1. Travel Light: I almost never check in luggage, unless its on the last leg of a trip and I’m on my way home (this is when I have extra stuff to bring home anyways from my travels). Standing in lines to check in bags is something I don’t enjoy. If you are planning an international trip to multiple countries, avoid brining a lot of “stuff” with you. Bring the bare minimum and if you need something along the way, buy it. On top of it, checking in luggage can be expensive.
2. Don’t plan too much: Make general plans and figure it out the details when you get there. Many times, I’ve booked hotels/accommodations in advance to find they are unsatisfactory upon arrival. Also, too much planning is stressful! Be spontaneous… you will enjoy traveling more.
3. Bring essentials on an airplane: Charged laptop, charged smartphone & external battery pack(s), good headphones, a book, magazines, notepad/pen, earplugs (huge!), neck pillow, jacket (staying warm helps you sleep).
4. Print out destination guides for your trip to read on the plane: You can find these on international airline’s websites. They usually provide pretty solid information on the city/area you’re traveling to without fluff.
5. Buy food prior to getting on the plane: Unless you’re flying first/business class, you will probably be stuck eating some expensive & mediocre airplane food.
6. When researching places to stay, find out if the showers have good water pressure and that the wifi signal is good: To a business traveller like me those are probably the two most important things to look out for.
7. Avoid tourist-trap restaurants (a huge rip off!): One of the biggest benefits of traveling is being able to eat the local cuisines and try food that you wouldn’t otherwise find here in the States. Stay away from bogus “tourist-friendly” restaurants near tourist attractions. Talk to locals to find out the best places to eat, or visit some foodie blogs to find out the best places and dishes to eat in each city you visit.
8. Buy things like plug converters before you travel: Typically these types of goods are much more expensive and harder to find once you reach your destination.
9. If you are planning to see multiple countries in the same region during your trip, check budget airline sites: I also like to use sites like SkyScanner.com, Expedia.com, Kayak.com, etc. to find the budget airlines (or just google ‘budget airlines in asia’ for example) then I check those airline’s websites directly to find the best deals.
10. Never use currency exchange services at airports or tourist traps, unless you absolutely need to: They are usually a rip-off. Find out what the currency exchange rate is and use that as a guide for any/all transactions. Use your ATM to pull out cash when you arrive at your destination instead, and pull out more than you think you need so you dont need to use the ATM more than once and incur extra fees. Spend all of your coins from the foreign country before departing (unless you want it as a keepsake) because many currency exchange companies will not accept coins.
A. Use Google Voice to make/receive free phone calls and text messages with your friends, family and colleagues back in the States while you’re overseas.
B. Take photos of your passport and other important documents and email them to yourself so that you can print it out in a worst-case-scenario situation.
C. Call your debit- and credit-card companies before you leave on your trip to let them know the countries you’ll be visiting, to ask about fees, etc.
D. Unlock your smartphone before you leave on your trip, so that you can get a SIM card at your destination. Having internet on your phone while traveling is hugely helpful. Trying to find wifi is a total pain!
If you travel a lot and have your own tips, please leave them in the comments below!