Travel can be both exhilarating and daunting in the best of times. Add a global pandemic in the mix and we barely recall how to travel. So as restrictions ease, at varying rates around the globe, a review of best travel tips seems wise. A travel guide as we each find our way to a new normal in tourism.
What were those tourist tips to prevent being scammed? How about those vacation tips on packing light? While more familiar advice may be what to binge watch on television, advice on traveling brings us closer to our pre-pandemic travel lives.
As we step out of our bubbles and borders re-open, travel tips and tricks may be a distant memory. Dust off the isolation cobwebs and may your first holiday be a safe one.
60 Best Travel Tips – An Ultimate Travel Guide
Vacation tips before you leave home
-Do not leave packing and organizing yourself to the last minute. There can be unusual surprises to be dealt with, such as a waterpark developing in your basement. The evening prior to a one month trip to Peru, our basement flooded.
-Have your bags packed and be sure to weigh them. Always check airline requirements for luggage weight. Know what is allowable for both carry-on and checked bags.
-Ensure all travel documents are up to date several weeks prior to departure. More than once we have been told of someone discovering their passport is expired the evening before an international flight.
-Check with your country’s official advice on travel to the destination you are considering. Situations can change rapidly, sometimes hourly, so check frequently. Often these websites have mobile apps that send notifications as travel recommendations change. In Canada go to the Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories. In the United States go to US Department of State Travel Advisories.
-Many countries have an international registry where travel plans can be documented in case of emergency. Prior to any international trip we list our travel itinerary with the Registration of Canadians Abroad website. US residents can register at STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program)
-What does your travel insurance cover? Know what your insurance coverage includes, especially post pandemic. Does medical include COVID-19? What are the limitations and exceptions?
-Check your home insurance. Hours before a flight, or worse while away, is not the time to be reading the fine print to see if water running out of your ceiling is covered.
-Ensure you have copies of all phone numbers and contact information, as well as insurance policy numbers, at the ready.
-Take a copy of your travel documents, insurance policy and (digital or hard copy) with you. Leave one copy with a trusted person at home in case of emergency.
-Who will care for your home when you travel? Have someone check on your house regularly. Better yet, get a house sitter so you have peace of mind on the road. There is nothing like arriving home to find your house has been broken into. Trust us we know from experience.
-Let your neighbours know you will be away. Set light timers throughout your home. A security system will give you peace of mind. Ensure you turn it on before you leave.
-Who will manage urgent concerns while you travel? This person may be your house sitter or a trusted friend or family member. Speak to them ahead of time
Packing for travel – Suitcase packing travel tips
-Pack carry on only. A soft bag, that can be worn as a back pack, used with a shoulder strap as a duffel or carried as a suitcase is the perfect combination. Finding one that does not use roller wheels, and is approved carry-on size for most airlines, is key.
-Use small travel bottles or contact lens cases to hold cosmetics to save space. Check airline requirements for liquids.
-Roll your clothes and put smaller items such as socks and underwear in the corners of the bag.
-Bring only 2 pairs of shoes and wear the heaviest on the plane. Think runners or hiking shoes, depending on your trip, and one pair of sandals.
-Each article of clothing must be able to be worn with every other item in the bag. Pick a color theme, I suggest something neutral and work from there.
-Wrinkle free, lightweight, easy wash and quick drying. At least 90% of what you pack should fit that description.
-Rather than packing heavy warmer clothes, think about multiple layers. I suggest t-shirt, long sleeved shirt and one sweater, fleece or hoodie.
-Use one of your digital devices as an e-reader, rather than packing books which add weight.
-Instead of purchasing packing cubes, buy a variety of sizes of good quality zipper-seal type bags. Weighing next to nothing, a traveler can easily see at a glance what is inside. Besides that they are waterproof and the air can be squeezed out to save space.
-Leave the hair dryer at home. Many accommodations provide one if you absolutely need it.
-Think of alternatives to liquids. Insect repellent wipes rather than spray. Make up remover pads rather than liquid face wash as examples.
Health and safety travel guide
-Wash your hands frequently. Carry hand sanitizer. Keep your distance. Wear a mask.
-Dress appropriately for local customs, traditions and beliefs. Leave flashy jewelry at home. Avoid clothing with religious or military symbols. If in doubt dress modestly and look at what the locals are wearing. Blending in helps you stay safe. At the very least avoid standing out.
-Stay hydrated. Many popular travel spots will be far warmer than you might be accustomed to. If you are feeling thirsty you are already dehydrated. Stop frequently for fluids or better yet carry water with you.
-Bottled water is typically safe as long as the seal has not been tampered with. Usually tea, coffee, canned soda, juice, beer and alcoholic drinks are all right. Forget the ice. You can never be too cautious.
-Embrace the local food however following early explorers advice: “Cook it, peel it, wash it or forget it.”
-Ensure all vaccinations are up to date prior to traveling out of the country. Local wildlife should be handled with caution. Patting stray cats and dogs at home might be fine. You may lose a finger to a hungry fur ball elsewhere.
-Ensure your health insurance covers all expenses in the country you are visiting. Even minor injuries can costs tens of thousands of dollars.
-Rest frequently and understand your limits of physical exertion. Collapsing from exhaustion puts a damper on your holiday. Getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging while on the road. Use ear plugs, turn off your phone, darken the room and do your best to get on the same sleep schedule you would be at home.
-Local bus and train transport can be an affordable option. In crowded bus and train stations be aware of your belongings and never walk away from your bags.
-Kindness and lending a helping hand goes a long way in any country. However be wary of pulling out your wallet to give money to beggars. Offer food or make a donation to a local charity for the homeless.
-Ensure you understand and heed all safety regulations of the airline you are traveling on. Getting tossed off a flight for unruly behavior or smoking in a lavatory puts a big damper on a holiday.
-Watch your body language. The thumbs up sign might be an ‘all is great’ sign in North America, but flashing that thumb in some parts of the Middle East, South America and Nigeria you may be flipping the bird without knowing it.
-Never carry your wallet or purse in your back pocket. You might as well ring a bell announcing to pickpockets that you are ripe for the picking. A money belt worn under clothing, either your shirt or pants, gives you great peace of mind. Slip the contents into a baggie to keep them sweat free and dry before zipping them into the belt.
-When renting a car always have a charged cell phone, know the emergency number (911 equivalent). If you are mugged, and this has never happened to us, give your valuables or money. Your life is not worth risking.
Staying organized so you never lose an item
-Of all our tips for travel this is one will make your travel days easiest. Always pack lightly. Period. The less you take with you the less you have to keep track of. We travel with carry on only.
-Assign each item a space. When moving to new accommodations frequently, repack items in the same place in your back pack or suitcase. At a glance you can see if all items have returned from their rascally romping about when out of your eyesight.
-Keep your items separate. Whether you use packing cubes or our trick of plastic bags you can see through, keep socks, cords and underwear each in their allotted space. Keep your travel documents in a plastic folder or pouch.
-Keep your purse over your shoulder. Do not, let me repeat it if you didn’t get that, DO NOT take your purse off and leave it laying on a seat, floor or bench. A thief can more easily steal it once off your body and you can more easily forget it. Trust me on this.
-Have a checklist for electronics. We now have more cameras, phones, tablets and laptops then clothes when we travel. Developing a packing checklist for all keeps them well behaved and orderly.
-Pick up the towels and shake the sheets. When ready to leave your hotel room and you think you have everything, take a moment to look for hiding items. Pick the towel off the bathroom vanity, pull up the sheets on the bed for a double check.
-Are you plugged in? Adapters and cords love to make new friends with that hidden outlet you had to pull the hotel bed the evening prior to locate. Double check them all.
How to avoid travel scams
–Crowd distraction is one of the most prevalent scams in travel. Being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers and noise, you won’t notice your pockets being emptied by fast fingers. Always be alert to what is going on around you. If you see a crowd headed your way do not allow your self to be pulled into the center of it.
-Meeting begging children can be heart wrenching. However, think long and hard before giving money to children. Often the child is being exploited. At the very least, they are being kept out of proper care and schools. Our best tips for travel include giving money to local charities, shelters and food banks instead.
– When paying in US dollars, change is commonly given back in the country’s own currency. Prior to your trip, take the time to understand exchange rates of the destinations you will be traveling to. Make notes to carry with you as needed. Don’t feel rushed to accept the change given to you.
-Be wary of anyone who offers to help you use your credit card as it can be scanned or stolen. Besides these credit card scams, the kind stranger once having given assistance, may demand money. Never hand over your credit card to a stranger, kind or not. If you require assistance go to official help desks and those with proper identification.
-Stepping out of an airport, travelers are often met with shouting of offers for rides. Though some may be legitimate, others may take you to a hotel they want you to stay at or insist you agreed to a timeshare presentation. Organize your transportation ahead of time. Walk confidently, and be firm and clear with a “no thank you.”
-Nothing is for free. Never take anything that is handed to you by a complete stranger. I often walk with my hands behind my back or my arms folded in crowded cities, so that by instinct, I don’t grab something thrust in my direction. Politely decline and keep walking in a confident manner.
-Under no circumstances should you give your credit card information to an unknown caller. If a hotel is requesting the information, proceed to the front desk in person. If you feel compelled to solve a situation over the phone, use a different telephone to ensure you are not the victim of a phone scam.
-When buying designer items on the street, the old saying of it’s too good to be true is suitable to this situation. Know that you could be buying stolen property. Most likely this is a fake brand name scam. Buy at your own risk.
Sustainable travel tips
-Pick an environmentally friendly location. When you choose your destination to travel, it helps if you select one of the most sustainable nations meeting internationally established environmental targets.
-How will you travel? is your destination reachable by bus or train? These comparison statistics on CO2 emissions may be helpful.
-Take reusable items with you such as a reusable water bottle, cutlery and tote bag for shopping.
-Buy and eat local. Not only will you support small businesses and farmers in the area, products and food won’t have travelled as far to reach you.
-Conserve precious water. In many destinations water is a highly valuable resource. Skip the long showers, and don’t leave the tap running while you brush your teeth.
-Turn the air conditioning off when leaving your accommodation to conserve energy.
-Many hotels have the option of not washing your towels daily. Using both energy and water, let your accommodation know this is not necessary.
-Reduce plastic waste. Whenever possible avoid take out containers or packaging of food where non recyclable plastic is the wrap of choice.
-Try slow travel. If you stay in a different hotel each night for a week, you’ve just produced 7x as much laundry (with associated water and energy usage) as if you had stayed in one place all week.
Do you have any top travel tips?
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