It’s time for a vacation! We want to make sure that you actually enjoy your time away with 15 of the best traveling tidbits that everyone should know. Before you even book your plane ticket and hotel, have a read through our list; you might end up saving some money and remove stresses you didn’t even know were waiting for you around the corner.
Collection travel rewards
Every hotel chain and airline now has its own loyalty rewards program, and they are all free to join! Before you book your flight and accommodation, take a few minutes to sign up for each of their rewards programs. You’ll be surprised just how many benefits they have, especially for those who fly more than twice a year.
Points can be applied towards class upgrades for your flight or even free trips, depending on the destination and time of year. Hotel chain points can be applied towards free stays and your status may get you upgraded to better rooms including suites! Some of the most popular programs include Marriott’s Bonvoy and Delta’s SkyMiles.
Stay further from top attractions
Planning a trip to New York City for the first time to check out the sights in Manhattan? Try staying further away from the most popular spots on your itinerary. This goes for any travel destination, especially those with massive public transportation systems like New York, Seoul, Shanghai, Paris, etc.
Hotels near top tourist sights will charge you an arm and a leg, unlike those that are further away which can save you hundreds on a week’s long visit! In most cases, a trip on the subway or by Uber will be cheaper and not much longer than walking over from a hotel closer to your favorite spots.
Learn some basic words and phrases
Brush up on some common words and phrases when visiting places where English is not the primary language. Sure, you are bound to get assistance in English, but learning how to say “hello, please, thank you, and where is the subway?” is courteous and typically appreciated by locals.
Remember that you are going to a place where people live and, more often than not, tourism can get in the way. A brief exchange in the local language will endear you to your restaurant server or taxi driver very quickly.
Get a local SIM card
Cell phone carriers love to make money off of travelers! More often than not, your phone company will charge you a steep daily fee to use your data or make calls while away from home. Luckily, you can purchase a local SIM card for very little and stay connected with friends and family. Or just update your Instagram feed.
Make sure that your phone uses the local frequency (GSM or CDMA) and is “unlocked” by your carrier so that you can use the local SIM without issue. If you bought your phone outright, it is likely already “unlocked” and able to use any SIM.
Budget your expenses
Charging things to your credit card on a wild night out in Bangkok will make you feel like a baller, but remember that the bill comes due at the end of the month! Planning your trip means making a budget for everything from flights and hotels to your daily meal allowance.
Trust us, you’ll be glad you were strict with yourself when that $500 bottle of Gray Goose shows up one someone else’s bill. Unless you happen to include it in the budget.
Don’t stress about the first day
Flying internationally usually means long layovers and arriving in a daze. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you want to lay in after your long journey. Your instinct might be to head out immediately, but rest is important too!
Be sure to acclimate to your new surroundings and don’t stress about rushing the fun. Take a shower and a nap; tomorrow is another day.
Check the weather, but don’t always trust it
Anyone who has traveled to the Caribbean has had this experience before: opening up the weather app and seeing rain every single day, only to experience a few minutes a day of showers.
Being prepared for the season means checking the weather before you go and packing a sweater when it’s December in Toronto. However, don’t stress too much about what’s coming up since the weather is bound to change.
Only pack a carry-on
Traveling with nothing but a carry-on is a pro move! Most airlines allow you to take a carry-on bag and a personal item (backpack or purse) with you on the plane. When planning what you’re going to pack, try to fit it all into a carry-on and personal item to speed up the process when you check-in and when you arrive.
No more waiting at the carousel for your bag to drop down, and since your bag was with you the entire time, you know it wasn’t tossed around! Plus, no checked bag fees.
Bring less than what you need
You’re going to overpack. No, you won’t wear that third pair of shoes. Leave the extras at home and, instead, use the room in your bag for the things you will buy on your trip. If you’re the shopping type (who isn’t?), then you’re going to appreciate the extra space in your luggage for all the stuff you’re bound to buy.
And, bonus, you can wear what you get right away!
Book tickets and hotel rooms directly
This tip might only apply to travel pros, but discount booking sites might make it harder to change your itinerary and, sometimes, cost more than booking direct.
When you book flights and hotels with a discount site, your booking is with that company, not with the airline or hotel. This means making changes, upgrading class or room category, or making use of your travel rewards is next to impossible. It only takes one round of phone tag between a discount site and your airline to never book a discounted itinerary again.
Instead, spend the time to research each of your preferred hotels and airlines to see if you can get a good deal directly. You never know!
Talk to strangers
Of course, this all depends on your comfort level, but one of the perks of traveling is meeting new people from all over the world.
Don’t be shy; say hi to the people next to you on the patio, or chat up your bartender or hotel concierge. You never know who you will meet and they might take you to your next big adventure!
Consider a VPN
Keep your phone safe from intruders and browse like you would at home with a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN secures your phone by mimicking an entirely different IP address and makes it seem as if you are browsing from a different place.
This is great for using Google (Maps, Gmail, search) and Facebook apps when visiting places like China, where a number of common apps for us are blocked. Another reason to use a VPN is to keep your phone safe when using open, public wifi which is a boon for hackers!
Avoid airport currency exchanges
This is a simple one: exchange your currency at home or at a bank when you arrive, instead of using airport currency exchanges. You will be charged fees on top of rates that are not favorable to you.
Better yet, bring a credit card with no international exchange fees and keep your money in your pocket.
Remember to bring your medication
If you take prescription medication, you’ll want to pack enough for your trip and then some. Keep it with you in your personal item or carry-on (never in checked luggage) and bring more than you will need to account for any possible delays.
You might want to bring some over the counter drugs with you for headaches and nausea plus antihistamines and antidiarrheals because the last thing you want to do is search for a pharmacy for the latter two.
The most important tidbit is also the last one: just be safe! Going to a new place can be exciting, especially when meeting new people and taking part in new adventures. However, your safety is the most important thing! You want to come back in one piece without any unwanted experiences.
This is probably a good time to remind you to get travel insurance if it doesn’t come with your credit card benefits and let people back home know when you should be expected back along with your contact information. If anything goes wrong, the search party will commence.
That’s all very unlikely, but be prepared nonetheless! We hope you enjoyed these traveling tidbits!
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