Another year goes by and while the past 12 months hasn’t been full of travel like other years (due to the dreaded COVID), I have still managed to visit a few new places albeit a little closer to home than usual.
Every time I travel somewhere new I learn something new, not just about the destination and culture, but also little tidbits of handy travel tips for being a better traveller.
Over the years I’ve been saving these up in the memory bank, using them myself and imparting my wisdom on my friends and family.
And while I share stacks of destination based tips with you all each year, I never really share my general travel tips. So I thought why not start off year with a mega blog post with all of my top travel tips to live by in 2022.
Hopefully 2022 is a year of more travel than we’ve been able to do in the last two years and that we all get to put these top travel tips into practice.
Health Travel Tips
Wear in your walking shoes before you leave home. While blisters are not life threatening, it might feel like you’ll never be able to walk again (slight over-exaggeration I know!) if you haven’t broken them in first. So before you leave for your trip, chuck on some thick socks and get walking around the house for a day wearing those shiny new shoes in.
Pack a small first aid kit. This doesn’t have to be anything bulky or complex, just a few plasters, headache/pain medication, antihistamines, anti-diarrhea tablets, hand sanitizer (you shouldn’t even leave you house for a trip to the shops without this these days!), tweezers, nail clippers and any prescription medication you take. While some of this is available to purchase in other countries, having it on hand in an emergency will make your life so much easier!
Pay attention to travel health news for your destination. This is something I have been doing long before the recent pandemic, and has helped me avoid getting very ill (and having to make a claim on my next travel tip!) while travelling. Keep up to date with your country’s government travel advisory service and/or the World Health Organisation for travel advisories. Or check out this handy map by the IATA showing which countries have restrictions what the entry requirements are. It also show testing clinics for COVID.
Check if the drinking water is safe before you leave home. Most guide books will have a section on this. Even brushing your teeth or having ice in your drink (guilty!) can cause you problems. This pin on Pinterest shows you all the places in the world you should and shouldn’t drink the water.
Beat jet lag quicker by forcing yourself to adapt to the time zone at your destination. Try to stay awake until a reasonable bed time, re-hydrate regularly, especially when in the air and eat meals at local times. A walk in fresh air and sunshine will also help to recharge your batteries. Whatever you do, resist the urge for a day time nap, at least until your body has caught up.
Check with a doctor or health professional for information on recommended vaccinations in advance of your trip, I’m talking months here. Some vaccinations can be an entry requirement for some countries and each country may have a certain way they want you to prove your vaccination status to them. It is also a good idea while you are with your doctor to find out about taking medication overseas as certain medicines aren’t allowed in some countries.
Pack sandals or thongs for using in showers. You may come across a gross shower or two, especially if staying in hostels or cheaper accommodation. This way your feet are protected from whatever fungus (yuck!) is growing in there.
Culture Travel Tips
Obey the laws of the country you’ve visiting even if these appear harsh or unfair by you home country’s standards. Don’t expect to be treated differently from the locals just because you’ve a foreigner. Have respect for those who are very generously allowing you to visit their country, enjoy its beauty and soak up its culture.
Ask locals for advice and tips. The receptionist at your hotel or the wait staff in the café down the road from your hotel may very well be able to tell you about one of the destinations best kept secrets. I have dined at some great restaurants and visited some unusual attractions just by asking a local. Keep your eye out for other people who look similar to you in age, they will always give you tips more suited to your travel style.
Buy your lunch at a local market instead of eating in a restaurant. It is much cheaper and fresher and you will be eating like a local. Take your purchases to a nearby park or grassy area and have a picnic. Keeping reusable plastic cutlery and tissues in your day pack will also come in handy.
Learn a few words and phrases of the local language. Not only will this help you in your travels (and make you more cultured), it also shows great respect to the local people. I have found in some countries that the people are a lot more helpful if you make an effort.
Eat where the locals eat. This one is simple. If a restaurant or café is full of locals you know that food or coffee is going to be great. Why would they waste their time eating somewhere mediocre? While some (and I mean only some) touristy restaurants can be good, most have a purpose to pump out as many average meals as they can.
Buying from grocery stores can be a great way to keep costs down while travelling. You will find cheap food and drinks such as local dishes, sandwiches, fruit, snacks and bottled water. I always keep a look out near where I am staying for my nearest grocery store. It’s also a great place to start exploring what the locals eat on a day to day basis. You never know, you might find your new favourite snack among the shelves. In Japan every supermarket had hot sweet potatoes in a paper bag (YUM!!!), I lived on them for three weeks!
General Travel Tips
Register your details with DFAT (or a similar government organisation in your country). It takes only a few minutes and ensures that if there is a major incident or natural disaster in the area you are in, the government will know to look for you. The world has become quite the crazy place over the last 10 years, so never know when a disaster could strike.
Get travel insurance, I honestly can’t think of a reason not to. If there is a transport strike, your luggage is lost or stolen or you get injured, this travel insurance will save you a lot of money in the long run. Make sure you check the policy clauses and terms really well before purchasing to ensure that everything you want covered, like an extra expensive camera, is covered. If you are frequent travelling then a yearly travel insurance policy might be worth looking at too. Check out my blog post on things to look out for when buying travel insurance.
Ensure you know the local road rules if you plan to drive. Every country has their own set of rules, so make sure you read up on them so you don’t cause any accidents or end up copping fines or worse yet, being arrested. Even the simplest things like knowing which side of the road to drive on have caught international drivers out in the past!
Take copies of important documents such as passport, insurance policy, visas, credit/bank cards and any other important documents. Carry one copy in a separate place to the originals and leave a copy with someone at home or saved in a folder in your email account. If the unfortunate was to happen and you lost or had stolen any of these things, then having copies of the originals will make the process of getting a replacement while overseas a lot quicker.
Give a copy of your itinerary to a friend or family member. This way they will know where you are and how to contact you should there be any type of emergency. If you are unsure where you will for whole trip, just keep someone back home informed of your movements every few days.
Wash your clothes, especially underwear, in the sink or shower if you are travelling for a longer period of time. You can use ordinary soap or take a travel sized bottle of laundry detergent with you. This will save you time hanging out in a Laundromat and keep your clothes fresh until you return home. It also saves you having to bring large amounts of underwear for longer trips.
Keep baby wipes or face wipes in your day bag. They can be used for a quick refresh on a plane or long bus or train trip, while out and about exploring on a hot day or if you are staying in a location with no showers and little access to water.
Learn how to use your camera properly before you leave home. Don’t be devastated by blurry or out of focus photos when you get home, or end up spending a lot of time staring at your camera trying to figure out how to that the perfect shot. And make sure the lens is cleaned regularly, I once spent a whole week taking photos with a dirty big finger print in the top corner!
Read up on your destinations public transport system before you leave home. Find out how tickets work, do you need a special pass, where can you buy that pass and how much is it. What transport lines run near your accommodation and where do they go to. Little things like that will help you hit the ground running when you arrive.
Try to find some time to relax. There is nothing worse than coming home from a holiday needing another holiday. Take a seat in a coffee shop in the afternoons for an hour and people watch or if you are travelling long term, try to factor in a day of rest once a week. It will keep you sane and help you to come home and back to reality relaxed and ready to get back to normal life.
Duty-free isn’t always cheaper. When you’re stuck in an airport terminal between flights and have nothing to do but wander around the duty-free shops, try to resist the temptation to buy what you think is cheaper than outside the airport. Make sure you know the price of the same item back home before you make a purchase, it is RARELY cheaper!
GPS can be very expensive when hiring a car but is essential these days. To avoid the high costs, download the relevant countries maps onto your own smart phone. You will not only save on the hiring cost but also the data cost on your phone by having the download you can use offline.
Check that your credit/bank cards work before you leave home. Also make sure you know your pin number as most countries have phased out signatures and ensure they will not expire while you are away or soon after you return. There is nothing more annoying (and expensive) than spending hours on the phone to the bank while on holidays.
Carry a small packet of tissues in your day bag. As well as their usual uses they can double as toilet paper when out and about (I hate to tell you how many times I’ve been caught out before I started doing this!) and as napkins if having a picnic.
Pack a few spare plastic bags for dirty clothes and shoes. This way you can keep your clean clothes smelling clean and free from dirt and dust. And when you get home it will be easier to determine what you have and haven’t worn so you don’t wash thing unnecessarily.
Take a few passport sized photos with you just in case your passport is lost or stolen. This will save you from having to find a place to get photos taken in a foreign place. You usually get a few spares when getting your passport photo taken, so pack them separately to your passport just in case.
Pack a needle and thread. It will come in very handy when a button comes off your favourite shirt or jeans. They are also useful to quickly fix a hem on your clothes that is coming undone.
Pack light. This one takes some practice! Just because the airline allows you to take 20kg of luggage doesn’t mean that you have to take 20kg. Try to pack clothing that matches with multiple items of other clothing and shoes that can be worn for most occasions. You can wear trousers or shorts two days in a row or more and wash smaller items in the sink or shower of your hotel. The less you carry, the easier it will be to get around and the more weight and space you will have to bring home goodies. Check out my blog post on packing to help get this under wraps.
Take a jumper and socks on the plane. You might be travelling to the tropics or leaving home on a hot day but that doesn’t mean the temperature on the plane will be a balmy 30 degrees. Plus the blankets on the plane are horrible, just horrible!!!!
Pack a double adaptor or multi-USB hub along with the correct regions plug. If you are travelling with multiple devices this will help get them all charged faster. We travel with more and more devices these days and all of them will likely get a workout and need to be charged most days.
Use little bottles for your liquid toiletries if you are only travelling for a short time. It takes up less room and less weight in your luggage. This is especially good if you are travelling on a budget airline that charges for checking luggage. You may be able to avoid paying the extra fees by just taking carry on. Just make sure you label what is what.
Ensure you have the right visas for the countries you are visiting or transiting in and check on your country’s Travel Advisory website for any other entry or ext requirements that you need to be aware of.
Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to your home country. It is a entry and exit requirement in most countries to have a least this much validity.
Use official taxi or transport providers at the airport. Scammers are known to pray on tired and vulnerable new arrivals at the gate offering them a ride but charging them ridiculous fees. When I landed in Moscow many years ago I was welcomed by a sea of men offering me guaranteed best price, luckily I had already done more research and knew they were scammers.
Be wary if someone spills something on you in a crowded place. While they are politely trying to assist with the clean up, their partner in crime may be picking your pocket or dipping into your bag. Decline assistance and move to quieter area to clean up. Again in Moscow, a crazy looking lady on the escalator knocked my coke cup (it didn’t spill but did distract me for a moment) and I later found the front pocket of my backpack open. Luckily all that was in there was used sweet wraps and tissues!
Pickpockets operate in just about every city and town in the world that attracts visitors. But this doesn’t mean you have to fall victim. The best way to protect yourself from them is to know at all times where your belongings are. Don’t carry anything valuable in your back pocket or in an easily accessible zip pocket of your backpack. Consider a cross body bag rather than a one shoulder handbag and never hang your purse over the back of your chair or place it on the floor in crowded cafes. Be extra cautious in crowded areas.
A friendly local starts up a conversation with you which leads to them offering to take you to look at art or jewellery. You don’t want to disappoint this ‘new friend’ so you go along. It turns out to be a high-pressure sales pitch that you just can’t say no to and you’re left hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars poorer. Don’t fall for this and politely decline the offer to go along with them. If they persist, walk away or into a nearby hotel or restaurant.
A passerby picks up a ring that has supposedly “fallen” on the ground right near where your standing. They ask if it is yours and when you say no they offer to sell it to you for a good price. Despite you saying no they continue to harass you to hand over money for something that is probably worthless. This is one of the most common scams in Paris and is best dealt with by simply walking away.
If someone offers you a price for a tuk-tuk or rickshaw ride in Asia and it seems too good to be true then it is likely to be scam. The deal is that on the way to where you asked to be taken, they will detour to a local arts and crafts store where you are given a high-pressure sales pitch. The driver is given a commission for anything you buy and you end up buying something you really didn’t want in the first place. Move on if it seems too good to be true!
People posing as police approaching you in the street demanding to see your travel documents right there and then. Once you hand them over, they then bribe you to get them back. To avoid this situation, before handing over the documents, ask to be taken to the nearest police station where you will happily show them. It is likely they will disappear pretty quick with those words. If they are genuine police, they will understand the situation and oblige.
A Good Samaritan offers to assist you with stowing your bag on a crowded bus for which you oblige. Before you know it they are passing your bag off to someone else near the front who jumps off the bus right before the doors close. No matter how helpful this may have originally seemed, always remember to keep your belongs and valuable possessions as close a possible.
Automatic teller machine scams can happen anywhere in the world. Unrecognisable card skimmers can be attached to unfamiliar machines which secretly store your details including your pin number. Ensure you only use machines of reputable banks and if you are unsure check with your hotel/hostel for recommendations on reliable machines to use. If you think you have been the victim of card skimming at any time, call your bank’s international emergency number immediately to cancel the card.
PIN THIS FOR LATER!
Over to you!
What are your top travel tips for 2022?
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.