In the beginning you make a lot of travel mistakes.
Travel Savviness is a process that results from missed buses, stupid behavior, cultural ignorance and countless small mistakes. Then, one day, you begin to move seamlessly through the airports and integrate into new cultures like a fish in water. Some of these travel accidents can be avoided and some of them are only part of the journey. You can’t plan for everything. However, if you keep a few important things in mind, your trip will be much easier.
These travel tips will help you save money, sleep better, leave the beaten track more, meet locals and simply be a better traveller.
1. Start in a simple place
Some places are easier to reach than others. If this is your first time outside the country, it might be worth choosing one of the easier destinations, e.g. 6 weeks on Bouvet Island or a short trip to K2. But hey, if that’s what you want, do it. This is the biggest mistake we see new travellers making. When you first travel to a destination, it’s easy to put too much into one trip. Maybe you can “see” all these cities and sights in two weeks. However, all you can end up with is stress from the constant movement and lack of depth in your travels.
2. Pack light
It’s okay to wear the same T-shirt for a few days in a row. Take half the clothes you think you need…. you won’t need as much as you think you do. Write down a list of the most important things, cut them in half and then just pack them! That will be the hardest part of your journey. There is hardly a harder urge to overcome than repackaging. “But I could use that!!!!” is so common that there are industries that build on unnecessary garbage and pay you for heavy sacks. Aim at 30 pounds, at most, for everything. If you don’t bring much electronics, target under 25 years. You will not wear clothes for more than a week. You can do laundry anywhere.
3. Keep the electronics to a minimum.
For technically savvy millennia it is tempting to move around any camera accessory, but in the case of electronics less is more. You don’t need your giant digital camera on every trip, and who you’re kidding – you won’t be working from your laptop in your spare time.
Your phone can take fantastic, high-quality photos and send e-mails when you need them. Dragging around bulky electronics not only slows you down, it also makes you an obvious target for those who want to rip them open. With the exception of your phone (obviously), keep your electronics locked in the valuables closet of your hotel room – or better yet, don’t bring any with you on your journey!
4. Wake up early to avoid crowds.
Get up before sunrise to have the best attractions for yourself and avoid crowds of tourists. It’s also a magical time for photos due to the soft, diffuse light, and it’s usually easier to interact with locals preparing for their day.
Want these Instagram postcard shots? You need to get out of there before everyone else shows up. Sketchy areas are also less dangerous in the morning. Honest, hardworking people wake up early; thugs, cheaters and criminals sleep in…..
5. Take many epic travel photos with you.
Pay attention to this travel tip. You may see these places only once in your life and meet these people. Remember them forever with lots of photos! Don’t worry that you look like a “tourist”. Great photos are the ultimate souvenirs.
They cost nothing, are easy to share and take up no space in your luggage. Take lots of photos of yourself too, they’ll be more important than your postcard shots later. Just remember that it’s important to get out behind the lens and enjoy the view once you’ve taken your picture.
6. Download safety apps
With the current solo travel trend, it’s likely that at some point you’ll just be wandering around in an unknown city. Family and friends can even keep an eye on you remotely, thanks to a number of free apps on the market. Must-haves are included:
Uber: Most 20 or 30-something has already been downloaded, but remember that it extends over more than just your local bar shop scene! If public transport intimidates or confuses you, don’t be afraid to call a Uber while you’re traveling.
bSafe: Although your friends or family should also download it, it’s definitely worth it if you’re travelling alone. If you find yourself in a situation that feels unsafe, the app can give your friends your location, let them “follow” you as you walk to your destination, or send them an SOS if you panic. Although they may not be able to save you, they can warn the police who can.
7. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
This age-old saying also applies to travel destinations. Bus stations are almost always located outside the main city centres and can be the first thing you see when you travel. Sometimes train stations can be located in some downright shady locations and there are always bad apples wherever you are, but people, in general, are friendly. It’s easy to meet someone or to end up in certain destinations and give your first impression to guide your travel decisions.
8. Reduce your budget
Don’t be afraid to blow up your travel budget once in a while on those one-off experiences. We go away to experience things and create life-long memories. Don’t limit yourself to travel to travel to travel to travel. Get a breath of fresh air in a famous restaurant, watch a big concert, attend a mega sports event, go on safari, learn to dive, take that hot-air balloon flight, do something incredible you’ve always wanted to do!
Even if you have to go below budget for a few days or a week to compensate for your splurge, it’s worth it.
9. Be different!
When you travel, people will be interested in your story – accept it. Whether it’s new friends in a hostel or a group of Tanzanians who haven’t seen “Mzungu” in their guesthouse in a while. Embrace the fact that you have a unique identity!
Where do you come from? How long have you been travelling? Where is your favorite destination? Or my personal favorite – How can you afford to travel? You’re going to get lots of the same questions, lots of different questions, and lots, lots of personal questions. Accept them, and be curious back.
10. Be aware of your health
If you happen to get a few insect bites or a scratch on your trip – especially internationally – make sure you clean and treat them carefully and quickly! Neglecting the care of even the most minimal meat wounds can lead to serious discomfort and health problems. Please note that most travel and health insurance companies do not cover medical expenses internationally; although your insurance may reimburse you in the future, be prepared to cover the costs of any hospital bills.
Unfortunately, most people who wait to travel around the world never do.
Just go out more than you are doing now. Start with a weekend in another state. Then maybe try a week in the country next door. The new car, conversion project and the latest iPhone can wait. If you really want to travel more, you can make it happen. Career breaks are possible. You have friends who want to look at your pets.
It’s a big, beautiful, exciting and fascinating world out there.