Through much trial and error, across many countries, I’ve discovered tips and routines to make my traveling experiences all the more fulfilling and efficient. I think back to my 2014 self when I was ridiculously over-packing, missing flights, and just being an all-around newbie traveler. Five years of travel later, I can finally say that I’ve it got (mostly) figured out.
How to make travel better, easier, and more efficient:
1. Wear sunscreen.
It’s an absolute must. Put it in your carry-on, wear it daily, love it, worship it! It’s not only the healthy thing to do for your body, but there’s not much worse than the feeling of sun-burnt, peeling skin.
Expert tip: Wear sunscreen on planes as well.
2. Don’t over-pack.
The lighter you pack, the easier it is to travel. Take it from me, a once professional over-packer, you won’t wear or use half the things you bring. Even now as I’ve learned to pack light, I still don’t wear everything I bring.
3. Wake up early.
Catch the sunrise and watch the world wake up around you. This is also a great tip if you want to get amazing travel photos. Less crowds equal better photos.
4. Walk or cycle.
It’s the best way to see and get to know a city. Plus, it’s far more eco-friendly.
5. Stash some cash.
Keep some cash hidden away. You never know what can happen.
6. Keep your belongings close.
Don’t put your cell phone in your back pocket or somewhere where it is exposed, and keep your belongings secure.
7. Limit what you bring when going out.
When going out to explore, don’t bring all your debit cards, cash, ID, or passport. Leave your passport somewhere safe, bring your ID, some cash, and your debit card if you need it.
8. Stay is hostels.
It’s the best way to cut down costs, make friends, and get the best tips for things to do in your destination.
Making deep connections in hostels seems to have become a pastime of mine. Many of the people I’ve met while traveling, I’m still in contact with today. There’s even handfuls that I meet up with time and time again for more travel adventures.
I truly can’t recommend hostels enough. You don’t get this kind of experience in hotels.
10. Visit local coffee shops.
Not Starbucks. You’ll meet more locals, get a taste of the place’s coffee culture, and put the money in the hands of the locals instead of a major corporation.
11. Bring a scarf.
It comes in handy. Wrap it around yourself when visiting mosques, use it as a blanket when you’re cold on a flight. Use it as a picnic blanket for a lunch at the park. It has many uses.
Flying dries out your skin due to the low humidity, so keeping moisturizer handy is essential.
13. Moisturize your feet.
Traveling does quite a number on the feet, so give them some love by moisturizing to prevent them from cracking and drying out.
14. Wear appropriate shoes.
Don’t wear thin sandals or flats when going to explore a city. Your feet will be upset with you and you’ll be lucky if you make it through the entire day without falling over. Decent shoes will keep you going.
15. Learn at least the essentials in the local language.
“Hello,” “Please,” Thank you,” and “I’m sorry.” It goes a long way, and it shows a great deal of respect.
16. Try working holidays.
Working Holidays allow foreigners to come to certain countries to live and work for a temporary amount of time. For example, Americans can live and work in Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland for 1–2 years with a Working Holiday visa. Click the links for details.
17. Try Workaway.
Workaway offers travelers a budget-friendly way to experience a new place. You exchange labor for a bed and perhaps food. There are options all around the world from working in hostels or farms to working on a yacht.
18. Keep an open mind.
You’re in a new place. Things are always going to be different.
19. Avoid group tours that do all the planning for you.
What fun is that? Half the adventure is navigating a destination on your own.
20. But do join walking or cycling tours!
It’s not to say you shouldn’t do any tours. Participate in a free walking or cycling tour and learn all about the city or destination you’re visiting, but don’t forget to tip your guide!
21. Spend more time in less places.
You’re less likely to get burnt out and you’ll actually get to learn more about the places you’re visiting instead of simply checking it off your list.
This concept is called slow travel, and it’s beautiful.
22. Bring portable chargers.
They’re helpful for those long-haul flights or overnight excursions.
23. Be more conscious.
Being mindful of the places you’re traveling in is so important. Be courteous, respectful, and give back to the locals.
24. Search ‘Incognito’ when shopping around for flights.
If you don’t, the cookies can track you and raise the price of the flights you’re looking at.
25. Make copies.
Make copies of your passport and other important documents. You always want to be prepared.
26. Go off the beaten path.
The tourist attractions may be cool, but where do the locals go? Visit smaller towns, too.
27. Get lost.
You never know what you might stumble upon.
28. Put yourself out of your comfort zone.
Do things you might not ever do back home. Make this an adventure! You might find a new passion along the way.
29. Write things down.
It’s nice to have written word to look back on. I cherish all my travel journals and re-reading them bring tears of joy and laughter to my eyes. Let it do the same for you.
30. Talk to the locals.
They know best after all.
Originally published at http://thespiritedexplorer.com on June 16, 2018.