As I am a personally certified travel-junkie I have gained some insight along the way that I think may help you when planning your next trip, no matter where it may be. Check out my tips below.
- Travel with people who have a similar “travel-style” to you. – Everyone has a travel style whether they’ve realized it or not. Perhaps you love spending hours in museums? Or hours shopping through the local market? Or maybe you prefer to do trips that relate more to nature than to the bustling city? Regardless, everyone has their preferences and it’s best to acknowledge those and travel with like-minded people. For example with me, I can’t stand museums unless there’s something interesting for me to see and touch. If it’s just reading signs and wandering around, I would rather be out exploring the city and reading the details later online. Some people may be baffled at this which is why it’s important to discuss with those that you’re traveling with on how they want to spend their time and what they want to accomplish. Trust me, I have traveled with people before who don’t have the same style as me and although it doesn’t exactly ruin it, the complaining and moments of difference won’t allow for a productive and enjoyable trip.
- Be efficient with your time – Do some research beforehand on what you want to see and where you want to go. Being spontaneous is great, however, having a general idea of major attractions and sites you want to see will allow you to map it out and follow some sort of a path and create a method to your madness. This will optimize your time and make your trip efficient so you can accomplish more. For me, I am passionate about planning every detail before a trip and the one time I was challenged by my friends to not do any pre-trip research, I went to Istanbul, spent 4 magnificent days there, however, I missed so much. Did you know they have a stunning underground tunnel system? Yea, I didn’t know that either until after I flew back! Obviously I will never do that again…
- Research average costs and rates – When you travel, you don’t want to waste unnecessary money so do some research for a few things beforehand. So many people ask me when they are traveling, “Should I exchange at the airport or should I withdraw back in my home country?” The answer to this question would be, “It depends on what the exchange rate is.” Some credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire card, have 0% international purchase fees so obviously using something like this is a smart choice. But check the rates before – check the exchange rates at your bank, possible fees for swiping your card, and rates at your destination. Another important cost that I believe should be researched beforehand is the average cost of taxis. This could mean checking online beforehand or simply asking your hotel when traveling somewhere, “What’s the average taxi cost from here to X?” Oftentimes, taxi drivers hike up the prices and rip off tourists, not because they’re bad people, but because they know tourists can be naive and are usually more laid back when they travel, meaning they will avoid confrontation. I made the mistake when I went to Shanghai and I took a taxi that I paid 300 RMB for ($45 USD) whenever our hotel told us upon arrival that it should’ve costed 30 RMB ($5 USD). What a waste of good money!
- Check the weather and seasons – You may have a good amount of vacation time built up and you want to take it in December to visit a beautiful country like Australia and explore the coast. As many people automatically assume December is the Winter time, it’s actually polar-opposite since it’s in the Southern Hemisphere of the Equator. You may be expecting chilly, wintry air to greet you but be very surprised when you realize that Aussies spend their Christmases outside by the barbecue, grilling and working on their tan. I made the mistake of booking a last minute trip to Nepal (one week’s notice) and I had no idea that I booked it during monsoon season. Thankfully we were very lucky and only endured a few hours of rain over a 4-day period, but this was of course the exception, not the rule.
- Pack smart by day and digitally document what you’ve included – Ladies definitely have a challenge with this as we always want to bring extra, “just in case.” Well, we all know that half of those items won’t even be touched during our trip but we still insist to drag it along anyway. When I pack, I usually already have an idea of my activities and weather expectations so I plan outfits per day. This helps me avoid bringing anything excess, although sometimes I do bring some options for flexibility. When I travel to multiple locations, I always take a photo on my phone of every outfit option that I have packed so instead of rambling through my bag and creating a disaster, I instead flip through my photos as if it’s a digital closet. Once the outfit is dirty, I delete the photo so I know that it’s no longer an option. Viola!