Top 30 best travel tips
With travelling comes lessons learned, and I've learnt my fair share. When you're globe trotting there are so many travel hacks that you can do, to make sure that you become an experienced, slick traveller. My travel tips below are all off the back of first hand experience. Some I knew before I went; others I figured out and learned whilst on the road.
Here's to saving you, my reader, time and effort whilst out on the road.
1. Personalise your luggage
Get a bright coloured luggage tag, sew some badges on, or find some fabric or rope and plait it onto your bag. I had a black backpack when I travelled, which was sure to sail past me on the conveyor belt, so my Mum gave me some neon pink shoe laces plaited them together and attached them to my handle – genius. 4 years later they are still going strong & I always know which ones my bag.
2. Padlock – don’t get on that plane without one
You’ll need it for hostel lockers to keep your valuables safe.
3. Take a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner
Depending on where you’re travelling too, you will at some point or another need to use this. Dorm beds can be a little grubby, or you might even be camping outside or catch yourself sleeping on a bus, or wooden bench at the ferry port. This will keep you warm and protect you from the mosquitos at the same time.
4. Luggage cubes or vacuum bags are a lifesaver when it comes to packing for a long term trip
It’ll save you space and time, and mean that you don’t have to pull everything out to find that one cute top that you want to wear. Label up the bags and away you go. Quick tip which makes for even easier access to your outfits. Pack each outfit; so for example, underwear, shorts, top, necklace all in one vacuum bag. It takes the thinking out of the process once you’re travelling, and eager to get out of your hostel/hotel to explore.
5. Pack accessories
For female travellers, jewellery & accessories are big when travelling, especially long term. It will mean that you don’t have to pack 100 different items, but can still mix up your style and look different, for those all important travel photos.
6. Compact mirror – pack it
Whether it’s a hostel, homestay, guest house or hotel – if you’re travelling with a bunch of new travel friends, mirror space will be limited. This ones for the men too.
7. Pack a towel, and make sure it’s a lightweight and quick drying one
You can get these pretty much anywhere these days. Not only is it a towel, but you can also use it when you want some privacy in your dorm bunk bed.
8. That brings me to scarfs; Invest in a big one
Mine was just £5 from Primark (equivalent to Target in the US), but I still have it and it's lasted years. It acts as my scarf, my blanket, my beach towel, my sarong and my dorm bed curtain for privacy.
9. Pack light
Travelling is no fun, when it takes the weight of several new friends to sit on your bag so you can zip and close it. Trust me, you won’t wear half the things you think you will, and if you need any extras there are shops overseas too.
10. Make sure you stow away $100 somewhere safe in your luggage
Keep it separate from the rest of your cards or cash. If disaster strikes, it’ll mean you’ve got some money to play with to get you out of a sticky spot.
11. Always take with you an extra bank card
Make sure its fee free from international transactions and cash withdrawals. This will save you a lot of money when travelling.
12. Always take a torch with you
A small head lamp torch is ideal for venturing to the toilet when its dark, whether you’re inside your hostel or camping in the wilderness.
13. Invest in a good camera
That’s lightweight and not crazy expensive. Take lots and lots of photos. Never think that you are taking too many. When I first started travelling I did, and I wish I had more. These travel photos will be your memories in the future – create them.
14. If you’re an iPhone user than you’ve already got one up on everyone else
Remember though, don’t have your eyes glued to Google Maps when you’re travelling. Wonder and get lost, and look up – you might miss something or someone that could change your life.
15. Don’t worry about taking a peg clothes line
I did and I never used it, and neither has anyone else I know. Most hostels and hotels have laundry facilities and if you’re travelling through South East Asia, to get your laundry cleaned, ironed and folded costs a few dollars. It's heaven.
16. Make sure you’ve got all of your injections/vaccinations covered
You do not want to avoid these (just because they’re pretty expensive), and get really ill that you have to come home. Be sensible, spend the money on what matters – your health.
17. Once you’re on the plane about to journey off into the unknown, be a little cheeky if you can
Ask the air steward/flight attendant if you can sit in that empty bulk head seat with all the leg room, or the free emergency exit seat for your 12 hour journey. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
18. Travel pillows, earplugs and blindfolds are necessities on long flights
Well for travelling in general actually. If you’re lucky enough your airline will provide them free of charge.
19. Your passport is your key to travel, so don’t take your eyes off of it
That said, you always need a plan B, so take copies of your passport and driving licence and stow them somewhere safe in your luggage, just in case.
20. Take your charger cable in your hand luggage
Most planes these days have USB ports built into their entertainment systems, so pack your charger in your hand luggage and recharge your electronics whenever you need to.
21. Try and get hold of a worldwide adapter
That also has USB ports too. Huge space saver, and it will make trying to charge your phone and charge your camera at the same time effortless.
22. Be open, polite & respectful
Once you arrive in your destination, be open and relax into the new country & cultures that will present themselves to you. Embrace travel, step out of your comfort zone and live.
23. Be responsible
Always remember when you travel, you are responsible for yourself. To keep yourself safe and alive, enjoying the journey and living life to the full. So relax off the drugs, watch for your drinks being spiked (especially in Indonesia) and just be mindful of the fact, risks are risks wherever you go. Ask yourself that all important question, would you do it at home?
24. Learn to haggle with the best of them
Especially if you like to shop and hope to bring some memorable souvenirs home from your trip. Most markets and stalls without price tags will increase their price when they see a tourist approaching. So just remember to always try and cut them down by 50%, but also take into account that haggling for a small amount of money to us in the western world, might just provide that person and their family with a week’s worth of food.
25. Eat street food and lots of it
Travelling on a budget doesn’t have to mean sacrificing on quality food. Street food is the best. It's authentic, real and deliciously tasty. Plus, it normally only costs a couple of dollars/pounds.
26. Don't be afraid to drive a bike
Yes, there are so many scary stories, and believe me I’ve seen with my own eyes what accidents can do. But as long as you’re safe, WEAR A HELMET, are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and know the rules of the road relatively well, then you’ll love it. It’s so much fun and the easiest and cheapest way to explore. Of course thats my opinion, and others will tell you different. As a traveller, you have to make your own mind up.
27. Invest in a backpack with wheels and a daypack.
It’ll save you breaking your back, as it's just as easy to wheel as a suitcase, but at the same time, if you dock onto a sand island, you can just hoist it onto your back and away you go.
28. Make friends. Talk to people. Look them in the eye and engage.
Whether it's other travellers in your hostel, or locals at the street food markets, they will all be a part of your travelling experience. Human connection, thats what its all about.
29. Travel Insurance – do not go anywhere without it.
Its costly, but it’s one of those costs that could save your life. In worst case scenarios you have to think about protecting yourself, this is the only way to do it. Nothing else is more important.
30. Find that cheap flight (but don't spend ages doing it)
Finally remember when you’re travelling to privately search for flights on your browser to avoid them bumping up the cost each time you log on to check a deal. Also, always shop around and look at alternative airports as a possible cost savings, or even an overnight bus (They won’t be as bad as you think). They're a much better way to meet other travellers anyway, especially in Asia and South America.
All of the above will help you to travel better, easier and safer, and give you the most out of your travelling experience. The most important tip of all is to HAVE FUN! You’re travelling the world, one of the greatest gifts you will be given in life, so take hold of the magic every step of the way.