One Pot Living, Travel

Travel Guide: 23 Tips on Becoming a Savvy Traveler

By  La Shell Reid Hoilett

Travel Guide: 23 Tips on Becoming a Savvy Traveler

Traveling can be the most exhilarating experience but it can also turn into your worst nightmare real quick. Through my years of travel and having my fair share of over packed suitcases, missed flights and cultural faux pas, I’ve come up with a few tips on how you can be a prepared and savvy traveler. This travel guide will save you on time, money and in some cases, embarrassment.

1. Research – I cannot stress this enough. You really want to be fully aware of where you’re going. Take a brief look at their customs, rules and regulations. Maybe you need to wear headscarves to enter a place of worship or maybe you can’t take photos of certain monuments. You need to know how to get around via ground, the standard of living, areas that should not be visited, opening and closing times of attractions you’d like to visit, and so on and so on. Traveling unprepared is never a good idea.

2. Book online – Any good travel guide would recommend this. This applies to flights, hotels/apartments, car rentals, restaurants, attractions and anything that can be booked online beforehand. Discounts and upgrades are sometimes given for booking and purchasing online and you tend to get really good deals overall. Not to mention it saves a lot on time. We beat standing in long lines to gain access to attractions in Paris because we booked everywhere we wanted to visit online.

3. Pack lightly – Preplan outfits and only pack what you need. Wear your bulkiest items, like jackets and boots, on the flight as they tend to take up quite a bit of luggage space. There’s an entire post on traveling light and only with a carry-on but in short, just think about not having to wait for what can turn into hours on checked luggage.

Travel Guide: 23 Tips on Becoming a Savvy Traveler

4. Put your room number & hotel address in your phone – If you’re like me and lack any sense of direction and have really shallow memory, please note in your phone your hotel, it’s address and telephone number. Also note your room number and pin/mark your location on an app such as Google Maps to help you remember where you’re staying.

5. Use miles and credit card points – I honestly can’t remember the last time I booked a flight and paid for it in full out of pocket. I always use airline miles and credit card points for flights and hotels. Even if I have enough for only a one way ticket. It may take time to build up but when you get there, the most you’d have to pay is taxes and maybe a couple other fees.

6. Rent apartments instead of hotels – I always see this tip in travel message boards and blogs. I have tried it and it’s always cheaper and you tend to get a full kitchen or kitchenette where you can store and cook your own food if you choose to do so. I know some hotels really frown on bringing food back to your rooms, so this will help with that. Also, many times the bedroom is separate from the living area, creating more space and privacy. You may not have the comfort of a 24 hour concierge in some cases, but I think you’d rather have the extra cash for spending on food and activities.

7. Be flexible – Plan but leave room for change. There are so many things that are out of your control when traveling. It’s important to be flexible and open to making spontaneous changes.

8. Do an itinerary – Know where you’re going, when and with whom. It doesn’t have to be detailed but it can act as a travel guide and will allow you to map your activities wisely and get the most of your days. Include travel and hotel check in and out times and don’t forget costs and opening and closing times of places you want to visit.

9. Visit attractions early and around lunch time – If you want those pristine photos and the opportunity to see an attraction uncrowded, rise early and visit as soon as they open. Lunch time people tend to fizzle out a bit to grab lunch depending on where you are, so you can jump at this opportunity as well.

10. Eat local food – What’s the point of being there if you don’t partake in local cuisine?? How can you go to Paris and not eat the crepes? I’m not the most adventurous where food is concerned but I am hardly ever disappointed.

Travel Guide: 23 Tips on Becoming a Savvy Traveler

11. Get lost – Be aware of your surroundings at all times but feel free to walk and wander. Again this all depends on where you are, but I’ve found that I enjoy a place more when I wander and get lost in its beauty. You find the best food that way!

12. Spend more time in fewer places – Bustling and rushing from one location to the next, running around from this attraction to the next is no way to enjoy a destination. For me at least. I like to go slow and savor where I am. To see and appreciate little things, to people watch and to get a feel of the culture. I’d rather spend two weeks in one destination than visit five in that same time. Simply because I can’t say I’ve traveled somewhere if I can’t tell you a good restaurant to eat in, or a good ice cream man on the corner or give quick tips on how to dress. You truly enjoy a place when you’re done with all the site hopping and wheeling around. Going slow and observing is so so worth it.

13. Learn the basics of the local language – At least the greetings. Hello, thank you, excuse me, sorry, goodbye. It warms up the interaction so much, even if a greeting is all you know. Have you ever had a tourist stop you to ask for directions and instantly begins speaking another language? It’s frustrating for all parties and can come across a bit rude.

14. Do free stuff – Walking tours, beaches, monuments. You can’t go wrong. Museums around the world many times have days you can visit for free. Do your research and save some cash.

15. Copy your passport and email to yourself – For convenience and safety purposes. You never know what can happen. You always want access to your passport or at least the information in it.

16. Web check-in – What a life saver! Larger mainstream airlines offer web check-in from 24 hours before. Less waiting time at the check in desk and you get to choose your seats beforehand!

17. Give up style for comfort – Listen, I get it, you’re in a new place and you want to deck off. You want to look stylish and trendy or classic in your photos but let me tell you, comfort is key. Especially if you’re doing tons of walking. I love destinations where I can walk a whole heap and for this I need comfortable and supportive shoes. Not to mention when you’re at airports. Stilettos are not suitable for running from gate to gate with bags in tow. I’ve tried it, it never works. Don’t forget those compression socks.

Travel Guide: 23 Tips on Becoming a Savvy Traveler

18. Alert your bank of travel plans – Some banks block credit and debit card transactions when there is activity outside of the country in which you reside. Always shoot them an email giving your travel dates and destinations.

19. Take photos and videos but live in the moment and enjoy – You want to forever have memories but make sure to also live in the moment and enjoy it.

20. Keep an open mind – Research and be mindful of different cultures, language and customs. Always be respectful.

21. Tell someone home where you will be – share your itinerary with someone at home and be sure to keep in touch throughout your trip. Just so that loved ones at home knows you’re safe and sound.

22. Get travel insurance – It’s not a hassle to get (online has a variety of reputable companies) and it’s pretty cheap. This can give you peace of mind when traveling. They cover lost baggage, illness while at the destination, flight and airline issues and so on.

23. Use Trip Advisor – Last but not least, the amazingness that is Trip Advisor. I use the travel forums to get real life feedback and guidance on coveted destinations. The review pages are really helpful for hotels and other accommodations as you can find visitor photos (which show the real thing and are most times not edited) and feedback. I live on Trip Advisor when going anywhere.

Do you have any tips to share on how to become a savvy traveler?

Thanks for stopping by!

P.S ~ Photo Diary ~ A Day Trip to Tobago and Holiday Gift Guide for the Travel Inspired Woman.



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  Comments: 40

40 responses to “Travel Guide: 23 Tips on Becoming a Savvy Traveler”

  1. Nick says:

    So true. But if budget matters lunch is usually cheaper then dinner. Better to go to lunch then other attractions.

  2. Troy from bebackafter.com says:

    Some great tips here. Thanks for sharing

  3. Troy from bebackafter.com says:

    trip adviser is awesome for that pre-trip research

  4. Allie says:

    Great job!! Love this article! I’m already doing a lot of these advices but still got some new ideas for my next trip! Perfect xx

  5. Aly Hester says:

    YES YES YES! This hit it right on the nose!
    Curious to know what your go-to website for booking flights would be? Mine is usually expedia.

  6. Ada says:

    Fabulous tips! Trying local food is my one of the most favourite things to do while travelling! You right, whats the point go somewhere and eat hamburgers or pizza ( unless you in Italy 😛 ) when you get it back home. Getting health insurance is an important thing too, it saved me $$$ last year! Great post!

  7. Joa says:

    Loved it! great tips and so true.

  8. Terrah says:

    I am traveling soon to Costa Rica, so this was amazing.

  9. Lo says:

    This is very helpful information, #15 is something that I wouldn’t have thought of doing until now.

  10. Samantha says:

    19. Take photos and videos but live in the moment and enjoy – You want to forever have memories but make sure to also live in the moment and enjoy it.

    This is my favorite! I feel like especially these days we get caught up in sharing everything that we forget to enjoy the moment. Especially when taking in beautiful views & getting to experience new cultures, it is important to put that phone or camera away after some good shots have been taken!!

  11. Love these tips! I always screenshot details like room booking, flights info on my phone because I’m forgetful lol.

  12. Karen says:

    These tips are great! I have definitely been renting apartments vs hotels lately. Its a great way to save money

  13. India says:

    Great, great tips! I love traveling as well. I love your point of “being flexible”. I can get really caught up in the “We need to do this” “Wedon’t have time for that” “What do you mean you want to do something else?!”. I agree it’s important to let yourself go a bit!

  14. Gabby says:

    These tips are AWESOME! Lots of them apply even to traveling around the U.S. My husband and I are very much “quality over quantity” travelers, so we tend to mosey our way through the cities and small towns we visit. We hope to start traveling internationally soon, so your advice is taken very much to heart!

  15. Love this! Eating the local food is always one of my favorite parts about a trip. Even though I have dietary restrictions, I always find something good!

  16. Jamie says:

    This is SUCH a great list of tips! Definitely a bunch that I agree with and do! I love the tip of going places early or at off times. My husband and I did that in London last year and had so much of a better experience with the Tower of London. I think the one thing from your list that I would definitely like to be mindful of is to let us get “lost”. I feel like some of our best moments were some of the times we did get lost or were wandering…but I’m always so we gotta get to here and there and what not that I forget to just wander.

    Glad I discovered your blog! Can’t wait to explore more from you!

  17. Allyson says:

    Love your tips!! Some great advice here! 🙂

  18. Love this! You have so many frickin’ awesome tips! 🙂 Must take on some of these when I travel this year.

    sophieschoice.co.uk

  19. Sheila Price says:

    Wow! You really covered it all! I love all of the great reminders and even things I never thought of.

  20. Yissel says:

    I want to travel more this year so reading this is very helpful tips 🙂

  21. Truly a great list of tips. My favorite and perhaps motto for when we travel is “spend more time in less places.” Usually, we like to stay in city (Paris) and explore all that one locale has to offer instead of flitting about to other areas. You truly get a feel for what life is like in that city.

  22. Bryan Carey says:

    Light travel makes a difference in many ways. I find that, when I take weekend trips, I can often fit everything I need into a backpack. By doing this, I avoid the carry- on fees that airlines like Frontier and Spirit charge, cutting the cost of my trip to dirt cheap levels, This won’t work, of course, on a long trip but it works just fine for my short, three- day beer excursions I take every few months.

  23. Elisha says:

    Great tips! I’ve just got back from a long weekend in Prague and it made all the difference to pack lightly and check in online etc before going. We were in and out of the airport so easy… I may never check in a bag again!

  24. J. Endress says:

    This is quite the extensive list! Ours keeps getting longer the longer we travel, and I’ve definitely picked up a few hints from yours. We try to keep a tight budget, so we always plan ahead and around free museums and monuments. I definitely agree on renting an apartment. We saved so much and lived so well by exploring the city we were in but cooking most meals at home.

  25. Luci says:

    These are really great tips. I agree with you about getting lost, eating local and take ton of photos. The last time I traveled I probably took 500 photos of one place.

  26. Lucy says:

    These are all great tips! Especially taking a photo of your passport and emailing to yourself, as you never know. We have started staying in apartments over hotels as it is a lot more relaxing and also having the option to eat in.

  27. Charlene says:

    What great tips! I will definitely have to try some of these on my next trip!
    Thank you so much.

    -Charlene
    http://www.cupsofcouture.com

  28. Cherie says:

    Packing lightly and making sure you have good cover on the insurance is very important! I think it really takes the stress out of travels especially in remote areas where you might have more of a hard time to carry everything. Great article it is very helpful.

  29. jill conyers says:

    This is a great resource. Now if only I could travel often enough to need to be a savvy traveler. As soon as 2 kids graduate from college 🙂

  30. Livia says:

    I totally resonate with “Spend more time in fewer places.” When I travel, I even like to just spend a few good hours in a caffe just enjoying some local flavours rather than rushing to crowded, touristic places.

  31. I love that you mention researching the local customs. So often travelers look at where to go, what to do, and never look for what may offend the locals.
    Fantastic list from a fellow traveler! If you’re ever in Munich, my current home, I’ll show you around!

  32. these are some great tips. i frequently travel alone and these will help me be more savvy for sure

  33. My favorite tip is to “act like a local”. This includes dressing like a local (more comfortable!), eating where locals eat (cheaper and better!), going to the local hangouts (usually less crowded and you can gain valuable knowledge about how to get into tourist attractions), and best of all: live with the locals (via AirbnB or a smaller hotel).

  34. D'Ana Joi says:

    Every last one of these tips is super useful. I love the idea to keep your hotel info in your phone, as well as getting travel insurance. Here’s to more travel in 2018!

    xo,
    Joi

    https://joi-knows-how.com

  35. These are some great tips. I find that research and planning ahead of time saves you so much time, money and headaches. I have never tried an AirBnb or rental, but it seems to be very popular now. Just haven’t figured out how to verify whether they’re good or not.

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