Travel tips for ANY destination:
For every destination, there are numerous tips and things to keep in mind. For every destination, however, some of these are universal ideas. Over the years of backpacking and hitting multiple countries at a time, these are a few things I find myself doing no matter where I’m headed.
Get suggestions from other travelers
When you bond over a beer with new friends you made on tours or at your hostel, make note of the fun places they’ve been. Recent, firsthand experience via word-of-mouth is the best review you can get.
Keep a travel journal
Writing down your adventures, by hand or electronically, is critical to remembering your travels. You may think you’ll never forget that amazing din sum place, your new friend’s name, or that secret beach location, but within a few days (or hours) everything starts blending together. Even just writing down dates, locations, and names of people can help keep accurate memories.
Research local scams
Whether it’s the Tuktuk scams in Bangkok, the “real” jewelry scams in Vietnam, or the shell/cup game in Paris, scams are everywhere in the world. Many scams are universal and found all over, but some are specific to a certain location. Do your research ahead of time so you don’t get suckered into something.
Get those travel apps
Today’s age of technology has made traveling a breeze with countless travel apps. Whether you need help translating, converting, navigating, booking, or editing pictures, there’s a travel app for that. Find out more here.
Find out the time difference
Some people frequently forget to take time differences into account when traveling. Luckily, most technology adjusts this automatically, but nothing’s worse than missing a flight because you forgot to set your watch. For the local time of any destination, click here.
Utilize your Maps and GPS
Besides using map apps to find your destinations, use the tools within the app (like saving or pinning a location) to help keep track of places. If I find a new place I want to go, I just pin it on my map under “Places I want to go” (creative, I know) and then I can just glance at my map to make a plan.
Get travel insurance
A frequent oversight by many travelers, but sadly it’s also a very expensive oversight. While it may seem unnecessary at the time, you’ll be so happy you got it if you ever need it. Do your research and comparisons to make sure it fits your specific needs. Read more about that here.
Learn key phrases in the local language
I may not become fluent before I travel but there are a few things I try to learn for every place I go. Locals appreciate the effort and you just look cool.
- Thank you.
- How much?
- No thank you. (For the people trying to sell you things)
- That’s delicious! (Cooks/servers love this)
- That’s beautiful! (Artisans/shop keepers love this)
- Cheers! (Friends love this)
Research local customs and taboos
It’s always awkward when you realize an innocent action is very rude and offensive to the locals. Finding out ahead of time that certain motions, words, clothing or actions are not a good idea will make for smoother interactions during travel.
Extra batteries, SD cards, and power banks
Running out of batteries or memory space as you’re about to do that once-in-a-lifetime thing is devastating. Coughing up the money to buy extra SD cards or batteries or investing in a power bank could help capture those special moments and prevent emotional meltdowns.
Find out local visa regulations early
Learning about the visa you need that takes 3 days to get the day before your arrival is not helpful. Some countries allow for “visa on arrival” that you can order online (watch for scams by researching the company) but others require a trip to the embassy in advance, which can take a few days. Prepare well in advance to account for any discrepancies or issues.
Get the right plugs and voltage
Every country has specific electrical sockets and voltage. Buying adapters and converters ahead of time is nice, although many times you can purchase them upon arrival. Don’t count on finding these easily, however. For the voltage of any destination, go here.
Note the location of your hostel/hotel before departure
Assuming you can get Wi-Fi to access you maps and emails when you arrive at your new destination could lead to lots of stress and frustration. Getting directions from the airport/train station directly to your accommodations is so nice to have. Screenshots of maps, the hotel’s name and address in the local language, and an idea of proper taxi fare is a life saver.
Learn the local emergency numbers and embassy locations
Googling numbers for the police or fire station at the time of an emergency may not be so easy. Finding this out ahead of time will be priceless should the need arise, heaven forbid. Writing down the info and keeping it in a few places could come in handy.
Despite all of the planning travelers do ahead of time, there’s always something that pops up that you didn’t plan for. Always. That’s the great thing about travel, exploring the unknown! Right? But you can be mostly prepared, which makes for less stress and more fun!
If you have some other great ideas for visiting any destination, add them in the comments below!