Always pack a towel

You never know when you will need it, whether it’s at the beach, on a picnic, or just to dry off. While all hotels offer towels, you never know and carrying a small towel won’t add that much weight to your bag.

Buy a small backpack/suitcase

By purchasing a small backpack, you will be forced to pack light and avoid carrying too much stuff. Humans have a natural tendency to want to fill space so if you pack light but have lots of extra room in your bag, you’ll end up going “well, I guess I can take more” and then regret it.

Pack light

It’s OK to wear the same t-shirt a few days in a row. Take half the clothes you think you will need…you won’t need as much as you think. Write down a list of essentials, cut it in half, and then only pack that!

But take extra socks

You’ll lose a bunch to laundry gremlins, wear and tear, so packing extra will come in handy. Nothing beats a fresh pair of socks!

Take an extra bank card and credit card with you

Disasters happen. It’s always good to have a backup in case you get robbed or lose a card. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere new without access to your funds.

Try to use no-fee bank cards

Don’t give banks your hard-earned money. Keep that for yourself and spend it on your travels. Get a credit card and debit card that doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee or an ATM fee. Over the course of a long trip, the few dollars they take every time will really add up!

Don’t be afraid to use a map.

Looking like a tourist isn’t as bad as getting really lost and ending up in the wrong neighborhood. Don’t be afraid to use a map or ask for directions and look like a tourist. After all, you are one! Always use a map when you travel. It helps you get to where you need to go!

But don’t be afraid to get purposefully lost.

Wandering aimlessly through a new city is a good way to get to know it, get off the beaten path, and away from the tourists. You might be surprised by the hidden gems you find. Wander around and try to find your way without using Google Maps!

Always visit the local tourism office.

They know about everything going on in town. They can point you to free activities, special events happening during your stay, and everything in between. They even offer discounts on attractions and transportation. It is their job to help you experience the destination better. It’s amazing how many travelers skip this when they are visiting somewhere but, as a savvy traveler, you know to use this resource!

Don’t buy a money belt

Thieves know they exist and being seen with one basically shouts, “Look at me, I’m a tourist with money! Rip me off!” The more you can blend in and act like a local, the easier it will be to get deals and avoid touts. If you’re worried about pickpockets, keep a better eye on your stuff!

When you go out, take only what you need.

Limit the amount of cash and bank cards you carry with you, so if something does happen, you can easily recover. Never take more than one credit card or ATM card with you.

Always carry a lock.

They come in handy, especially when you stay in dorms and need to lock your stuff up. Carry a small combination lock with you when you travel. Don’t use one with keys because, if you lose the keys, you’re screwed!

Make extra copies of your passport and important documents.

Don’t forget to e-mail a copy to yourself too. You never know when you might need to have some sort of documentation with you and might not want to carry your original. Additionally, if your passport gets stolen having a copy will come in handy for your police report.

Learn basic phrases in the native language of your destination

The locals will appreciate it and it will make your interactions easier. You don’t need to master the language but learning a few things like “Hello,” “Goodbye,” “Thank you!”, “Where’s the bathroom?” will go a long way to endearing yourself with the locals. They’ll like that you tried.

Always get behind business travelers when in security lines.

They move fast since they are usually in a rush and travel light. They know the drill. Line up behind them as much as possible. You’ll speed through the line!

When you check in to the hotel, don’t be afraid to ask for an upgrade.

They have a lot of flexibility when it comes to assigning upgrades at check-in. It never hurts to ask. Often times they can accommodate you if the hotel isn’t full. Just be super nice!

Libraries and many places have free Wi-Fi.

If you’re staying someplace that charges you to connect, check out one of these places. You can connect for free.

Lunchtime is the best time to visit historical sites.

Be a contrarian. You’ll have fewer crowds getting in your way as big tour buses, groups, and most travelers head to lunch. It’s always best to visit an attraction super early, late, or when people eat. You’ll have even the most popular places to yourself!

Pack a flashlight.

It will let you see at night, you avoid stepping on stuff, and help you tell ghost stories. Who’s afraid of the dark?

Carry a basic first-aid kit.

Accidents happen so be prepared. Take band-aids, antibacterial cream, and ointments for minor cuts and scrapes. You never know when you’re going to need it and you can’t always get it when you travel.

Be open to strangers

Not everyone bites. Say hi to people on the road. Turn strangers into friends. Remember they are just like you! They want to live a happy, full life and have hopes and dreams too! You never know. You just might make some lifelong friends.

Keep your guard up.

Some people do bite, so keep a healthy level of suspicion. You don’t want to fall for any travel scams or get yourself into uncomfortable situations. Be open but cautious.

Try new food.

Don’t ask what it is. Just put it in your mouth and see if you like it. If you put your guard up, you might miss out on some unusual and delicious local cuisine.

Avoid taxis.

They are always a budget buster. Avoid taking a taxi unless you absolutely have too!

Take an empty metal water bottle through airport security and fill it up at your gate.

Drink from the tap when you can — you’ll save money and help the environment. If you’re going somewhere where you can’t drink the water, be sure to get a water bottle with a filter.

Take free walking tours.

Besides being free, these tours will give you a good orientation and background of the city you are visiting. You pass the time, you get to pepper the guide with questions, and you get to learn so much about where you are! Take a walking tour when you travel!

Get city attraction cards.

If you are going to visit a lot of museums and other attractions in a short period of time, a city pass is going to save you money on admission (plus most provide free public transportation too!).

Take pictures of your luggage and clothes.

If your bag gets lost, this will help identify it more easily and speed up the process of having your travel insurance reimburse you.

Carry emergency cash.

Because emergencies happen. I usually try to keep around a $200 NZD in emergency cash in case something happens!

Get good shoes.

You walk a lot when you travel. Don’t beat up your feet. Love them as much as they love you, and they’ll take you to amazing places.

Get vaccinated.

Because falling prey to an illness in a foreign country is not fun — and many countries require you to get vaccinated in order to visit them so, regardless of your opinion on the subject, you just might have to.

Learn to haggle.

Haggling is a fun, playful way of not getting charged the foreigner price. It’s the art of negotiating and one that will help you throughout all of life, not just at the market.

Take a jacket.

Nights get chilly.

Eat street food!

If you skip the street food, you miss out on culture. Don’t be scared. If you’re nervous, look for places where kids are eating. If it’s safe for them, it’s safe for you.

Get travel insurance

Travel insurance is the most important thing you get that you never want to use. If something goes wrong, you don’t want to be out thousands of dollars in bills. It will be there if you get robbed, flights get cancelled, you get sick or injured, or have to be sent home. It’s comprehensive and, for just a few dollars a day, one of the best investments you can get for a trip. You may think you’re superman/woman but so did my friend who broke her arm, didn’t have insurance, and had to pay thousands out of pocket. Insurance was there when I had to replace my camera and when I popped an eardrum scuba diving.

Be patient.

Things will work out in the end. No need to rush. You’ll get to where you are going in due time. Travel is about the journey, not the destination.

Be respectful.

Locals are willing to help you out, but there’s probably a language barrier, so keep your cool when something doesn’t go your way.

Don’t overplan your trip.

Let your days unfold naturally. Schedule two or three things and let the day fill in the rest on its own. It’s less stressful, and letting the day just take you is one of the best ways to travel.

Be frugal — but not cheap.

Don’t be pennywise but pound-foolish. Look for deals and don’t waste money, but don’t miss out on great experiences or walk 10 miles to save a couple of dollars. Time is money. Spend them both wisely.

Take earplugs.

Snorers are everywhere and you need your sleep.

Always have an extra USB charger.

Batteries die. Your good mood shouldn’t.

Take photos of and with people.

Lots of photos. Years from now, you’ll want to look back on those nights you can’t remember and the people who made them memorable.

Pre-book your tickets to attractions

Many major attractions allow you to reserve your spot and skip the line. Always look online to see if this is an option. This will you to avoid wasting time in multi-hour lines and go right in. Pre-book the day before, skip the line, get to see more during your day!

Wear sunscreen.

The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists