When planning my first solo trip I remember thinking that I had done all of the required research and had all bases covered. When in reality, I hadn’t. But over time, through experience, the more travelling that I did and through listening to other peoples advice, I have managed to pick up and learn a few helpful tips that have stood me in good stead along the way. So If you are planning your next travel adventure and are looking for a few tips to help you along the way, then here are my 22 helpful travel tips-I hope that you find them useful in some way and that you enjoy reading!
1)Acquire travel insurance
Something that is essential before embarking upon your travels is making sure that you purchase adequate travel insurance and are covered incase anything should go wrong. Never fall into the trap of believing that something won’t happen to you, as there are far too many stories of travellers ending up with large medical bills due to them not being covered. Always be prepared and have the mindset that you might need it, but hopefully never will. Acquiring gadget insurance is also a wise decision if you are carrying camera equipment, laptops, tablets and phones, to allow you peace of mind in knowing that you are protected incase of theft or any mishaps.
2)Try and learn the basics of the local language
Locals will be appreciative and more welcoming if you make an attempt to speak the local dialect. It’s not a great idea to just assume that everyone will speak your native tongue. It is important to remember that when you are a visitor in another country, the onus is on you to adapt to their culture and language. Excuse me, hello, yes, no, please, thank you and goodbye, will be appreciated and go a long way to endearing yourself to the locals.
3)Bring ear plugs and a sleep mask
Being able to sleep anywhere, anytime and in any environment is something that is hard to master. Whether your accommodation is on a busy street, near a bar, or you are staying in a big city or hostel, the chances are that you might encounter some unwanted noise or light creeping into your room when trying to sleep. Be prepared and have your face mask and earplugs at the ready!
4)Public transport over taxis
There might be times during your travels when it becomes necessary to take a taxi. But if you can avoid it in favour of public transportation, then do so. Taxis tend to be overly expensive and an unnecessary expenditure. When arriving at an airport keep in mind that most places will have trains and buses that go directly to the city centre at a fraction of the cost. Have a look before you arrive at your destination and see what transportation links are available to you upon arrival.
5)Travel out of season
One of the biggest ways that you are able to save money and keep your overall trip expenses down is by travelling out of season. It is one of my favourite things to do as not only do you save on accommodation and flights, but you will also have the added bonus of your travel destination being far less crowded with fewer tourists. This will result in allowing you the opportunity to see first hand how the locals live, making for a more authentic experience.
If you are undecided as whether or not you should take something with you, then don’t. The chances are that you probably won’t need it. The more that you travel the more you come to realise just how little you actually need. Whether you are travelling to New York for two weeks or around Europe for six months, just take the essentials. If you can get away with just carry-on luggage, then brilliant! This will save you money from not having to pay for checked luggage and the inconvenience of having to haul it around. For my last trip I spent a month travelling around northern Italy with just my camera backpack and a carry-on bag. I saved on baggage fees, it was easy to carry, and most importantly I had everything that I needed.
7)Pre-pay baggage before your arrival at the airport
If you don’t want to be hit with inflated prices for paid luggage, then you would be wise to pay in advance and online before arriving at the airport. It is considerable cheaper to pre-purchase additional baggage beforehand then showing up to the airport and paying on the spot.
8)Take several debit/credit cards and emergency money
It is always a sensible idea to have backup cards and money in case of emergencies. Whether your bank blocks your card, you misplace it or have it stolen, you want to make sure that you have a couple of backup options at your disposal should such a situation arise. Store them in a separate location from your wallet, this way if your wallet gets stolen or lost, you are still able to have access to money during your travels. The same applies with cash, don’t keep it all in one place and that way you have a spare reserve to fall back on in case off an emergency.
9)No fee cards
Travelling at times can be expensive. So it is always nice when you can save a little money, especially on something like spending your own money. Being charged transaction fees when you make a purchase can be a hard pill to swallow. Take the time to find a card that doesn’t charge you fees every time that you make a purchase. Transaction fees can soon add up and are an unnecessary cost that can be avoided.
10)Get up early
Popular destinations can at times get overly busy and crowded. But you can still enjoy a quieter experience if you set your alarm and rise up early. Getting up and experiencing sunrise is a fantastic way to see a new city and what it has to offer. If you are a photography enthusiast then this is the perfect time and lighting conditions to capture those stunning, travel photographs. Starting early is also a great way to be productive with your day allowing you the opportunity to see and do more, especially if you have a limited amount of time at your destination.
11)Take a walk
Walking is a great way to explore, and of getting to know a new destination. Lose yourself in the streets as you unearth the local culture and way of living. Walking is a great way of finding those places that you wouldn’t ordinarily discover had you opted to take transportation instead. It can be especially rewarding if you are a photographer as you get to see and photograph those hidden gems and lesser known, unique places. Although it is important to immerse yourself in your new surroundings, don’t become reckless and make sure to keep yourself safe at all times. Use your common sense when assessing where to go and don’t wander off into areas that look of feel unsafe. Trust your instincts, use your common sense and you will be fine.
Although it can seem a little daunting at first, the benefits of travelling solo can be endless. Not just for the trip that you embark upon, but in life. You learn so much more about yourself and what you are capable of when placed in a position where you only have yourself to rely upon. It can be quite the liberating experience and can add a layer of confidence that you never knew existed. Most people who travel solo say that it is one of the best things that they have done, and I believe it can be highly beneficial for everyone to experience it at least once in their lifetime.
13)Book flights in advance
The longer that you leave it to book your flights the more expensive it becomes. Especially on budget airlines, flight prices will keep rising the closer that you get to your travel date. So the earlier that you book, the better the price. Booking early also gives you that peace of mind and allows you to relax knowing that it is all taken care of.
14)Try not to worry and be productive during delays
Unfortunately delays happen and sometimes can’t be avoided. So instead of worrying and panicking, accept that it is just one of those things and become productive with your time. Work on your blog, edit photos, plan the next part of your journey or simply lose yourself in a good book. Either way, be productive with your time and relax, you can’t change what is out of your hands.
15) Be flexible with your destination and travel dates
Being flexible with dates, times, and where you want to travel can save you money. If you don’t mind flying late into the evening, getting connecting flights or being open minded with where you are willing to travel, then you will be able to benefit from cheaper prices and help keep your costs down.
16)Write down the name and address of your accommodation
Just incase you wander off and lose your bearings, or if you lose battery on your phone, it is always a good idea to have the name and address of your accommodation written down so that you can find your way back. I also write my room number down as well, just incase I forget!
17)Carry or download a map
Having a map to hand is a great way to navigate your way around. I must admit that I’m a little old fashioned and like having an actual map that I can mark off where I would like to visit. This is especially good if like myself you are scouting for potential photography locations. Ask your accommodation if they have a current map or visit the local tourist information. You can of course order one online before you leave, or if unlike me you are from this century, use google maps on your phone.
18)Look after your body
Whether you are on a 8 hour flight, cramped up on transportation or like myself and constantly carry a camera backpack upon your shoulders, then your body can be placed under stress allowing muscle tightness to build up. I carry a lacrosse ball everywhere that I go to help relieve trigger points that build up through tight and sore muscles. Stretching regularly is also important, whilst remaining hydrated, exercising and fuelling your body correctly will go a long way to keeping yourself healthy along your travels.
19)Make copies of your passport and travel documents
Having a photocopy of your passport and travel documents is important. That way if you lose or have them stolen, it is much easier to obtain replacements. Make copies for yourself and keep them somewhere separate from your original passport. Whilst sending a copy to a relative or friend is also advisable, and a good idea.
20)Bring comfortable footwear and sunscreen
If you are going to be spending a lot of time on your feet then you need to look after them. Whether that’s walking through a city or hiking mountains, you don’t want blisters or sore feet. So make sure that you bring the correct footwear for the job in hand and pack accordingly. It is also a good idea to wear sunscreen even if it is overcast as you don’t want to get burnt, or end up with any serious skin problems.
21)Get your vaccinations
The last thing that you want to do is get sick in a foreign country. Do your research to find out which vaccinations you need for the area that you are planning on visiting, and make sure to get your shots within the correct amount of time needed before you depart on you travels.
Whether you are going away for two weeks or have quit your job to go travelling and are heading into the unknown, make sure that you enjoy yourself. Take photographs, try new things, appreciate your surroundings, make new memories and fully embrace the moment!
So those are my 22 helpful travel tips. Did you find this helpful? Have you got any tips that are not on the list that you can share and help fellow travellers? Let me know in the comments.
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