since 2012 now and here are some quick tips on traveling for you to try out.
I have never traveled for the love of traveling, well, in the beginning, I had this image of feeling fresh, joyful and adventure in my head – an idea of how I wanted to feel. But it was really to cure my social anxiety and get more confidence, etc. Also, I found out after reading Tim Ferriss’s book traveling was cheaper than staying home in London.
But in that process, I did learn how to travel well, at least not badly.
So, these are my tips on traveling for you whatever your motivations are, whether it is for a short holiday, or to travel long term, try out that digital nomad lifestyle that everyone is talking about, or even if it just to escape the depressing world back home for a short while.
As they say, the majority of life’s problems are caused by misinformation or no information. With the right knowledge, life becomes simpler – in this case, travel.
1. Pack light for more comfort during travel
Almost all the time, you wouldn’t use everything that you take with you. If you doubt whether or not if you want to take something, don’t take it.
Replace heavy items with versatile and light clothing.
Carry at the max two pairs of shoes – one for exploring and one for going to a bar or a club.
2. Travel with a cabin bag only, if possible.
Believe me, you can carry so much more than you would normally if you know how to pack the right way and take only the things that you really need.
Benefits are numerous.
You will save money by not paying for check-in bags especially when using a budget airline. Also, more freedom and lightness when you travel with only a cabin bag.
I pack about 5 pairs of T-shirts, 2 pairs of jeans shorts, 7 pairs of underwear, one cardigan, 2 pairs of jeans, 2 pairs of shoes, 1 dress shirt, swimming shorts, a pair track pants, any first aid medicine, shaving set, a couple of books, all in my carry-on bag.
I use Osprey Farpoint 40L
3. Buy a smaller suitcase
If you have a small suitcase it is impossible for you to overpack.
It forces you to take what is necessary rather than packing your whole wardrobe.
4. Purchase toiletries at your destination
A lot of things can be purchased at the destination. There is no need to carry toothpaste and shampoo, shaving foam, soap, etc with you.
Not only it can save you space, but they can be cheaper when bought at the destination.
Also, this is a big deal for me, at airport security because I don’t have to separate the liquids, etc to another bag. I get really nervous at the security for some reason and I keep looking at the conveyor and hope that it does not go into the other lane where they ask you to open your bag etc when I forget to take that one small bottle of something from my bag.
Now I just pass through without any problems. Easy! I just take my laptop out and that’s it.
Ladies! maybe just carry the bare minimum make-up stuff that is needed as well, that you think you cannot possibly find at your destination.
5. Rent equipment at the destination instead of carrying with you
Such as ski gear, snowboard, etc. Saves you space and energy.
6. Buy solid replacements for liquids
I carry solid shampoo and soap from Lush.
No need to separate liquids etc at airport security and you can carry much bigger amount above the usual 100 ml limit.
7. Carry an extra bag in case you want to check something in
A small foldable, lightweight bag such as the one you get in MUJI.
Carry one of those with you, in case you want to check something in and carry some extra stuff back home. Especially helpful when traveling with only a carryon.
→ I use one from Samsonite
8. Carry a microfiber towel rather than a regular one if you have to carry a towel
They retain less water, suck more waiter and are easier to dry.
Also, don’t use up much space in your luggage.
I use this one.
- Or Don’t carry a towel if you can rent one at your hostel, or your hotel provides it
I don’t carry towels at all. I just rely on what my hostel or hotel provides more space for me in my carry on.
10. Take your medicine with you
Make sure you take your medication with you and the prescription for it with you. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
Carry the basic ones – ibuprofen, paracetamol, Imodium, band-aids, melatonin (for jetlag), etc.
11. Carry condoms and contraceptives
Always good to have on you rather than rushing to a pharmacy in case of an impromptu date.
Try this solid massage bar from Lush.
12. When packing use packing cubes
Use packing cubes and save space when packing. Also if airport security wants to see your bag, it easier to take things out and show them what is where. Pack based on usability rather than category, outfits together and not shirts in one bag or underwear in another, etc.
13. Carry valuables in your carry-on bag
Always keep valuables with you. Passports, cash, visa documents, etc
14. Buy a portable phone charger
Buy a portable charger for your phone and camera. In case you are in need of emergency power if you have forgotten to charge your phone etc. Keep it charged at all times.
Also, carry extra batteries for your camera.
15. Wear thicker jackets and sweaters rather than packing them in
That’s right! You will save space in your bag.
16. Replace your DSLR with a smaller camera or even shoot with a smartphone
Carry a small camera with you rather than a DSLR if you are not a professional photographer. Mostly your smartphone is enough to take decent pictures and videos. If you really want to take a camera – go for the smaller ones. Go for a GoPro in rather than a bigger video camera as they are really small and have a lot of features.
17. Carry some ziplock bags
These are great for packing wet items and cables etc. You can also use a pair of socks to carry your cables.
18. Buy a universal adapter with USB
Instead of carrying multiple adapters especially when you travel cross region, buy one universal adapter preferably with at least two USB ports. Skross has good ones.
19. Use compression bags
Use compression bags along with your packing cubes to save even more space.
I use these ones.
20. Consider an Airbnb instead of the standard hotel accommodation
Are you traveling in a group, Airbnb is the best option? You get full apartments with kitchen for prices much lower than hotels. You save money on not only on accommodation and but also with food if you do some basic cooking.
→ Get a 25 off with your booking with Airbnb
21. Go for private rooms in hostels instead of hotels.
Some hostels have good private rooms.
This will give you privacy as well as the communal aspect of the hostel. Consider this, especially when you travel solo. Read this article if you want to get more info on deciding on a hostel.
→ Hostelworld is the best site for booking hostels
22. Stay Free Volunteering
Stay free in exchange for work such as farm work on websites like workaway.info, wwoof.com, helpx.net. This gets your prices down as you get food and accommodation for free. And you just need to work 5 hours a day. Here are the common volunteering websites.
23. Pet Sit
Pet sitting websites work similar to above. Home owners let you stay free in exchange for taking care of their pets around the world. So, no paying for accommodation again.
24. Surf a couch
If you are comfortable with that kind of thing. I am not. But I have met a lot of people who do this a lot.
I haven’t actually surfed a couch ever, I would n’t. Those days are over.
Mindset for Travel
25. Why do you want to travel?
I have added this as a tip because I think it is important, in order to have good travel experience.
What is the motivation behind you wanting to travel?
Is it to escape from a breakup, loneliness, self-improvement or anything like that?
Asking this will help you keep in mind what you actually want to be doing when you are on the road, rather than doing random meaningless things.
That does not necessarily mean over-plan. Keep an open mind. Have a direction of where you want to be skill-wise.
The question above is simply to avoid doing things that suck your energy as well as to keep doing more of the things that you enjoy.
26. But sometimes, you have to explore new territories
If you only stick to what you have always been doing you will just repeat your life, and travel would not be very different, it will be just an extension to what you may be doing back home. You may just as well stay at home.
So, keep an open mind.
27. Do you want to have new experiences? Leave your prejudices and opinions behind
It has become an overused statement – ‘to meet new people’, ‘to have new experiences’. If you take what you have known and never step outside your opinions of right and wrong, what is the point of traveling?
Isn’t it quite obvious that you will continue meeting the same kind of people you have been meeting, you will continue to have the same experiences?
28. Don’t travel to self-improve
Avoid having intentions like I want to be more courageous or any other kind psychological self-improvement
When you act in order to overcome or be better, you are telling yourself constantly that you are not good enough. When you say ‘I must be courageous’ that is the voice of fear – and you act from that, you end up reinforcing the fear.
It does not look like that in the beginning because you will get a false sense of progress. But you will eventually realize it is still the same thing.
29. But do travel to learn new skills
Skills, on the other hand, are the product of repetition.
Mastery is acquired through repetition.
And it is the only place where repetition makes sense. There is no new learning, but there is fine-tuning.
Look towards increasing your competency.
I know friends who took dancing lessons in Buenos Aires and Diving classes in Thailand.
30. Create a list of things that you want to have experienced during your travel
Make a list of things that you want to be doing and being. For me, it is something like
- Be social and courageous (have to do it because of my anxiety around people)
- Go to a salsa class
- Chill in coffee shops
- Take photos and blog about it
- Be mindful and remember that it is not the place that I have to comfortable with, it is me.
- Learn dancing
The more specific they are the better. For example, learn the Tango – instead of learning dancing
Tools to do that:
- Write down in a notebook/journal – so that you can later read at the end of the trip and see.
- Use Tim Ferris’s Dreamline worksheet
31. Buy adequate travel insurance
Buy adequate travel insurance when you travel, especially to developing countries and traveling long term. You don’t want to be spending a lot of money in case you get sick or injured.
Make sure you are covered for the activity you are going to do – skiing, scuba diving etc. Read the fine print.
32. Long term travelers have these subscription-based options.
If you are traveling long term, say more than a month or want a flexible option, or forgot to buy travel insurance before departing, you can use the following. They are good for short holidays as well. Cheap too. These ones renew monthly.
I use Safetywing. I like it because the policy can be managed using their website, renew, cancel, etc. very easily. Also thought it was a bit cheaper than Worldnomads which is equally good too – just depends on what activities you are going to do.
32. Note down your policy number in your notes app or Evernote. And familiarise yourself with the claim procedure.
Yep, do it.
33. Have the best apps – and download them before you set off for your trip (in case you won’t be having any data)
There are a lot of good apps that can assist you and make your trip very smooth. Navigation apps, local activities apps, sightseeing planner apps, etc. Download them and install them on your smartphone before your trip.
Data can be unreliable in hotels if you are traveling to developing countries, at least not good enough to download an app. So to be safe download them before you set off.
Find good hotels to stay
Find good hostels to stay
- Booking.com (hostels filter)
Apartments to stay
- Booking.com (apartments filter)
Save money on accommodation
Plan a trip
- Google Trips
- Kayak (explore option with the cost of trip option)
- Kiwi (flights to anywhere – and use the activities, things to do filters)
Taxi and Ridesharing
Track your expenses and save on foreign exchange
Things to do – Meet new people
- Google Maps (Explore option)
- Google Trips
- Airbnb (experience option)
- Couchsurfing events
- Facebook events
- Google events – this is a special search result (Just search “<place> events <today,weekend> etc
- Pinterest – search for <place> things to do – it will show some good articles by travel bloggers.
Share memories and Log your journey
- Notes app
Stay connected with friends and family
- Snapchat (I hate it, but cool kids use it I hear)
After checking in add your ticket to your iPhone wallet or the equivalent on Android.
Kill Time During a Flight
Useful when the inflight entertainment system sucks or is not available in case you are flying budget where there is no entertainment at all.
- Netflix – Make sure you download all the shows and movies onto your app before you fly
- Youtube premium – Download funny cat videos, and hilarious videos of kids falling, pranks – whatever you like – even premium tv shows and movies onto your device
- Amazon Prime – Same as above, you get the gist.
- Audible – audiobooks
- Kindle – readable books ☺
Order food to your Airbnb or Hotel
Easily plan a route in Europe
Hide your identity when accessing public networks – or want to watch Netflix from a country where Netflix is not available or restricted
- Youtube (try searching simple exercises to keep fit)
- Headspace (meditation)
- Waking up (meditation)
Want to learn a few words in the local language?
34. Check if you need a visa before your travel using this site
Personally, I would just travel to visa-free countries first. The more complex you make the process the less likely you are to execute them, right?
But this website has a nifty tool to check if you need a visa.
35. Use Digital Travel guides
Carry digital travel guides rather than physical ones. There are apps such as Google trips, culture trip (gives you some nice local tips) and Triposo.
I would not recommend using TripAdvisor because a lot of fake reviews are present in trip advisor.
36. Carry a book
To Kill time, to learn something new during your long flight or train ride.
37. Save space by carrying digital versions of books
Have digital versions of books on a Kindle or use the audible app if you are a fan of listening to books as I am.
They don’t take up space in your luggage plus you don’t have to spend time deciding if you want to take or not a book with you because of its weight
38. Scan your passport and store it in the cloud
It just means store it on a server other than our phone, or laptop so it can be accessed from anywhere in case you lose your phone or computer.
Here are some apps
If you lose your passport this will come in handy.
If you have the cloud apps on the phone – make sure you download important files onto the device. clicking the download button. Just installing the app is not enough and you will be frustrated if you want to access a ticket or something else when the airport wifi sucks.
39. Download videos into your device before flying
Download your favorite shows and YouTube videos onto your phone or laptop, if you want to watch something other than what is available on the entertainment system on flights. Budget airlines don’t have a TV or good options, so this is a necessity for me.
I pay for a Netflix and YouTube premium, Amazon subscription so I download my favorite shows onto my phone.
They include free trial, so sign up for the free trial and cancel before 30 days. Use a different card next time repeat.
40. Download your maps offline
Download offline maps of your destination in google maps. This will help when you want to access maps and you don’t have internet. There are other apps as well such as Herewego.
In google maps search for your destination and make sure it is at the zoom level of the city and click save.
41. Inform your bank
Inform your bank that you will be traveling so they won’t block your card thinking it is a fraudulent transaction. It will avoid you the hassle of looking stupid when you card declines or having to call up your bank to reactivate the card.
42. Only book flights 4-6 weeks in advance
if you book too long in advance, airlines don’t know about the demand and your book on a generic price. Most times it is higher than what you would normally pay. Don’t book last minute either within the last two weeks, especially for long haul flights.
During a flight
43. Avoid alcohol during the flight
Alcohol makes you tired and sucks your energy. Period.
44. Save on exchange by using specialty these cards
Carry cards that help you exchange money, cards like Monzo, Revolut or Transferwise.
I can’t remember the last time I used a currency exchange.
The money exchange places take a huge commission. Using your bank card directly is also not any better than that. The conversion rates are crappy also they take a transaction fee.
Consider using cards offered by the fintech companies like Monzo, Revolut or Transferwise, they give you the best exchange rates, can hold multiple currencies, etc.
Revolut and Transferwise allow you to hold money in multiple currencies. Either you can exchange money ‘In-App’ and use the card as a local debit card in your destination or use it without this feature, they will convert money on the fly.
These cards are available if you live in the UK/Europe, but I sure there will equivalent solutions for the US/Australia, etc.
See if any such cards are available in your country before your trip
45. Prevent overspending by keeping track of your expenses
Track your expenses using an app or in your journal. That will prevent you from overspending because how much you spend is right in front of you, every night before you go to sleep.
BTW, Both Revolut and Monzo categorize spending and shows you nice charts to let you know how much you’re spending. You can also set caps on categories, $200 on entertainment, $400 on eating out, etc.
46. Save money on hotels and flights by earning points using travel cards and hotel loyalty programs
I am not very experienced with this, but here is a good article by nomadicmatt. I have only recently started collecting points for the hotels I stay at.
On the Road
47. Travel Slow
If you have two weeks to spare, visit a couple of cities. Don’t plan to visit a bunch of them moving every two or three days. Plan to stay in one place longer and really take in what the place has to offer.
48. Have a simple exercise routine like a yoga routine.
It doesn’t have to be long, maybe 5-10 minutes every day to keep your health in check. I personally do Five Tibetans.
49. Pick up skills on the road
When you are traveling long term, if you are like me traveling slowly and spending a few weeks to a month in one place, try to pick up some local skills, like learning a new language or dance or cooking. You will entirely be a new person after your travels. Just partying is for losers.
50. Keep a journal or a blog
Keep a record of special memories, joyful and hurtful, how you felt, processed how you felt, what your thoughts and feelings were, strange events, etc. You can read back later and see how far you have come and rejoice in that feeling.
And if you want to convert what you wrote into a blog and share with other travelers, or people who want to experience the same things as you did, you can do that, and that can provide you with a steady income as well.
51. Eat out
You see the food differs from a place to another. So, there is no point in trying to save money by eating in supermarkets, etc and eating the same things as back at home.
You can… if you are not a big fan of food, but just to save money it isn’t worth it.
Plus, if you move to less touristy areas you can find cheap eats. And in places like Thailand, don’t even worry about the money that you spend outside, eating out can actually be cheaper than cooking.
52. Take local guided tours
Again try to take the guided tours when in places. There may be really good cheap offers. Do your research and use apps like Viator to find these. Your hostel may also have good suggestions.
- You get to meet new people
- No headache of planning how to get there etc
Sources of information
I usually use local tours for things like visiting a national park or to places where it is hard to get by myself.
53. Explore the city on a budget by joining free walking tours
Mostly every city I had been to, had a free walking tour so far. Make use of these. They come with a lot of information about the history of a place plus hidden tips about where to go eat for cheap etc.
54. Most good things are cheap
Remember if something feels overpriced for what it is, it probably is. Most good things that I have come across in my travels are cheap, reasonable. If something is pricey, it may not be even that good, maybe just a tourist rip off. And scams usually are.
55. Get enough sleep
Really important. You want to feel vital and full of energy when traveling. So, it only makes sense to get enough sleep before taking a flight or a bus or a train.
56. No Rushing
Also, rest well when you are active, out and about, sightseeing.
Travel is not your work. Work should n’t be the way it is anyway – something that makes you feel tired and want to crash at the end of the day.
The point is, don’t treat sightseeing and activities as things to be done, one after the other. That will only exhaust you.
Enjoy the view, take it in. Move slowly and relaxed. Be present.
57. Don’t drink excessively or avoid drinking alcohol altogether
Alcohol will suck your energy. Now I know that is too much to ask if you are an 18-year-old hardcore party animal, but you have been warned.
Your body will thank for it at the end of the trip.
I have heard people saying, “I partied so hard, it was so good”, when by looking at them I can see that they are miserable.
- Alcohol drains your energy
- You tend to overeat but not out of hunger
58. Removing alcohol from your diet. Drastically reduces the risk of getting mugged assaulted.
Yep, it is common sense really, also statistically true.
Have one glass of wine, or one beer but don’t get every day. And certainly, don’t drink every day.
59. Eat well and don’t eat junk
Eat the local food but don’t overeat. Pretty obvious.
60. Eat where the locals eat
If you see a restaurant that is empty don’t go in. Eat at fairly popular places, where people who seem like locals are.
This will help you avoid places that are for tourist, have high prices, but don’t have great food.
61. Try to get tickets (train/bus/flight) online or through an app
This is a convenient tip. You don’t have to print them out to carry them around in a folder, I have seen this and have thought to myself – WHY?
Note: This is mostly true in developed countries, in developing countries you will have to print out tickets. Do a simple google search to find out.
62. Get a local sim card for data when you land
Don’t pay for roaming charges. That’s just dumb.
Buy a local SIM and top it up with data. This is the first thing that I do whenever I land at the airport. I use it then to call an uber to the hotel, or my Airbnb.
When you take a taxi from the airport, you can look at the map to see where the driver is actually taking you – in the general direction or route suggested by maps. This will help you avoid scams.
I top it up with data only bundles, so I can call home using WhatsApp, and also keep in touch with new contacts using Instagram or messenger. And I don’t have to wait for the WIFI to be available at a public hotspot, or hostel, or hotel.
In most cases, the local sim card deals are super cheap. In Poland I paid around £5 pounds for 15 Gig data or something like that, you get the gist, it is cheap.
63. Sleep whenever you want – Don’t fight jet lag
When you are jetlagged there is no need to force yourself to stay awake to adjust to the local timezone. Your body will readjust. Sleep when you want to sleep.
I have friends who take some pills to counteract jet lag. You can always get some of those too (Melatonin)
64. Get local transportation apps for convenience
That will provide you with bus stop information etc. Uber for taxi works great in many cities and is cheap, especially when you are traveling in a group.
Do a simple google search to find these apps.
65. Use apps to find free local WIFI hotspots
Apps like WIFI map and Foursquare shows you nearby WIFI hotspots. This is incredibly useful if you want internet, in case you did not opt for a local sim card, or don’t have roaming data.
66. Use a VPN
Use a VPN when accessing bank accounts and other secure information online.
Also, if Netflix is restricted or blocked, or if some of your favorite shows are not available where you are, then a VPN helps.
67. Carry a pen and a notebook
Keep a pen with you, comes in handy when you have to fill out forms for visa (in case of visa on arrival), filling out landing cards, etc. Notebook, well is a notebook, in case you want to quickly jot down something. Useful when you don’t want to use your phone or laptop.
68. Buy Longer charging cables
Buy long USB charging cables for your iPhone, camera, etc. These are helpful especially when you stay in hostels where there is a charging point in the corner away from you. You can just use these long cables and keep the phone with you when you sleep. Buy these in travel shops or shops like Tiger/Hema if you are in Europe (about £5) or online.
69. Layer your clothes
Learn how to layer well.
Avoid wearing one thick outer clothing – rather learn to layer into stylish outfits. This keeps your clothing versatile for different occasions.
Also, you can layer when you are cold and unlayer when you are hot in the underground for example.
I use thread.com and Pinterest to get outfit ideas – Just search layering for <sex> in Pinterest.
70. Get a good headphone (Wireless)
Good headphones are a must to listen to audiobooks, Spotify, watch Netflix shows, Youtube, meditate etc.
Get the wireless ones, I use one from BOSE. I dig it, they have a long warranty ( 2 years ). They replace it if there are any complaints during that period
See if you can get ones with detachable cables so you can use them with the aircraft entertainment system instead of the crappy ones the airlines provide.
71. Communication – Stay connected with your friends and family.
More of a safety tip. Call your family and let them know where you are regularly – post pics on social media, etc. This will help you get out of trouble, in case you get lost on a remote hike, etc.
72. Be careful of people offering help or offering to take your photos/asking for directions.
These people may seem friendly but may ask you money after they do for taking your photos, this is a known scam in many places.
A friend of mine got scammed – he was offered photos to be taken with one of those mascots and then was asked to pay for the photos, even took him to the ATM when he said he had no money with him.
People aren’t all that nice.
73. Backup your photos regularly on a trip.
Backup your photos regularly to your cloud storage (google drive, Onedrive, iCloud, Dropbox etc) In case your phone gets damaged or stolen, or the same happens to your camera, you still have your photos.
Turn on automatic cloud upload if it is available on your smartphone. On the iPhone, it is an option in the iCloud settings.
74. Read travel bloggers to get ideas on what to do locally
Read local travel bloggers for your destination to get local hidden ideas for places to visit, unique activities and for good food, etc.
75. Have an emergency cash fund
keep a separate emergency fund somewhere else other than your wallet or purse in case you lose your wallet etc.
76. Carry multiple cards and keep in different places.
Keep money on different cards, in case one gets stolen you can still use the other one.
77. Keep your passport in the hotel/locker and carry copies with you.
Once you are at your destination, it is safer to keep your passport in a locker at the hotel and carry copies of it with you, in case you get mugged, etc. If you are staying in a hostel, carry them with you, or rent a locker. In developing countries, I would not trust a locker in the hostel, so carry it with you.
78. Don’t carry a lot of cash with you when you are out and about
Keep it under $100, in case you lose, it is only so much. Also keep money in different places, in your bag, in your wallet, somewhere hidden, etc.
79. Don’t flash around your camera or phone in crowded places
80. Don’t carry a money belt
These things are the obvious targets for pickpockets.
81. No tipping homeless people and beggars
This is a no-no. Most of the times these people target tourists, they see if you have money when you give them money and mark you as a mug-able target
82. Write down emergency numbers
Write down the local emergency numbers for police, fire, and ambulance for your destination. Hopefully, nothing goes wrong, but who knows.
Keep that information written down on a paper in your wallet or in your phone using a notes app like Evernote.
83. Have fun
This one is the most important. Let go of the rigid rules in your mind. Relax and have fun.
That’s it, if I think of anything more, I will add it to the list.
If you have some tips that I don’t know about, do leave some comments.