I don’t know it all, but I’ve traveled a lot and learned some things the hard way, so I thought I’d pass that knowledge along:
- Make a packing list: I have one for warm weather and one for cold weather. This way there’s no panicking or forgetting anything.
- Only pack the essentials. The lighter the bag the easier it is to get around. Also, save some room for souvenirs.
- I always have a small bag with me that has traveling essentials in it (and leave it in my suitcase) including: Tylenol/Advil, decongestant, night time meds, antibiotic, Dramamine, band aids, antibiotic ointment, earplugs, benadryl (just in case of an allergic reaction)
- Travel insurance is very important. I have a yearly plan so I don’t have to worry about it. I’ve heard good things about Travel Guard (what I have) and World Nomads.
- Safety First!
- Send loved ones your itinerary so they know where you’re supposed to be
- You can put the ‘find my friends’ on your phone so that family and friends can track you
- Keep your documents on you or locked in a hotel room safe. I always like to keep one credit card on me and another in the safe.
- While it’s nice to meet the locals, always keep your guard up so you don’t fall for any scams or get yourself into a frightening situation.
- I also have some supplies for safety reasons that I discussed in my previous blog.
- Libraries, Cafes, and Starbucks generally have free Wifi. So if you don’t have a plan with international data, this is a good place to check in.
- When visiting very popular/touristic places the best times to go (if possible) are very early or very late. These are the times you are likely to avoid the crowds.
- Many countries/cities have free walking tours. You sign up and tip your guide. It’s a great way to see the city and meet new people. If you’re going to be at a city for a few days, many cities have a ‘city attraction’ card. Usually they include public transportation, entrance to museums and attractions, and discounts on food and activities.
- If you travel a lot apply for the Global Entry program if you are a US Citizen. It costs $100 and you’ll have to go to an airport for an interview (some you have to make an appointment and some are walk-ins). Once you have been accepted you generally get TSA-precheck in most major US airports and when flying internationally and are coming home you can breeze through US customs.
- Don’t over plan. I’m a planner, but I always know that things change/come up so if you don’t get to something or end up staying at another attraction longer than expected, it’s ok. Don’t let that stress you out. Plus, it gives you a reason to come back 😉
- Always carry a portable charger. When you use your phone for everything (including photos) it dies fast and is generally your most important item.
- Helpful Travel Apps:
- Google Translate: You can enter text from any language and translate it to any other language. There’s a new feature that you can point your camera on words and translate it automatically. If you download a language you can use it offline.
- REI: If you’re staying in the US it gives you ratings, updates, and locations of trails for hiking
- Maps.me: Once again, download the map(s) of where you’re traveling to and you can use it offline to find your way around. This app has helped me a lot!!
- Life360: My family and I can track each other on this app (because they don’t have the same phone) for safety reasons.
- Bring your passport!! Always take a photo of it on your phone as well as have a copy somewhere in your luggage. In case it’s lost or stolen this makes it much easier for the embassy.
- Check the country and see what adapter is needed. I recommend this universal one so that you don’t have to worry about which one you need.
- Bring your ATM card to get the best rate to exchange cash.
- Make sure you have a credit card without international fees. That 3% adds up!
- Check for travel advisories and warnings. You can register with the embassy when you travel internationally (they’ll send an email if there’s an advisory or warning
- Some prescription drugs are illegal in other countries. Check before you go and always carry your drugs in their original prescription bottles.