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From the psychological to the funny, the serious to the silly, we present our list of learnings from travelling the world.

Travel Tips , Tricks & Advice

  • 1. Pack less.

    Travelling with just hand-luggage should be your goal.

    Do you really need six pairs of heels, tea bags, and an iron? Take less and you’ll travel cheaper (no check-in luggage fees), travel faster (no waiting for your bags), and travel easier (one bag means less to lug around).

  • 2. Avoid the security queue with kids and family.

    Go for the one with the ‘suits’, business people and adults. It will move much quicker.

  • 3. Never wear flip flops (on a plane).

    In the unlikely event of an emergency, it’s best to have a good set of sturdy shoes that will protect your feet from heat or sharp objects.

  • 4. Choose your seat-mate carefully.

    If you get the choice of plane seat, always sit far away from: babies, groups of friends who will chat, or women (men tend to need the toilet less often than ladies).

  • 5. Learn a little lingo.

    Memorize a handful of words of the local language, and have the courage to use them!

    It’s amazing how just a few words will go a long way; locals tend to warm to those who have made the effort to communicate with them in their own tongue.

  • 6. Keep your mouth shut.

    If you are in a country where it is unsafe to drink the water, keep your mouth shut in the shower.

  • 7. Hotels are not the only options.

    Staying in a hotel when you're on holiday is not the only option. Or in a hostel for that matter. Apartments or rooms in private homes are where the savvy travelers rest their heads these days.

  • 8. Ditch your friends.

    Travelling all by your lonesome might seem daunting at first, but it gives you a chance to really immerse yourself in the travel experience. I’ve met friends for life, learnt a new language, and had amazing experiences by travelling solo.

  • 9. Always travel in a hoodie

    They may have become the uniform of unruly ASBO-teenagers, but hooded tops make excellent travel garments.

    Just slip up your hood to retreat from the world of noise and light when you want to sleep on a flight/airport seat/bus.

  • 10. Choose the Asian-vegetarian option on the plane.

    You get fed before anyone else, you avoid anything too greasy and stodgy (helps the jetlag allegedly) and I’m convinced the more niche meals are much better quality as they’re made in smaller batches.

  • 11. Bring ear plugs.

    If silence is golden, then ear plugs are worth their weight in platinum. Being able to sleep in a noisy plane or hotel room is a very valuable skill, not to be underestimated whilst travelling.

  • 12. Invest in noise-cancelling headphones.

    For the perfect long-haul trip, invest in some good quality noise cancelling headphones.

    The price tags are hefty, but they are worth every penny to tune out the crying baby, snoring man, or chattering teenagers.

  • 13. Bring an internet ready device.

    If travelling for a long time, take your own device that can pick up wifi, like a smartphone or tablet.

    We didn't do this because we didn’t want to bring an expensive item backpacking, but it turned out to be incredibly expensive to use the internet, or impossible to find any. Yet there is free wifi in places all around the world, and you quickly realize how often you need to tap in to things like bank accounts or travel bookings.

  • 14. Bring an extra top or jacket on board.

    When flying (especially long haul) always travel with an extra top as the blankets they provide are thin and the plane can get very cold.

  • 15. Bring a DVD player for the kids.

    When flying with small children, bring a laptop/DVD player/tablet. Cartoons and movies while away a sizeable chunk of the flight and allow parents some downtime too.

  • 16. Look before you leave.

    Whenever you get up to leave somewhere, be it a chair at the airport, bus stop, a café, or a bar, always turn round and make sure you haven’t left anything behind.

  • 17. Roll your clothes when packing.

    Once you roll, you’ll wonder why you ever bothered to fold.

  • 18. Use body language.

    When there’s a language barrier, shouting in your own language is not going to get you far.

    Instead, use your body. It’s the most international language in the entire world. Don’t forget to translate a full stop with a smile.

  • 19. Never exchange money in your hotel.

    Instead, shop around for best rate. Find a credit/debit card that doesn’t charge for purchases abroad, and don’t bother with traveler’s cheques anymore.

  • 20. Don’t carry (too much) cash.

    I don’t think there is a country that doesn’t have ATMs, so there’s really no need to carry about more cash than you need for a couple of days.

    This notice replaces the Travel Warning dated November 20, 2015.

    At least 14 U.S. citizens have been detained in the DPRK in the past ten years. North Korea has detained those who traveled independently and those who were part of organized tours. Being a member of a group tour or using a tour guide will not prevent North Korean authorities from detaining or arresting you. Efforts by private tour operators to prevent or resolve past detentions of U.S. citizens in the DPRK have not been successful.

    If you decide to enter North Korea against the advice of this Travel Warning, you should have no expectation of privacy. All electronic and multimedia devices including USB drives, CDs, DVDs, mobile phones, tablets, laptops, Internet browsing histories and cookies are subject to search for banned content.

  • 21. Ask your credit-card company about fees for overseas transactions.

    Hidden card fees can make that first post-trip statement a very unpleasant surprise.

  • 22. Be flexible.

    The more flexible you can be with your travel plans, the more money you’ll save (you’ll be able to travel at cheaper times and get better rates).

  • 23. Sync your sleep.

    Manage your time by calculating the times zones, taking note of day time and night time in relation to your time of arrival. To get over jetlag quickly on arrival, try to sync your sleeping pattern with the new time zone immediately.

  • 24. Get Travel Insurance

    Always take out travel insurance (and don’t rely on credit card insurance alone). It sounds obvious but lots of people don’t bother, and end up losing a lot of money when things go wrong.

  • 25. Be loyal.

    If you’re looking for ways to get a flight upgrade, then join the airline’s loyalty program. Even if it’s the lowest level, you still get rewarded first.

  • 26. Understand you might be understandable.

    Just because he looks Caucasian, doesn’t mean he speaks English. And just because she looks Asian, doesn’t mean she can’t understand your French!

    Be wary of mouthing off when you think you’re speaking a language no one around you speaks. You never know who understands what.

  • 27. Recognize that we’re all the same.

    It’s only by travelling that you realize every society is as fractious and plural in their views as your own.

  • 28. Don’t plan everything.

    It might be tempting to have every step of your trip planned to the nth degree, but unplanned days are often those that leave the most lasting, and fondest memories.

  • 29. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Have an open mind and don’t sweat the small stuff; travel can be frustrating but you will look back and remember it forever.

  • 30. Slow down.

    Traveling is like life, it’s the journey that’s fun. Don’t just try to get to your destination as quickly as possible. Travel more slowly and you’ll discover more.

  • 31. Take the hard way.

    The more difficult the travel challenge, the more rewarding it is; driving to Oman was a crazy life-experience; flying there would have just been a ‘trip’.

  • 32. Just go.

    If you have a strong urge to ‘go travelling’ or even just to see one specific place, start saving and go for it! Don’t delay. Don’t defer. Just do it, or you will regret it when you’re too old/attached/busy to travel.

  • 33. Don’t be paranoid.

    Be wise and be wary, but try not to be paranoid. I once travelled with a guy who couldn’t relax because he was convinced everyone was out to steal his money or diddle him. He lost his car keys at one point and started blaming the family who had put us up for the night in the desert. He eventually found the keys at the bottom of his sleeping bag.

  • 34. Hide your guidebook.

    If you’re in London and need to ask directions then to stop people avoiding you, hide your guide book and map.

    If you’re in Glasgow and you want to avoid constantly being offered directions, hide your guidebook and map. Some of those offering you direction guide might have dangerous agendas.

  • 35. There will always be Toblerone.

    Got to the end of your holiday but forgotten to get gifts? No worries!

    It is a mathematical certainty that the world’s favorite mountain-shaped Swiss chocolate will always be available from every duty free airport shop on earth and most people from children to adults love them.

  • 36. Bring toiletries from home.

    Bring toiletries from home to save both time and money.

  • 37. Leave home healthy and rested.

    The flight and jetlag make you vulnerable to catching a cold — a nuisance which will take the luster out of your first week in Europe. Considering the expense of your trip, leaving exhausted and catching a cold is an expensive mistake.

  • 38. Dine with students.

    Universities generally have a government-subsidized cafeteria (open to the public) serving the cheapest hot meals in town. Mensa is the universal word for government-subsidized cafeteria.

  • 39. Send back the extras.

    In Portugal, restaurants decorate your table with hard-to-resist hors d'oeuvres. While these seem like friendly freebies, they're carefully tallied. If you eat one, you've purchased the lot. Ask to have these removed...or pay the price.

  • 40. Tour smart.

    Big bus tours are sold at a nearly no-profit price.

    They make their money throughout the tour on commissions from your shopping and by selling you optional sightseeing. While on tour, save big money by skipping the optional sightseeing tours and relying on your guidebook for independent sightseeing.

    If renting a car, use the cardboard parking clock you'll find in your glove compartment. In many countries, parking signs indicate how long it's free to park providing you place the cardboard clock on your dash set to the time you arrived.

  • 41. Know the local word for tap water.

    While wine, beer and coffee are wonderful parts of the European experience, drinks cost travelers about $15 a day. Tap water, however, is free and drinkable almost everywhere. Use a refillable water bottle for juice and water.

  • 42. Spend coins before crossing a currency border.

    While you can always change paper currency, coins are generally worthless outside their domain. A €2 coin is worth nearly $3.

  • 43. Wash laundry in the sink.

    Visits to the launderette cost needless time and money. Hotel laundry services can be expensive.

  • 44. Cover your footwear with shoe bags or shower caps.

    You never want dirty shoes touching your clothes. The smell might even transfer as well. Keep dirty shoes from mucking things up by placing them in shoes bags or shower caps, which are available at most hotels.

  • 45. Pack two tops for every bottom.

    You're more likely to re-wear a pair of bottoms than a top. So to avoid over-packing, stick to this rule: pack two different tops (perhaps a blouse/shirt and a sweater) for every bottom.

  • 46. Pack your clothes inside out.

    Another way to avoid wrinkles as well as prevent stains, is to pack your light colored clothes inside out. That way if there’s any debris, your whites and pastels are safe.

  • 47. Put loose wires in a sunglasses case

    To avoid messy tangles with your various wires, roll them up tightly and throw them in a sunglasses case, which is easy to open/close and won't allow them to move around on the go. You can also do the same with jewelry.

  • 48. Put breakables in socks.

    When it comes to breakables, like a glass perfume bottle, take extra precaution by slipping it into a sock. This will also prevent it from scratching or catching on anything.

  • 49. Capitalize on empty space.

    Every nook and cranny counts! So look for underutilized space, like the insides of shoes, for small essentials like headphones or change purses.

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