Do you have what it takes to be a Savvy Traveler?
Here are our Top 7 Tips for earning your stripes in the globetrotting community. Are you ready to hit the road?
1. Choose your travel companion(s) wisely, Young Jedi.
In our experience, the world has two 2 types of traveler:
The Planner – prefers to abide by a strict, laid-out itinerary, enjoys crossing off things on a “set” list, and typically has a trip planned from beginning to end before leaving home soil. Hiccups or missteps on a trip don’t play out well.
The Flyer – prefers a “loosey-goosey” itinerary, is flexible in planning where to stay and what to see, do, eat, and typically has an occasional hiccup along the trip, but doesn’t seem to mind. It’s all “part of the adventure” in The Flyer’s mind.
If you plan to travel with a companion, take a practice trip to a nearby place together. Remember, it’s never too late to step back and modify or cancel a trip. Better safe than sorry on this score. After all, is it worth ruining a good relationship over a disagreement on where to eat lunch on day 5? Agreeing to disagree can be a relationship-saving gesture.
2. Start your travel planning at renown, respected travel websites.
Every trip I’ve taken since 1997 has begun with research. With the wealth of knowledge across the interwebs and guidebooks, information on cities and countries is extensive and accurate. You’ll find travel forums on several websites, including Lonely Planet, Gogobot and Trip Advisor. Just check some websites and guidebooks out…you’ll catch my drift.
Warning: visiting travel websites may be harmful to your other time commitments. I completely lose track of time when I’m there!!
3. Lighten your load. Seriously.
Have your bag(s) packed at least one (1) week prior to leaving.
Four to Seven days prior to your departure, go back and remove half of what you packed. Whittle it down. You’ll thank me later. See 4. (below) about what to pack/what you can buy on the road.
You’ll buy more than you originally plan to buy while travelling. There’s so much cool stuff out there! Leave room in your bag for souvenirs, gifts, clothes, etc. Otherwise you’ll have to locate a post office in a remote foreign country – neither simpler nor inexpensive. Yup – we’ve been there, done that.
4. Take essentials in travel sizes. Buy replacements/refills on the road.
Most accommodations have samples of shampoo, conditioner and soap. For the short time you’re travelling, don’t bog down your bag with brand-name products for convenience sake. Trust me, your hair won’t fall out, and your skin will return to its previously silky self upon your return. Each added “can’t live without” adds up to several pounds quickly!
Items you should take along include:
- medicines (including pain relief, aspirin products, etc.)
- toilet tissue and bum wipes
- toothbrush and cap
- toothpaste (if traveling to Asia or Africa)
- dental floss (multiple uses! See Helpful Resources below for more info)
- nail clippers
- towel – viscose or other absorbent/lightweight, packable version
Quick list of things you will find in stores in most countries:
- shampoo/conditioner (in every place I’ve ever stayed, samples are provided)
- shaving lotion or cream
- Q-tips/cotton ear buds
- feminine products
- toilet tissue and wet wipes
5. Leave your jewelry and valuables at home.
Yes, even the engagement ring you have never removed since the day you received it. It will only invite the wrong kind of attention, and it’s not worth spoiling your trip. Trust me.
6. Buy travel insurance. Be sure you know exactly what is covered before purchasing.
There are so many travel insurance options out there, it’s difficult to know which is the right one to buy. Do your homework. Try to speak with a customer service rep by phone. It’s worth your while. It may cost more to include options you need, but if (Heaven forbid!) you have to be med-evacuated from the Himalayas, you’re covered.
7. Pay attention to what is nearby and what comes included when booking accommodations.
Helpful questions to ask include…
- Is breakfast included or available (for purchase)?
- Is Wi-Fi in-room or in “shared” areas? In Australia, expect to pay $30AUS/night!
- Is Wi-Fi complimentary or available (for a “nominal” fee)?
- What are nearby attractions and/or must-sees? Exactly how do I get there?
- Where is the nearest Metro station? What are other transportation options? Will you (front desk employees) help me arrange transportation?
- Where are nearby early morning and late-night eating options? This is particularly useful knowledge to have when going on all-day tours!
- Are there convenience stores nearby (for refills on shampoo, toiletries, snacks, beverages, etc.)?
If you have more savvy traveler tips to share, please be sure to put them in Comments below. Eager to hear your suggestions!
Song du Jour: Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane
Other Helpful Resources for Becoming a Savvy Traveller…
OneBag.com – savvy traveller, Doug Dyment’s guide to packing all you need (in one bag)
Trip Advisor – a great place to begin planning a trip!
Great advice for To Stay (accommodations), To Eat (restaurants and local eats), To Do/To See (sightseeing, events, etc.). Also a solid source for advice in Travel Forums and for travel guides from travellers who’ve been to many places.
Lonely Planet – an excellent website for gathering information to plan a trip. Solid advice for To Stay (accommodations), To Do/To See (sightseeing, events, etc.) and advice from experienced travellers from around the globe.
Gogobot – a fairly new website to the travel game. Tons of information and solid reviews/advice from their community. Strong in the areas of To Stay (accommodations), To Eat (restaurants and local eats), To Do/To See (sightseeing, events, etc.).