15 Travel Tips from 15+ Years of Travel That Will Change Your Approach
As I plan more trips for people, I get asked a lot of questions about not just where to go and how to get there but other travel related questions. For the past 15 years, I have experienced the world in a unique way, traveling through over 60 countries with countless stories and, shall we say, learning moments. Here are 15 tips I have for anyone that wants to make traveling a little more prevalent in their life:
1. Take Time to Really Explore
It is so often that people want to cram 5 cities in a 7 day trip. People want to see highlights and "check things off their bucket list." I can honestly say that my best travel memories are when I took the time in a place to talk to locals, observe, and really meet people. These experiences are the ones you will remember and talk about for years to come - make time for them.
2. Pack Less (and Smart)
Trust me, you do NOT need those sandals that match that one shirt. Keep it light and you will thank me later. I pick a dominate color (black usually) and pack around that. This keeps shoes, belts, bags, etc. all in the same color family and you can mix and match outfits.
3. Get Enough Sleep
If you are tired, you won't appreciate things nearly as much - and you will be cranky. Tune into your body and give it the sleep it requires so you can experience each day at 100%.
4. Live Through Your Eyes - Not Your Camera
Take photos, sure. But don't be so focussed on recording the experience that it takes away from living it. I often see people so concerned with taking photos/videos that they miss out on really being in the moment. The same goes for putting your phone down at bars, on trains, etc. Observe through your eyes. Who knows, you may even make a new friend.
5. Travel Insurance
We don't want to think about things going wrong but there are a lot of moving partners as we explore the world. Things get lost/stolen, medical situations arise, luggage is lost, etc. Travel insurance can pay for itself in just one incident and I am always surprised by the number of people who don't consider it. There are annual policies for around $500 that have a ton of protections in addition to policies for individual trips. Talk with your advisor to see which is best for you.
6. Say Yes to New Things
Push yourself a little. Expand your comfort zone. Maybe this means trying new food or an activity you never dreamed of doing. I once visited Paris and was getting a coffee in the morning. I started talking to this woman and asked her what she thought the one thing I should do while in Paris. She told me about the Catacombs which are still one of the coolest travel experiences I have ever had.
7. Splurge a Bit
You don't need to stay in 5 star hotels to enjoy traveling. In fact, many of my favorite experiences are not in these. But, especially when you are traveling for a long time, don't be afraid to splurge a bit once in a while. Check in to a nicer hotel to get a good night's sleep. Have a meal at a restaurant that is a bit outside your budget. Remember to listen to your body.
8. Take Time For Yourself
If you are traveling with others, I think one of best things you can do is take a few hours for yourself. Maybe this means exploring a museum alone. Or even just listening to music or reading a book and taking some time to reflect. No matter how extroverted you are, time alone helps you reboot.
I almost hate giving this "travel secret" away but here I go. Airport lounges can be a lifesaver (and also a place to meet some interesting people!) If you have a long layover or extra time at the airport, it is worth every penny to pay for access if your ticket does not allow complimentary entry. Lounges offer free food and drinks, free WIFI (that is always better than standard airport WIFI), and a comfortable place to relax away from people. Some also have spa services, outdoor areas, and places for kids.
10. Just In Case® Tote
This is a lifesaver, trust me. There are other brands but I swear by this TUMI product. It is essentially a small zip up bag you throw in your luggage that expands into a tote. This is perfect for a ton of uses: a side trip where you don't want to carry all your luggage, shopping, or when you shopped a bit too hard and your bag is overweight. Throw the items in the bag and save yourself some money. I have even checked the bag and they are so durable - no issue.
11. Noise-Cancelling Headphones
These are a lifesaver in so many situations. Trains, planes, hotels, or when you just want to zone out for a bit. I am in love with the Bose QuietComfort series but there are tons out there - find ones that work for you. You will be amazed how often you will grab for them on the road.
12. McDonald's and Starbucks
Now before you say anything, hear me out! I know people that travel all over the world (like my friend Drew who has been to McDonald's in 60 countries) and have been known to check in to one of these familiar places. There are a few reasons they should be on your radar: they have free WIFI, typically clean bathrooms, good A/C, and can actually be an interesting experience. The menu will have your familiar favorites but may also have some local options to check out.
I would think this would be the simplest one on the list but I believe it may have the most impact. It seems silly but a smile goes a long way when traveling for a few reasons. For one, it helps overcome language and cultural barriers. (a smile is the same in every language!) But it also helps keep a calmness and happiness with your fellow travelers and those you come across along the way. Remember :).
14. Be Selective in Choosing a Travel Companion
I have traveled with a lot of different people and certainly have stories! One thing I have learned is one has to be super honest with himself about his travel style and who would be a good addition to that. There are many people I consider friends with that I don't necessarily think would be great travel companions. Everyone is unique in how they approach a trip. Some people like guided tours and others, like myself, prefer to roam and see where the day takes us. Some people are out of bed at sunrise while others get up later. Think about how you like to travel and make sure you ask the right questions of a potential travel partner!
15. Stop Making Excuses & Go!
Who is going to feed my dog? Traveling is expensive. I don't know where I want to go.
Stop with these excuses. Just like anything else, there is always a way to figure out things if you want to. Start small with a weekend trip someplace new. Instead of eating a meal out each week, put money in a vacation fund. In my opinion, time spent traveling will bring you more smiles and memories than those expensive jeans.
What are your favorite travel tips? Leave a comment to receive a special #GowithGreg gift!