Got a vacation coming up and want to make sure your trip goes smoothly? We’ve got you covered. The essential travel tips to ensure a great vacation are all found in this post!
It’s important to know that the top travel tips are the top tips for you. You won’t need every travel tip in every destination. Some travel tips will change depending on where you are and when you go.
This list is comprehensive, though. You’ll find the best advice to cover just about any travel destination or situation.
Bookmark this page. As I discover new tips, I’ll add them to this page so that you only ever need to consult one page to get the best travel tips for you.
The Ultimate List of Travel Tips
- 3 Travel tips for maintaining the Ultimate Travel Mindset.
- What to do about cash, cards, and currency.
- 14 Travel tips for when you’re flying.
- 5 essential tips for Traveling with Kids.
- 13 Tips for Travel Safety and Travel Security
- Tips for staying healthy when traveling.
- 10 Packing Tips to maximize convenience and effectiveness
- Great sites and apps for searching and booking airfare.
- 16 Great Ways to get the most out of a destination.
- 5 tips for giving the Gift of Travel.
- Essential Travel Apps
Ways to Make Every Vacation Magical and Memorable
- Subscribe to All Things Travel
- Join the All Things Travel Facebook group
- Connect with All things Travel on Instagram
Travel Tips for Maintaining the Ultimate Travel Mindset
Travel starts with a mindset. For me, it comes down to three key ideas…
- Don’t Try to Do “Everything” on Your Trip!
- Maintain Realistic expectations
- Always build in downtime or unplanned exploration time!
Don’t over plan!!!
Even if you are at a theme park or a dream city with lots to do, have space on your schedule to allow for surprises things that pop up! You never know when you will stumble on something special you would miss if you are rushing from point A to B!
While I frequently have to remind myself to take this advice, these keys help take off the pressure and help me enjoy the time exploring and relaxing!
What’s a “must” for your travel planning mindset?
1. Don’t Try to Do “Everything” on Your Trip
We’re tempted to want to do everything. “Doing everything” is not the purpose of your vacation. Having an enjoyable, memorable experience is the purpose of your trip. Pick your top two or three things to do each day and leave room to improvise, explore, and savor your experiences.
2. Maintain Realistic Expectations!
It’s reasonable to expect a wonderful, memorable vacation. It’s not reasonable to expect a perfect vacation. Having too high expectations causes the stress of trying to have a perfect vacation. It also increases the chances that your trip won’t meet those unreal expectations.
This one of the most important travel tips. Maintain realistic expectations and they’ll be met or exceeding.
3. Always Build in Downtime or Unplanned Exploration Time!
Don’t schedule every minute of your vacation. Leave time to rest, explore, or simply stop and reflect on your vacation. You’ll miss more by rushing to complete too many items on a checklist than you will by taking your time and soaking in everything.
It’s a vacation, not a race. Invest more time into absorbing relishing where you are at any given moment and spend less time rushing to the next place. If you’ve organized your day, the next location isn’t better than your current location.
Take your time and enjoy where you are. You’re on vacation!
Best Travel Tips for Cash, Currency, and Cards
4. Carry Small Denominations of Currency Even if You Mostly use Credit Cards!
Here’s a common pre-trip scenario. You want to have a bit of cash for your trip (or more than a bit if you are not using a credit card), and so you head to the ATM. You get your money (usually in larger bills) and head off.
However, the first part of your trip is usually pretty tip-heavy (drivers, porters, baristas, etc.), and you don’t have smaller change for tips! It is embarrassing! So, always bring some small bills or break a few bigger ones before heading off on your trips.
5. Purchase Local Currency Before You Leave for Your Trip
This one should count as two travel tips because it also ensures that you will have cash handy.
Many banks will sell you the local currency of countries you want to visit. Most don’t charge you fees. According to my bank, they make enough money on trading currencies to offset the charges that they would otherwise charge their customers.
If you plan your trip far enough in advance, you can watch FOREX rates and purchase the foreign country when it’s most favorable for your local currency.
In many cases, you can specify the denominations you want ahead of time. When traveling to European Union countries, you want denominations other than 100s, and you don’t want to carry many 500s.
6. Adjust the Amount Of Currency You Exchanging to Get Small Change in the Local Currency
The amount you pay in your local currency will be less in the foreign currency.
Try to adjust the amount so that the amount of foreign currency includes coins. Strive for an amount that ends in 9.99, and you’ll get a variety of smaller bills and change.
7. Make Purchases With Your Credit Card Instead of Your Debit Card
First of all, don’t use your debit card for purchases when traveling. This tip could have also gone with the security travel tips.
It’s better to use credit cards. Although your bank may offer protection and reimbursement for unauthorized charges on your debit card, you don’t want to have to deal with a stolen debit card number on your trip. (Or any other time.)
It is one thing for someone to charge several charges and add to your credit card’s balance. It is more inconvenient when a thief makes purchases with your debit card and reduces your bank account balance.
8. Vital Information about your Credit or Debit Card PIN
A great way to keep your finances and identity secure is to set a Personal Identification Number (PIN) for your credit cards and debit cards, any ATM card.
Many countries don’t allow PINs that begin with 0. Don’t select a PIN that begins with 0.
9. Alert Your Banks and Credit Card Companies that you’re Traveling
You can do this online. You can specify when you’re leaving, where you’re going, and when your returning. If you live in Oklahoma City, and your credit card company doesn’t know you’re traveling, they may deny your charges and cancel your card when you attempt by the gorgeous snow globe in Paris!
14 Travel Tips for When You’re Flying
14 Things to do BEFORE your next flight:
Remember these tips before the next time you get ready for your airline trip!
- Download the Airline App.
- Download a flight tracker.
- Keep all your trip info together: Use a file app, digital wallet, etc.
- Keep track of real-time info: Gonna be late? Bad weather ahead?
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate (and bring your own water bottle)!
- Plan ahead for your next trip by registering for TSA Pre-Check.
- Check your bag size: Don’t be surprised at the gate!
- Bring your own food and snacks.
- Disinfect your area: a quick wipe down will make you feel better!
- Wear comfortable clothing!
- Know if you’re covered.
- Avoid flying after underwater diving.
- Avoid jet lag by hitting the ground running.
- Decrease your chances of suffering ear pain during take-off and landing.
(Need to know about travel protection? Reach out and we would be happy to help!)
10. Download the Airline App
I could write travel tips for each app that helps with travel, but the airline apps can add convenience to your travels. The airlines’ apps have loads of valuable information:
- Information and updates about your flight
- You can check in for your flight and select your seat
- Get boarding passes and skip the gates
- Add luggage to your ticket
- Upgrade your seat
- Maps of airports and terminals
- Details about your account with the airline
- Track your bags
- Contact customer support
- Browse for, and book, other flights.
- and use it for wifi on the plane (Something I never pay for. Just download podcasts and audiobooks)
All the airlines have them. Southwest, American, Delta, Spirit, Air France. My favorite is Air France. I think because it’s cool saying, “Air France.”
As a side note, Spirit also offers great support via WhatsApp.
11. Download a Flight Tracker
Whether your about to catch your flight or waiting to pick up a loved one from the airport, flight trackers are invaluable.
Get updates on your flight status, arrival/departure time, arrival/departure terminal and gate information, and baggage claim information. If you’re a big map nerd like me, you can watch the flight’s path on the interactive map.
12. Keep All Your Trip Info Together
This is another one of the most important travel tips. We have access to apps to track everything! It’s easy to have information split among too many apps. Make your trip more convenient by keeping all of your information in one place. Use a file app, digital wallet, etc.
I store trip information in my iPhone Notes App. I can edit and access the information on any device and share it with the rest of my travel party. For each trip, I’ll store:
- Flight reservation numbers
- Frequent flyer number for each traveler
- Known Traveler Number for each traveler
- Hotel reservation number
- Hotel phone number
- Other reservation numbers and phone numbers.
I used to use EverNote. I prefer the interface of Notes, though. I’m automatically signed into Notes with my Apple ID and have access to everything online and offline.
13. Pay Attention to Real-Time Info
Pay attention to important items that can affect your trip in real time. Watch the weather during the days leading up to your trip. This includes weather in your departure city, connection city, and arrival city.
My kid recently had a trip planned to visit us. We were expecting bad weather here. My kid called the airline. They were happy to change her flight at no charge to avoid waiting to reroute them when the bad weather arrived.
They got a better fight, and we got to spend more time with her.
Pay attention to your health. Make sure you’re getting plenty of rest and eating nutritiously. Start hydrating a few days before your flight.
Watch for any events or construction that can affect traffic to and from your airport or train station.
14. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Staying hydrated is one of the most important travel tips for your health.
Many are supposed by how much air travel dehydrates us. Aircraft cabins are arid environments. You’ll quickly dehydrate if you don’t stay hydrated. Staying hydrated may also prevent the sharp ear pain caused by the plane’s ascent and descent.
First, pack a reusable water bottle so you can easily get it refilled. Ask for water each time you purchase food or a drink. Also, pack a hydration aid.
Most bottled water offered on flights, and most of the free water that restaurants will give you for your reusable water bottle, are filtered. That means the essential electrolytes are filtered out also. Add back the electrolytes and a little flavor to encourage you to drink more. And to encourage your kids to drink more!
Dehydration makes it more likely that your Eustachian tubes clog, leading to that sharp ear pain during ascent and descent. Help prevent your and your little ones’ ear pain by staying hydrated.
It’s a good idea to set timers to remind you to take sips and drinks frequently.
Setting reminders to hydrate is particularly important on longer international flights. You’ll be in that dry environment for a long time, and you won’t be very active. It’s unlikely you’ll realize how dehydrated you are until it’s too late.
15. Save Time by Signing up for TSA Pre-Check
We went years with airport security not being a big deal. We never had any complaints about wait times or searches. That changed for my wife one day.
We’re not sure why, but she had to have her bag, and herself searched many times. Not only was it uncomfortable and frustrating for her, it almost caused her to miss the flight that she arrived in plenty of time to make. That’s when we changed our mind and signed up for TSA Pre-check.
We signed up for a time on the website. Gathered the suggested document and took the required documents to our appointment. It took about 30 minutes to process two of us. We received our authorization in about two weeks.
My registration wasn’t as straightforward. I didn’t have a suitable copy of my birth certificate. If you’re unsure, you can check with your local county offices and ensure you have the proper birth record.
This is one of the travel tips that benefits other travelers also. Use TSA Pre-Check and free up resources for those traveling without it. You will thank me after you use this the first time!
16. Check Your Bag Size
Checking your back size is one of the travel tips that will save you time and money! Don’t be surprised at the gate! Some airlines have slightly different size requirements for carry-on luggage. Verify this before you get to the airport.
Also, check the weight of your checked luggage. You’ll have to pay extra for bags that exceed certain weights. Keep in mind that flights from other countries than the United States will allow less weight for checked luggage.
Weigh your bags right after you pack. Don’t hope that your bag won’t cost you extra at the gate. You can find small scales for weighing your luggage. They also make excellent gifts!
We did get lucky once. Coming back from Orlando, we noticed our bag exceeded the weight requirements. The agents were busy talking and didn’t notice.
17. Bring Your Own Food and Snacks
In the age of COVID, snacks on planes are almost non-existent. If airlines do bring back snacks, they’ll likely either be lame or overpriced and probably both!
Bringing snacks covers two travel tips. It can save you money and help ensure you’re eating healthier. Airline snacks are not only bland, they’re empty calories.
Bring your favorite snacks. They’ll be healthier, cheaper, and a necessity with less onboard service right now!
18. Disinfect Your Area
A quick wipe down will make you feel better! Currently, during the age of COVID, most places are practicing thorough cleaning to maintain disease control and prevent outbreaks.
You’ll feel a lot better, though, wiping down everything in your area with your own wipes. The areas to wipe down include the armrests, tray table, the in-flight reading material, and especially the touch screen for in-flight entertainment.
19. Wear Comfortable Clothing
The need to wear comfortable clothing is essential for long flights. You’re going to be sitting for a long time.
Wear clothes that are comfortable to sit in for long periods, especially if you’re stuck in a window seat and not comfortable asking your fellow passengers on the aisle to let you up. Consider layers in case the cabin temperature is too cold or warm for your comfort.
Think ahead to when you land. What will be comfortable for when you arrive? Are you going to your hotel where you can change? Are you going straight to a beach or theme park? Think ahead. And remember sunscreen!
20. Know if You’re Covered
Check to see if you have trip cancellation/interruption coverage with the credit card used or purchase travel protection for your trip! Your credit card company may cover certain parts of your trip.
I strongly recommend purchasing a trip insurance policy through your travel agent and getting a more comprehensive insurance policy. Purchasing a trip insurance policy is one of the most vital travel tips. It not only helps ensure your that trip will go well, but it also helps ensure that you don’t bring back any expenses from your vacations.
21. Avoid Flying After Underwater Diving
Are you a diver? Do you enjoy trips for underwater diving? Make sure you schedule enough time between your dives and your flights. The World Health Organization warns that you don’t fly for at least 12 hours after your last dive because…
“the risk that the reduced cabin pressure may lead to decompression sickness (more commonly called the bends).”
WHO recommends that you extend that time to 24 hours if you’ve dived multiple times or if your diving adventure required decompression stops during your ascent back to the surface.
22. Avoid Jet Lag by Hitting the Ground Running
Jet lag is always a possibility, especially when crossing several time zones during international travel. You will likely feel very sleepy and compelled to have a nap first thing when you arrive.
Avoid taking a nap when you arrive at your destination.
Do your best to fight through the afternoon and evening. Wait and retire for the night when the day ends where you are currently visiting, not what time your body feels like it is. By this time, you’ll be tired enough to sleep through your first night in your new city.
Here are bad things that happen when you take a nap when you arrive.
- You’ll be too excited to sleep well.
- The hustle and bustle outside your sleeping chamber will interfere with enjoying quality sleep.
- You might wake up in the middle of the night.
- You’ll spend another day not adjusting to the local time.
- You’ll likely wake up feeling sleepier than when you arrived.
It might be a tough first day. Don’t plan any major activities on your first day—just some dining, hydrating, and sight-seeing. Consider a coffee (something local) to help you stay awake. Just don’t have it too close to bedtime.
Staying awake to enjoy informal activities and sleeping during the local sleeping hours will help you quickly adapt to the local time. The need to avoid napping is especially true for business travelers.
Skipping a nap may be one of the travel tips that you’re most tempted to ignore. Remember, though, that you’ll want to be in your most energetic frame of mind and on the same schedule as your colleagues.
23. How to Decrease Your Chances of Suffering Ear Pain During Take-off and Landing
Pack your favorite chewing gum. Pack your own rather than paying the inflated airport prices. Chewing gum encourages swallowing, which will help alleviate the inner ear pressure that causes the pain. LIkewise swallowing while enjoying your snacks will help. Likewise, swallowing while enjoying your snacks will help.
Staying hydrated also helps prevent ear pain during take-off and landing.
What About Trip Insurance?
5 Essential Tips for Traveling with Kids
24. Have them choose some element of the trip.
25. Break up the trip if you’re traveling for a long time.
26. Before your trip, get them involved by watching movies or videos about the destination.
27. Attach a laminated slip of paper with your contact info to their shirt.
28. Don’t ever take your kids traveling with clothing that has their name on it.
Check out Disney Travel Dad’s advice for traveling with kids!
13 Tips for Travel Safety and Travel Security
Check out episode 35 for our huge list of travel and safety tips. That blog post and show episode include tips in the following areas:
- Always purchase trip insurance.
- Situational Awareness: Why and How You Need It!
- Carry your wallet in your front pocket
- Take pictures of important documents.
- Be discreet with your room number.
- The Best Clothing for Travel for Travel Safety and Security
- Always Purchase Trip Insurance!
- Crucial Social Media Tips for Travel Safety and Security
- How to Protect Your Home While You’re Away
- Hotel Considerations: I Bet You’ve Never Heard These
- Transportation Considerations: How to Arrive Safely
- How to Keep Yourself and Your Phone Safe
- Destination/Park/Attraction Considerations
29. Always Purchase Travel Insurance
As in life, in travel, you never know what will happen and ruin your travel plans. You don’t know what will happen before your trip, during your trip, or after your trip.
The purpose of all insurance is to minimize your loss when unforeseen things happen. Minimizing your loss doesn’t just include getting some of your money back if you get sick and can’t go on your trip.
I used to do it. I’d say, “I’m going on this trip even if I get sick.”
What if someone else gets sick? I had to cancel a trip because a loved one passed away. My dad had to use his travel insurance policy to get back some of the money he paid for a vacation when his father-in-law became ill.
Many travel insurance policies will cover what happens to you during your trip.
A friend’s client was injured when the wind blew the door of their balcony shot on his hand. He had to have immediate surgery to prevent permanent damage. Their trip insurance policy quickly covered the cost of his surgery.
(He purchased his trip insurance policy from the travel insurance provider I use for my clients.)
And what about the weather? My wife and kid got rerouted to Austin instead of Dallas to avoid a storm passing through Dallas. They had to pay to spend the night in Austin. A trip insurance policy would have covered that cost.
There are many reasons why you should never travel without trip insurance! There are also many travel insurance policies. My recommendation, as always, is to become friends with–and always book with–your travel advisor.
While not as diverting, safety and security tips are the most important things you need to learn when traveling.
30. Maintain Situational Awareness
Don’t be an easy target for those who might ruin your trip or evening out.
Be mindful of your surroundings. Situational awareness doesn’t mean that you need to be stressed and on high alert. It doesn’t mean profiling. It means head up, shoulders back, and watching where you are and what’s happening around you.
You might miss what’s on your phone, but you’ll experience more of your destination and be safer.
31. Carry Your Wallet in Your Front Pocket
Do you carry your wallet in your back pocket? It’s pretty easy for a pickpocket to grab your wallet out of your back pocket, even if your pants are a little tight. Sitting on a big wallet is also bad for your back.
Carry your wallet in your front pocket. It’s easier on your back and harder on pickpockets.
32. Take pictures of Important Documents
Keep them handy on your cell phone so that you have them when you need them. Documents you should photograph:
- Identification cards
- Medical Insurance Cards
- Travel Insurance claim contact numbers
- Credit cards
- Hotel phone number
- The address of your hotel
For each photo, ensure that you clearly capture all the numbers that you’ll need. That includes ID numbers, document numbers, and contact numbers. Capture all critical information on each card.
Share the photos with fellow travelers, loved ones, and on the cloud so that you can acquire them even if you lose your phone.
33. Be Discreet With Your Hotel Room Number
Don’t announce to the city (or hotel) where the new out-of-towner keeps all their stuff.
When checking into your hotel, have the person checking you in write your number down and not announce it where those around you can hear your room number.
While out shopping or dining, don’t tell people what your room number is. Remember when Hagrid told Professor Quirrel how to get past Fluffy? Don’t be like Hagrid. Don’t tell people where all of your stuff is.
That’s one of the great things about shopping around Disney. When you make purchases with your Magic Band or with the My Disney Experience app, you can have the items you bought delivered to your room without having to announce your room number to the store.
Tips for Staying Healthy When Traveling
34. Stay Hydrated to Stay Healthy
As mentioned in the flying section, always keep yourself well hydrated. Pack some hydration aids to help maintain the electrolytes you need. A hydration aid you enjoy will encourage you to drink fluids more often.
35. Always Wear Sunscreen
Getting a bad sunburn is just as bad as getting sick. That’s just the immediate concern. There is also the long-term concern of skin cancer.
Whether you’re on a beach, in a theme park, or a city during the day, the sun is very likely beaming on you. Wearing sunscreen will prevent sunburn from ruining your vacation and help you stay hydrated.
Many of us prefer the spray-on sunscreens. Be mindful of your mist. Don’t fumigate those around you. I recommend small tubes of sunscreen that you can slather on and not suffocate yourself or those around you.
10 Packing Tips to Maximize Convenience and Effectiveness
Check out the All Things Travel episode in which we highlight the best travel gear for 2021.
36. Pack Light
Try to pack light. While it can be challenging to include everything you might need while packing light, a little planning goes a long way. Ask your travel advisor and do a little research ahead of time.
If you pack too much stuff, your bag or backpack’s weight will only increase as you grow more tired throughout the day.
37. Make a Packing List
What you need to pack depends on where you go. I recommend having a master list to help ensure you don’t forget anything and a packing list for each destination or type of trip.
Check out this carry-on packing list. I think it takes care of the carry-on items you’ll want to have for any flight.
Making a packing list before your trip will help ensure that you don’t forget anything. Write each item down as you think of it. You never know when the thought will occur to you. Then make sure you add it to your list.
A packing list will also help make sure you don’t leave anything behind.
You can use the same packing list you used to pack for your trip to pack for going home. Even though I offer several packing lists, compile your own to ensure that you pack all of the personal items that you need.
38. Always Pack a Thermometer
Most places take your temperature before you enter and won’t let you in if you have a fever. If one person in your party has a fever, none of you can get in.
With your packed thermometer, you can take everyone’s temperature before you leave your room and cool down if you need to before they take your temperature at the entrance. It’s one less thing to worry about.
39. Pack With Packing Cubes
40. Pack All of Your “Sleeping” Items in One Packing Cube
They keep your luggage organized. If you’re living out of your suitcase and need one thing, you can get it without messing up everything else.
One thing I do for overnight trips is put all of my sleeping items in one cube. When it’s time to retire for the evening, I can get everything I need for bed without disorganizing anything else in my suitcase.
41. Organize your packing even more with ZipLock Space Bags
42. Pack Something to Bring Back Souvenirs In
Take a duffle back with you to carry back souvenirs. You can fold it up into your suitcase to take it. Then use it to bring back souvenirs.
43. Protect Liquid Souvenirs with Jet Bags
Use it to bring back bottles of wine or spirits. Perhaps a jar of the olive salad from Central Grocery in New Orleans.
44. Pack a 1st Aid Kit
Here’s a suggested list of items to include in your 1st Aid Kit:
- Hand sanitizer
- Pain and fever reducer, such as Tylenol or Advil
- Any over the counter medicine you would take for a cold or stomach issues (a pharmacy abroad may not carry similar items)
- Antihistamines for allergic reactions
- Small scissors
- A small roll of duct tape (so useful!)
- Small Ziploc baggies
- A list of your prescriptions, in case you lose them
- Rehydration powder like Pedialyte (flights, upset stomach, etc.)
- Digital thermometer: Be sure to check the battery before you leave home (especially traveling during COVID-19)
- Spare eyeglasses: Lost or broken eyeglasses will make you even more vulnerable in an unfamiliar place, so make sure you carry an extra pair.
45. For an Overnight Flight, Pack a Toothbrush in Your Carry-on
Believe it or not, one of the first things you’ll want to do after an overnight flight is brushing your teeth. I thought my wife was crazy when she insisted on this. It was so lovely brushing my teeth while waiting on our luggage to arrive at the baggage carousel.
That wasn’t why she wanted to do it, though. She wanted us to be prepared in case our luggage was lost. Even though our luggage arrived with us, that brushing of teeth was one of the most delightful experiences I can remember.
Packing Gear and Items
Check out this All Things Travel episode in which we highlight the best travel gear for 2021.
Searching and Booking Airfare
We all want cheap flights, right? Here are my favorite searching and booking engines.
46. How to Use Skyscanner to Help Plan When to Visit Your Desired Destination
Skyscanner is an excellent app for finding the best place to go or the best time to go somewhere. You can select the time you want to travel and have Skyscanner search everywhere.
Likewise, you can enter your desired destination and have Skyscanner find you the cheapest month to go and the cheapest days to fly. You can then save routes and get alerts for when the fare increases or decreases.
My only issue with Skyscanner is that it occasionally returns a flight that you end up not being able to book. Although that can be frustrating, Skyscanner is an excellent tool for finding flights and determining when you can find cheaper flights for a destination.
47. How to Use Google Flights to Find the Best Airfare Deal
Google Flights has much of the same functionality as Skyscanner. I don’t think one is better than the other. They frequently have the same information. Still, I like to use both Google Flights and Skyscanner for when one has flights that the other doesn’t.
48. How to Use Hopper App to Find the Best Time to Purchase Airfare
The Hopper app is an excellent tool for finding airfare. You can set up alerts for itineraries, and Hopper will alert you as the prices changes.
The Hopper app will let you know if it predicts the price of the fare will increase or decrease. It is good at letting you know if you should go ahead and seize a great airfare or wait for a better price.
49. Remember Why Cheap Airfare is Cheap
The Best thing to remember about cheap airfare is that airfare depends on supply and demand. The best time to travel to a destination will likely be the most expensive time to fly there.
Conversely, the least expensive time to travel to a destination is likely the least desirable time to go.
For example, it’s less expensive to fly to the United Kingdom during the winter, while spring and summer are widely considered the best time to go. It will also be difficult finding cheap airfare during times when kids are out of school.
That lower price won’t be the better deal if it’s during an uncomfortable time to visit your dream location.
16 Great Ways to Get the Most out of a Destination
50. Try to Keep Develop and Keep an Open Mind
Travel can make you smarter. It’s an excellent way to learn and to broaden your mind. A great way to do that is to travel with an open mind. Be willing to discover what others have learned, experience what others experience, and consider others’ beliefs.
51. Venture Out of Your Comfort Zone
Opening your mind to other cultures will require you to get out of your comfort zone. Research some sites you want to visit and activities you want to do on your trip that you don’t usually do at home.
Stepping beyond your comfort zone is–well–uncomfortable. That’s why it’s called COMFORT Zone. Take baby steps. Those small adventures will boost your confidence and resilience. It will help you grow wiser, happier, and more confident and help you become a more interesting person.
I know that you’re pretty interesting already! But it’s always fun to be a little interestinger!
A great daily practice is to visit a new place where you live. Any new location could be outside your comfort zone.
Start with sites similar to places you’ve been. Then work your way up to visiting local places that are entirely different from those you typically frequent. Exploring new local attractions might include shopping in a nearby neighborhood or trying a new kind of cuisine.
Essentially, to broaden your mind and get more comfortable being outside your comfort zone, visit new places and try new things.
52. Learn Useful Phrases in the Local Language
Assuming you’re traveling to a foreign country that speaks a different language, learn a few phrases in that language. Talking to locals in their language will improve your travel experience.
Meeting new people is a great way to get out of your comfort zone. Practice it at home, too. You never know when you’ll make great new friends!
In many places, even attempting to speak in the local language will get you better service. They sincerely appreciate your effort. Little things like that will go a long way towards improving the quality of your experience.
You may discover that you enjoy chatting it up with locals, even if you’re not entirely sure what one another is saying.
Learning a new language will enhance your experience and help you grow a little smarter as you prepare for your vacation. Speaking with locals will help you immerse yourself in different cultures. Immersion into new cultures will go a long way towards opening your mind and making you brighter.
Learning the local language will help with communicating in that language and improve your overall ability to learn.
53. Make Flashcards with questions you may want to ask in the local language
Make queue cards. Before your trip, use them as flashcards to help you learn the language. Take them on your flight with you and practice the new language during your flight.
Keep your flashcards with you at your destination in case you forget the language.
If one of your flashcards is for informing a waitperson or chef of food allergies, you’ll want to ensure you get that right. Having the phrase written down will make sure the person understands better when you need to say.
54. Practice Using Google Translate
In my opinion, Google Translate is better for writing than for speaking.
Still, exposure to the new language is more practice and experience using it. If you find yourself in a bind and need a phrase that you haven’t learned and don’t have a flashcard for it, Google Translate may be a huge help.
55. Try the Local Food
Another opportunity for adventure and opening your mind is to try local food. Local food is one of the primary reasons that I travel.
You can experience new flavors, smells, or textures. You might learn a little something about nutrition. Enjoying unique foods is a wonderful cultural and culinary experience. Even if you don’t enjoy what you try, you’ll never enjoy trying new cuisine.
It’s also fun. I love bragging about eating snails, pigs ears, and grilled lamb stomach. To be candid, I can do without having pigs ears again. They tasted great. It was the texture I didn’t enjoy. I thought the lamb stomach was delicious!
Research ahead of time some local restaurants to try. Watch for big crowds. Google Maps is a great way to search for great food. Pick an area you’ll visit and research that area for restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Google maps has ratings and reviews for almost every business, so you can see what locals and tourists think about potential dining destinations. Google translates the reviews for you! You can also enjoy photos of the food, drinks, and ambiance to help ensure you find the perfect place for you.
56. Use Yelp to search for local restaurants.
On a recent trip to New York, we enjoyed one of our favorite meals we’ve ever had. With Yelp, we found Cock and Bull, which had our favorite fish ‘n chips from all of our travels.
57. Use Yelp to get on waiting lists
Even if Yelp indicates that the restaurant isn’t crowded, get on the waiting list.
My kid and I found a restaurant we wanted to try on a recent trip to Los Angeles. It was walking distance from our hotel, and Yelp indicated that it wasn’t crowded. Thus, we didn’t put ourselves on the waiting list.
Something happened during our walk. The restaurant was packed when we arrived, and we ended up having to wait for almost an hour to get a table. And it turned out that we didn’t enjoy the restaurant after that long wait.
Time your getting on the waiting list either before you leave or during your walking/driving so that your driving/walking time is the time you wait for your table.
Although you want to be careful of street food, it can be delicious! The grilled lamb sandwich I had was street food
58. Look for Great Neighborhoods rather than Luxury Hotels
Granted, for some trips, you simply want luxury. If you desire immersion into new and different places, then look for neighborhoods rather than hotels. Local communities might also have more excellent hotels. There is the likelihood, though, that the luxury hotels will be located in the more touristy areas.
The so-called “touristy areas” are where a lot of people like to visit for good reasons. They feel a little safer visiting here than venturing off the beaten path. There is no shame in that. You have to travel the best trip for you.
59. Try Public Transportation
What kid doesn’t love trains, buses, and cars? Public transportation can be a great way to get around for a reasonable price. Learn as much as you can about the city you’ll visit beforehand. You’ll want to know what modes are safer than others.
For example, Madrid has excellent public transportation. We get monthly passes when we visit my in-laws. I use buses and subways a lot.
However, I wouldn’t recommend that my clients use the subway in Madrid for all places. It would depend on their comfort level with the city, public transportation in general, and how skilled they are at situational awareness.
Learning to read bus system maps is a skill. Many cities have apps to help you get around with their systems. Google Maps is also very helpful with finding routes via public transportation. It will likely be less expensive than renting care or using rideshare.
60. Download Regions in Google Maps
Occasionally, we travel to places without cell service. An area without cell service could be a remote region that simply doesn’t have nearby cell service towers. Or maybe you’re like me and don’t want to spend money on having cell service in foreign countries.
Thinking back to our day trips from Alcossebre, Spain, make this my favorite travel tip.
You can download maps of areas you’ll visit in advance.
You won’t get all the details of the area, but you will get the main roads, enough to avoid getting lost. If you enjoy getting lost, you can likely download enough map details to help you find your way back after you’ve successfully lost yourself.
As mentioned above, maintain situational awareness. Don’t spend long periods staring at Google Maps on your cell phone. You’ll miss things going on around you, and you’ll make an easier target for pickpockets.
61. Find Walking Tours
The best way to see a destination is to walk through it. When walking, you experience many things you pass by and miss riding on a bus or in a car.
Look for walking tours. You can likely even find free walking tours.
62. Virtually Visit Future Destinations With Social Media
That does not replace immersing yourself in a new place physically. It is an excellent way to research, though.
Look for the top Instagrammable photo ops in a neighborhood that interests you. Search Pinterest for the best things to do in an area. Use Facebook groups to help learn about destinations.
Want a great Facebook group to start? Join our All Things Travel Facebook group. We have great discussions around travel, travel tips, travel stories, and destinations.
63. Visit Historical Sites
Whether it’s part of a tour or just seeing it and checking it off a list, visiting historical sites can make you smarter, broaden your mind, and give you a new appreciation for others’ experiences.
One of my favorite things to do when visiting my in-laws in Spain is visiting historical sites and letting my brother-in-law interpret the signs and tell me his stories. I’m sure his accounts are less historically accurate, but they sure are entertaining.
You can also ask locals about the historical sites. That’s another excellent reason to practice learning a new language.
64. Shop in Local Markets
Every destination will have its souvenir shops, but those aren’t the best travel experiences. Look for local stores, shops, and fleamarkets.
Find the places where locals sell the items they craft and create and the supplies they use. That’s where you’ll get a better idea of the local culture and immerse yourself in their customs.
Local markets are great places to find regional snacks and drinks. Many of them will have delicious local cuisine. One of my favorite dishes in the world is in a small grocery market in New Orleans. Can you guess it?
Sure, you may need to find some last-minute souvenirs during the final days of your vacation for your friends stuck back home. Save the souvenir shops for that. You’ll find the best souvenirs, food, and experience in the local markets.
65. Ask Local People for Advice
They know what to do, where to go, and where to avoid. Locals know the best restaurants in the neighborhood as well as the best places to shop. Learning from locals is a great reason to learn a few questions in the local language.
A great person to ask is your taxi driver or rideshare driver. Not all drivers everywhere are talkative, but they may appreciate you asking in their language and offer you great advice.
5 Tips for Giving Travel as a Gift (and 4 Reasons Why You Should)
66. Don’t Wait to Book Those Trips
You’ll have more options and will likely get a better price booking earlier. You can take advantage of current deals.
67. Don’t Plan the Entire Trip
Let them have some say.
68. Include a Special Event in the Itinerary
Make sure there is a special something on the trip that they will want to do. Plan it later in the trip, after they’ve acclimated to the destination.
69. Get Them a Destination Tour
Let local experts and pros handle the details.
70. Get Them a Travel Pass
Give them a travel pass, such as those that AmTrack offers. , so they can decide where to go.
4. Reasons Why you Should Give the Gift of Travel
- It emphasizes experience over things.
- It’s unexpected.
- Vacation Anticipation!
- It creates positive memories. (It’s a future gift to yourself. [A gift to your future self?])
Check out this All Things Travel episode in which we explain all the great benefits of giving the gift of travel.
71. Use Apps to Make Travel More Fun and Convenient
Check out this All Things Travel episode in which we round up an excellent selection of our smartphone apps for travel.
- Disney Tips
- Universal Tips
- Spain Tip
- Beach Tips
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