I took my first big trip to Europe when I was 20. Now I’m 27 and have traveled to more places than I ever would have imagined (over 30 countries). I write about all the places I travel to and give tips along the way, but this article is going to share my top ten travel tips for any trip you might want to take. If I were to chat to you in person before your next trip, these are the ten big travel tips I would want to pass along.
If I could only give you 10 travel tips, these would be it.
1. If you have travel anxiety, don’t wing it.
Travel is often talked up as this “ultimate adventure” that you have to become another person to do. A lot of people think that means not planning and just trying to see where the wind takes you. That’s all fine and dandy if you have a big budget and don’t have any anxiety about traveling, but if you worry about details like missing flights, finding an affordable hotel, knowing what to do in a city, etc, then I suggest you plan things out. There’s no shame in being overly-prepared.
2. Think about your layovers.
Don’t just pick the cheapest flight you see pop up on your search results, because often those have airport changes and long layovers. I actually never book a flight that requires an airport switch because then I worry the whole time about traffic, taxi drivers ripping me off, and missing my connecting flight. If you go for a long layover, have a plan in mind. I recently got a great deal on a flight that have a 17 hour layover in NYC. That was perfect because I had a friend there I could stay with, and see her neighborhood. You can also book flights as a multiple city booking to stay somewhere a few days that the flight route has a layover in anyway. Some airlines even add free layovers in their home countries if you choose to fly them.
3. Travel in the moment.
I am a planner at heart, always have been. I like to know an idea of an itinerary or at least a few places I want to see before I go somewhere so that I can make the most of my time there. Because I already know my plan, I can enjoy each day as it happens rather than worry about booking my next ticket or finding a hotel for the next day. Of course, I don’t aways book ahead for example in India when I just bounced from guesthouse to guesthouse, but in somewhere like Paris I would have an itinerary for hotels at least.
4. Pack twice the amount of money and half that amount of stuff.
I’ve heard this advice over the years and it’s very true. You almost always spend more than you think and if you pack less you can shop more! Never pack an outfit you think you might wear on a special night out. I stick with about 7 cute sundresses as my staples. Dresses are easier than separates.
5. Read blogs!
Not just travel blogs, but food blogs and fashion blogs. If you’re going to Paris, look up the bloggers who live there; they are the ones who have the inside information and spend their days writing about it. If you google “food blogger paris”, you’ll come up with the people who spend their days trying out the restaurants of Paris and you can write down the ones that catch your eye. Travel bloggers might give tips on when to see the tourist sites or a sneaky place to go that tourists never know about. See the place you are going just like a local!
6. Pack a strategic carry-on.
Luggage gets lost unfortunately. It’s happened to me only twice, so it’s not something you really should be caught up worrying about but it’s good to be prepared. Pack in your carry-on a few days worth of clothing, toiletries, and of course your electronics and jewelry. If you’re going to be a guest at a wedding, keep your dress and shoes or your suit in your carry-on. Here are my carry on packing tips.
7. Have necessary travel documents and insurance.
I made a list of travel documents to have when you travel. Check out that list and keep those items in mind. I also recommend World Nomads travel insurance when you travel. I’ve been using it for years although I’ve never had to make a claim. If you get pick-pocketed, break your laptop, lose luggage, or get hurt it’ll come in handy so that money is your last worry.
8. Keep a journal.
They are so fun to look back on and read! I like to shop for clothes and jewelry but I am not big on souvenirs, so I always got a postcard and glued it into my journal. I wrote an article about 9 reasons you’ll love keeping a travel journal.
9. Consider solo travel.
Actually do some pros and cons on this. I love solo travel in some places, but others I would absolutely hate it. Loved it in India and Istanbul, wandering streets, looking in shops, and reading in cafes. Would have hated it in places like the islands of Thailand where people are partying and in huge groups of friends. A lot of articles online will say traveling solo is the only way but it’s not for everyone. If you’re considering it in India, read this first.
10. Be yourself!
Don’t try to be someone else when you travel. You might be going off to have some life-changing adventure, but let the adventure happen to you. You don’t have to be what you vision a “traveler” is, you can just be yourself and you’ll be surprised what can come your way!