There are several travel tips that if followed, can make your trip a hell of a lot easier, less costly, more efficient, and much more fun! There are common problems which travellers run into constantly, that can easily be avoided with a little more careful planning and foresight. Many of these I learned over the course of many years of travel, and as cliched as it sounds, experience really is the best teacher. Don’t make the same mistakes I did, and don’t let yourself get into a situation you will regret. Here are a few essentials tips that every traveller should abide by in order to get the most out of their travel:
1. Avoid Travel Agencies
I realise this will shake a few people up, and I’m sorry to all the travel agents out there, but I believe in this day and age that there are enough resources within our grasp to avoid paying extra fees.
Traditionally, a travel agent will specialise in an area, such as Europe, South East Asia, Africa or Australia, and in exchange for their help in organising flights, transfers, accommodation, and general itinerary guidance, they charge fees and earn a commission. This was great until the Internet blew up, levelled out the playing field, and allowed travellers such as Backpacker Adventures, Nomadic Matt, Don’t Stop Living, and many more, provide this information free of charge. We know because we go, and we share the hidden gems with you because we want you to experience the true wonders of a new culture.
If you aren’t sure about a place you may or may not want to explore, I’ll let you in on a little secret: Visit us, ask us questions, Google your queries, and buy guidebooks. There really is no need to fork out extra precious dollars that could be better used on travel experiences, rather than paying somebody else a commission for their opinion.
Use websites such as this one, Lonely Planet, and guidebooks to sort out where you want to go. Once you’ve done that, look up the bus and train timetables yourself, and look into any connecting flights you might need by looking at low budget carriers, local airlines, and flight specials advertised at sites such as web jet, easy jet, and ryan air.
To book accommodation, go to booking.com or hostelworld.com, and sort accommodation options according to the location, price, and ratings system. Since these sites work on a social rating system, fellow travellers rank their experiences and leave reviews, all of which benefits you.
We offer free itinerary advice, so drop us a line if you would like some help :)
2. Pack Lightly
What constitutes “lightly” you ask? For starters, if you’re going to a hot beach destination, you don’t need four pairs of jeans, sweaters, five pairs of shoes and an endless array of socks. Be sensible. Many beach destinations are casual, and no reasonable bar or restaurant expects travellers to be dressed up like James Bond while sweating it out on a Filipino island in exhausting heat.
The same goes for cold destinations. Don’t pack anything you would wear in summer. In terms of shoes, at most you need two pairs (I would even argue against this, since I’m an extremist when it comes to travel). One pair of sneakers/hiking boots for day-to-day travel, and a more formal pair if you believe you’ll need them. You really don’t need a whole bunch of shoes. You simply won’t wear them. Between Thailand, Philippines, Greece, Malta, Miami, Byron Bay, and Airlie Beach, I don’t think I actually wore shoes at all. Flip flops are comfortable and do the job. Plus, the more space you can free up in your backpack, the more things you can buy along the way.
3. Don’t Let Somebody’s Opinion Influence Your Travel
Everything is subjective when it comes to an opinion about travel. You will no doubt hear horror stories about drugs being planted on travellers in Bali, kidnappers in Albania, blatant prostitution in Thailand, deadly bus crashes in Bolivia, and dangerous plane rides around Africa. While it’s important to be careful, you need to keep in mind that one person’s experiences is just that: one person, one experience.
Don’t let horror stories deride you from exploring a place you want to see, or do something you’ve always wanted to do. If we always lived our life in fear, we wouldn’t visit New York City after the 9/11 attacks, we wouldn’t visit Cuba because the US government has a sanction against them, we wouldn’t travel through Australia’s outback because of a random murder, and we wouldn’t go to Mexico out of fear of being shot. Bad things happen everywhere, period. Don’t let people, or the media, paint a picture of a place for you. Get out there and experience it for yourself.
Be cautious, but don’t be too afraid to see the world!
4. Embrace The Local Culture
There is nothing worse than entering a foreign country, filled with a wealth of history, culture, and tradition, and refusing to conform. It’s arrogant, selfish, and goes against the very nature of travel.
“When in Rome…” is an expression that every backpacker should live by. That phrase should be tattooed in your heart every time you land at a new airport. Get out there, eat the local food, drink the local drink, experience the culture, dance, mingle with locals, and don’t be afraid to engage in conversation with strangers.
“Travel Is The Only Thing We Buy That Makes Us Richer”
Nothing is worse than seeing a tourist lament about local customs. Remember, you are a guest in their country, and you should be grateful for it. Don’t try to impose your culture on other people, especially locals. If you’re going to do that, do us all a favour and don’t leave home. Other travellers take notice and do not appreciate it. Do this too often, and you’ll start to give your country of origin a bad name, and nobody is going to thank you for it.
Travel is a gift, so make the mot of every fortunate opportunity you have been given to truly embrace the local culture, and take something significant from it that will change your life forever.
5. Plan, But Don’t Plan Too Much
I think this is an important thing to consider when travelling. Some people like to “wing it” and that’s all well and good, but there is a trade off between taking the time to research and book accommodation, flights, and tours, and wondering the streets for hours because you decided “winging it” was the best mode of travel.
I think you need both. Plan where you are staying, but try to book accommodation that only requires a deposit, so that you can cancel, leave early, or extend your stay without incurring too many financial consequences. All too often, I meet travellers who wished they weren’t leaving tomorrow, because they had just received a hot tip about a place off the beaten track that they now wanted to see.
Leave room in your itinerary for spontaneity, because chances are you’re going to meet fellow travellers who share their stories with you, and you’ll learn about places that you somehow hadn’t heard about, despite hours and hours of researching and reading.
Some of the best times I’ve had travelling have been due to spontaneous decisions, whether it was leaving a Greek island early in the morning at the last minute to visit another, or taking advantage of a delayed flight in Beijing that allowed me to explore the city.
Plan, but don’t plan so much that you restrict your chances of making last minute changes. You’ll be kicking yourself otherwise!
Got some hot tips for our readers, or advice you have followed that has made your travel better? Share it below in the comments!