It was summer of 2012, when we went to the airport for the very first time. We were going on our very first trip abroad. It was exciting. But at the same time it was also a bit scary. Is everything going to be ok? Haven’t we forgot something? Have we packed our bags well? It went well and that was it. We were hooked. We couldn’t go home without thinking about what’s our next destination is going to be.
Now – 7 years and tens of flights later – it’s time we share our best travel tips, to help you make the most of your travels.
Here they are.
Flights? Hotels? Travel deals? Here are our favorite Travel Resources & apps.
Our 100 Best Travel Tips: Getting Ready for the Trip
1. Decide on a Destination or a Region
Find out if you need a visa to travel to that particular country.
Don’t put off the visa application process as it can take time, sometimes months. If you are planning on moving abroad, pay even more attention to this. Create your own moving abroad checklist and put the visa question at the top of it.
2. Check the Validity of Your Passport
Change your passport if necessary well in advance.
In most of the situations your passport should be valid at least 6 months after the final day of travel.
3. Use Skyscanner, Momondo and Kiwi to Get the Best Flight Deals
Compare what you find on these sites. Sometimes they all will give you the same prices, other times they will differ a lot.
If you are flexible or you’re thinking of visiting several cities or countries at once, try Kiwi Nomad feature. It’s super cool.
Also join a cheap flight mailing list, such as Scott’s Cheap flights.
Follow last minute flight deals on certain Facebook pages and groups.
4. Always Compare the Final Price
Booking a cheap flight doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get a low final price.
If you are traveling with a checked bag, buying a meal and booking a seat it may add up and you will end up paying way more than expected. So, always check what traditional airlines have to offer. If you are traveling with a carry on only and you don’t care about a meal or a seat then go for the cheapest option.
If you have several options, don’t forget to check out if they are both flying to exact same airport. In some cities there are several airports, and getting from one to the city center may cost as much as 10 times more than from another. For example, currently if you are traveling to Barcelona with Ryanair, you will arrive to Girona Airport, a good 2-hour drive away from Barcelona.
Take all of that into account when making the decision.
5. Find Out What is the Best Time to Visit the Country You’re Traveling to
Think if that’s the weather you enjoy the most. Will it be good for what you are planning to do? Or maybe you just don’t care about the weather that much?
Think of traveling during the shoulder season – a time just after the peak season and before the off season. Hotels are often cheaper during the shoulder season, and it’s not so crowded with tourists anymore.
6. Check Sleeping in Airports if You Have a Long Layover
Especially if it’s going to be during the night.
Find out if the airport you are planning to stay at is open during the night. Are there enough chairs? Are there any rest zones and showers? Is there an airport hotel or sleeping pods? Where are they located?
7. Use Free City Tours (Layover Tours)
If you have a long layover, check if there are free tours of the city for those who have long layovers.
If not go to the city on your own. For instance, cities like Dubai and Singapore have very effective public transportation system, and even during a rather short layover you can manage to explore the city for a few hours before returning to the airport.
8. Take Care of Your Passport
Buy a water resistant passport cover for your passport to protect it from moisture as well as wear and tear.
You don’t want to be denied entry to your next destination because of a damaged passport, do you?
9. Make a Photo Copy of Your Documents
Make a photo copy of your passport, ID, driver’s license and visas, and take photos of your bank cards.
Save them in your email, on your phone, laptop or, for example, on Dropbox. So whenever you need them they aren’t too far away.
10. Have a Proof of Onward Travel
Find out if you need to show a proof of onward travel upon arrival.
If yes, keep a copy of your onward flight. If you don’t have a return / onward flight, you can “rent” one. Use Best Onward Ticket to get a proof of onward travel which is valid for 48 hours. More and more countries are asking for one. You may be asked for it also when only boarding a plane to your destination.
11. Use Your Airline App
And you’ll not need to print boarding passes.
12. Don’t Put Off Planning and Packing for Your Trip
It may take way more time than you think.
13. Find Out About the Recommended Vaccines
Use this website and ask a doctor.
14. Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance
Get yourself a travel insurance (e.g, World Nomads), or find out if your credit card comes with travel insurance benefits.
If you’re a European citizen traveling around Europe, get yourself a European Health Insurance Card. It’s free.
15. Carry Spare Document Photos
Especially if you are traveling long term.
Those will come in handy applying for visas, buying a SIM card, an so on.
16. Quality of Your Luggage Matters
Buy durable yet lightweight bag. You don’t want it using much of the weight allowance!
17. Think of Getting Yourself a Luggage Tag
18. Get Yourself a Dry Bag
And small dry sacks for documents, valuables and electronics.
Especially if you are traveling to a tropical destination.
Kaspars uses his dry bag as a day pack.
19. Get Yourself a Combination Lock
It will come in handy on long bus and train rides, and in a hostel.
20. Always Book Your First Hotel / Hostel Online
You won’t want to look for a hotel after a long journey, believe me.
The rest of them – you can book even on the go. It’s up to you.
21. Use Couchsurfing
Not only it’s a great way to save money on accommodation but also meet locals and find new friends.
Note that in most of the top tourist destinations it might be near to impossible to find someone willing and able to host you, especially if you’re traveling during the top tourism season.
22. Try Volunteering at Least Once
If you are on a long term trip try to volunteer (Workaway, HelpX, WWOOF).
Not only you’ll save some money on accommodation and food but you’ll meet new people and learn something new. Some jobs are more popular than others (work in a guesthouse or a surf camp), so apply well in advance for those.
We’ve been volunteers for about a year in total. Read more about our volunteering experience.
23. Read and Learn About the Local Customs and Mentality Before Traveling
Find out what is accepted and what is not.
24. Learn About the Unsafe Areas of the City
The easiest way? Ask at your hotel.
25. Learn About the Most Common Tourist Scams
So you don’t get scammed like we almost got in India. Whoah, India tourist office scam is a pretty tough one.
26. Find Out About Events in the Places You’ll Be Traveling to
Find out if there are festivals, celebrations and concerts that you can visit.
Find out if that will not ruin your holiday. For example, because of too many people trying to get to the same places like you.
27. Learn a Few Basic Phrases and Words
Write the most important ones on a sheet of paper.
28. Before leaving…
Before leaving for the airport check if all the doors and windows are locked, taps aren’t leaking, appliances are unplugged, and water heater & heater, or air conditioner is turned off.
Dealing With Money Abroad
29. Notify Your Bank About Your Travel Plans
This way your bank won’t be suspicious of any cash withdrawals abroad, and won’t block your card.
30. Get Yourself a Travel Debit Card to Save on Withdrawal Fees
We use Revolut. See our Revolut card review.
31. Never Travel With Just One Credit Card
Take two, just in case one of them gets stolen or lost.
Take both MasterCard and Visa, because in some places only one of them might be accepted.
32. Don’t Pay for Goods or Withdraw Money With Your Credit Card
Especially in places that look suspicious.
If your card gets skimmed you’re in big trouble – the thief not only can withdraw money that’s on your account but also the credit until it reaches credit limit. Use a debit card instead.
33. Access Your Bank Accounts Over a Secure Connection
Free wifi without the password is definitely not secure. If you are using a shared computer (because there’s no other option) be always use a private / incognito window and make sure you log out when you are done!
34. Get Yourself a Travel Wallet
Neck wallets are our favorite. It’s convenient and safe.
35. Set Up an Account Notifications
If your bank app has such a feature.
Such notifications will give quick notice of suspicious activity.
36. Check Your Accounts Regularly
Not only in that way you’ll spot suspicious activity faster but also you’ll stay up to date and won’t overspend.
37. Use XE Currency App for Live Currency Rates
This app is the best.
38. Take Some Emergency Cash
Preferably in EUR or USD. Because everyone knows euro and dollars.
One day it will save you.
39. Use Secret Pockets
Use secret pockets to hide emergency cash, spare credit cards and document copies. If there are no secret pockets in any of your bags, buy separate secret pockets and sew them in.
40. Don’t Put Anything of Value in Your Back Pockets
Or any other easily accessible backpack or bag pockets.
41. Never Start Packing Without a Packing List
Create a packing list to save time.
42. Use Packing Cubes
Keep your electronics separated from the rest of your stuff.
And the same goes for your toiletries and makeup items.
43. Roll Your Clothes Before Putting Them Into Packing Cubes
Rolling your clothes will save some space in your luggage.
44. Pack a Hat or a Baseball Cap
It will protect your head from the sun, and also shade your face from the rays.
45. Get Yourself a Packable Daypack That Can Be Folded Into Itself
Unpack it at your destination and use it as a day trip daypack. Thus you won’t need to unpack every day to use your large backpack for day trips.
Daypack also will come in handy in case you run out of space at the end of the trip because you have bought some souvenirs.
46. Don’t Pack All Your Toiletries With You
Most of it you can buy once you arrive.
Just bring the bare necessities you’ll need during your flight – a lip balm, a tube of hand cream, toothpaste and a toothbrush. Also pack antibacterial wipes and / or hand sanitizer. If you are traveling with a carry on only, remember that you are allowed to take a quart sized (1 liter) zip-lock bag containing travel-sized bottles and containers that are 100 millilitres or less per item.
47. Don’t Forget About the Sunscreen
Even if you are traveling to a ski resort.
You can buy it at your destination. There is no need to take it from home, but you shouldn’t forget to use it.
48. Don’t Forget to Pack Basic Medicines
If you are taking prescription medication, don’t forget them at home!
However, find out if the country you are traveling to has restrictions on importing medicines, and check if your medicines aren’t banned there even if they are completely legal at your home country.
49. You Need Less Than You Think
As laundry services are available almost everywhere, no need to take an outfit for each day.
50. If You Are a Light Sleeper, Carry a Sleep Mask and Ear Plugs
As well as a lightweight blanket. Or bring a large microfiber towel that you can use as a blanket.
51. Travel Just With One Bag to Save Money and Time
Not only you’ll save money on checked luggage fees (if you are traveling with low cost airlines) but also save some time as you won’t wait for your bag at the carousel at the end of every flight.
We’ve been traveling carry on only for most of the time. And mostly these have been 6+ months trips. So, trust us, it’s doable. You can travel with carry on only.
Pack light to save your back.
52. Leave Some Free Space in Your Bag for Souvenirs and Presents
53. Get Yourself a Microfiber Towel
Because they are lightweight and very compact (unlike the regular bath towels).
54. Pack the Most Versatile Pieces of Clothing That Will Match With Everything
Choose items in two or three matching colors so you can mix and match your clothes to create different outfits.
55. Dress Appropriately
Always respect the culture of the country you are traveling to.
No skimpy tops and daisy dukes in Abu Dhabi! No short summer dresses in Buddhist temples! No bikinis in public (off the beach)!
56. Wear a Jacket With Pockets on the Day You Are Flying
After the security check throw your passport, wallet, coins, keys, phone and watch in the pockets. Thus you’ll be able to get through the security faster.
57. Wear Comfortable Walking Shoes When You Are Traveling
No, it doesn’t need to be hiking shoes.
58. Be Prepared for Rain
A light rain jacket or a poncho is a must when traveling!
59. Pack a Pair of Flip Flops
Not only they will come in handy on the beach but also in hostel and swimming pool showers.
60. Try to Look Fresh and Presentable Every Day
Don’t pack your best clothes, and also don’t pack your worst and oldest clothes either!
61. If You Are Planning on Visiting Temples Pack a Long Skirt and a Blouse
Something that covers your shoulders / arms. Men should pack slacks.
Electronics and Gadgets
62. Buy a Water Resistant and Shockproof Phone Case
Your smartphone is the gadget you’ll use the most during your trip. You’ll use it as a navigation, translator, even a guidebook. You don’t want to get it soaked in the rain, scratched or damaged.
63. Buy Cases for Your Electronics
Buy cases, preferably, shockproof and water resistant, for your other electronic devices – laptop, tablet computer and e-book reader.
64. Don’t Forget About Travel Adapter
Electricity sockets may be different in the country you are traveling to than back your home.
That’s where travel adapter comes into play.
65. Get Yourself a Power Bank
Power bank is a portable charger designed to recharge gadgets while you are on the go.
Note that anything bigger than 20 000 mAh (enought to charge a phone fully 4-6 times) may not be allowed on the plane.
66. E-Book Readers Are Great
If you travel frequently and read a lot get yourself an e-book reader.
67. Use a Digital Luggage Scale to Avoid Paying for Overweight Luggage
During the Trip
68. Travel Slow
To save money and to see more.
69. Try Not to Plan Too Much
And sometimes travel without any plan.
70. Travel Overland to Save Money.
And, again, to see more and experience everything from up close.
71. Don’t Forget About Your Luggage
When you are traveling on an intercity bus don’t put all your luggage in the luggage compartment.
Keep your valuables, documents, passport and electronics with you. Never in a luggage compartment, as the stuff can be stolen. It doesn’t happen too often but it can happen.
72. Find Out If There Are 24-hour or Multi-day Tickets
Traveling with a 24-hour or a multi-day day ticket is significantly cheaper than buying single tickets.
73. Hop-on Hop-off buses Can Be Great
If you have limited time for exploring use hop-on-hop-off buses.
74. Use Local Buses, Trams and Metro to Save the Money
Don’t be afraid to use that strange looking but cheap local transport in Asia (jeepneys, songthaews, tuk-tuks, etc.)!
75. If You Are a Female Solo Traveler Don’t Admit That You Are Alone
Especially, when in doubt.
This will keep the creeps away and keep you out of trouble.
76. Don’t Forget About the Valuables
Don’t leave your valuables and electronics on a hostel bed when you’re going out (yes, we’ve seen people do it!).
Keep it in a locker or at the reception.
77. Write Down the Address of Your Hotel
Write down also a number of your hotel. In case if it’s hard to find it you or your taxi driver can call the reception and get accurate directions.
Another option – take the business card. Plus save the location on your phone.
78. Notify Your Friends and Family Where Are You Going
In case you get lost they’ll know where to look for you.
Also give an update once in a while, especially when you move to another city / place.
79. Use Ride Hailing Apps (Uber, Grab, Bolt) Instead of Regular Taxis
It’s cheaper, and there’s no language barrier.
80. Use Offline Maps
We prefer to use Google Maps and download a map of the area we are heading to. Downside – only car mode will work if you’ll be using navigation.
Few other options: Here We Go, Osmand, maps.me.
81. Don’t Be Afraid and Try Local Food
82. Try to Keep a Healthy Diet as Much as Possible
Eat a lot of vegetables and fruit that are rich in fiber.
Eat light, low calorie meals.
Cut on fast food like burgers and pizza.
Or at least take long walks and go on a cycling tour, say, once in two days. Like we do. We walk a lot when we travel.
Thus you’ll stay fit and won’t gain weight.
84. Buy Fresh Fruits at a Local Market
Also try exotic fruits found in the region.
85. Stay Hydrated
Always refill your reusable bottle with drinking water.
86. Don’t Really Trust Tripadvisor and Reviews on Other Platforms
There always will be someone who won’t like something.
Or just the opposite – all the good reviews can be “bought” or left by relatives and friends.
87. Buy a Local SIM card
To save on roaming fees, unless you are a European traveling in EU and have unlimited internet in the whole of EU.
88. Use Google Translate
Before going on a trip download language packs you’ll need during your trip.
89. Use Budget Planning and Tracking Apps
Always count the change you’ve been given.
90. If You Are on a Budget Stay in Family Guesthouses and Hostels
Or share a room with someone you’ve met on the road (but make sure you can trust them).
91. Ask for a Permission Before Taking Photos of Any Local
92. Back Up Your Photos
Or save them on a cloud (iCloud, Google Photos, Dropbox, etc.).
You don’t want to loose all of them, right?
93. Don’t Just Tick off the Must See Places
Get lost in the city or town you are visiting. Look for “hidden gems”. Ask locals what they recommend to visit. Visit bars, pubs and little cafes locals have recommended you.
Visit smaller towns and cities as well.
While most of people traveling to Mexico visit only the area of Cancun and Tulum, head to the west coast to check out small towns like Sayulita. Explore!
94. Join a Free City Tour
You will have to give a donation, though.
95. Be a Responsible Tourist
Don’t ride elephants, don’t pay to pet tiger cubs, don’t go to monkey “shows”, and so on.
96. Be Adventurous
At least once get up early to see the sunrise. Hike up that mountain! Don’t be lazy, go on a hike!
97. Don’t Loose Your Temper
It won’t solve your problem.
98. Travel is Not Only About Sightseeing, Eating and Drinking. Take a Lesson!
A cooking class, a surfing lesson, a yoga lesson, a diving lesson etc.
What are you interest in the most? Is there anything you have dreamt on learning?
99. Save Holiday Memories – Send Yourself a Postcard
And don’t forget your loved ones.
100. Has Your Flight Been Cancelled or Delayed?
You may be entitled to flight compensation.
Anything you would add? What are your best travel tips?
Author: Una Baufala
Una is a traveler and travel blogger from Latvia. Apart from traveling and exploring new places she loves to read books. And she adores cats. Together with Kaspars they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since October 2013. WeAreFromLatvia.com is where she shares her travel experiences.