When you are planning your travel as a first-time traveler or searching for new destinations, my recommendation is to seek advice and the best travel tips from travelers with experience.
Travel experts have often “been there, done that” and are willing to share their wisdom and travel tips to improve YOUR travel with optimized planning skills, tips, and advice. Especially if those travel tips can save you time and money, give you inspiration on the best destinations, and help you be as prepared as possible for your trips.
Travel experts weigh in here on the best travel tips for a worry-free vacation.
Travel Experts’ Best Travel Tips
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#1 Tip: Start a Vacation Fund
Recommended by Jolayne of simplyjolayne
One of the BIGGEST barriers to travel is the COST. Especially if you are interested in traveling overseas. What you really need are practical travel tips and suggestions on HOW to save money for travel that honestly work.
Your goal is to establish the habit of saving money SPECIFICALLY FOR TRAVEL each month. If you travel regularly, you will find that you build up your vacation fund, plan a trip, use up your fund, and then start to build again.
Starting today is totally do-able.
Are you planning for a once-in-a-lifetime travel event? If you start to save money today, your vacation fund will begin to grow until you are ready to go.
BUT where do you find the extra money to add to your vacation savings account?
Making travel a goal in your life might mean that you begin to make sacrifices in other areas as well:
- go to fewer movies, plays or musical performances
- eat out less often and/or bring a lunch to work
- bring coffee or energy drinks from home
- cut out cable
- cancel magazine subscriptions
- don’t renew your XM radio plan
- limit clothing splurges
These sacrifices all support your dream of traveling and are worth the effort. You do not have to be excessively wealthy to travel, but saving for travel should be a PRIORITY.
Are you new to travel? Haven’t traveled in awhile? Looking for more ideas on planning travel? Check out my recently released eBook: SUPER EASY Travel Planning
2. Use a Digital SIM Card
Recommended by Sydney of A World in Reach
Often when traveling abroad, the cell phone plan that you use at home won’t include coverage internationally. Most US-based providers offer international plans at additional costs, but these can get extremely expensive, especially if you just want to have internet for navigating and looking up restaurant recommendations.
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to stay connected while traveling abroad is by using an Airalo eSIM. An eSIM is a digital SIM that you can purchase and install right on your phone without having to remove your existing SIM card. This travel tip lets you conveniently get data on your cell phone without having to pay for expensive international plans or relying on WiFi to stay connected. Some Airalo eSIMs also support voice calls
Airalo offers eSIMs for 80+ countries. You can pick a single country eSIM if you’re visiting one country, or opt for a regional one if you’re visiting multiple countries within the same region (like Europe or the Caribbean). Airalo eSIMs start at about $4.50, with prices varying by country, length of validity, and data amount.
3. Apply for a Travel Credit Card
Recommended by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler
Research and sign up for a travel credit card that makes sense for you and the way you travel, like the Chase Sapphire or Capital One Venture credit cards. For making everyday purchases, you’ll rack up reward points, which, depending on the card you choose, can be used to fly to Maui or the Maldives or to splurge on a nicer hotel than you’d usually spring for.
And if you time signing up for the card before you’re about to make several larger purchases (like for your upcoming wedding or move), you’ll usually be able to meet the credit card’s sign-up bonus spending threshold and get those points (and thus, those free flights) even sooner! Isn’t that the best travel tip?
Travel credit cards offer a variety of other benefits for travelers, like airport lounge access, paying for TSA Precheck and Global Entry, plus no international transaction fees when you’re spending abroad. Just make sure you can pay off your credit card every month and that your travel credit card is earning you money (instead of the other way around!).
4. Use the Wise Mobile Banking App
Recommended by Shevaun of Shev Strolls
Once your flights and accommodations are booked, the next big stressor you are probably feeling as you prepare for your trip is “How do I spend money abroad?” And it’s a good question! Learning about new currencies and banking in a different country can be very daunting.
Thankfully, you have Wise. Wise is an international mobile banking app that is 100% free, and it will be your new best friend as a traveler. It is one of the best travel tips to remember.
Wise allows you to receive, send, and hold money much like PayPal or Venmo—except it allows you to do so in more that 50 currencies! You always get the market rate when you convert money between currencies, and it has crazy low fees.
The best part? The Wise debit card allows you spend your money like your home debit card, but in the currency of whatever country you are in.
Not convinced? Discover all the ways Wise can work for you!
5. Purchase Travel Insurance
Recommended by Marya of The Beau Traveler
Travel insurance is often overlooked, especially for first time travelers, but for peace of mind, it is one of the best travel tips to follow.
Many people often forget that anything can happen when you travel, even if you are only planning for a short-term vacation. However, protecting yourself with travel insurance can save you time and money when unfortunate things happen. For example, if your flight is delayed or you accidentally get sick while traveling, travel insurance can ease your mind.
Nowadays, you can find many travel insurance plans online. Some even offer annual plans for digital nomads, which are valid worldwide. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry when you travel. Protecting yourself with travel insurance is an essential travel tip that can ease your mind for the trip.
6. Create a Packing List
Recommended by Venaugh of Venaugh.com
A great time saver for the first time traveler is to create a packing list. Of course, you may still forget some things, but your packing list is a list you keep improving as time goes by.
Eventually, you will have the perfect list. Create categories for clothes, accessories, and technology like portable chargers. Add in reminders of things to do before leaving the house like closing all ventilation windows that are usually open all the time. Depending on the type of trip you’re taking, the type of things you’ll need will vary a bit, so once you have the basics you can make variations for the season and destinations.
Double check your packing list before you leave to reduce anxiety.
Download the International Travel Planner
Check out the “Closer to Home” Travel Planner
7. Choose the Right Size of Backpack
Recommended by Koyeli of Nature Diary
Traveling becomes trouble-free if you carry a the right capacity backpack with you. To understand the capacity of your backpack, you can divide your bag into three zones:
- Bottom zone: Ideal for storing items not needed during travel but required after reaching the destination.
- Central zone: This zone can be used for bulkier items that need more space. You can pack all your clothes here.
- Top zone: You can keep the essential items here that you might need during travel/ hike.
Apart from these zones, backpacks with many pockets and compartments are perfect for storing travel essentials you will need urgently, e.g., first aid kit, medicine, water, etc.
If you plan for a 1-3 day weekend trip, then a 30-50 liter backpack will be perfect. A lightweight backpack with adjustable torso length and ventilation keeps you comfortable on the trail.
You need to carry heavier loads and supplies for trips 3-5 days long or longer. So, it would be best if you choose a backpack depending on the frame type with a capacity of 70 liters and more.
8. Pack Solid Toiletries
Recommended by Ali of Travel Made Simple
When you’re packing for a trip, the liquids rules for your carry on bag can really get in the way. One of the best ways to minimize how much liquid you have to deal with is to switch to solid toiletries for travel.
Some great options are solid shampoo and conditioner. So many brands exist that are just as good, if not better, than their liquid counterparts. Ethique is one option. Try a few before you travel to figure out which ones work best for you.
Make sure you get a travel soap dish for your solid shampoo and conditioner. But when you’re done with your shower, let the bars dry before you close it up again, otherwise they get mushy.
Beyond shampoo and conditioner, you can also use solid sunscreen. It’s a little bigger than a stick of deodorant and works just as well as the liquid version.
You can also get solid toothpaste tabs, solid laundry detergent sheets, solid bug repellent, and many other things you might not have thought about before.
These non-liquid items don’t have to go in your liquids bag because, well, they’re not liquids. This leaves you more room for other items you can’t replace with solids, and it makes packing a little less stressful.
9. Travel with Carry-On Luggage Only
Recommended by Kelly of Travel New York Now
One of the best travel tips is to always double check the amount of allowed luggage on any flight that you book.
While some premium airline carriers have generous baggage allowances, some airlines only include one small handbag with the price of your ticket. And if you arrive at the airport with more luggage than your ticket allows, you can sometimes pay upwards of $100.
Please note, the prices for excess baggage are usually much higher when purchased at the airport as opposed to purchasing online and in advance.
Also read the fine print on any airplane ticket you buy: carry-on luggage weight and size allowances can vary significantly from one airline to the next.
10. Pack a Travel First Aid Kit
Recommended by Bev of Bev & Shams Adventures
A travel first aid kit, is essential when hiking or traveling locally or internationally. It will help you or your family, should you become ill or injured, and you can treat minor injuries without the need to seek further medical attention.
Travel first aid kits come in a variety of sizes; this travel tip focuses on a kit small enough to include in your personal travel bag or backpack.
First aid kits are easy to find, as most outdoor stores, sports stores and in some places your super store or pharmacy sell them.
A good first aid kit will include much of what you need—tweezers, antiseptic wipes and antibacterial cream or wash, plasters, burn gels, even a heat retaining foil blanket—if you run into trouble while hiking.
Alternatively, you could make your own DIY first aid kit. You can customize it to have all the essential things you need while you’re traveling such as:
- Hand sanitizer
- Rehydration packets
- Sun screen
If you do use anything from the first aid kit, make sure to replace it. First aid kits are a life saver and something you should never leave home without.
11. Keep a Copy of Documents
Recommended by Cris of LooknWalk
Keep copies of your documents—physical copies and digital copies in cloud storage.
Remember the days when you’d write down on a piece of paper the address of your accommodations, the phone number, and directions? While you may just print out the route that your maps app shows you now, do you still keep a piece of paper with the rest of your important information?
Because technology can fail us, it’s advisable to keep copies of your documents both in physical and digital formats. You should consider scanning all relevant documents and storing them on a flash drive as well as in cloud storage (secured with a password, of course).
If you travel long term, make sure to always have a hard copy of your:
- Drivers’ license
- ID card
- Insurance policy.
Should you happen to lose your key documents, it’s easier to get help from your embassy/consulate to get back home if you can show those copies.
simplyjolayne also recommends using LastPass to Securely Store Your Travel Documents to keep your travel documents private in a password protected program on your phone.
12. Use a Water Filter Bottle
Recommended by Jennie of Jennie Wanders
If you’re doing a lot of traveling, you’ll likely end up in a place where it’s unsafe to drink the tap water. Either that, or you’ll need to stay hydrated whilst on a long hike or out camping. There’s nothing worse than being far from a shop or water source, and it can really have an effect on your mood and overall health if you’re not hydrated.
One of the best travel tips is to always carry a water bottle with a water filter. Not only will the planet thank you for using less disposable plastic, but you can drink water from any tap, stream, puddle or pond after filtering!
13. Bring a Wheeled Cooler on Road Trips
Recommended by Donna of Explore the Road
Traveling by car can give you a lot of freedom while vacationing. Careful road trip planning allows you to see more, be spontaneous, and drive for as long or as little as you like.
Plus a road trip allows you to save money on food. Filling a cooler allows you to pack easy breakfasts such as fruits and yogurt drinks that you can eat during the drive. Sandwich meats and snacks like string cheese make easy lunches for hikes and other outdoor activities.
Once you reach your destination, it can be hard lugging a cooler full of food down to the beach, to a campsite, or even from the parking lot to your accommodations. Problem solved with a wheeled cooler!
A cooler on wheels will fit all of your food needs for your trip, but you won’t strain yourself having to carry it around. A retractable handle also helps to pull the cooler up stairs. If you are staying somewhere with kitchen facilities, you can even bring your food for the week and unload everything into the fridge when you get there.
simplyjolayne also recommends using a smaller folding cooler for day trips that folds and tucks easily into your luggage for trips close to home and abroad.
14. Check Hotel Room Amenities Before Packing
Recommended by Cristina of My Little World of Travelling
A mistake that many first-time travelers make is overpacking and bringing unnecessary items that they won’t use.
To avoid this mistake, it is worth checking the room amenities before you start packing. Visit the hotel’s website and check what items are provided in your room.
For example, you may be thinking of packing a hairdryer or a travel iron to keep your clothes neat, however, the hotel room may have these two items, so you can leave them at home.
By leaving unnecessary items at home, you will also have more space in your suitcase to pack other essentials that you will really need during your trip or keep your luggage lighter.
15. Find FREE Campsites
Recommended by Anna of Anna Tee
When you’re traveling, camping can be a really fun way to experience a new place, get out in nature, and also save some money! There are lots of ways to find free campsites while you’re on the go.
When you’re traveling around the United States, you can camp for free in national forests or on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land. The Public Lands app shows you the boundaries of public lands in the US, so if you want some adventure, you can drive down forest roads and find a spot to camp!
There are also a few apps that you can use to find campsites that people have visited and reviewed, which can be easier for first time travelers. Some of the best apps include iOverlander and The Dyrt. iOverlander has user-contributed campsites, while The Dyrt features established camping areas (both paid and free) that usually have more amenities.
16. Travel as the Locals Do and Save Money
Recommended by Melanie of The Professional Traveller
A great way to save money when traveling is to travel using public transport. Passes are often available which make it great value too.
For example, a 24-hour train and subway ticket in Berlin costs 8.80 Euros ($9 or £7.50). You can extend this ticket for another 24 hours for 3.70 Euros ($4 or £3).
A single journey on the local transport in Baku costs 12 cents or 10 pence.
The public bus from Istanbul airport to the city centre costs $3 or £2.50. It’s great value for a journey that takes 1.5 hours.
Many cities also have integrated public transport. In London you can travel on the subway, bus, train and boat with one ticket/pass. The cheapest way to take a trip on the River Thames is on one of the local ferries.
Traveling on public transport is a great way to meet local people and enjoy some everyday life too. Drivers and locals are happy to point out stops if places are unfamiliar. This makes public transport a great option whether you are a first time traveler or a regular.
17. Access Airport Lounges
Recommended by Palo of moonsandroses
Traveling can be stressful sometimes—crowded airports, delays, going through clearance, choosing what outfit to wear at the airport—just to name a few. That’s where airport lounges can come to the rescue! If you ever find yourself in the terminal wanting to get away from it all for a few minutes (or hours), you can unwind in the private lounges that are available in almost any big-city airports.
Lounge perks MAY include:
- comfortable seating
- complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- complimentary snacks (and meals sometimes)
- shower facilities
Although most lounges require you to fly business and/or be a premium cardholder, there are some simpler ways to gain access to an airport lounge:
- Subscribe to an annual membership such as Priority Pass
- Purchase an annual lounge membership with your favorite airline
- Pay for a day pass at the door
Your options will differ depending on the airport so it’s always a good idea to check with the airport and airline as to the lounges they have to offer as well as the entry requirements.
Give Yourself a Little Self Care as You Travel
18. Practice Self-Care to Reduce Stress While Traveling
Recommended by Alex of Wander with Alex
Although we travel to relax and enjoy ourselves, some situations can still cause stress. Tending to your basic needs through self-care activities can help to reduce that stress and enhance your travel experience. Food, water, sleep, and exercise are essential details that should be included in your travel plans. Follow these four basic self-care travel tips to help you stay healthy while you are out adventuring:
- Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Sleep – Most trips have time constraints, so we tend to stretch ourselves thin wanting to see and do as much as possible. But forgoing your rest can lead to exhaustion, low energy, and an all-around bad time. Beat jet lag by adjusting your sleep schedule a few days before your trip and plan to get some rest once you arrive at your destination. And be sure to get adequate sleep each night for the next day’s activities.
- Don’t Forget to Eat and Drink Water – It’s easy to skip a meal unintentionally while you’re out exploring. However, skipping a meal may cause your blood sugar to plummet, resulting in low energy, moodiness, jitteriness, anxiety, and brain fog. Instead, make sure your meals are scheduled into your daily itinerary and pack snacks when there will be a long stretch between meals.
Bonus * Use Code SJTRAVELS at checkout for 10% off your Built Bar purchase.
- Drink Plenty of Water – Hydration is another basic need we tend to forget while traveling. Adding a water bottle to your packing list and keeping it with you can solve this problem. Also, avoid eating foods with too much salt and drinking too much alcohol out in the sun.
- Get Outdoors and Move Around – While you don’t need to get up at 6 AM every day of your trip to hit the gym, you should make sure that you are getting out and moving around. Exercise is good for your metabolism, mental clarity, and mood. Consider scheduling a walking tour to get to know your destination better or take a hike at a nearby state park. You can most certainly get creative when it comes to exercising during your travel
19. Learn Basic Phrases
Recommended by Paulina of ukeveryday
During travel to non-touristy places, you might find out that most of the people in the area might not speak English. One of the best travel tips? Learn a few basic phrases in another language which will make your travel less stressful.
Two of the most spoken languages in the world are Chinese and Spanish. If you already know the world of Siesta, it might be worth learning a few more phrases that will help you during your travel. Some of the most essential are: “How much is this?” and numbers! Can you imagine shopping or paying for a taxi without knowing those basics?
20. Work with a Travel Agent
Recommended by Tiffany of Destination Momhood
If you are traveling internationally, or to a popular tourist site (ie., Disneyland), a great suggestion is to work with a travel agent.
When working with a travel agent, be sure to ask if they charge a fee. Many travel agents don’t charge a fee, although some do. Travel agents get paid through the hotels, resorts, and tours they book through.
Not only can travel agents help you find hidden gems in the cities you’re visiting, but they can also help you save money through the hotels and other travel sites they use. An agent can also help you find beautiful, less-touristy cities which you may not have first considered. Some agencies even have “specialists” for certain geographical areas of travel.
When you’re traveling internationally, you must not only consider the transportation of flights but also their train systems. Navigating that on your own may become overwhelming if you have never done it before. An agent can help you navigate the train and flight systems and put them together in an itinerary for you. Having a travel itinerary is extremely helpful, especially being in a new place.
If you have any issues while you are on your trip, don’t hesitate to reach out to your agent. Sometimes small hiccups come up being in a new country. Your agent is there to help and wants your trip to go as smoothly as possible.
21. Research Your Destination
Recommended by Jeanine of Let’s Go Awandering
Once you have your travel destination chosen, no matter where it is, one of your next steps is to do some research. This can include how to get there, accommodations, things to do, and costs at destination.
Looking at things to do, your obvious friend is a search engine. Enter Google and Pinterest. However, don’t discount or disregard social media. There are plenty of people and companies on social media with local knowledge who are willing to help find that perfect spot.
To get the best results from any search engine, using particular or specific keywords return the best information, whilst “must do” and “best things to do” are a great start. More specific phrases such as “non touristy” and “crowd free places” narrow your searches significantly. Alternative words that can also be used are “secret”, “hidden”, “unique” etc. Additionally, if you like to do a specific activity add this to your search, e.g., “[activity] in [destination]”.
Search for pages, communities, groups or #hashtags for the area you are looking for on Twitter and Instagram (two social media options). As an example, “traveling to/in [destination]”, “travel [destination]”, [destination] travel community, #travelto[destination]. You can then search any specific questions or read articles posted in the group.
A Few More Travel Tips…
- 22. Travel in the Off Season
- 23. Apply for an International Driver’s Permit
- 24. Use Google Flights to Find Cheap Flights
- 25. Pack Essential Electronics
- 26. Plan for Your Camera Gear
- 27. Ask the Hotel Concierge for Ideas
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Final Thoughts on 27 of The Best Travel Tips—Straight from Travel Experts
If you are new to planning a vacation or if you are looking for tips to streamline your travel planning, you are quickly learning that there is a lot to consider. Thankfully, travel experts have weighed in on their best travel tips to help you have the most successful trip ever.
Bookmark this page for insider tips and tricks that will help to make your next vacation seamless and memorable.
Travel savvy is something you learn over time through experience and making a few travel mistakes along the way. These super smart travel tips will help you save money, find optimal transportation, explore off the beaten path and simply become a better traveler (and maybe avoid a few missteps along the way).