Traveling is fun. Traveling is exciting. Traveling can also be stressful and sometimes disappointing. I’m no traveling expert, but I have traveled to a few places and have noticed some things. I’m going to share my 10 biggest travel tips to make sure you enjoy your trip.
You may not agree with everything I list here and that’s okay. The more you travel, the more you will learn about how you like to travel.
1. Make sure you get to do what you want to do.
You’re in a new place and you have limited time. If you want to do something specific while there, you better do it! You can’t be a people-pleaser in this situation. If you’re in a group and others don’t want to do what you do, then split up! Don’t make someone else do what they don’t want to but you should really do what you want while you have the chance!
2. Set expectations before going on the trip.
This goes hand-in-hand with the first tip. If you are traveling with a group, even if it’s just one other person, then you all need to go over what everyone is expecting from this trip.
If someone wants a relaxing “do nothing” vacation and someone else wants a go-go-go exploring vacation, then you’re both going to be miserable. You need to talk about this beforehand and decide how it’s going to work. You can compromise and do both: have a relaxing day and then an exploring day (which is my preference, unless I’m in a new place every day and only have one chance to explore, more on this later). Or you can split up and do your own things, if it’s possible and safe to do so.
Travis and I did this when we went on a cruise to the Greek islands. He could have stayed on the ship all day almost every day, but I was in freakin’ Greece! I had to go explore each island and could relax afterward in the evenings. So on days when he didn’t want to leave the ship, I went out and explored on my own. I was perfectly safe and still had fun. Just to be clear though, he did come off the ship several times and did explore, just not every single day.
3. Have digital AND printed itinerary and documents.
Hotel confirmations/addresses, flight schedules, itineraries, and whatever else you may have – print those out, don’t just keep them on your phone. Who knows if there will be wifi? Who knows if you’ll have service? Or what if your phone dies and you didn’t have a chance to charge it? Don’t rely on technology for important things – have backup copies printed, just in case. Being prepared will help you stress less and relax more.
4. Know that things aren’t going to go as planned.
Things always happen while traveling, whether good or bad. They may affect your plans. You have to remember to stay patient and positive in these situations. It’s easier said than done but you have to try.
5. Spend more time in fewer locations.
By spending more time in fewer locations, you will get to really enjoy each place. In tip #2, I said that I prefer a relaxing day and then an exploring day. Well, this may be hard to do if you only have one day in a new place.
After traveling both ways: seeing a new place every day and spending several days in one location, I learned that I like getting to stay in fewer locations but for longer periods of time. I get to slow down and enjoy the place without worrying about what I’m going to miss out on if I don’t walk faster to see everything. It doesn’t have to be a super long time but at least two to three nights. I think three days in one place is a good amount of time if you can’t do longer, but it will depend on the location and what there is to do there.
6. Keep a journal while traveling.
I have only kept a travel journal once but I want to keep doing it on future long trips. My only problem with it was that I couldn’t write fast enough to get all my thoughts and memories down on paper. I recommend this for longer trips, especially ones with lots of different stops and locations.
I kept a journal on the trip to Greece, Turkey, and Italy in the summer of 2018. I wanted to try it out because I realized that I forgot a lot of details from past trips. I forgot what cities/towns we went to, what we did there, etc. When looking at photos, I may not even be able to say what country it was – was it Scotland or Ireland? They look similar… By keeping a journal, I could make sure I would remember where we went on what days, what we did there, how I felt while there, etc.
7. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.
You’re traveling to explore, see new things, try new things, right? So, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Try new foods, feed the pigeons, dance with a local, jump into a swimming hole, do something you wouldn’t do at home. Don’t come home to wish you had done something you chickened out of.
8. Print out photos after the trip.
I know this isn’t going to help you enjoy your trip while it’s happening, but it will help you enjoy it for years afterward. I say this because it’s SO much easier to pull out a photo album or box of photos to flip through years after the trip than to find a flash drive or old phone with photos from several years ago. You can make photo books too – any kind of hard copy of photos is good. I actually want to switch to making photo books in the future because they take up much less space than photo albums.
Another good idea is to have an external hard drive and put all travel photos there, in one place. But I still think printing is a good idea because then you can print the best photos to look back on and you don’t have to look through thousands that you put on the external hard drive.
9. Stash cash for the trip.
These last two tips come from Travis – my husband, so these are his biggest travel tips. He says to stash cash in addition to what you may already be saving [in a bank] for the trip. This will provide extra spending money/play money for unexpected things during the trip. Everything is always more fun when you don’t have to worry about money.
10. Wear comfortable clothes on the airplane but don’t be a slob about it.
Try to pick an outfit that looks kind of nice but is also comfortable. I think there are several reasons for this. One is that you don’t want to look like a slob when you arrive at the new location, especially if it’s a different country. Another is that you shouldn’t rely on getting to change clothes as soon as you arrive somewhere.
What if your bag is lost? What if your hotel room isn’t ready and you have to go kill time somewhere? What if you’re running late for something (delayed flight, maybe) and you don’t have time to shower and change clothes? Always be prepared, even with your outfit choices.
Bonus tip: Rent a cool car.
Can’t believe I almost forgot about this tip! Road trips are way more fun if you get to drive a cool car. This tip will work for you if 1) you can afford it for the duration of the trip and 2) a nice car is available for the number of people you have. This is easy if you have a short trip with two people. When Travis and I went to Nashville, TN for one long weekend, we rented a 2019 BMW 5 Series. It just happened to be available at the car rental place and we took it! Driving to Nashville was way more fun when we got to drive a car we wanted to try out!
Do you have any travel tips of your own? Leave them in the comments below!