Become a savvy traveller. 35 Travel Tips to guide you through your adventures.
Are you a savvy traveller? The fact is, most people achieve savvy traveller status through trial and error through their personal experiences. With that in mind, we’ve put together 35 useful travel tips to guide you through your adventures.
Travel is one of the most exciting things we can undertake to re-invigorate ourselves.
What adventure do you need right now? Are you looking for a relaxing week on the beach? Do it! Want to party in New York City? Go for it! Planning to trek up Mt Kilimanjaro? Knock your socks off! Do you have a burning desire to walk the Great Wall of China? Go ahead, book your tickets now!
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We’ve all had that one trip that has provided some life-learnings, light-bulb alerts with some head-shaking ‘why did I do that’ moments. I’m no different! There are a number of situations that I have had that earth-shattering reality check too.
Missed flights, cultural naivety, carelessness and oodles of simple mistakes will eventually teach you to become a savvy traveller. It is important you don’t leave yourself vulnerable.
This post is about giving you a head start by providing the savvy to navigate your adventures without the headaches. Avoid the mistakes I’ve made with these 50 travel tips that will help you reach your full savviness (is that really a word?)
50 Travel Tips to become a Savvy Traveller
Research your Destination
Research your destination before you leave home. Map out your ‘must-see’ sights and plan a couple of day trips. Look up the historic attractions, take the time to learn basic language phrases and be familiar with the currency and exchange rate.
It’s a good idea to follow a couple of travel bloggers who’ve already been to your destination and utilise social media to help. As a starter … why not subscribe to Territory Mob’s travel blog and Follow us on FaceBook and Pinterest @TerritoryMob to keep up with our travels.
Get excited about your adventure
Map out your ‘must-see’ sights, plan a couple of day trips, look up the historic attractions and if you can, base your accommodation central to the sights you wish to visit to cut transit time.
In the lead up to your departure, you will find it helpful to learn basic phrases and familiarize yourself with the currency and expected exchange rates.
Don’t Cram your Itinerary
Don’t over-plan your trip. Enjoy your experiences. Leave plenty of time to explore and, make sure you have a little fun. We’ve all made the mistake of coming home from a holiday feeling that we need another holiday to recover from our holiday.
Chill, don’t try to cram everything into a short space of time, or consider extending your stay to make sure you can see and do everything and allow plenty of time to relax.
Enjoy your experiences wherever they may take you. Some of my favourite experiences have been the unplanned and unexpected surprises encountered along the journey!
The time we bumped into SantaCon in San Francisco is the perfect example. We just had to know more so followed the Santa procession and had an amazing unplanned adventure on a wet rainy day.
Cash in at the Travel Expo
Often a travel expo will have some amazing flight and accommodation deals going as a time limited offer. If you know an expo is coming up soon, map out your dates and think about where you want to travel next and expect to get a great deal.
We were lucky to score a fabulous deal for a recent trip to the States by booking our fares on the spot. It was a simple matter to line up our accommodation to fit our flight plans later. Win Win!
Try something different
If you’ve always stayed in mid-high range hotels, why not be a little daring – try one of these to add some difference into your adventures. If you’ve always gone ‘budget’ treat yourself to a weekend at a ‘5 star’ hotel!
Try Booking.com or Wotif.com for Accommodation choices. Sometimes it’s an opportunity to try a new type of accommodation to meet new people and add a new dimension to your travel experience.
Tip: Get adventurous – Book a ‘mystery hotel’ experience just for the surprise element!
Book online for great Travel Deals
There are so many online booking sites that will give you cost-effective options.
Try Kayak, Expedia or Skyscanner for flight options. Shop around, when booking flights. Sometimes it is cheaper to fly into airports close to your final destination, and then take a train or bus from there.
Tips: Book your travel on a Tuesday – as strange as it may seem, flight prices are often lower on Tuesdays!
Don’t forget your Travel Insurance
Sometimes the unexpected does happen! A recent trip to Bali left us stranded and at the whim of an erupting Mt Agung with all flights to and from Bali cancelled. Over 90,000 international travelers were displaced by the interruptions leading to flight and accommodation issues for us all. In short; chaos!
That’s where travel insurance can minimize the stress, or at least defray some of the costs.
Travel insurance is not only about medical insurance. It also covers you when you lose your camera, someone steals your laptop, your luggage gets lost or if your flight is cancelled … or even if (your worst nightmare) a family crisis occurs whilst you’re away and you need to head home in a hurry.
It is the single most important thing you should purchase before you travel! It usually costs just a few dollars a day but it should be an essential part of your travel plans, and hope you never need to use it! Peace of mind!
Get a free quote here!
Read Next: What to do in Bali when the volcano errupts
Before you go
Tell someone: Make sure a few of your family members or close friends have your itinerary. Keep them updated on your movements so they know where you are and make arrangements to contact them from time to time.
Important documents: Keep scanned copies of all important documents like passport, visa and any other identification documents. As a precaution, email yourself copies for easy access.
Be aware of the local customs and laws: Make sure that even inadvertently you do not break a law or do something which is viewed as disrespectful to the local culture. Dress appropriately so as not to cause offense.
Take Photos of your luggage: Its also easier if having to declare lost luggage to foreign based airlines with limited english speaking personnel. If your bag gets lost, this will help identify it more easily and speed up the process of having your travel insurance reimburse you.
Register your travel: Register with your embassy before you leave the country. This is vital if an emergency occurs and your family needs to contact you. This can include political disturbances, riots and uprisings or natural disasters such as volcanic erruptions and Tsunami warnings.
If you plan to drive while traveling then ensure you have the required driving license. It is vital that you are aware of all the traffic rules and regulations before you drive in another country.
Before you embark on a road trip, ensure you have the map, a well-serviced car with good tyres, information about places you can eat and stay while on the road and a first-aid kit. Make sure your insurance covers you when driving in another country.
Tip: Apply for an International Drivers License before you leave home.
When you’re packing, consider where you are traveling to, the weather, the activities you plan to do. Most places have nearby laundromats or day wash and fold services that make life simple.
Some of my early travel experiences were a great learning opportunity. Lesson learned.
Tip: Travel light.
- Clothes: Don’t pack too many clothes. You really just need a few basics. 2 or 3 pairs of jeans, 4 shirts & enough undies & socks for a week should cover most situations.
- Shoes: Don’t take more than three pairs of shoes.
- Toiletries: Make sure you take soap and toothpaste.
Prepare for Long-Haul Flights
Prepare well for long haul flights. Make sure your traveling time is used doing something you’ve wanted to do in a while ie: watch a movie, catch up on reading or sleep your time away. I like to take a sketch book and outline a few of the drawings I have floating around or do some writing for my blog. Well deserved ‘me’ time!
Stretch your legs regularly, engage in some ‘in seat’ stretches and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Don’t let jet lag get you down
Jet lag can be treacherous. In order not to lose time at your destination, take precautions to minimize jet lag by timing your flights to take place overnight, stay hydrated, avoid caffeine and alcohol and try to get some sound sleep on the flight.
Explore beyond the Guidebook
While travel guidebooks and tour guides do provide a wealth of information, their information is does not always capture all there is to see and do.
- Speak to locals and discover hidden gems that no guidebook mentions.
- Visit the local tourism office. They will know all the free activities, special events happening during your stay.
Get that map out and get your bearings. Ask for directions. Wandering aimlessly through a new city is a good way to get to know your way around. You might be surprised by the hidden gems you find.
Don’t be afraid to get lost. Some of my best travel experiences are my accidental discoveries!
Keep An Open Mind
Be open and tolerant when traveling. Some places may be a culture shock but always be tolerant and try to understand the differences of their way of life. Remember, travelling is a way of expanding your experiences. Enjoy the differences.
Connect with a Local
Be sure to connect with the locals, they’re usually happy to share some of their favourite spots. Strike up a conversation with the concierge at your hotel, or the friendly waitress who serves your coffee at the nearby café or sing with a street-performer. Stop a local for directions or engage a market stall holder in chat.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak the language. A few words and some sign language are usually enough to break any barriers. We make a habit of breakfasting in the same café (if the coffee is good) so that we become familiar faces and conversation becomes so much easier.
Ask locals for tips about what to see in their city. It’s a great way to see different places that are not mapped out in every travel guide. Most people are proud of their city and will willingly offer suggestions about their favourite places so that you can enjoy them too.
A little local lingo is a great icebreaker
There is nothing like speaking a few words in the local language to get a welcoming smile from locals. Travelling to a new country is a great opportunity to learn a little of the local lingo. A few words like “Hello, Goodbye and Thank you” will go a long way when visiting another country.
Our breakfast waiter in Ubud, was very keen to help us use the correct Balinese greeting which ended up being fun for us all. Even a clumsy attempt at pronunciation will usually draw a smile from a local – they love to correct you. The locals will appreciate it and it will make your interactions easier.
Always ensure that you do your research and dress appropriately and comfortably according to the place and weather conditions. Dress fashionably and make sure you dress respectfully and most importantly, comfortable.
Take a light scarf which can double as a cover-up when visiting temples, or sacred places as well as provide an extra layer for warmth when needed.
Tip: Good comfortable walking shoes are a must.
Get your bearings in a new city
We usually head to the highest lookout point to get an look at the city from the best vantage point when we first arrive. It’s often an exhilarating sight and a great opportunity for a ‘we were here’ selfie for Facebook and Instagram!
Take a ‘city explorer’ bus trip to get your bearings when arriving in a new city. It’s a great way to familiarise yourself with the city and learn about it’s main attractions.
Invest in a City Pass: If you’re planning to visit a lot of museums and other attractions in a short period of time, a city pass is likely to save you money on admission and most will provide free public transportation too.
Don’t fret if its wet
The weather is always out of our control but there are plenty of activities to do which will be out of the rain and still be a whole lot of fun.
Buy an umbrella and take a waterproof jacket just in case, and use the weather to your advantage. You may be lucky enough to have some of the prime sights to yourself!
As for photographs, cloudy days provide fantastic lighting for some moody photographs. Enjoy!
Read next: Tips to take better Travel Photos
Chase the Sunshine
Sunrises and sunsets are my favourite time of day when traveling. It’s a time when the light is gentle, and the crowds are less.
Look out for vantage points for your travel photos to capture some beautiful shots for your journal. We love to get up and about early while there’s hardly anyone around, take a few snaps and head to where the locals are having their morning coffee.
Read next: Shoot the Golden Hour
Take a Walking Tour
Cycling or walking tours are a fun way to explore a new city and we usually try to include these whenever we travel.
I took a ‘Pub Crawl’ walking tour in Sydney a few years ago which turned out to so much fun. It was great way to learn about some of the convict history of Old Sydney Town and meet some new people, albeit over a few beers.
Another fun walking tour was the ‘Brothel Tour’ in Singapore where we walked through the former ‘red light’ district which was the ‘seedy’ area of Chinatown in early days. It was great fun and we learned about so many things that were definitely not in the guide books.
Tour guides are a wealth of information and usually filled with like-minded travelers who are looking for the adventure. They’re usually inexpensive and jam-packed with information.
Read Next: Explore the Street Art in Penang
Visit Local Markets
Nothing is more exciting than visiting local markets. There’s nothing like the smells of the fresh produce, local cheeses and preserves.
Often busy, these marketplaces are a hive of activity, full of laughter and energy. It is such a pleasure to mingle with locals and experience a slice of their life. Local markets also provide a fascinating window into the culture of the place you’re visiting.
Learn to Haggle
Haggling can be a fun, playful way of not getting charged the foreigner price. It’s the art of negotiating and one that will help you throughout all of life, not just at the market.
Tip: Don’t be too ruthless. Always leave a little something for the vendor.
Keep in touch with friends and family while you’re away by uploading travel snaps to social media. Trust me, your Mum will love you for it!
Many hotels include WiFi with your room, however if you’re if you’re staying someplace that charges you to connect, try the local libraries, Starbucks and MacDonald’s and other cafés for free Wi-Fi. They’re also great places to do some people watching!
Keep a Photography Journal
Make sure you have a reliable and good quality camera that will capture your travel memories.
Take as many photos as you can. You may never go back again. Take lots of photos. Years from now, you’ll want to look back on those nights you can’t remember and the people who made them memorable.
Plan your storage so that you can back up to a cloud storage facility as soon as you can. I have Google Drive and back up over WiFi as soon as I can.
Keep a Travel Journal
Often it’s hard to remember the little things on your holiday so it’s always good practice to take notes of things that you’ve found interesting, especially if your trip is a long one.
Social media is sometimes used as a travel journal so it makes it easy to post a few photos up on Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr every few days for an easy to use record of your adventure. Our Instagram account is a perfect travel journal and has a great selection of photos covering all our years of travels.
You may want to set up a blog for your family and friends back home to keep up with your travels, it’s easy to do and a nice way to tell the adventure stories.
Savour the local flavours
I always think that tasting the local flavours is one of the best parts of the overall holiday experience.
There’s just something special and ‘real’ about Mexican food in Mexico, savouring hot pretzels from a street vendor in New York, Jambalaya in New Orleans, enjoying Pasta in Italy, spicy Mei Goreng in Indonesia and eating street food at the hawker centres in Singapore. It just can’t get any better!
I do know travellers who’ve eaten at Maccas everywhere they went, ‘just because they could be sure of what they were eating‘. Don’t be that traveller!
Tasting and exploring local food is undoubtedly a part of travel. But be careful with what and where you eat. There’s nothing worse than falling ill and spoiling your holiday.
Try the authentic food at local cafes and restaurants – after all, that is part of your holiday experience.
I always find it interesting to go grocery shopping when I’m in another country. If you’re in New York City – check out the Wholefoods Market. I loved the easy takeout food sections for those who don’t have time or energy to cook … and the choices! Wow!
Tip: Do eat the street food! Watch where the locals are eating. It’s usually a good sign!
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
I can’t express how important it is to keep hydrated when traveling. Keep drinking water and stay hydrated during travel and otherwise. This is an easy way to fight off illness and fatigue.
Tip: Always carry a good waterbottle.
Emergencies do happen so take precautious to minimise the fall-out.
Most of the hotel rooms have safe’s installed for secure storage of your important possessions. It’s a good place to keep your passport safe, store extra cash or spare credit cards, any jewellery you aren’t wearing and other important things you’re carrying.
- Take a spare bank card and credit card with you in case your cards are lost or stolen.
- Do carry a small amount of emergency cash. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere new without access to your funds.
- Limit the amount of cash and bank cards you carry with you so if something does happen, you can easily recover.
Don’t forget to advise your bank and credit card company of your travels. Keep your bank and credit card company aware about your travels and transactions from a different country to ensure there are no hitches.
Don’t become a target
Be a street savvy traveller.
Ensure you are not a target for crime. Thieves can and will quickly identify you as a tourist and target you. Always be conscious of your surroundings and be sure not to put yourself at risk.
- Keep your travel plans, including accommodation details, to yourself.
- Don’t hitch hike.
- Avoid the ‘risky’ places of the cities you visit, especially at night.
- Keep a photocopy of your passport and all other important documents in a safe place. Email yourself a copy for easy access.
- Use ATMs during the day, when other people are around.
- If you are mugged, don’t fight back. It’s better to lose your wallet and watch than get injured.
- Don’t wear expensive jewellery.
- Wearing a bum-bag around your waist or carrying a bulky backpack screams ‘traveller’. Consider using a bag which isn’t so ‘obviously touristy’.
- Try to blend in with the locals and avoid looking or acting like a tourist.
Tip: Consider taking a second wallet, ‘a dummy’ wallet loaded with a smaller about of cash and a few old ‘no longer active’ cards to provide to the mugger should you get attacked.
If you are concerned for your safety at any time, make sure you know the safest path back to a safe area as quickly as possible.
Scams and being scammed: Be cautious when travelling. Often there’s no way to anticipate a scam and these people are ‘pros’ who’ve been scamming people their entire lives.
Get vaccinated: Falling sick when you’re away from home in a foreign country is no fun.
Carry a basic first-aid kit: Accidents happen, so be prepared. I take with me band-aids, antibacterial cream, and ointments for cuts and scrapes. It’s often a good idea to carry a some diarrohea medication should you be exposed to some dodgy food in your travels.
Prescription tips: Make sure your prescription drugs are in your carry-on luggage in case your suitcase doesn’t arrive with you. Take a letter from your doctor confirming your scripts and medical conditions are legitimate if you need to get replacement medication.
When things go wrong
Sadly, things will go wrong. Not because you’re not a savvy traveller but simply because things don’t always go to plan. That’s part of travelling and … part of the adventure.
Don’t let things get you down. There is always a solution so make sure you have a contingency plan if you need one. You won’t be the first traveler who’s hotel booking isn’t on record when you arrive, or you lost your credit card or your wallet was pick-pocketed. Keep calm, don’t panic … getting upset is only going to make it worse.
Be patient: Things will work out in the end. You’ll get to where you are going in due course. Travel is about the journey, not the destination.
Be respectful: Locals will often be willing to help you out, but there’s likely to be a language barrier, so keep your cool when something doesn’t go your way. If you don’t, you’ll end up just looking like another rude tourist.
There is always a solution.
Remember to Relax
It is a holiday after all. Enjoy! Take the time to chill out, relax and enjoy where ever it is you’ve decided to visit. It’s the most important part of travelling!
So … are you a Savvy Traveller yet?
Have you considered it all, ticked off some of these points. Have you changed a few things in your travel plans?
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