Thursday, June 16, 2016

My Top 50 Travel Tips!


      So after seeing 6 of the 7 continents, there's a lot I know about travel, and I lot I wish I knew!!! In no particular order here are 50 tips to travel and see the world!
  1. Plan! Sure I've gone last minute with no plan, but generally Plans go a lot smoother
  2. You will no doubt at some point need to get a Visa, try to get it on your own for free, or thru the mail, before paying a Visa service. If you don't live by a consulate maybe you frequently visit a city with one and can do it then. For instance I know next time I go to NYC to visit my family I can double down and stop by the consulate for India to get my Visa since the Visa is a 10 year re entry Visa with plenty of years to make the trip.
  3. Also when you get your first Visa you will need passport style photos, you might as well print about 20 copies and leave them at home wherever you leave your passport so that for the next Visa you will already have photos lying around, assuming you don't change your look too much.
  4. WiFi or a Data Sim Card is you best friend on international travel. Don't spend tons of money on international calling fees, or data fees, buy a Sim Card on arrival if the price is right or just use WiFi at cafes, your apartment, etc for internet and apps. You can use Skype, Google Voice, or whats-app and save some money on phone calls with just a Sim Card or WiFi.
  5. As you exit the plane for an international trip, don't be a jerk and knock people over, but you may want to walk a little faster than the crowd, as being in the back of the customs line can seem like an eternity when you are anxious to step foot into a new country.
  6. The golden rule when you are not sure if you packed everything, your passport, your wallet, and your camera or phone camera. Everything else you can buy when you get there... Except!
  7. Prescription medication, don't get caught without it if you take it! Remember to pack it! 
  8. Non prescription: Anti diarrhea pills, nuff said
  9. Know your European/Asian/USA etc clothing or shoe size for the place you are going in case you wanna buy while there.
  10. Go when you can go, not when you have 3 months off to go. Most of the people viewing this web page are American according to my stats, so am I. The typical American may only have 2 weeks vacation a year and holidays, after family visits, stay-cations, and whatever else you needed to take off for, if you only have 5 or 6 days to go somewhere, go. People will wait till they have a month off to backpack across Europe and end up blowing $2,000 at a casino in Vegas over a weekend, but never seeing Europe. It sucks we don't have much vacation/holiday, but use what you got, it also sucks that you lose a day flying, but I promise I've had amazing short trips, from 1 day to 5 days in other countries that blow all my domestic holidays away.
  11. Learn a bit of the language! I cannot emphasize enough how much language will help in international travels. You don't need to be fluent (though it would help more!), learn foods you don't eat or are allergic to, also learning some basic phrases can get you so far and the people will appreciate it too!

    Espanol in one of my many trips to South America
  12. If you are going to a 3rd world country, pack and carry an emergency roll of toilet paper. Nuff said.
  13. Think beyond the box of an expensive hotel, with options like airbnb, couch surfing, hostels, and vrbo there are so many other options to save you money!
  14. Bring gifts, something cheap from your country that they don't have where you are going, you can even email a hostel or guest house before you go and ask if they'd like anything, a little $20 gift or even cheaper will go a long way when you arrive.
  15. Know what you need in your carry on, and what you don't.
  16. Speaking of which, anytime possible, consider traveling with just a carry on! 
  17. When you must check a bag, I always like to leave room for souvenirs, you can also bring clothes you no longer like and just leave them there or donate them to have plenty of free space for the way home.
  18. Not so much an option with international travel, but with domestic I have also shipped my dirty clothes home to make more room in my bag.
  19. Traveling with friends is great, but don't always bank on it, Travel Alone when you have to, in some cases there are even some more fun aspects about solo travel!
  20. Layovers are thought of as a boring inconvenience, nothing can be further from the truth if you utilize them to your advantage! Make the lay over longer and add another city or even country to your itinerary.

    Some airlines, I.E. Iceland Air give free layovers to increase tourism. 
  21. Currency, know how much you are spending, some idiot I know was in China the first day and forgot to pack a belt, he ended up going to a mall and spent ¥500 Yuan on a belt! It was about $70 and it didn't even fit me... oops.... I mean him... yeah know the currency. 
  22. Also for currency exchange  go to your bank before the trip to have at least the cost of a taxi in cash on hand, once there withdraw from safe ATM's in that country. There is no need to pay crazy exchange fees at the airport.
  23. Speaking of fees, make sure you have a credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees.
  24. Don't forget to call your credit card and bank to make the travel notification so you can use the card abroad.
  25. Do what must be done to get thru an international flight, it is legalized human torture.
  26. Buy books on ebay, I actually wait a year after my favorite authors release so I don't have to buy the hardcover, way too expensive and as soon as I am done reading the book I give it to another traveler to free up room in my bag, I'm not into the kindle scene yet.
  27. Souvenirs: Don't buy something you can buy at home, unless it's dirt cheap! I always found it strange when I lived in NYC how people came there to shop at chain stores that are all over the world (Ie. Gap, Victoria Secret, etc). Buy things that are unique, that you can't buy at home. 
  28. Use the library to plan your trip. Yeah remember that place you went to as a kid? They have great travel sections that will save you a ton instead of buying the books.
  29. Keep a travel journal, on your lap top, or in your own writing, it will seem silly a week or two down the line when you get home, but will make you smile a lot when you read it after a few years.

    I wish I wrote it down, because too much Vodka to rememeber exactly everything from my New Year's trip to Russia
  30. Make a friend, at least one. Meet people, either fellow travelers or a native to that country, when I first began travel I thought I'd never see some of these people again, yet we've remained friends, they've helped me travel, and have become not only great resources, but great all around friends. 
  31. Use forums like tripadvisor.com or similar to talk to people about any questions, and then be a good TA guy and answer questions on your city or a city you are well versed in.
  32. Check the flight status on your phone as you are heading to the airport, last thing you want to do is find out there was a crazy delay you didn't know about and now have to sit there for 4 hours waiting.
  33. Consider a money belt or passport belt if you are going into a shady country, but keep your wallet in your pocket with  a few dollars and an expired credit card so God forbid you are robbed you give something as a tourist with no money would be a bit suspicious!
  34. Accept that you will get ripped off by a taxi, do as much research to prevent it, but when it happens don't let it ruin your trip.
  35. Know the Celsius basics if you are American, 0 - very cold, 21 - Perfect weather, 40 - dessert heat. You can sort of figure out the rest with that same for the metric system, have a general idea of how many meters tall you are, your weight in kilograms, and how many kilometers it is to get to work, also remember 100 kilometers an hour is about the speed limit on American Freeways, not foreign (80 ish depending).
  36. When flying if you can go standby here's a good tip, stay real close to the counter if you expect it's a full flight so you can beat the other clever traveler when they offer free tickets to the next person to go standby.
  37. For a long flight throw an extra pair of socks and underwear in your carry on, you may find a lot of airports on a layover have showers somewhere that you can change and feel fresh and ready to hit the place you are visiting.
  38. If you can get to the airport earlier you can typically check in for better seats on the plane, maybe even the exclusive exit row! Although sadly most airlines are now charging extra.
  39. If you are from the United States and people ask where you are from (and it's safe to say), don't say America, say the United States, USA, Etc, remember America has a lot of countries and two continents. Some South Americans get annoyed when we say we are American, I've been found guilty of this all the time.
  40. Book your rental car insurance through orbitz or expedia when using them, it's a lot cheaper than the rental companies typically and of course...
  41. Fill it up with gas before you return it, those war criminals will charge you a lot more for it than the gas station.
  42. 4 is the magic number to travel with, if you go with 5 most likely you will need 2 taxis for everything booking rooms will also be harder.
  43. Unplug your car battery for trips longer than 3 weeks
  44. Leave a copy of your passport with friends or family at home
  45. Same thing with an itinerary
  46. Join frequent flier clubs for ANY airline you use and keep a list of all the numbers on a file in your email or somewhere you can access it easily. 
  47. Carry business cards, even if you don't normally, an easy way to make friends and pass on contact info.
  48. Technology is great, but nothing beats old school map reading for a skill. Your gps or smart phone may fail, always be ready to read a map.

    I could not have made it around Southern Italy without map skill and Italian, many places had no signs, or trains didn't always necessarily announce stops.
  49. Look into getting TSA precheck, or global entry, they are huge benefits right now that may be obsolete once everyone has them, but for now are well worth it!
  50. And of course, share your travel knowledge and stories with friends, what good is it seeing and exploring the world if you can't share the stories or help the next person that is looking to follow.



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