65 Best Travel Tips I’ve Learned After 10 Years of Traveling

The best travel tips I’ve learned after nine years on the road, traveling to 40-some countries on six continents.

Table of Contents

Ten years.

It feels like a lifetime ago since I bought that one-way ticket to Australia, and if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it exactly the same.

Sure, I’ve made some mistakes. I’ve made some big ones! But that’s how we learn. And that’s how I came up with this list of travel tips.

I wish I could say I’ve learned one thing every month, but let’s be honest—I’m too stubborn for that. So I’m going to give myself some leeway.

After ten years of traveling, these are 65 of the best travel tips I’ve learned.


Count Your Dollars, But Don’t Pinch Your Pennies

Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to watch your spending, especially when you’re traveling.

But at what cost?

Don’t get caught up in nickels and dimes. Your travel time is the most valuable commodity you have, and you want to enjoy it, not spend it all working on a budget.

Look, I get it, and I’ve been there. When you’re traveling, money is a finite resource (unless you’re working while you travel). You have to be careful about how much you spend.

But rather than focusing on saving small amounts here and there, focus instead on the larger amounts.

Instead of spending an hour browsing shops looking for a deal that will save you $5 (I’ve done it!), decide if an hour of your time is really worth $5. Or would you rather spend it and get on with the rest of your travels?

At the end of the day, you’re going to remember the fantastic times you had, not the dollars you saved. So try not to spend too much of your time thinking about how to pinch every penny, and instead, just try to cut larger costs where possible.


Throw Out What You Don’t Need

Every item in your travel bag should be something you use daily or weekly. There is something to be said for simplicity when it comes to packing. Plus, you do have to carry everything you bring.

So, make things easy for yourself.

Packing “just in case” items means extra stuff in your luggage that you simply won’t need and will probably never touch. You can always buy things as you go, and leave what you don’t need behind.

Look at the items you rarely use and get rid of them. Clothing is an excellent place to start.

For example, when I flew from one freezing cold country to hot and humid Colombia, I threw out my expensive North Face jacket on the first day. I knew I wasn’t going to need it for the next six months, so it would have been pointless to carry it around with me.

Also, keep in mind that if you’re booking cheap flights and are traveling carry-on only, you will be faced with challengingly low weight limits for your baggage. So think of the importance of each item in terms of weight.


Learn the Local Language

Vieques Sunset
Sunset on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico.

The most rewarding welcome you’ll get from locals will come when you can greet them in their own language.

Learning a few key phrases, like “hello” and “thank you” can actually go a long way. It seems simple, but it’s effective! People will always receive you more warmly if they can see that you are genuinely trying when you come to their country. So try!

Learn to count to 10. Learn your “left” and “right.” Try learning some local food and native dishes—you’ll be using them at least three times daily.

Spent some time before your trip learning some of the language. Carry a small book of common phrases so you can at least read the items on a menu when you’re at a restaurant.

Just absorb as much as you can. That’s part of the joy of traveling!


Spend More Time in Fewer Places

I decided a while ago that I want my experience as a traveler to be about immersion, not stamps in my passport.

I see too many travelers powering through whole countries in less than a week. Heck, I’ve done it myself. I got caught up in the game of trying to see as much as possible as quickly as possible.

But I’ve learned that it’s no way to get to know a place.

At that speed, you’ll only get a surface-level look. So, when you arrive in a new country, take your time. Dive into the language, food, nature, culture, art, history, the people and their life. Cultivate an amazing experience for yourself so you can leave a place feeling confident that you truly had the experience—you didn’t just see it.

After ten years of travel, the number of places I’ve visited may not be as high, but I know without question that my experiences are richer.


Trust Your Gut

You know the feeling—something in your belly telling you something isn’t right. If you’ve got a bad feeling about something, trust it.

These travel tips are helpful, but so is your gut. Your instincts exist for a reason: to keep you safe. Opting out of something isn’t going to ruin your day, but opting in sometimes could.

Of course, the opposite is true as well. If you’re feeling extra brave, then go for it! Take a chance on something that could turn out to be an amazing time. Travel fearlessly, but be smart. Take a chance, but only if your gut tells you to.

After all this time, my gut is probably the only reason I’m still alive.


Don’t Over-Plan

Travel plans look great on paper. They feel safe, and you can easily explain them to your friends and family before you go. But that’s about all they’re good for. The best-laid travel plans are best left behind.

Planning every minute of your trip leaves no room for spontaneity. And how boring is that!? Over-planning your travel itinerary can create stress for no good reason.

Booking the perfect hotels, finding cheap flights, getting good deals, the budget, stamps in your passport, packing and repacking…it’s too much pressure if you let your travel plans take over.

I rarely plan anything. Sure, you should read a few articles or stories about your destination to get informed, but I’ve found that if I get caught up in the details of my trip, I stress out.

If you try too hard to force plans, they won’t work out. Just let them happen, and you’ll enjoy the journey a lot more.


Invest in Quality Gear

Your gear is going to be with you daily. Rain, snow, or sunshine.

Your travel backpack is going to get beat up in airport transit and beat down by the sun and the rain. You’re going to pack it full of everything you own, and it needs to serve you for as long as possible while you travel.

That $30 rucksack from China may do the trick, but it’s not going to do it well. And definitely not for long.

You’re better off paying the dollar price ahead of time than paying the metaphorical price later on down the line. Do some research and find top-rated items that suit your needs, for the important stuff.

Not sure what to get? Read up. Here are a few resources I’ve put together:


Do Everything That Scares You

You’re not traveling to stay within your comfort zone. You’re traveling to see and feel new and wonderful things, unlike any experience you’ve had at home. You’re traveling to acquaint yourself with the full range of the human experience.

So if something scares you, make a point to do it. Whether it’s bungee jumping naked off a bridge or simply trying a new dish, you’ll regret not doing that amazing thing later down the line.

After all, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.


Be a (Good) Ambassador for Your Country

Everywhere that you travel, you’re an ambassador for your country. Do your best to represent yourself and your people in the most positive way possible.

You never know what stereotypes, good or bad, you may be reinforcing in someone else’s mind. I always strive to be kind and thankful, especially when I’m traveling. And in doing so, people have told me that meeting me completely changed their perspective of Americans.

“You’re not what I expected an American to be,” they said.

It’s a satisfying feeling to know that I have changed the way people see my country.


Always Keep a Backup!

The 38 Best Travel Jobs to Work and Travel the World
My data is the most important thing I own.

It’s easy for things to get broken or go missing during your travels. The shirt you left behind at a hostel in China? No big deal.

But what would you be utterly devastated to lose? Your data, right? And yes, that includes all of your amazing travel photos.

You have to keep a backup.

My data is the most important thing I own, and for that reason, I always keep a second copy on an external hard drive like this one. And to keep things really secure, I also recommend backing up your laptop to the cloud with software like Backblaze.

You should also keep digital backups of essential documents like your ID, passport, etc. Have a paper copy and a digital copy of everything (and make sure your hard copies are water-proofed!).


Carry a Decoy Wallet

Theft happens. But it doesn’t have to happen to you.

This is actually one of my favorite and best travel tips of all time. Keep a ratty old wallet in your back pocket with an expired license, an old credit card or two, and $20 or less in local currency.

If you become the target of a travel scam or pickpocketing, the only thing they’ll get from you is a bunch of stuff you don’t care about which carries no real-world value. Meanwhile, your real license, activated credit cards, and your more substantial cash stash will remain safely tucked away in the sole of your shoe.

Looking for more ways to keep your stuff safe when you travel? Check out this piece I wrote all about it!


Lie in Hammocks

What’s easier than lying in a hammock? They are the most comfortable and relaxing places to be. If you see a hammock, lie in it. If only for five minutes, I promise you won’t regret it.

And just relax more in general. This, like the tips on not traveling too quickly through countries, is a theme that will probably be echoed as we go because it matters, and it takes too long to learn on your own travels.

So relax. And lie hammocks. They’re great.


Always Get Travel Insurance

Especially after finding out I needed major surgery in China, I always recommend getting coverage from a good travel insurance company, even if you’re only traveling for a few days. I was saved from an $8,000 bill, which, obviously, was completely unexpected.

There’s also the time I was beaten up by a bouncer in New Zealand and ended up unconscious and in the hospital.

Or the time I needed major treatments in Bangkok, racking up a bill upwards of $5,000.

But travel insurance isn’t only about medical coverage. We’re talking canceled flights, lost luggage, a broken phone, stolen laptop or camera equipment…these things can cost you dearly if you’re not covered.

And that’s the thing—you just never know if you’re going to need it. As my father always said, “they call them accidents for a reason.”

Ultimately, travel insurance doesn’t cost that much upfront but it can save so much in the long run. Better to travel safe than sorry.

Since the risk of something going wrong is always higher when you’re abroad, I recommend World Nomads or SafetyWing for complete travel and health coverage.

If you’re traveling soon, get a quote by filling out the form below.


Make a Fool of Yourself

Because who cares?! Have a good time when you travel and don’t take yourself too seriously. As long as your behavior isn’t hurting anyone, be silly, and do what you want.

You may never see these people again, so any potential “damage” to your reputation stays safe.


Go Broke

Unpopular opinion alert: It’s worth going broke (or nearly broke) at least once while you travel. This only applies if you’re traveling for an extended period of time.

Now let me be clear: I’m not advocating that you go broke and start “beg-packing” and asking strangers for money. But stretch yourself for a while during your travels so you can learn just how little you actually need.

It’s about putting yourself in a really uncomfortable position. It’s about forcing yourself to be resourceful. It’s about learning what it means to have nothing, and then building yourself back up to having something.

The lessons you learn in doing this will be invaluable.


Skip Your Guidebook—Talk to Bartenders and Taxi Drivers

In fact, don’t even pack it. No, your guidebooks don’t know the best places to go. Cities change and flow, and the best places for a traveler are usually hidden from the tourist’s eye.

As a former bartender, trust me on this one. Bartenders and taxi drivers have their ear to the ground and always know what’s happening around town. They’re full of useful travel tips.

They can also address any concerns you have over safety and security in the area. Talk to them to get an idea of where to go or what to see, and you can trust that you’re being given good advice.


There’s Nothing Wrong with Going to Bed Early

Just because you travel, doesn’t mean you need to treat every night like a Saturday night, nor should you. Try to have a balance, and take advantage of the benefits of having full days.

You’ll be rewarded with a whole morning when you wake up, instead of rolling out of bed mid-day.

Sometimes it might feel like a waste of a night, but you need it. Traveling is a marathon, not a sprint.

Use your reclaimed hours to do something you’ve wanted to do but haven’t found the time. Stock up on movies and grab a travel book to read—you’ll have lots of down-time to relax.


Which Means You Can Wake Up Early!

Yellow River, Kakadu National Park, Australia
Sunrise on the Yellow River in Kakadu National Park, Australia.

There’s just something so special about a new town in the morning when it comes alive and the streets begin to fill with people. Or when the sun first peeks through the trees and makes the mountains dance red and orange in the morning light.

Waking up early to catch these memorable moments is worth it. You get a taste of life in the country, and the best photos are always taken just after the sun comes up!


Visit Restaurants for Lunch, Not Dinner

Is there a restaurant you’re dying to try? Sometimes it’s hard to justify eating at the fancier restaurants and spending the extra money. But sometimes you still want to have the experience.

Save money with one of my best travel tips: go there for lunch instead of dinner, because lunch is always cheaper than dinner. You’ll have access to most of the regular menu, and you get it at a much better price.


Talk to That Girl (or Boy), Even if You Don’t Speak the Language

Dating at home is hard, but dating on the road is actually pretty easy! Locals are often more intrigued by foreigners, and other travelers are always keen to meet new and interesting people.

So don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Take the chance and go talk to the person you’re interested in. Just go for it.

It’s always worth it—they’ll think it’s cute that you’re trying, and hey, you never know until you try.


Stop Making Excuses

Hiking the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand
Hiking the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand.

There are so many reasons not to do something. Not enough money. Not enough time. Too many responsibilities.

As someone who’s been at this for a while—trust me—I’ve heard them all.

But these aren’t firm, immovable reasons. They’re excuses. Stop making them and instead make the decision to take control of your life.

If you want to do something (like travel!), stop messing around, and do it already.


Stash Your Money in Multiple Places

Here’s one of my best tips: always have a couple of reserve stashes of cash spread throughout your person and your belongings. I like to keep some money in my shoe, my pocket, and some hidden in each of my bags.

Plus, I carry my decoy wallet (see above) if I’m going to be in a busy or crowded place, or if I’m going to a destination where I might be at risk for pickpocketing.


Visit All the Events and Festivals You Can

If there’s any sort of festival or gathering happening while you’re in town, make sure you’re there! You’ll gain a much deeper insight into the people and culture than by merely visiting the popular attractions.

If there’s something really big happening, it might be worth adjusting your trip, like the time I stayed in Colombia for Carnival de Barranquilla.


Leave Your Bucket List at Home

I don’t like to travel to “do,” but rather to experience. A bucket list never stops growing, and rather than simply being able to enjoy the moment, you end up operating off of a checklist.

Skydiving. Check. Amazon river. Check. ATVs. Check!

That’s exhausting.

Have a few key experiences in mind that you feel would really make your trip amazing, but don’t let those get in the way of the magic around you.

Try instead to backfill your bucket list with the amazing ambiance of a place you love visiting.


Tip Appropriately

Research the regional tipping customs and follow them. It’s respectful, and it helps you contribute responsibly to the economy.

If you come from a non-tipping culture and are traveling in a place where tipping is recommended, remember that your tips are actually paying that person’s wage. If you can’t afford to cover the tips, you shouldn’t be eating or drinking there in the first place.

That goes for hotel tips as well.

Also pay attention to the customary percentages as they may differ from day to night.

Bonus Tip: bring change for tips rather than just having credit cards with you. Cards aren’t always accepted everywhere.


Get Lost Once a Week

How Traveling the World Helped Me Turn My Life Around
Getting lost is half the fun.

Try taking a different route if you find yourself going to a place often.

Travel tips are more helpful when you get out and see things for yourself. It not only helps you learn your surroundings, but you’ll stumble upon hidden gems that you otherwise wouldn’t have come across.

Plus, getting lost and finding your way again is just plain fun!


Keep an Open Mind

Don’t bring your own judgments into new experiences in new destinations. There is often a lot you don’t know or don’t understand about a place, culture, or way of thinking. Your opinion on something may have been formulated entirely out of context or with a lack of knowledge about the local way.

If you disagree with something, ask the hard questions, evaluate, and do your research.

Take time to observe and interrogate ideas and practices that are foreign to you. Listen to advice that may become travel tips for you later. Absorb the world around you and create new opinions based on that.


Vote With Your Dollar

The way you spend your dollar directly impacts the destination you’re visiting. Consider the effects of your money on the community, on the environment.

Are you supporting a local business run by a family, or are you buying everything from international tour companies, chain supermarkets and big brand hotels? Who does your business help?

If you ride an elephant in Thailand, you are voting in favor of animal cruelty. If you buy “farm to table,” you are supporting the local economy.

Which would you prefer? Don’t sign up for a cause you don’t support.


Ride Local Buses

Public buses are the best way to catch a glimpse of local life, and you’ll end up seeing some new parts of town that you otherwise wouldn’t have.

Read the bus schedule report online first to figure out how to get to significant points of interest around town.


Pack a Good Camera

Li River, Guilin, China
Photo: Jeremy Scott Foster

It’s worth it. Your photos and memories are the only things that will last your lifetime, and five years from now, you’re going to wish you had better photos (I sure do).

Take some time to research basic photography techniques as well. Having a little knowledge about exposure and shutter speed will really help you make the most of the amazing memories you want to capture in photos.

And don’t worry about the camera being too bulky. Technology to the rescue! Camera’s today can be powerful and slight.

Some phone cameras have fantastic quality now, or you can travel with a mirrorless camera to take your photos to the next level and still save space in your bag.


Eat Everything in Sight

New and unusual food is a quintessential part of travel adventures. Bugs, stomach, eyeballs, whatever it may be—try it. It could be amazing!

You might actually like it (or you might throw up), and it makes for a great travel story down the line. Ultimately, trying something new is not going to kill you (usually).

And when will you have another opportunity, if not now?

Food is also one of the best ways to learn about a culture. Have you ever seen how seriously Italians take their ingredients? Book a food tour, explore a market and don’t be afraid to ask questions. People connect over food. It’ll only enhance your trip.


Carry a Water Purification System

Bottled water is expensive, and it adds up. If you’re drinking two liters daily while traveling (which you really should be!), you’re looking at saving at least $60 per month. That’s a lot of money, especially for a traveler.

Use the Grayl Geopress water bottle to sterilize all your drinking water and cut down on single-use plastics at the same time.

It’s a good idea for both your body and the environment.


Pack Extra Deodorant

Some countries just don’t sell the one you want. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck with a roll-on or spray when all you want is a stick. Packing your favorite travel deodorant is a must.

Travel days can be long and sweaty. And odor control is a favor done to yourself and everyone around you. Especially on public transit. Especially on a long flight. Trust me on that one.


Choose the Right Bank Account to Avoid Enormous Fees

Bank fees add up quickly when you’re traveling. When you use a standard-issue debit card overseas, you’ll usually get dinged with foreign transaction fees (usually around 3%). For example, if you want to spend $100, it’ll actually cost you $103 (at least).

The same goes for ATM fees. Your bank will likely charge a fee to withdraw cash from an out-of-network ATM, and the ATM also usually charges you a fee⁠—up to $10 sometimes!

If you choose the right bank account, you can avoid literally hundreds of dollars in fees while you’re on the road.

Charles Schwab is my go-to bank for zero foreign transaction fees (and other perks), but I wrote a whole article about the Best Bank Accounts For Travelers if that one isn’t available to you.


Put Some Faith in the Universe

Sometimes you just have to let go of control, and allow things to happen in the way that they will.

Travel plans will not always work out, and you have to have faith that, in some strange way, the universe is unfolding in the way it’s supposed to.


Get a SIM Card on Your First Day

Having a local number helps immensely, and buying a prepaid card for data isn’t usually that expensive.

With full access to travel apps like Google Maps, the city is always right in your pocket. I had unlimited 4G data in Vietnam for USD $7. It’s one of the first things I purchase when I get off my flight.

And if you’re going to be in one place for a while, try to report your local phone number to your bank to make things easier when logging in online to check your budget.


Take Naps

For one simple reason: they’re awesome.


Wear Solid Colors

Solid colors are the handiest travel attire. If you dress in a consistent color palette, your clothes will match better, and you can make more outfits out of fewer pieces of clothing. Basically, a capsule wardrobe is the best packing list you can make.

Of course, you can still keep the odd Hawaiian print shirt and the funny swim trunks. Those always make for good photos.


Expect the Best from People

The Mountains of Sapa, Vietnam
Trekking in the mountains of Sapa in Northern Vietnam.

The world is not out to get you, and you are not always in danger. Be smart about your surroundings, but remember that people are generally good and will partake in incredible acts of kindness if given the opportunity.

Approach the world with a soft, open heart. Even if you get burned, it shouldn’t shake your resolve to see the best in people. You will literally meet the greatest people ever if you just travel with an open heart.


Get Out of Gringoland—Party With the Locals!

Going out for the night? Avoid the tourist bars and hit up some of the local spots. You’re guaranteed a more genuine and memorable experience. Some of my best nights out didn’t happen in nightclubs or fancy bars—they took place in local dive bars and pool halls. You’re more likely to meet locals, and you’ll certainly have more fun.

Take Roppongi, Japan, for example. It is a classically expat-rich neighborhood. And it’s crazy fun, but it doesn’t compare to the more authentic experiences you can have on a night out in Shinjuku or Shibuya.


Save Your Miles

There are so many rewards programs out there, it’s almost foolish not to use them. Whether you’re booking a flight, staying in a hotel, eating at a restaurant, buying gas, shopping for holiday presents, or purchasing groceries, make sure you’re earning miles or rewards.

I’ve used credit card miles to get a $9,000 first-class ticket for just under six bucks. If you’re saving miles, you can put them towards domestic and international flights and travel for free all over the world.



Pick the One Place You Don’t Want to Go and Go There

What’s at the bottom of your list? Grab your passport and go there.

Whether there’s a specific reason you don’t want to go or a general lack of interest, challenge yourself to explore it anyway. You may lack a certain understanding of what makes that place so special. And you’ve got a chance to change that.

I never wanted to go to China, but after spending time there, it has become one of my favorite countries in the world.


Splurge Every Now and Then

Traveling is exhausting, and we all have those days, so treat yo’ self! Pay for some luxury once in a while. You deserve it.

Go enjoy a gelato. Or maybe have a professional give you a good hair cut and shampoo, instead of the guy in your hostel who has a set of clippers and watched a few YouTube videos.

You know the guy. We appreciate him when times are tough, but it’s just not the same.


Seize Every Opportunity

I hate turning down opportunities, and I try to make the most of every single one I’m provided with, as long as it feels right. Maybe those travel opportunities require risks, but the rewards are far greater.

But with that being said…


Slow Down

Sometimes it can feel like, if we’re not making the most of every travel day, then it’s a waste of a trip.

But you have time. Seriously, don’t stress yourself out. Take things easy, go sit in a park, read a book.

Don’t get caught up in your travels, trying to do something every moment of every day. Ultimately, you can never appreciate what you’ve done if you don’t take the time to reflect on it.

Seize opportunities, but rest when you need to rest.


Don’t Let Age Stop You

I’ll never forget Jim and Jenny, an English couple, both in their late fifties, who were riding motorbikes from Ushuaia, Argentina, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska—sharing a journey from the bottom of the world to the top.

Never give up because you think it’s too late. The fact is, it never is. Travel can become a part of your life, not just a phase if you let it.


Don’t Give Too Much Weight to Other People’s Opinions

Advice and travel tips are always welcome, but when people get too opinionated about a place or activity (especially with any extreme negative or positive spin) take it with a grain of salt.

You probably don’t know what the context of their opinion is, so don’t give it too much thought. Go, see, and do things for yourself and formulate your own ideas.

You’ll become a more independent and opinionated person because of it, which, despite some connotations, is not a bad thing.


Backpackers: Use Backpacks

If you’re a backpacker, then a backpack is better than a suitcase.

Think about the flights you’ll be taking or the camping and hiking you’ll be doing. You don’t have to worry about dragging a wheelie through the hot sand when you hop off the island ferry onto that tropical beach.

Trust me, doing that trek with a rollie suitcase? It’s a terrible idea. Bring that backpack.


Arm Yourself With the Right Gadgets

Get the gadgets you need, and make sure they’re dependable.

For me, that includes a power bank to keep my Kindle and phone charged for long bus rides, a rugged external hard drive, and a USB stick, because who knows what archaic computer system you may need to use at some point.

Add those to your shopping list.

Oh, and make sure to bring a portable speaker like the JBL Flip 6 (bonus points if it’s waterproof). It comes in handy for spontaneous dance parties!


Be Spontaneous

Go to the airport or train station without planning your next destination. Book the cheapest trip, or the one to a place you can’t pronounce, or the one that’s leaving the soonest. In some areas, last-minute deals or frequent domestic trips can be exceptionally cheap.

Or for something similarly fun, email a travel agent and give them a few a destination traits you’re interested in. Let them choose. Play a little game of travel roulette!

The world is waiting to meet you. Be spontaneous!


Celebrate Your Own Country’s Holidays—Even if You’re Abroad

As an American, I love celebrating holidays like Thanksgiving, which I now call “Friendsgiving,” when I’m abroad. I love sharing this part of my home with my new friends. It brings people together and allows those unfamiliar with your customs to ask questions comfortably. You’ll soon feel like family.

And I always encourage others to do the same. Take plenty of photos!



I carry my own mug with me when I travel, no matter what. In a hostel, nobody can be confused: this one’s mine! And when I’m camping? I’m ready for drinks, soup, stew, whatever. I can take my morning cup of coffee to go.

I have reusable bags for my grocery shopping, a set of camping cutlery, and my own chopsticks. And I’ve still got my filtered water bottle.

I do all of this in the name of sustainability. I’m promoting and practicing sustainability by not buying single-use items.


Always Check the “Free Stuff”

In the corner of every hostel around the world, there is an unclaimed pile. Some of its contents may be less than enticing (hello random sock and a broken flashlight). But the “free stuff” can be a gold mine, and sometimes you might get lucky.

Maybe you want to work as a laborer in Australia to work towards your second work and holiday visa. Check the “free stuff” for any article of work clothes or protective equipment. Other items commonly left behind are power converters, books, bags, and even camping gear.

Plus the kitchen will usually have a cupboard devoted to free food. When I lived in a hostel in New Zealand, I used to raid the “left behind” box every morning for breakfast. I’d usually find some eggs, bread for toast, beans, and sometimes I’d get lucky with a ripe avocado!


Get the Right Power Adapter or Converter

Adapters and converters are not the same.

  • Adapters adapt. They change one plug formation into another.
  • Converters convert voltage. Some countries use 110v power, others use 220v. If you plug your 110 into a 220…BOOM!

So, make sure you’ve got the right one for your travels. A multi-plug version is always a practical option. It can be a pain to have to buy a new one just for one country, and fortunately, these universal adapters and converters are pretty cheap nowadays.


Bring (and Wear!) Sunglasses and Sunscreen

Take care of your skin, people! Sun related injuries are no joke, and UV protection is your first line of defense.

Not only is sunburn unsightly, but its also dangerous. Immediate effects of too much sun without protection could be as awful as sun poisoning, which makes you ill and can ruin a trip quickly.

But there is also the threat of future problems like skin cancer. So be kind to yourself, and use sun protection consistently. I consider this to be one of the most important tips on this list.

It’s a good idea to look for environmentally-friendly sunscreen while you’re at it. To be kind to the coral, make sure to read the sunscreen bottle to make sure it’s reef safe. Zinc options are always safe and very protective.


Don’t Waste Food

Eating something fried
Eating something fried.

There is no good reason to let food go to waste. Either eat it, give it away, or share it with new friends. But please don’t let it go to waste.

You’re often going to be traveling in places that are less well-off than your home. The cost of living is low, but that doesn’t mean the value of a meal should be lost in your mind.

Try your best not to over-order at restaurants, and make smaller grocery trips to limit the chance of anything going bad in the time between visits.


Get a Good Towel

Shower. Beach. Blanket. Picnic. Lake. You’re going to use your towel a lot more than just for drying off! Make sure your towel can handle multiple purposes.

Consider getting one that is anti-microbial to keep it from building up bacteria over time⁠—that’s not good for your skin, and it will start to smell otherwise. You’ll find any quick-dry anti-microbial towel in just about any travel shop.

Just make sure it takes up minimal space in your bag!


Do Your Own Laundry

Just do it, even just once on your trip. Hand-washing a week’s worth of clothes is a good practice in appreciation. You’ll gain a better understanding of how time-consuming and difficult it can be, and you’ll appreciate NOT having to do it all the time (perks of life on the road, amirite?).

Hell, maybe you’ll even enjoy it. It can be a quiet, almost meditative activity if that’s your thing. Find a laundromat (or use your hotel sink). Grab a book to read. Enjoy an ordinary pleasure.

Either way, it’s definitely cheaper.


Use a Condom!

We’re all big boys and girls here. But I’ve heard some horror stories that are NSFW about people who have just thrown caution to the wind and come away with more than they asked for.

I’ve also seen them in the middle of the hostel room floor.

Practicing sexual health is important every single time. Throw some condoms in your bag, no matter your sex, gender or relationship status, because the risk far outweighs the reward.

And get regular check-ups, even when you’re on the move. They’re usually inexpensive or free, depending on where you are. At the end of the day, your health is too important, and you just don’t want poor decisions to lessen your experience.


Find a Hobby that Travels

Have a hobby or skill that can grow with you as you travel. It can be a creative hobby like photography, drawing or writing, or a technical hobby like fixing machinery or making music.

It can also be something like a physical hobby, whether it’s a sport or exercise.

Unfortunately, something like playing the cello just doesn’t travel well. So maybe learn the guitar or ukulele instead!

The point is, have something that you love to do, that will fill your downtime and will continue to develop with you along the way. Bring your knowledge on the road and then share it with the people you meet. You won’t regret it.


Read Maps with Fellow Travelers

It’s always a good time to stand with a fellow traveler and look at a world map while on your trip.

You get to share stories as you point out where you’ve visited. You can ask for signs, tips, and advice for future trips, depending on where the other person has been.  And you get to connect with someone on a level that is unique to travelers.


Use Dating Apps to Meet Locals

Don’t just meet people in your hostel’s social space. Other travelers are worth getting to know, but if you want to really experience a place, get to know some locals.

Fortunately, it’s a whole lot easier these days. Apps like Tinder are great for meeting locals, even if it’s just for making new friends.

You can also use Meetup to find events happening in the destination you’re visiting. This is a great tool because there are so many different themed meetups, including expat groups, hiking groups and foodie groups.

If you’re a member of the Couchsurfing community, you can also check the app for events. It’s geared more towards travelers, but there are always some locals involved!


Keep the Travel Spirit Alive at Home

When you’re not traveling, open your home to others.

Whether you’re inviting couchsurfers to crash on your couch or extending an invitation to some friends you’ve met on the road, playing tour guide in your own locale is a good way to satisfy your travel bug (at least temporarily). You’ll learn to appreciate your home in a whole different way.



Try this experiment when you’re on the road: take some time to put away your camera and phone, and simply enjoy the moment without thinking, “I need to put this on Instagram.”

Your fingers will itch to pick up your phone. You’ll instinctively reach for it. Take a few deep breaths and enjoy the scene before you⁠—just soak it all in. Keep some moments for yourself.

Pause and apply all your senses to the scene before you, whether it’s a crowded market in Marrakech or a sweeping vista in New Zealand’s Fiordland. You will be amazed by what you could have missed if you were too busy uploading something to social media.


Just Go!

Valle de Cocora, Salento, Colombia
If you're a coffee lover, Salento is the place to be!

If you want to travel, the first step is booking a plane ticket. It’s never the right time, and the circumstances are never perfect. Once the flight is booked, that’s it⁠—you’re going. Grab your passport, book a hotel, and everything else will fall into place. I promise.

Travel Tips FAQs

What are the three most important travel tips you consider before traveling?

The three most important things before traveling are to research your trip, tell others where you’re going, and make copies of your passport.

How can I make the most out of traveling?

You can make the most of traveling by slowing down to enjoy the experience rather than rushing to finish a sightseeing checklist.

What is the best travel hack?

The best (and simplest) travel hack is to bring less stuff. That way, there’s less to worry about and less to weigh you down.

How to avoid jet lag?

To avoid jet lag, try to adjust to your destination’s time zone on the plane. If it’s night-time at your destination, try to sleep. If it is daytime, stay up as long as possible.

What is the most important thing to remember traveling?

The most important thing to remember while traveling is to respect the local people, culture, and environment.

About the Author

Jeremy Scott Foster

Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.
  1. Hi Jeremy,
    Great post, there is a lot in there and I more or less agree with all your points (I started to list which I fully agree with but it was a least half of it).
    #16 was a bit of a surprise, I have to try this one…
    And for #49, I just took my father to Cambodia (one month) and India (one month): at 77, he loved it, so no, it’s never too late (but it’s better if you start somewhat earlier 😉
    Cheers, Gilles

    1. Yes! Always talk to taxi drivers and bartenders. They will always give you the best advice! Sounds like you and your father are having some amazing adventures. Have fun!

  2. Thanks for all the great insight Jeremy! I especially agree with your final point “Just go!” After stressing out about whether or not I could do some real traveling I recently bought a plane ticket to Europe and am just going to see where the adventure takes me!

    1. Once you buy that flight, you’re committed to going, and everything else will fall into place.

  3. Those are all great lessons you’ve learned!

    I can certainly relate and understand many of them, particularly getting up before the crowds, getting lost on purpose but doing that which we fear really hit home as I just recently started doing more of that 😉

    Keep having a great time and enjoy what the world has to offer!

    Happy travels 🙂

  4. I really agree with spending more time in fewer places, I’m always trying to pack too much in!

  5. Great tips you have here! Always having a backup is really important for me – and you should always be ready for things to go completely different than you’ve planned. That’s how things are when you travel and that’s part of the fun. If you don’t let it ruin the experience, at least!

  6. Travelling is a very ending lesson of life!! I’m glad you’ve learnt so much on the road. Number 25 and 35 are those lessons I’ve also learnt!! 🙂

    1. Just because I know it doesn’t mean I always do it 😉 But I have learned that getting up nice and early is the best way to start a day.

  7. Traveling is probably the thing that teaches us most about life and ourselves, and it looks like it has taught you a lot. Good on you, and congrats on making it to year 5!

  8. Thanks for this inspired post! My friend judge me because I go to bed early and wake up early, but they don’t see all the beauty I see. 🙂

  9. Great list. I love reading about what other people have learned along the way as it inspires me a lot.
    Oh, and for some reason, lying in a hammock is something I look forward to the most! 🙂

  10. Inspiring list ahead.. Real life travelling teach us several lessons of our life. I loved the post you crafted and posted.

  11. I completely agree wit all of these but number 4 definitely spoke to me. When I was getting started all I wanted was to go from place to place without really enjoying each of them. It was more about numbers than experiences. I wish I learned this earlier.

  12. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Jeremy! Sounds like travel has truly transformed your perspective on life 🙂

  13. Great tips Jeremy,
    It’s awesome to be able to learn from each other adventures. However I know from experience, that no matter how many times someone tells you, it’s only after you have been on the road for a while that you learn to conquer your FOMO, relax and enjoy their travel.


    1. I used to have the worst case of FOMO, but I think I’ve done so much that, at this point, I don’t mind missing out on a few things 🙂

  14. Really great write up, Jeremy. I’m going to share it! –Happy & Fun travels to you (and thanks for the recommendation to the Adventure Junkies!) – Hilary

  15. Thanks for a great post with some sound advice! I love how you advise people to get up early. I’m always amazed that anyone would want to sleep in while traveling. There’s so much to see and do! I actually wrote a blog post about why you should get up early on vacation at https://www.postcardsandpassports.com/ten-reasons-why-you-should-wake-up-early/

  16. Excuses ARE indeed your worst enemy! Say ‘yes’ to everything when you travel – well, almost everything 😉

  17. I love all of these, especially the decoy wallet. My husband has his wallet stolen on our honeymoon of all times. We usually do the spread money around thing, but I like the decoy too. Thanks for all the great tips.

  18. my favorite part was about throwing out the itinerary and bucket list. I have things I want to see, but having it all planned out makes you miss out on so many things! And, the suggestion to ask bartenders and taxi drivers was something I hadn’t considered but makes perfect sense. They see and hear so much information around town!

  19. Wow, so much to learn, I liked your health insurance point the most and the water too. I have learnt a lot during my travel too. Most importantly “Never give up”. My most recent post says about it too. Thanks for sharing , you are a great inspiration 🙂

  20. #41 Preach !!

    So many people that I have met both at home and when I’ve been away are so mis-trusting of people and their motives. Admittedly, sometimes they do have exterior motives (I have been on the receiving end) but the majority of times, by trusting people, I’ve ended up with the most incredible ‘luck’.

    This is way i believe in the phrase ‘you make your own luck’.

    1. Hell yeah! We make our whole environment. More often than not people are good, and the experiences we walk away with because we trust our instincts are invaluable.

  21. Great advice to trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable with your taxi driver then you can call a new one. It’s a lot safer when you put your trust in yourself.

  22. Hi Jeremy!

    This is an awesome list. I love #3 and #16. I agree that the bartenders are in the know and they are a wealth of information. You are awesome!


  23. I had been following you on the instagram for the fact that I like the photography and your travel picture are amazing! Having to say this, just read your article of 50-lessons-after-5-years-of-traveling. I could not agreement more on this and you just come up right of the 50 lists. There are pretty awesome and inspiring! Thank you! ??

  24. Two thumbs and two toes up.
    Could I say it better? Who cares — I haven’t!

    Wonderful write. Love to share this one far and wide.

    My number one recommendation: travel contributes to peace. Always be kind, be generous of spirit, and make someone elses day better.

      1. Hell yes x 2! It honestly does not matter where yOu are.

        I learned from a fabulous woman to laugh in the face of crisis. When airplanes leave without you, buses stop running, booked accommodations are given away – if yOu can laugh and get service people to join in, there is always a way to find a solution and everyone feels like it is a win. This works in many life experiences.


        It will release the pressure snd invite others in to see e absurdity of it all.

  25. I agree…Slow down! In the beginning of my travels I always wanted to do too much. But at the end I could not really enjoy the day. Now I do it different!

  26. nice to read this article. you explain very well, being a traveler you have knowledge of such things.

  27. Great article! I will put many of these tips to use, really liked the “talk to the bartender and cab driver” tip, so true!

  28. Hi,
    I love travelling and I make 2 family overseas trips a year.
    I thank you for giving incredible advise on every single details of travelling.
    Despite my own travel experience I have learned so much from your article. The most useful is first one (to make travelling top priority ) . I have 2 kids, and my next trip will be very much different with your great tips.

  29. it was an incredible content. quite extensive and wide. I want to take advantage of all of them. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  30. Great Post!! Thank you for sharing such an informative blog. We will get o know only when we experience it. I have related to many things after reading your blog. And also I have got some points after reading your blog.

    Keep sharing your experiences and tips.

  31. Noise cancelling headsets. Seems simple, but try travelling with them, especially on the plane, your flight will be much more relaxing. Noise from the engines can really affect your mood and make you tired. My 2 cents.

  32. Cool blog!
    I got to know many new ideas to adopt while travelling. I totally agree with the “Over Planning” thing. Sometimes, over-planning ruins the fun of your trip. So thumbs up to that point! also, I would like to share one more point and that is, not to carry too much eating items with you when you are travelling by-road. It just gets wasted in the end.

    Have a good day all! 😀 🙂

  33. The first tip really had me triggered lol. I was once the type of person who always looked for good deals when traveling since I wanted to did everything on a budget. Nowadays, I find it so ridiculous and trivial. Saving a few dollars, even dozens of dollars may not give you more satisfaction than utilizing your time and resources well enough to make the most of your experience and journey.

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