A lot of friends have asked me several questions when it comes to traveling. How am I able to fit all the spots in the itinerary, how do I score cheap airfare, how much did I spend on my trip, how are you able to fit all your things with the baggage limitations, how do I find decent and affordable accommodations… I could go on and on.
I may not be able to answer all your questions in one write-up but I am going to share with you (at least) TEN travel tips I put to practice when I travel outside of the country.
Some of these are very basic but you cannot miss including on this list. I’ve come up with these tips intended for international trips but these may be applied for any travel in general.
1. Plan your daily itinerary
They say, “Spontaneity is the best kind of adventure“. I say, nothing is also wrong in planning ahead.
A daily itinerary may not be applicable to everybody but it sure helps you maximize your time while traveling. Whenever I travel, may it be alone or in a group, I always try my best to plan my trip ahead.
I prefer a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) itinerary instead of getting planned tours from operators. It gives me the freedom to choose the spots and activities and it (honestly) helps me save a lot of money!
I love making DIY itineraries to the point that sometimes I offer to make one for my friends. I like the fact that I get a lot of information from researching thus helping me appreciate the place even more.
It’s not 100% of the time that you get to follow your itinerary but at least it gives you an idea of the activities you might be doing. This will also help you decide on what clothes to bring during the trip.
2. Pair your clothes
With all the things happening today, the influence of social media and other platforms, cliques, and trends, I have noticed that most people (especially in my age bracket) are drawn to achieving certain #goals. May it be #relationshipgoals, #feedgoals, #travelgoals #lifegoals, etc.
Now you ask what does this have to do with pairing of clothes?
When you travel, you want to up the game by “looking posh or cool or sassy or trendy” with your OOTDs. Do as you please but bear in mind to dress accordingly.
This is the reason why I think having an itinerary helps you plan your outfits. There are some places, temples for one, which strictly implements a dress code. Although you can always buy clothes when you travel, it pays to know what you have to bring, prepare and wear.
In my case, I always pair my clothes before packing. It saves me a great amount of time! I usually take an hour before I get to decide the perfect outfit to wear on a normal day so having to pair my clothes before I travel helps me eliminate the ‘choosing’ part because my outfits are somehow preplanned.
Also, pairing clothes helps me organize my luggage/bag when I pack. I always make sure the pair goes together in the bag so I don’t have to ruin everything inside every time I change.
3. Get or don’t get that extra baggage allowance
You know yourself better so if you have to get that extra baggage allowance, do it!
Most airlines already include check-in baggage allowance when you book flights. When yours doesn’t include one, you can always manage your booking and purchase the baggage add-on for a fee.
Having enough baggage allowance is important especially if you’re traveling to a country during winter. The more layers you have to wear, the heavier your bag will become. So for Budget Air patrons, 7 kilos of baggage will not suffice during winter unless you are just there for a day to three.
If you are traveling to a tropical country, the baggage requirement may differ. For the usual 4-6 days, a backpack, a duffle bag, or a carry-on luggage will be enough but you might still need the extra baggage allowance in instances when: you have to stay longer, you just know that you can’t pack light, you just want to get that allowance to avoid problems, getting a baggage is just spare change (Ha! Rich kid!).
Now if you are on a budget and does not want to spend on extra baggage, keep posted as I am going to share some traveling life hacks soon (e.g. saving space by using zip locks and vacuum packs).
4. Know the current exchange rate
Every day, the foreign exchange rates change. You do not have to monitor the rates per day but at least know how much it is so you won’t be easily tricked when you travel.
‘So how much is it in peso?‘, ‘Wait, let me compute.‘. I tell you this – you will not fully enjoy your trip if you always compute the exchange rate of your expenses. ‘But I have to be within the budget‘. It pays to plan before leaving the hotel.
When you travel with a group, having a pot money saves the day. A pot money for taxi, bus or train fares saves your group time. You just have to refill the pot money at the end of the day, every day, until the end of your trip.
When you travel alone, set aside a certain amount before you leave your hotel to explore. You can already compute the rates by then so you don’t have to do it every time.
5. Activate your ATM’s international access
‘Can I withdraw abroad or should I convert my money before I fly?’
I don’t know if you have asked this question before. I did.
It is best to ask your bank if it is possible to withdraw abroad. Most banks allow this. All you have to do is to ask them to activate the international access of your ATM card and know what international machines are accredited with your bank.
Many people find this option very convenient but I do not recommend that you solely depend on this. That is why my next travel tip is…
6. Prepare an emergency money
Based on personal experience, I have done both – having my money converted before flying and withdrawing money from international automated teller machines.
Although the latter seems more convenient, you can’t predict what could happen. There are instances when you cannot get money from the ATMs right away.
Most airports already have ATMs all over the area. What’s the problem then? There are times when your ATM card is adjusting to the ‘new location’ so the first few times you try to withdraw does not push through. You have to transfer to several ATM machines before it works.
Don’t panic as the ATM card will eventually work on your second or third try. The key is to have extra money on hand, at least 100 USD.
Why USD, why not the currency of your destination? If you have already converted it to the currency of your destination then it’s fine, but if not, have your country’s currency converted to USD. USD is the most common currency anywhere around the world. You will not have a hard time finding a money changer.
7. Check the voltage, bring your own adaptor
This is usually taken for granted by many when it shouldn’t be. When I travel, I always make sure to research about this so I could bring the right adaptor of the country I’m visiting.
Some hotels offer adaptors for free, some don’t. It is always better to be prepared! You can also toss some extension wires on your check-in luggage if you want. That is if you have multiple gadgets to charge.
Also, remember to check your airline guidelines if you’re allowed to bring extension wires. Most airlines allow it but it should be checked-in and not inside the carry-on bag.
8. It should be comfort and style
I can recall someone saying that if you travel, you have to think about comfort over style. In my opinion, I think it should be comfort and style. You can always choose what is comfortable without sacrificing your style. You just have to know which works and fits better.
I often see people wearing leather jackets in humid countries like Singapore and Malaysia. There’s nothing wrong with wearing leather jackets but it should be worn in some cooler place. It makes you look stylish and trendy but it surely is not the perfect thing to wear in warm and humid countries. Again, dress accordingly.
If you can’t live without a bag, then bring a bag which is easier to bring. A two-way bag (backpack/handbag) might be perfect for you.
You can also bring a sling bag but there’s a tendency that it will become tiring to carry especially when you are putting the things you bought in your bag or when you are bringing gadgets (i.e. digital cameras, mobile phones, etc).
Think and weigh what is best for your trip. You usually spend the entire day walking around. Pick the right clothes, choose the right bag, and wear a comfortable pair of shoes.
9. Ask if you must
Even if the situation strongly urges you to ask someone, sometimes you choose not to because you don’t know the person you are asking as your parents always reminded you back when you were younger to never talk to strangers. All these will change once you start to travel. Sometimes asking someone is the only way to go.
At first, it’s scary but you’ll get the hang of it. Sometimes you get the best ideas when you ask around, especially when you ask the locals.
You just have to keep an open mind about things since culture varies among countries. Whenever you ask, do not be quick to judge or believe. Of course, it pays to have done your own research and match it with your present intel from the locals.
10. Behave accordingly
This applies to all kinds of travels. I always set my mind that I am only a visitor whenever I go somewhere.
To behave accordingly is to observe and respect other cultures and follow the laws of the places you’re visiting.
It is a privilege to experience the place and immerse into their culture and arts. Every travel experience is unique and after every trip, you’ll learn to appreciate more.
To behave accordingly is to be a responsible traveler. How?
Keep, clean and/or throw your mess when necessary. CAYGO or CLAYGO is no new word for me. It’s an abbreviation for ‘Clean As You Go’.
This is very simple yet many choose not follow this rule. Some people even justify that they haven’t seen any trash bins. Do not leave your trash anywhere hoping that maybe someone will clean it up for you. If you can’t see any trash bin, keep the wrappers inside your bag until you find one.
To behave accordingly is to be polite. The country welcomed you and allowed you to stay. Being courteous and polite is just a simple act to give back to them.
I still have a lot in mind but I have to end here. I hope these tips will somehow shed some light to all those who aspire to become better travelers.
Every trip is an opportunity to become better travelers.
Keep posted as I will be writing about traveling hacks soon. This may include knowing the booking patterns to score cheap flights, getting that decent accommodation for a very affordable price, and saving more space when packing. Ciao!