27 useful tips to make you a smarter traveller

I am a very well-organised traveller. I have my bookings, my plans, my research, my clothes and accessories always in place before a trip. But I’ve hardly had any trips without last-minute mix-ups or unexpected complications! Over the last 6 years of hopping around the world, I have made a lot of mistakes, been through a lot of learning curves and realized a lot of things. Although there is no way to guarantee a totally smooth trip with zero fuck ups, I have put together a list of 27 useful tips that might help you in travelling smarter.

#1: Always be careful, no matter how safe the country is: You might be travelling to one of the safest countries in the world. However. always be careful and follow basic rules of safety - do not be alone in isolated areas late at night, always take care of your belongings and be mindful of your surroundings. 

#2: Always carry a Credit or Debit card: Even if you are carrying enough cash, make sure to carry a Credit or Debit card to be able to withdraw cash if required.

#3: Call your bank in advance: Let them know you are travelling so that they do not block your purchases suspecting fraud from a different location.

#4: Get a fair idea of taxi prices: It is not uncommon to have taxi drivers defraud you in many countries. Do a little bit of research and get a fair idea of taxi prices. Alternatively, it is better to use public transportation.

#5: Understand basic road rules: If you are planning to rent a car, make sure to understand any rules that might be specific to that country (parking & driving) to avoid fines.

#6: Read up on the weather prediction for your period of travel: It is always better to be prepared with the right clothing and accessories for the weather.

#7: Carry online/printed copies of bookings: Although many hotels pull up your booking by just your name, it is always better to carry a printed or online confirmation of your hotel (or tour) bookings. Saves a lot of time and hassle! Keep them in one place and easily accessible.

#8: Carry a first aid kit: Can be simple with medicines for flu, fever, stomach troubles, antiseptic creams and band-aids.

#9: Always get travel insurance: Getting medical attention in many countries is extremely expensive. Always better to get insurance cover before travelling.

#10: Leave room for flexibility: There are times when you might decide to visit a particular place, which wasn't as per plan but was recommended by a local. There might be a festival you weren't aware of that is on, and you want to visit! Always leave some room for making last-minute changes to your plans.

#11: Make important bookings in advance: Some popular touristy things get sold out in advance, especially during peak season. It is better to check availability and book in advance.

#12: Never keep all your cash in one place: It is not uncommon to get pick pocketed or for handbags to get snatched in many countries. Make sure that whatever currency you carry, is divided and kept at different places.

#13: Always carry some essentials in your hand luggage: It is unfortunate but many times, airlines do misplace your checked-in luggage. Although mostly they locate it within the next 48-72 hours, you don't want to be left without anything, for the first few days of your vacation! Try to carry some essentials in the hand luggage.

#14: Download offline maps from Google: If you are planning to take a road trip and do not have a GPS or the internet on your phone, Google Maps can now be navigated offline! Just search your route, download it while connected to the internet, and then off you go!

#15: Learn the basic words/phrases of the language: It always helps to establish a good rapport with the locals if you can speak a few simple words in their language. Just the usual 'hello/how are you/good morning/ thank you/ sorry' are helpful.

#16: Carry extra memory card for the camera: Make sure that you have enough space in your camera/ phone or whichever device you are using for taking pictures. You don't want to fall short of space and not be able to take some amazing pictures and capture the beautiful memories!

#17: Always keep an online copy of your most important documents: Passport/ driving license/ national ID card and other documents which might be useful for you; it is not uncommon for bags to be pinched or getting lost. 

#18: Ask the locals: Do not be shy or afraid of speaking to the locals. Lost your way? Need a recommendation? You may have google-on-the-go but why not ask real people who can give real advice?

#19: Keep an open mind: When you travel, you meet people with all sorts of beliefs, lifestyles, ideas, cultures and what not. Have healthy conversations, listen to them, learn from them. Keep an open mind - be sensitive to their thoughts and circumstances; do not be quick to judge anyone or anything!

#20: Carry a pen: It is very useful to carry a pen in your bag. Very often, you will be required to fill up an immigration form, visa on arrival form or some such thing. Looking around to borrow a pen when it is crowded can be painful and you will waste a lot of time.

#21: Carry a piece of cloth (scarf) in your bag: Having a multi-purpose cloth handy, like a scarf, can be very useful. If the AC feels too cold in the aeroplane, wrap yourself up. If the sun is too strong outside, cover yourself up. If it's raining and you do not have an umbrella, cover your head and find shelter.

#22: Keep a spare plastic bag: For the dirty clothes in your luggage. You don't want to mix the dirty underwear with the clean clothes! Or even for dirty shoes or wet clothes that you did not get the time to dry.

#23: Check if the tap water is potable: Many countries have clean tap water that is drinkable. But many countries don't. Check where you're going by simply asking you hotel reception. Better be safe than sorry!

#24: Buy weird & unusual looking bags: This might sound a bit funny to you but when you are checking in your luggage, it is always useful to have baggage that stands out - a fluorescent green, bright yellow or weird shaped bag is not only easy to spot but also has lesser chances of being mistaken by someone else as their own.

#25: Do not be too conscious of yourself: You are on a vacation! Let loose and have fun. Be someone you want to be, don't worry about what people will think of you. Chances are, they're never going to see you ever again anyway! Go crazy, dance like there's no tomorrow or jump into that lake. Don't think too much.

#26: Invest in a travel adaptor: This one is a no-brainer actually. Every country you visit has different plug sockets and a universal travel adaptor is the best solution. Unless you plan to go for a complete digital detox of course 🙂

#27: Smile!: You are in a foreign country - be friendly. Smile at the restaurant staff, the hotel staff, the shops' staff. You have no idea what wonders a smile can bring. So don't walk around with your nose in the air; be nice and people will be nice to you. Having said that, don't go around smiling at random strangers, lest they would think you're crazy! LOL


Go some useful tips of your own? Please feel free to leave me a comment below 🙂

28 thoughts on “27 useful tips to make you a smarter traveller”

  1. thats a great list..i follow most of them just a few i skip like travel insurance and sometimes don’t book things in advance ..but gotta reconsider both..and number 18 asking locals is so so helpful..always comes up with some surprise..

    1. Travel insurance is very important. I know we don’t realize it but in some countries medical treatments can be super expensive and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. It doesn’t cost much either 🙂

  2. I litterally nodded through every point in this post. I have to say number 3 calling your bank in advance is such a helpful tip. I’ve been victim of it myself and it causes such a headache. number 12, is amazing how many travelers don’t use common sense about this. You should never carry all your money in one place. and number 18 asking locals is so underutilized by so many travelers. Asking a local will just open up so many different options. As always another great post 😀

  3. Nice tips… its good to have extra slippers as well(: … you do need to have travel insurance, first aid, money spread in different places, need to be slightly careful and such things when you travel.

  4. These are all excellent tips. I would add to #2 to keep a credit card or debit card somewhere safe away from your other money. Sadly I have lost my purse which didn’t have much money in it but it did have both my credit card and debit card. Oopsie!

    1. Oh no! It’s the worst when you lose your purse, isn’t it? Thanks for the additional tip!

  5. People think I’m silly, but I always split my travel money into little piles and hide it in different places. In Mexico I hid a wad of notes in an empty toothpaste 😛 x

  6. Great tips and photos! I’ve learned that asking locals is definitely one of the top tips! Thanks for putting this list together 🙂

    1. Haha, no such thing as a bad traveller. Sometimes, uncertainty is fun too! But yeah, it’s a bit risky to not get travel insurance when you travel.I hope you never need it but it’s better to be safe than sorry, no? 🙂

  7. The offline google maps is a great idea! We have also started taking photo copies of our important documents. We also printed out every single train ticket, hotel stay etc for our trip and believe me it was a lot. These tips are very useful and everyone should read it!

    1. Print outs are handy though they get bulky at times. I’ve started collating online copies now 🙂

  8. These are some pro-tips. really loved these hacks, I guess in today’s world each one who travels should be a smart traveler. That is how i going to follow this list, though I am already aware of many things.

    1. Haha that’s what it’s all about – having fun but not being stupid 😉

  9. Excellent tips. I always stick to most of these, and find the scarf, pen, extra memory card, and smile – especially handy!

  10. Here are a few of mine: 1) Make a list of everything you take with you, reduces chances of you leaving anything behind. 2) Find out where your nearest embassy / high commission is and have their number on your phone in case you need it 3) Make sure all your inoculations are up-to-date and you carry the health certificate with you. Some countries will insist you take shots at the airport (especially in Africa) if you can’t prove for instance that you have the yellow fever shot.

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