Depending on who you speak to, there are around 200 countries in the world, some say 196 if you aren’t China and include Taiwan. I’m a few behind Sacha having not visited anywhere in Australasia and there are definitely more countries to visit compared to the number of countries already visited. The number of countries is a bit of a misnomer given that the larger countries have so many different cultures within them, but now I’m starting to sound like a sore loser.
So what lessons have been learnt on these travels so far? We list 10 travel hacks and travel tips that make our travels so much easier.
10 travel hacks and travel tips learnt on my travels so far
You’ll regret not taking photos. I was the idiot especially in my 20s who never took photos and never even took a camera on my travels. Why? Because I thought photos were just going to be more stuff that I stored away and never looked at. Now I struggle to remember some of the great times I’ve had and the amazing things I’ve seen and experienced. It’s not the big sights and attractions that you’ll miss, but those small moments during your travels that make you smile.
Carry-on luggage is great, limiting yourself to it means saving a huge amount of time arriving at the destination airport. A bonus on top of that is a much easier transfer between your destinations without lugging around a huge bag.
Adjust to local time asap. If you’re getting on a long haul flight set your watch to your destination time as soon as you get on the plane. Try to sleep according to the destination time so you don’t waste half a day jet-lagged when you arrive. Skip that free in-flight meal if you have to, many airlines carry hot or cold snacks that you can ask for if you’re hungry. It’s a personal thing but I like the luxury of an aisle seat to get up and about as I please, while Sacha likes the window seat so she has more things to lean on.
Wifi, maps then screenshot! Get the wifi code, load up maps and directions for where you will be going tomorrow and take screenshots. Boom! Maps and directions on your phone to get you around easily without getting lost and without those nasty roaming data charges.
Go to restaurants wisely. Street food or more local family style restaurants are generally the best for experiencing local food culture and cuisine. If you want to splurge, splurge in the countries where food is held in high regard or serves one of your favourite cuisines. Otherwise you’ll probably have a fairly average experience at best and eating out eats up a whole amount of your travel budget. You don’t eat out every night at home do you? So get yourself down to the grocery store now and again and buy some nice cold meats, cheese, salad, bread, booze and have a nice little picnic in the park, your room, or even the bath if you’re feeling ultra romantic. Another way to save a bit of cash at the high end restaurants is to check out the set lunch menus. Also never eat in a restaurant on the main street or city square, it will be an overpriced average affair, just walk a few streets and look for a busy place for a more local experience.
If it’s promoted as off the beaten track, the chances are that it has already been trampled all over by tourists. Not that the attraction or destination is not worth visiting, just don’t expect to be the first ever foreign face there and certainly don’t expect to be the only foreign face there. You’ll probably even see a few shops selling souvenirs but at least there will be some established transportation routes.
Souvenirs take up space and usually provide about 3 seconds of entertainment value to the recipient.
Turn off 2 stage authentication if you use webmail. Services like gmail and hotmail will lock you out if you log on from a computer in a different country to your normal login location. It’ll ask you for a code that it will send to you via SMS. So if you don’t have your phone (pretty likely – why else are you using webmail?) you’ll be locked out of your email. So before you go abroad turn off 2 stage authentication and you won’t need that code they send you via SMS.
Guided tours can be good. There’s nothing like the feeling of adventure when travelling alone and relying on your own wits, but if you’re short on time and want to get to some harder to reach places, guided tours can be a good hassle-free option to see a lot with some local knowledge. We had a great experience with Untravelled Paths who took us around Romania including Transylvania, an Ice Hotel and Bucharest. Pick carefully pending on the type of people you might want to hang out with and you’ll be golden. If you’re in a new city going on a free city tour on your first day is a great way to get a lay of the land. In some places such as Tokyo you can even get free private tours given by amazingly knowledgeable volunteer locals.
Smile more. Of course you need to be on guard against scams and crime, but the chances are that if you’re sensible it is no more dangerous than your own country. So smile more and connect with the locals, even if its just haggling over price or a quick exchange at the bar. Smiling can be infectious and it might lead to an amazing experience.
Got any more travel hacks and travel tips? Share the wealth below.