3 travel tips the average traveler MUST know!

Are you planning to fly overseas?  Are you day dreaming about places mysterious and unknown?  Either way, I’ve been where you are.  I’ve had my fair share of international flights but I’ve had more days spent dreaming about so much more – more trips, more countries, more places, more adventure.

Flights overseas are complicated but don’t have to be confusing.

For many, the mere thought of flying overseas is overwhelming. It is true – international travel can be almost discouraging in nature because of all the possibilities. I want to say this in the nicest way possible – Get over it! The pros will out weigh the cons. I promise you will not regret international travel done right. It is life changing!

Be organized, do your research!

Whether organization is a natural strong suit of yours or not – I suggest you do your best to be organized in this one aspect of your life.

Tip #1: Make a folder in your personal email for travel.

The internet is your best tool for planning this journey. Entire journeys can be planned, bought and booked without ever leaving your couch. It’s a beautiful thing – the internet. Throughout this process you will make many subscriptions to various websites and you will need a folder to organize all the information they send you.

While this might seem unnecessary, companies who send “junk mail” don’t always include only junk. Often times, I receive emails which contain real trips, real deals, and more importantly – real ideas that spark my interest into a new trip idea. Yes, there are times in my life when I delete all those emails. If I’m not traveling or planning a trip they don’t have much value to me. They are truly junk to me, in that moment. But if I am itching for a getaway, it is usually an email ad that inspires my brainstorming!

On the other hand, when trips become real and you are booking travel you need an organized place in your inbox to keep all of your travel times, destinations addresses, and confirmation codes. Additionally, it keeps all the receipts in one place so I can budget my trips and know exactly how much I spent and on what I spent it.

I challenge you to add the folder on your inbox now! Even if you have nothing planned, it will stare at you and maybe one day you will finally have the courage to take the trip of your dreams.

Tip #2: Know where you want to go and what you want to see. 

Many people want to see the world but when I ask them – where they want to go and what they want to see, more often than not the answer is something like “Rome, London, Paris, everything!” The reality is: Those places aren’t neighboring cities. You must pass language, country borders, and bodies of water to achieve such a trip. Are you prepared?

I suggest lists! I love lists but especially when traveling. I make lists of cities and countries, sites within cities and countries, travel between cities and countries, and travel between sites within those cities and countries. I have lists created of road trips across the US, backpacking trips through Europe, island hoping in Indonesia, and cruises through the Caribbean. Some of which are ridiculously far-fetched but until I plan them I will never know where my limit of possibilities are.

I recommend a few websites I use to aid me in making these lists. I wish they were like this cute little secret websites that contain hidden places that no one has ever visited but frankly, those don’t exist. These are all pretty popular but also very helpful!

  • Google – I use google maps and googles top sights to inspire my travel in some of the most beautiful places in the world. It rarely forgets a top sight and always contains information about the surrounding area not to mention the travel between areas.
  • TripAdvisor – I like the ranking system that TripAdvisor uses to rank the top sights to see in a given city. I usually cross reference their “sights to see” with googles “top sights”. They balance each other to give me an idea on what is really worth my time.
  • Lonely Planet – I use Lonely Planet for more of the off-the-beaten-path type of activities. They suggest restaurants, festivals, and tours that are top notch.
  • Afar – I use Afar much like Lonely Planet! And, bonus, it is updated by real people on what they real did while in a country.

Tip #3: Print or screen shot everything.

Call me old school but before my husband and I travel, I print everything! I’ve been in a situation one to many times where technology failed me; I was left helpless – a slave to data service or wifi. Once you have booked each step of your journey, it is more than likely you have an email, a URL, and maybe even an app all with the information you need for your trip. How exciting! Now, it’s time to actually travel!

I hope you have planned ahead and taken the time to check what kind of international data your cell phone company offers during international travel. But regardless, I recommend to print or at least write down all of your confirmation codes, addresses, and travel plans so you don’t have to rely on 2G data speeds or finding a wifi cafe to try and figure out train schedules, directions, or confirmation codes.

Another more technology friendly idea is to screen shot all the information so it saves on your camera roll instead of having to load the email or internet page. It’s faster and more reliable. Plus, if you are like me – a control freak, reliable puts your mind at ease so you can actually enjoy yourself during the journey – knowing you are prepared.

Here are some examples of things I screen shot, print or write down before I travel.

  • Travel dates and times – This may seem like a no-brainer but a lot of people rely on the technology at the location of travel to know when they are supposed to be where. Often, bus and train stations have travel times posts online but then on-site they don’t have live screens updating you on when they next train, bus, or boat leaves. Save yourself from the stress by making a note about timetables of transportation you are planning on using.
  • Lodging information – I highly recommend writing down the name and address of the place you are staying! In additional, include your confirmation code, the price you paid when you booked it online, the check-in and check-out times, and the contact information in case you have trouble finding it.
  • Keywords – If traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, I recommend jotting down a few common phrases. Yes, while almost everyone in the world speaks English nowadays; I find that it greatly enhances the experience of travel if you have a few words or phrases ready to whip out and surprise the natives. Words like: Hello, Goodbye, Excuse me, Thank you, Please – go a long way when trying to get the help or attention of those around you.
  • Maps – Pretty much everywhere in the world now has some form of public transportation. It might not be stellar but they do have something! If you are like me, you don’t have a private driver picking you up from the airport. Rather, you have to catch a bus, train or taxi. Don’t rely on your phone to load the information for what train line or subway station or bus number you are suppose to take next. Document the routes of public transportations and maybe add notes about which lines take you where – lodging, city center, airport, bus station, car rental property, etc.

I challenges you to fight through the complications – it’s worth it. There may be times of confusion but following these simple tips will help you a bit along the way. Best of luck as you plan your adventure.