Try traveling, they said, it will be fun, they said. Except when you get ripped off in a tourist trap disguised as a local restaurant, or when you realize your hotel doesn’t accept your credit card, or when you board the wrong train and end up in the bad part of the city, or when you get tricked into thinking you made a generous donation for a good cause except it was not a cause at all.
You see, things like that happen all the time when you travel. But the more experience you have, the more places you have been to, the more likely you are to actually enjoy your time and not worry about all that can go wrong.
So this online thread is a great place to start. “What is your best travel tip that most people don’t know?” someone asked on Ask Reddit and we wrapped up the most useful and interesting pieces of advice below. From rolling everything up to fit into your luggage to asking the right people for opinions when abroad, to canceling reservations to get your money back, this is some solid know-how you are likely to be using on your next trip.
Chill at the airport. We are trying to get somewhere. Keep moving in lines. Take your friggin earphones out for flight/gate announcements. Know what documents you need for checking in (passport), security (your ticket), customs (passport and sometimes ticket), gate (passport and ticket).
Be a d**k and you will get treated like a d**k.
I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, but whenever I travel i go to the subreddit for the city I’m traveling to and search for a “best food in the city” thread. Never let me down before. I’ve found some amazing hidden gems that way
Take a plastic bag with you. Put dirty clothes in it, it keeps clean and dirty separated throughout your stay, plus when you get home it’s easier to take all the clothes in the bag and put them in the washing machine.
If you’re asking for an opinion, don’t ask the opinion of someone who’s being paid to provide it.
Want to know where the best meal near your hotel is? The cleaner isn’t getting a kickback from the nearest steakhouse, but the concierge probably is.
Want to know the easiest way to get to the airport? The front desk clerk is going to tell you to hire the hotel preferred transfer, but the barman will probably tell you what train to catch for 1/20th of the price.
I don’t travel much but I book travel for a living.
If your plans change and you need to cancel your hotel reservation against the hotel’s cancellation policy, don’t call and cancel. I’ve tried to barter with hotels many times, but truthfully unless you have a good relationship with the hotel, they have no reason to refund you.
Instead, call the hotel and move your reservation to next week. Even if it is against the cancellation policy, most hotels will allow you to alter a reservation without issue. Then (usually a few hour later to guarantee you talk to a different hotel rep) call and cancel your “new” reservation.
Nobody wakes up early. Like you can wake up before dawn and get fantastic golden hour pics when the city is empty then go back for breakfast and a nap before heading out for lunch.
Like the best city for this is Rome. No one is around and you can get wide shots that would never happen during the day and the lighting is better.
Keep a small toiletry bag in your carry on luggage. You never know when your checked luggage will disappear.
The best room in a cheaper hotel is often better than a standard room in a more expensive hotel. When looking for luxury on a budget, don’t overlook the cheaper hotels – they often have fantastic suites for what you’d pay for a standard room somewhere pricier.
Make sure your shower gets hot when you get to your room…. not after you come back tired from exploring and all you want to do is take a hot shower, but it’s after midnight and there’s no maintenance person around
Make a safe out of a toothpaste tube for your money. Cut off the end, rinse it out, keep the cap on, roll up your money and put inside and roll up the tube to hide the end that you cut. Most likely won’t get toothpaste stolen.
1. Learn basic words/phrases of the country’s language you are traveling to. This will help you more than you think.
2. Make sure you have a universal adaptor. And a portable charger
3. (speaking for the US) You most likely have an e-passport, it’s that little Pokemon ball looking emblem at the bottom of the cover. Utilize those e-gates at the airport.
4. Don’t convert your cash. Just use your debit/credit or withdraw money from an ATM when you get there.
5. Call your bank in advanced if you’re traveling internationally unless your bank app has a feature where you can automatically turn on international purchases.
6. If you land early in the morning and check-in isn’t for another couple hours, ask your hotel/hostel if you can drop your bags off until check in.
7. Get shower shoes if you’re staying in a hostel.
8. Free up phone storage before you leave for your trip.
Travel with good company that wants the same as you do. Having the wrong people around you on a trip can make you scared for life with them and never make you wanna go again no matter if it was only 1 person who did the whole group wrong.
Have a distinct hat.
* Meeting up with strangers / couchsurfers / tour group? You’re the person in the hat.
* When talking with officials, the act of taking off a hat shows obedience to authority and will make the interaction just that much smoother.
* When you’re tucking in for the night, putting keys, coins, that new bus pass, &c. in the (upside-down) hat so they don’t get misplaced in a new place.
* Similarly, the (upside-down) hat can be used to store pocket junk before you go through an x-ray checkpoint.
* Does all the normal hat things. (Keep warm / cool, less sun, covers eyes, &c.)
* A hat soaked in water can feel amazing on a hot day.
* You can tuck a handkerchief (or even a napkin) up into a hat to give your neck and ears cover from the sun.
* A rolled travel towel (don’t panic and […]) can be folded into a hat to make an impromptu pillow.
* A hat on a chair or similar can help hold a spot when customs (or languages) are unfamiliar.
Finally, this is not a *travel* tip, but post-travel: if you buy a hat for a trip and limit souvenirs to pins & patches, you have created a little display that’s a bit more interesting than “here are photos on my phone”.
I bring old underwear, socks, clothes the kids are about to outgrow, etc, and then throw them out before we leave to make room for souvenirs.
Also, if you are bringing water bottles or travel coffee mugs cut a kitchen sponge into pieces, soak with dish soap, then toss in a Ziploc bag. You can use the sponges to wash water bottles/tumblers in the hotel sink.
Go to any hardware store and pick up a 3 port, 6ft extension cord. They are usually like $5 and pretty light. This will turn 1 outlet into 3 and move it in a more convenient position. You can now charge all your devices. This is handy at airports where the outlets or charging stations are never convenient or fill up fast. If stayed at hostels where I’m on the top bunk and the outlet is at knee level, this really helps. Even staying in a hotel sometimes it’s nice to just have the outlet on the nightstand instead of hiding behind the bed or dresser.
Different countries have different types of outlets. I wouldnt trust one of these things to run a hairdryer, but for charging your phone, camera, tablet, whatever, it should be fine with a little adapter.
Don’t drive when you haven’t slept for a long time. Going too long without sleep can impair your ability to drive the same way as drinking too much alcohol.
* Never eat where you see other tourists eating. Look for a place jammed with locals.
* Never let anyone “take” you anywhere. This applies especially to taxi drivers and random strangers.
* Don’t bring anything you “might” need and can acquire locally if you do.
* Pack n+1 pairs of underwear, where n is the smaller of the number of days you will be away and 6.
Grab one of the mini sized bar soaps or bath gel from your hotel and bring it with you when you go sight seeing. Often bathrooms won’t have hand soap (more likely in international destinations) and you will want to wash your hands with soap. Especially before a meal. I wrap the bar soap in a small plastic bag or a plastic hair cap that it often provided at hotels.
If you have periods, always have period supplies in your bag so you don’t get caught short and bleed in your clothes. If you use them up, buy more to replace them at your destination or after you’re home again so they’re there for next time.
Have extra underwear and (black) pants or shorts available to change into in case of leaks.
If you’re traveling on your period, wear dark clothes if possible in case there’s a leak, it’s less visible and less embarrassing.
Three things; 1.) bring an orange. If someone you are sitting next to smells bad you can open the orange up as a natural deodorizer. 2.) Bring a spare pair of socks and change socks after you are settled on your flight, train, etc. Put the sweaty socks away in a plastic bag. Dry socks after a long day of travel feel luxurious. 3.) Stupid and Cheerful. A cop stops you in a foreign country? Stupid and cheerful. Never be belligerent. A border guard says your papers aren’t in order? Stupid and cheerful. The airline says you are too late to board? Stupid and cheerful. Cheerful always works better than aggressive. And it transcends culture. I knew an elderly couple who literally drove across the whole of Africa and “stupid and cheerful” was their advice. It’s far harder to punish someone if they simply claim ignorance and are smiling.
Try searching for flights in the airline’s original language. I once saved $700 booking tickets in Peru by using Spanish rather than English.
I have two.
One. There’s this weird arm pillow sling thing you can get so you can actually sleep while flying in economy. I’m the ONLY one with it on every flight and everyone around asks me what that is. You can google it.
Two. If you’re a frequent flyer like me, but you keep falling short to earn status / medallion because you don’t fly enough, you can actually buy them from places like AirlineStatus(com) – On Delta, I didn’t reach it for 2 consecutive years. Then, I just bought Platinum Medallion for like 3 hundred bucks. (It’s resold corporate travel benefits but it shows up the same exact way in your app). I also rarely hear about this among my friends.
Good luck. Hope this helps for what it’s worth.
Check out the Citymapper app if you’ re going to a new city/country. It was a godsend when I spent a week in Hamburg – give it an address and it’ll show you several ways to get to your destination, including mass transit (train, bus) and rental options (bikes, scooters) if possible.
A unit conversion app can be nice to have too, potentially
Use flight aware to track your flight. Not only does your flight show up as cancelled/delayed on flight aware BEFORE your airline sends you a notification, but it also lets you track your inbound planes activity a whole 24 hours before your flight so you can gauge ahead of time whether you think your flight will leave on time or not. Saved myself multiple hours in the airport this way by figuring out my flight will be delayed before the airline sends a notification. For example, if the plane you’re taking is departing late for the flight a couple before yours, you can pretty much bet on a delay hours before the airline will let you know.
Pack light, you need fewer things than you realize. Buy things like shower gel at the destination, don’t bother carrying cheap stuff you can just buy again easily.
Pack flexible outfits that all go together.
Dress comfortably especially shoes.
Be prepared for the lingering mental effects of jetlag that are hard to detect.
It’s not just about being tired or getting hungry at weird times, it also affects being able to think clearly, focus, and make good decisions. These little issues will linger long after you stop feeling tired or have trouble eating. You will feel normal, but you won’t be.
The best way to deal with this, I find, is (1) to stay very hydrated on the flight and, when you land, make plans ahead of time to accommodate having a different sleep schedule so you don’t have to force it too fast; (2) and just arrive as much ahead of time as possible if you have something that will require your mental acuity, like work meetings.
While you’re standing in the security line, take the stuff in your pockets and put it in your bag. You won’t be holding up the line to gather your stuff from the container.
1) Allow time for things to go wrong.
2) If travelling long distance don’t leave ‘just in time’, better to arrive early. The further you’re travelling leave even earlier. eg. If your friend is getting married on Saturday and it’s a four hour drive, leave Friday lunchtime not Friday evening. If it’s a transatlantic flight away leave Wednesday or Thursday morning, not Friday.
3) It’s going to cost more than you think.
No one cares about you wearing the same thing more than once. Pack light and wash your stuff every few days.
Do not entertain people asking questions in other countries.
Know the rules/laws/currency exchange rates for the country you are going to. Ignorance is not a get out of jail free card.
Roll all your clothes. Rubber band them using a color-coding system. Green rubber band means “never worn”, yellow rubber band means “worn once, still ok”, red rubber band means “Needs to be washed before wearing again.
If you have kids, specially young kids like toddlers or babies. Spoil them. Any toys, snacks, iPads. Whatever they want or need to make life easier.
When I traveled with my 4 year old nanny kid she got anything she wanted. For one she was in comfy pajamas. I made her wear a diaper/pull up, super underrated. Either preventing an accident all over her clothes. Or when we almost missed our connecting flight, sprinting through the airport. And she hits me with a “I need to potty” which is a 10 minute ordeal.
Not particularly “unknown,” but never use the money exchange at an airport. The rates are *abominable.*
Just google the closest bank or exchange store near you. It normally has *much* better rates than those at an airport.
If you have to spend more than a little time at an airport, check if there is a lounge you can stay at. Often your credit cards or frequent traveller programmes will give you free or cheaper entrance.
If you are alone and don’t know where to go or what to do in a non English speaking city, go to the Irish pub, they will be kind and helpful and you can have a pint.
If you like to sleep on an airplane. Figure out what side of the plane the sun will be shining on and sit on the other side. – Not my best travel tip, but something I’ve appreciated after a long week of travel.
Most people will say to to float along with no plan, get lost in a city #wanderlust
My best travel tip is to be organized and be efficient with your time while also staying flexible. Hard but very rewarding.
Unless you absolutely need to, don’t check baggage. Carry on only. I can travel anywhere for two weeks with just a carry on. My wife can do this also.
Here in the United States of America, just because you’re visiting *one* part of a state, doesn’t mean that’s how it will be everywhere in the state. Eastern Oregon is drastically different than Western Oregon. Southern Ohio might as well be another planet as Central Ohio. Florida is basically ten different states put in one. California is so massive, it’s way more than just Hollywood.
I can’t tell you how many disappointed people I’ve came across who are shocked to find out traveling in a bumf**k rural part of a state is different than traveling to the major city of a state, or a suburb, or a tourist-style area of that same state.
“But but…I thought New York was the city that never sleeps”(as they complain about their trip to Upstate New York).
This is specifically about traveling to Las Vegas: If you are not from a desert climate the low humidity is no joke. Carry a full 1l bottle of water and lip balm on your person–refill the bottle whenever you can. If it is summer hiking in the desert is suicide unless you are very well prepared, and most likely you aren’t. If you go hiking at Zion National Park pay attention to the weather–if there are showers anywhere near where you are stay out of canyons or dry stream beds. If you are staying on one end of the Strip, the other end of the Strip is nowhere near as close as it looks. Wear good shoes–you will be walking a lot more than you think. If you drink, don’t gamble. If you gamble, don’t drink. Set a loss limit: Bring envelopes with the amount of cash you are willing to lose each session–when that envelope is empty the session is over. Set a win limit: once you have doubled (or whatever) your stake, the session is over. Put the money in the envelope and seal it. Mail it to yourself if you don’t think you have the discipline to dip into it. Bring your Social Security Card or passport–if you win beyond a certain limit and get a hand-pay you will need to show one of these documents or the IRS will require the casino to withhold the income tax.
Roll with it.
Simply put, be flexible, be open to the unexpected, and be prepared to go out of your comfort zone. That’s why you’re traveling! If you want a planned, scheduled, formatted and sanitized experience, go to Disney World. If you aren’t ready to learn how other people function in the real world, taste new flavors, navigate a foreign language, then you aren’t ready to travel.
Just roll with it.
Auto-travel. Pack your own meals or stop at supermarkets instead of fast-food stops. Will give everyone with you time to walk and stretch while grabbing meals at a supermarket. The deli and produce sections will have a lot of stuff ready to eat.
Bring an extra empty bag (and room in your carry-on) for souvenirs. There’s been so many times when friends have packed their bags completely full for their initial flight, and then just look at me like surprised pikachu when I ask them where they’re gonna put everything they buy.
Read two books about the place before you go. One fiction, one non-fiction. Try to get some context, a limited understanding, and follow your interests. Don’t just go for the beach or for the selfie. Ideally, your interests will eventually guide both your reading and your travel.
Travel closer to the off season. Risk a bit of bad weather in exchange for a better experience.
Buy a high quality desktop USB charging hub with enough ports and wattage to handle all your devices. They automatically manage the different voltages, and they all have cheap, removable plug cables so you can just bring whichever ones you need for whichever country at whichever length you prefer.
Solid soaps, conditioners, and shampoos are just as nice and often nicer than the liquid stuff, can last for months, and are allowed in your carry on.
Get both a visa and a Mastercard debit card because sometimes banks prefer one over the other, and also for redundancy in case of loss. Charles Schwab checking accounts have Visa debit cards and they refund all ATM fees with zero exchange rate fees, so it’s my primary.
Spend good money on your backpack because it will be durable enough to handle the pressure of efficient packing, and you’ll be able to cram at least twice as much stuff into it as you would a random book bag. Also, having a zipper break mid-trip can be devastating.
There’s an app called Airalo that will get you an e-sim internet plan in most countries at reasonable rates.
Attach all of your two factor authentication stuff to a Google voice number. It’s free, and it’ll work no matter where you are.
For long haul flights in economy bring a lightweight down jacket with a hood for warmth (it’s basically like bringing a sleeping bag), a good eye mask for darkness, disposable earplugs for silence, a neck pillow for comfort, and a mild sleeping pill.
The secret to using the ear plugs for maximum effect on an airplane is to seriously squeeze them down into a really thin and long roll like they’re play dough, and then quickly slide them deep into your ears before they have a chance to expand so that they expand to completely fill your ear canal. It also helps make sure that they wont fall out.
It’s better to spend more time in a few places than a little time in a bunch of places.
Pack binder clips they can hold draperies closed tightly for a dark room and can be used to turn regular hangers into skirt/pants hangers.
If you travel international from the USA get Global Entry. It makes coming back much easier and you get TSA Pre Check as well.
Get luggage straps for your checked bags. Your bags will be the easiest ones to find on the luggage carousel, your belongings will still be secure in case a zipper breaks on your suitcase, and many straps have little pouches on the inside where you can put a card with your name and phone number in case the airport loses your luggage.
If you are travelling in a airplane use the toilet before drinks/foods are served and save yourself from long queues and dirty toilet.
Don’t pay 5 pounds to have a bottle of water delivered to your stateroom on a cruise ship, just call room service and order a free bucket of ice, it’ll melt. (I worked as a Room Service Attendant at Costa Crociere and Waiter Assistant at MSC)