Some kinds of stress can feel rather beautiful. There’s the stress of completing a work project on time, and the stress of pulling off the perfect dinner party. Let’s face it – travel can also be kind of stressful. But it’s the sort of stress that a person can thrive on… You face small challenges each day and overcome them, all while having the time of your life. Having said that, there are a few ways to make those small challenges easy to overcome. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some great travel tips that will make things run a little smoother while you’re on your global odyssey.
- Be Discreet While Finding Your Way Around
Have you ever been on holiday (or even in your own city) and seen visitors wandering around with large maps, staring confusedly at street signs? They might as well be wearing a nametag: “Hi, I’m a lost tourist. Please rob me.” Be discreet about it. Download a map for your destination that has offline capabilities. Store it on your smartphone and pin major points of interest (such as where you’re staying). You can find your way around, and even get a bit lost, all without drawing unwanted attention to yourself.
- Take a Tour
Many destinations have tour companies that offer “free” tours. This is particularly popular in European cities (go a Google search for “free city tour” plus your destination). While it’s technically free, there is the option of giving your guide a tip at the end of the tour, and this is just good manners. It’s still an extremely inexpensive way of exploring your destination. Such tours don’t exist in all countries, and for some exotic destinations it can be wise to book an actual formal tour, such a guided tour in Cuba. You can get to know the hidden nooks and crannies of a place, often while sidestepping the worst parts of exploring a city (such as inconvenient public transport and waiting in line).
- Business Cards
If you’re staying in a hotel, head down to reception and ask for a few business cards. Keep them in your wallet, and then if you’re making your way back late at night you can just hand the card to your taxi driver. If you’re staying in a private apartment, just write the address down on a small card which can serve the same purpose.
- A Change of Clothes
While lost luggage is not a frequent occurrence, it’s smart to safeguard against it. Pack a change of clothes into your carry-on bag for the plane so you can at least wear fresh clothes if your luggage goes astray for a day or so.
- Wear Your Heaviest Stuff
While on the plane you should wear your heaviest things to reduce the weight of your checked luggage. So wear your heaviest shoes and wear your coat. This might feel vaguely ridiculous if the weather is warm, but it frees up valuable space (and weight) in your suitcase. You can just stash your coat in the overhead compartment, and even wear it if the plane is cold.
- Brightly Coloured Luggage
If you’re in the market for a new suitcase for your trip, don’t run with the crowd. Have you ever gotten off a plane and waited at baggage claim, struggling to find your black suitcase that seems to be identical to 99% of the others? Opt for a suitcase in a bold and bright color so it’s easy to spot at a distance. Failing that, get a brightly coloured piece of cloth (such as a small scarf) and tie it to the handle of your suitcase. Even this will make it much easier to spot.
- Another Copy
You will of course keep your passport, any tickets and copies of your insurance with you. It can be a major drama if these things go missing, but you can easily reduce the drama. Make a photocopy of these documents and keep it in your checked baggage. You can also scan these documents and keep a digital copy on your smartphone.
- Hide Some Cash
You don’t want to be totally broke if you lose your wallet. Keep a small amount of cash in a separate place. You might just want to wrap a few banknotes in plastic and keep it in your shoe. This allows you to at least eat something and not be totally destitute while you make the necessary arrangements to replace your missing bank cards and/or credit cards.
- Coupon Websites
Do you ever peruse those coupon websites to get a discount on meals and various attractions? Many of those websites are multinational corporations, so there is likely to be a local version with discounts for your destination. Have a look at the local version of the site (maybe with a little help from Google Translate) to pick up a bargain. You could save cash while having a rather fancy dinner somewhere.
- Public Transport Apps
Locate and download the respective apps for the public transport system at your destination. Many of these apps are available in both the local language and English, and it means that you are unlikely to get lost.
- Check for Free Wifi
Rather than pay the often astronomic data roaming fees that your service provider will attempt to charge you, take advantage of free wifi wherever possible. Bars, cafes and restaurants will often provide you with wifi (with purchase). There are also some free citywide networks (such as in Paris). You can also visit the local public library where free wifi is often available, even to non-members (such as in Germany).
- Talk to Your Bank
Be sure to tell your bank where you’ll be going, as well as when. You don’t want them to deactivate your cards after there are out-of-the-ordinary purchases in Hong Kong, followed by a cash withdrawal in Copenhagen. Your bank would only be trying to protect you, but it can be a massive inconvenience if your cards are deactivated while travelling. You should also ask them if they have any partner banks at your destination. This allows you to bypass ATM fees (although there will still generally be a small currency conversion fee).