With years of travelling come years of mistakes, mishaps and just plain experience. As passionate travellers, over the years we have accumulated so many smart travel tips, we just couldn’t fit them all into one post!
Click here for “20 clever travel tips to travel cheaper, smarter and hassle-free”.
In this post, Part 2 of clever travel tips, we are diving deeper into more clever travel tips to help you travel like a pro (and not make the same mistakes that we did!).
All of these tips are written from our personal experience travelling and they have helped us save a whole lot of money and hassle. Following these tips will help ensure that your next trip is effortlessly smooth (no guarantees though!).
1. Expect the unexpected
You can’t actually receive the richness, the experiences and the intense memories you will receive by having a trip that goes to plan the entire time. When things go wrong, an incredible doorway into adventure, resilience and trust opens up for you!
While all of these travel tips can help make a trip go smoother, there are some things that you just can’t plan for such as your overnight bus breaking down in the middle of the night on a highway in the middle of India or a storm ripping through the small topical island you are staying on and so on.
All of these travel mishaps at the time may seem like the worst thing in the world, but trust us, these are the moments you will remember and may even be defining moments of your life as they help you truly push past your own barriers and grow exponentially as a human being.
Plus they make for incredible travel stories!!It’s important to be prepared and to know certain things to keep yourself safe, but it is also good to be open to things dramatically turning upside down and just being present for the entire journey no matter what happens.
Your trip may end up being nothing like you had planned, but it could turn out to be the best trip of your entire life.
2. Get the best restaurant deals at lunchtime
Many countries around the world offer lunchtime specials in their restaurants to encourage people to dine in during the day. Many restaurants will offer a super reasonable set menu lunch offer where you can dine really well for a lot less than at dinner.
By eating in this way you can save a whole lot of money as you will likely only need a small dinner or no dinner at all! You could also have a big lunch early and skip breakfast. This is such a great way to save on eating out costs, which let's face it, can be the biggest expense on a trip!
3. Travel during shoulder season if you can!
This tip is especially true for places that are popular for a European summer such as the Greek Islands, Spain, Amalfi Coast and so on.
During shoulder season the weather is still beautiful (and not too hot either!), everything is open or just starting to open and there are way fewer crowds so there are more accommodation options for a much better price. You will usually find that everything is just a lot cheaper (including flights!) if the place you are visiting is highly seasonal.
There is also something so nice about visiting a place right at the beginning of a busy season as everything is building up, people are getting ready and there is just a feeling of excitement in the air.
Shoulder season is the sweet spot if you want to get the best deal in so many ways. Can’t recommend this tip enough!
4. Wash your own clothing essentials!
One of the best ways to save time, and money and never run out of essentials is to wash some of your own clothes yourself on the go.
All you need to do is carry a laundry bar or some laundry powder with you. Wash your underwear and tops in the sink or bathtub at your accommodation and turn your place into a temporary laundry!
You will find these items will usually try quite fast and you will be super thankful you always have clean underwear on hand.
Every two weeks or so you can do a big wash and send all of your dirty clothes to get washed.
5. Use a prepaid travel card like Revolut or Monzo
This is a super important tip if you are planning to travel a lot and across multiple currencies.
Not only do these cards allow you to pre-buy many currencies allowing you to secure great rates, but their exchange rates are also excellent and they allow you to withdraw currency from any ATM in the world for free or with very small fees.
Just always remember to select “continue without conversion” at overseas ATMs, this will ensure you get the exchange rate from your card and not the terrible exchange rate offered by the ATM.
You can also use their debit cards to pay for things in the local currency with great rates and low or no fees. These cards are so much cheaper and more global friendly than traditional banks that charge through the roof for purchases in other countries.
They also have amazing apps and support if you lose your card overseas.
Having one or two of these cards with you is absolutely essential for travel in the 21st century!
6. Use local transport
This is one of the best ways to save a ton of money and also have an awesome local experience and maybe even an adventure!
Local transport may not always be the most comfortable option, but it is always a ton cheaper than taxis, shuttles and other pre-arranged travel options.Most countries have great infrastructure for transporting the people who live there, so use it!
By doing this you will also get to live like the locals. You might get lost and it might take you a lot longer to get to your destination, but we think this is all a valuable part of the experience!
7. Always bring 2 or 3 padlocks with you
This will always come in handy when you are staying in hostels or going on long bus or train journeys and to also secure the bags that you check in on flights.
We recommend bringing a couple in case you have more than one bag to secure and also in case you lose one.
This will give you peace of mind and save you from having to buy padlocks every time your hostel doesn't have them available for you.
We recommend getting TSA padlocks with a code so you don’t need to worry about losing the key or having your locks cut open at the airport.
8. Always let at least one person know your plans
This is a basic safety tip so that if something goes wrong and you go missing, someone will know where you were or planning to go so that you can always get help if you need it.
This tip seems pointless until you are in a situation where it is actually critical so don’t skip this step!
It could be as simple as telling the receptionist at your hotel what hike you’re doing or telling your mum at home where you are going next and how.
9. Always save your accommodation on your phone
We recommend having the address of your hotel or hostel on your notepad and also saved as a star on Google Maps.
This way if you get lost you can always show someone where you are staying and ask for help. You can also follow Google Maps back to your accommodation by foot or by taxi even if you have no reception.
10. Carry extra passport photos in your wallet
If you are travelling for quite some time and expect that you will need to get new visas while you are on the road or you expect to be getting sim cards in other countries, it is always handy to have passport size photos on hand.
Many visa applications will require this and so do some countries when getting a sim card such as India. This will save you the time and hassle of having to go out and find a place to get new photos done.
11. If you can, travel slow!
If you have the luxury of time, then travelling slow is a much better way to experience the world than hopping from place to place very fast.
Not only is it cheaper and better for the environment but it will help you have a much richer and more authentic experience of the place you are travelling to.
This is the ultimate travel lifestyle for Digital Nomads and people who love to work and travel.
Read more about what slow travel is here!
12. Download Offline Maps for the country or city you are visiting
This is an excellent tip for helping your get around your destination if you don’t have data or are trying to conserve your phone’s battery. By having maps downloaded you can access all of the features of Google Maps without being connected at all.
This can be a real lifesaver when you have a lot of exploring to do and can save you the hassle of getting lost and having your phone die on you.
We can’t even imagine getting around a country or city without Google Maps now!
13. Carry small change with you
It’s highly likely that many shops and stalls you visit, especially in developing countries, won’t accept cards. Therefore, it’s crucial to always carry local currency cash on you at all times!
Many of these local shops don’t carry much change so it is just as crucial to make sure you have small notes and coins on you at all times as well so you don’t need massive amounts of change from a small purchase.
You can get really caught out in places when you need to pay for something but only have a big note that no one has changed for! It can also be challenging when ATMs don’t give you an option on what notes you receive and only give you ridiculously big notes!
One way around this is to take the cash to a bank branch and ask them to change it for you into small notes or take the big notes to a hotel or restaurant you know will have the change to break it.
14. Travel solo (at least once!)
This is arguably one of the best tips on this list! Travelling solois the best way to get to know yourself, cope with challenges, and stress, step outside your comfort zone, meet amazing new people and learn how to stand on your own two feet.
The life skill and experiences you will receive from travelling alone, even if it's just once, are immeasurable!
Take our word for it and don’t let yourself go throughout your life without the gift of travelling solo, especially when you are young and free.
15. Don’t bother with a money belt
They’re not really useful! They actually scream “I’m a tourist and have lots of valuables on me!!”. You will stick out and be more likely to become a target. The more you blend in with the locals the better.
Keep your most valuable items and most of your cash safely at your accommodation and the rest just keep inside a zipped up bag or backpack that you keep in front of you in busy places or on public transport.
Keep your wits about you and you will most likely not get robbed.
16. Get behind business travellers at security lines
If you like things to move fast and don’t like getting stuck behind slow people in airport queues, go straight for people who look like business travellers.
They know what they’re doing and they’re not travelling to waste time. The queue with business travellers is the queue that will most likely move the fastest!
That being said, if you’re not in a hurry and don’t have a connecting flight to run to, just relax. The airport doesn't need to be a constant race and stress of hustle and bustle!
17. Get a local SIM card at the airport
As soon as you arrive in a new country, get a local SIM card and get yourself up and running ASAP. Most international airports will have mobile shops that are there dedicated specifically for tourists to get their own SIM cards.
So as soon as you step off the plane get sorted with some minutes and data!
You’ll be able to find your hotel straight away and also order an Uber instead of getting an overpriced taxi. Having a local SIM gives you access to cheap local rates just make sure you get as much data as possible!
18. Avoid TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor definitely has a place on the internet for finding information about a business, but when it comes to using its reviews to make decisions, we’d suggest ignoring it!
The reviews on TripAdvisor tend to be unfairly negative as people tend to only leave reviews when they have something bad to say or the reviews are completely fake and the place is not as good as the reviews suggest.
It is super easy to create fake reviews that inflate a business's rating.
Get your restaurant and hotel recommendations from people you know who have already been or even inside Facebook groups as these tend to be more full of regular people who aren’t always trying to sell you something!