Planning your next trip? Follow these tips and tricks for the path to a worry-free holiday
Holidays are unforgettable. So, whether you’re traveling for the first time ever, visiting a new destination, looking to try new experiences, or staying in a new type of accommodation. You’ll need to know the basics.
1. Patience Is Important
Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Life is much too short to be angry & annoyed all the time. Did you miss your bus? No worries, there will be another one. ATMs out of money? Great! Take an unplanned road trip over to the next town and explore. Sometimes freakouts happen regardless.
Just take a deep breath and remind yourself that it could be worse.
2. Make sure you dive into the local culture and try not to just keep to the well-beaten tourist tracks.
A great way to soak up the local atmosphere is to head to a restaurant away from the main drag, hot spots and ask the waiter to recommend their most popular dishes. Almost a third (29%) of first-time travelers revealed that trying the local food was one of their favorite tips to give to friends/family.
3. Wake Up Early
Rise at sunrise to have the best attractions all to yourself while avoiding crowds. It’s also a magical time for photos due to soft diffused light, and usually easier to interact with locals. Sketchy areas are less dangerous in the morning too. Honest hardworking people wake up early; touts, scammers, and criminals sleep in.
4. Check if you require a VISA well ahead of departing.
Some VISAs require more effort and money than others so make sure to check the relevant Government website. Same apply for passports. Check your passport’s expiration date before you travel – certain countries require at least 6 months validity in order to enter. Booking.com research found that 24% of travelers would even recommend carrying your passport with you for the entire trip.
5. Laugh At Yourself
You will definitely look like a fool many times when traveling to new places. Rather than get embarrassed, laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to screw up, and don’t take life so seriously.
6. Always stash away $300 or a spare debit or credit card in case you lose your wallet.
Cash is king around the world. To cover your ass in an emergency, make sure to stash some in a few different places. I recommend at least a couple hundred dollars worth. If you lose your wallet, your card stops working, or the ATMs run out of money, you’ll be glad you did.
Some of my favorite stash spots include socks, under shoe inserts, a toiletry bag, around the frame of a backpack, even sewn behind a patch on your bag.
Hide it away in a money belt, pocket in your bag or share it around if you’re traveling in a group. Over one in ten (13%) travelers cited a secret stash of cash as one of the most important tips for those planning their first trip according to Booking.com research.
7. Meet Local People
Make it a point to avoid other travelers from time to time and start conversations with local people. Basic English is spoken widely all over the world, so it’s easier to communicate than you might think, especially when you combine hand gestures and body language.
Learn from those who live in the country you’re visiting. People enrich your travels more than sights do.
It will take away the pain of wild gestures and raised voices. You might also want to consider learning a few key phrases before you head out, especially words to help navigate travel, bookings, and menus.
8. Smile & Say Hello
Having trouble interacting with locals? Do people seem unfriendly? Maybe it’s your body language. One of my best travel tips is to make eye contact and smile as you walk by. If they smile back, say hello in the local language too. This is a fast way to make new friends.
You can’t expect everyone to just walk around with a big stupid grin on their face. That’s your job. Usually, all it takes is for you to initiate contact and they’ll open up.
9. Observe Daily Life
If you really want to get a feel for the pulse of a place, I recommend spending a few hours sitting in a park or on a busy street corner by yourself just watching day to day life happen in front of you.
Slow down your train of thought and pay close attention to the details around you. The smells, the colors, human interactions, and sounds. It’s a kind of meditation — and you’ll see stuff you never noticed before.
10. Trust your gut, be open-minded and don’t expect to experience anything in particular.
If you’re heading somewhere for the first time, you’ll never really know what’s in store but go with the flow and enjoy. When asked about the tips travelers wish they had been given themselves, 40% wish they’d been told to just relax and enjoy every single minute.
Don’t judge the lifestyles of others if different from your own. Listen to opinions you don’t agree with. It’s arrogant to assume your views are correct and other people are wrong. Practice empathy and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Embrace different possibilities, opportunities, people, suggestions, and interests. Ask questions. You don’t have to agree, but you may be surprised what you’ll learn from the people you meet during your travels.
11. Take Lots Of Photos
You may only see these places & meet these people once in your lifetime. Remember them forever with plenty of photos. Don’t worry about looking like a “tourist”. Are you traveling to look cool? No one cares. Great photos are the ultimate souvenir.
They don’t cost anything, they’re easy to share with others, and they don’t take up space in your luggage. Just remember once you have your shot to get out from behind the lens and enjoy the view.
12. Look up! At the sights, the architecture, the sky and perhaps most importantly, at the signs in the airport
Remember to take it all in! Don’t get sidetracked on whats in front of you. Make sure to absorb what is all around you, above you and below you.
13. Try Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing.org is a large online community of travelers who share their spare rooms or couches with strangers for free. If you truly want to experience a country and its people, staying with a local is the way to go.
There are millions of couch surfers around the world willing to host you and provide recommendations. Expensive hotels are not the only option, there are all kinds of cheap travel accommodation options out there.
14. Don’t just tell your Facebook friends that you’re about to travel.
Remember to let your bank and mobile provider you’re heading abroad too to avoid any card cancellations or surprise bills. According to Booking.com research, 20% of holidaymakers cited checking in with their bank and mobile provider as one of the most important tips to hand out ahead of a trip abroad.
15. Eat Local Food
Think you already know what Mexican food tastes like? You’re probably wrong. Taste a bit of everything when you travel, especially if you don’t know what it is. Ask local people for recommendations. Eat street food from vendors with big lines out front.