Travel savviness is a process born of missed buses, foolish behavior, cultural unawareness, and countless tiny errors. Then, one day, you begin to seamlessly move through airports and integrate yourself into new cultures like a fish to water.
MY BEST 61 TRAVEL TIPS TO MAKE YOU THE WORLD’S SAVVIEST TRAVELER
MY BEST 61 TRAVEL TIPS TO MAKE YOU THE WORLD’S SAVVIEST TRAVELER
MY BEST 61 TRAVEL TIPS TO MAKE YOU THE WORLD’S
Updated: 12/18/18 | December 18th, 2018
Most people aren’t born savvy travelers. It’s something that only comes
with on-the-road experience.
In the beginning, you make a lot of travel mistakes.
Search this site
RAVEL TIPS ABOUT BLOG DESTINATIONS RESOURCES COMMUNITY MEDIA SCHOOL SHOP
2. Travel savviness is a process born of missed buses, foolish behavior,
cultural unawareness, and countless tiny errors. Then, one day, you begin to
seamlessly move through airports and integrate yourself into new cultures
like a fish to water.
I want to help speed up the process and help you avoid my mistakes (and I
often make a lot of them), so I put together this giant list of my best travel
tips that cover everything under the sun to help you reach your full travel
I’ve learned these tips over the last twelve years.
These tips for traveling will have you saving money, sleeping better, getting
off the beaten path more, meeting locals, and just being a better traveler.
Without further ado, here are the best 61 tips in the world:
1. Always pack a towel
It’s the key to successful galactic hitchhiking and plain common sense. You
never know when you will need it, whether it’s at the beach, on a picnic, or
just to dry off. While many hostels offer towels, you never know and
carrying a small towel won’t add that much weight to your bag.
2. Buy a small backpack/suitcase
By purchasing a small backpack (I like something around 35/40 liters), you
will be forced you to pack light and avoid carrying too much stuff. Humans
have a natural tendency to want to fill space so if you pack light but have
lots of extra room in your bag, you’ll end up going “well, I guess I can take
more” and then regret it.
—> Click here for more tips on finding the best travel backpack
3. Pack light
3. It’s OK to wear the same t-shirt a few days in a row. Take half the clothes
you think you will need…you won’t need as much as you think. Write down
a list of essentials, cut it in half, and then only pack that! Plus, since you
bought a small backpack like I said, you won’t have much room for extra
—> Click here for tips on packing
4. But take extra socks
You’ll lose a bunch to laundry gremlins, wear and tear, and hiking so
packing extra will come in handy. I only take a few more than I need.
Nothing beats a fresh pair of socks!
5. Take an extra bank card and credit card with you
Disasters happen. It’s always good to have a backup in case you get
robbed or lose a card. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere new without
access to your funds. I once had a card duplicated and a freeze put on it. I
couldn’t use it for the rest of my trip. I was very happy I had an extra and
not like my friend, who didn’t and was forced to borrow money from me all
Here are some helpful articles on banking and travel hacking:
How to Avoid Banking Fees While Traveling
22 Ways to Cut Your Expenses, Grow Your Bank Balance, and Have
Money for Travel
The Ultimate Guide to Picking the Best Travel Credit Card (2018
How to Travel Cheap: The Ultimate Guide to Traveling When You
Have No Money
6. Make sure to use no-fee bank cards
4. Don’t give banks your hard-earned money. Keep that for yourself and
spend it on your travels. Get a credit card and debit card that doesn’t
charge a foreign transaction fee or an ATM fee. Over the course of a long
trip, the few dollars they take every time will really add up!
—> Here’s an article that will tell you how to do that
7. Travel by yourself at least once
You’ll learn a lot about yourself and how to become independent. It’s a
cliché, but it’s true. Traveling solo taught me how to fend for myself, talk to
people, and handle unfamiliar situations with ease. It’s made me
comfortable with myself, helped me learn about what I’m capable of, and
allowed me to be super selfish and do whatever I want! It can take some
getting used to if you’ve never done it before but do it at least once. Make
yourself uncomfortable and surprise yourself. You’ll learn valuable life skills
when you push yourself!
Here are some helpful articles on solo travel:
Why I Travel Alone
The Joy of Solo Travel
Travel: The Ultimate Personal Development Tool
How to Overcome Being Alone
Reading People: One Skill Travel Has Taught Me
8. Don’t be afraid to use a map.
Looking like a tourist isn’t as bad as getting really lost and ending up in the
wrong neighborhood. Don’t be afraid to use a map or ask for directions
and look like a tourist. After all, you are one! I always use a map when I
travel. It helps you get to where you need to go!
9. But don’t be afraid to get purposefully lost.
5. Wandering aimlessly through a new city is a good way to get to know it,
get off the beaten path, and away from the tourists. You might be surprised
by the hidden gems you find. I like to wander around and try to find my
way without using Google Maps!
10. Always visit the local tourism o ice.
They know about everything going on in town. They can point you to free
activities, special events happening during your stay, and everything in
between. They even offer discounts on attractions and transportation. It is
their job to help you experience the destination better. It’s amazing how
many travelers skip this when they are visiting somewhere but, as a savvy
traveler, you know to use this resource! This is probably one of the most
underused travel tips in the world. Use the tourism board! Save money!
11. Don’t buy a money belt — they’re stupid.
Thieves know they exist and being seen with one basically shouts, “Look at
me, I’m a tourist with money! Rip me off!” The more you can blend in and
act like a local, the easier it will be to get deals and avoid touts. If you’re
worried about pickpockets, keep a better eye on your stuff!
12. When you go out, take only what you need.
Limit the amount of cash and bank cards you carry with you, so if
something does happen, you can easily recover. Never take more than one
credit card or ATM card with you. My rule for cash is to limit what I carry to
13. Always carry a lock.
They come in handy, especially when you stay in dorms and need to lock
your stuff up. Carry a small combination lock with you when you travel.
Don’t use one with keys because, if you lose the keys, you’re screwed!
6. 14. Make extra copies of your passport and important documents.
Don’t forget to e-mail a copy to yourself too. You never know when you
might need to have some sort of documentation with you and might not
want to carry your original. Additionally, if your passport gets stolen having
a copy will come in handy for your police report.
15. Ask hostel sta for information — even when you aren’t
Hostel staff deal with budget travelers all day, every day. They know exactly
where to go for cheap meals and attractions. They also tend to be locals so
they know the city very well. Ask them for all sorts of information. Even if
you aren’t staying in one, just pop in and ask for help. They’ll usually give it.
16. Learn basic phrases in the native language of your destination
The locals will appreciate it and it will make your interactions easier. You
don’t need to master the language but learning a few things like “Hello,”
“Goodbye,” “Thank you!”, “Where’s the bathroom?” will go a long way to
endearing yourself with the locals. They’ll like that you tried.
—-> Here are some tips on how to learn a language.
17. Read a history book!
You can’t understand a place’s present if you don’t know anything about its
past. Read up on the destinations you are visiting. It will give you a deeper
understanding of this place you’ve wanted to see for so long!
Here are some of my favorite travel reads from last year. For more book
recommendations, read these articles:
13 Travel Books That Will Give You Serious Wanderlust
My Favorite Books of 2018 (So Far)
7. The Best Travel Books
For more awesome suggestions you can check out my monthly book club!
18. Don’t be ashamed to walk into a Starbucks or McDonald’s.
Sometimes familiarity is comforting and both places have free wifi and
public restrooms you can use. (Just don’t eat the food at McDonald’s! That
shit is gross and unhealthy for you! You can get it back home!)
19. Don’t y direct
When booking flights, sometimes it is cheaper to fly into airports close to
your final destination, and then take a train or bus to where you need to go.
Be sure to shop around for your flight and know that direct isn’t always the
cheapest route. My favorite flight search engines are:
Momondo – This is my all time favorite search engine. They always
seem to find airlines that offer the best deals and their calendar view
lets you see which days are cheapest to fly. I like them because they
search the small booking sites no one else does.
Google Flights – One of the best flight search engines out there,
Google Flights lets you enter your departure airport and see flights all
over the world in a map so you can see where the cheapest
Skyscanner – This great website searches a lot of different airlines,
including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss.
—> Here are some more tips on finding cheap flights!
20. Always get behind business travelers when in security lines.
They move fast since they are usually in a rush and travel light. They know
the drill. Line up behind them as much as possible. You’ll speed through the
8. 21. Never get behind families.
They take forever. It’s not their fault. They just have a lot of stuff because of
the kids. Try to avoid getting in lines with lots of kids. It’s going to take
22. When you check in to the hotel, don’t be afraid to ask for an
They have a lot of flexibility when it comes to assigning upgrades at check-
in. It never hurts to ask. Often times they can accommodate you if the hotel
isn’t full. Just be super nice!
23. Libraries, Starbucks, and most cafés have free Wi-Fi.
If you’re staying someplace that charges you to connect, check out one of
these places. You can connect for free.
24. Lunchtime is the best time to visit historical sites.
Be a contrarian. You’ll have fewer crowds getting in your way as big tour
buses, groups, and most travelers head to lunch. It’s always best to visit an
attraction super early, late, or when people eat. You’ll have even the most
popular places to yourself!
25. Never eat in a touristy area or near a tourist attraction
As a general rule, I walk five blocks in either direction before I find a place
to eat. The closer you are to tourist attractions the more you are going to
pay and the worse the food (and service). Use websites like Yelp, Google
Maps, Foursquare, or Open Rice to find some delicious and popular
restaurants around you.
Additionally, never eat anywhere the menu is in like 6 languages! That
means the restaurant is just for tourists!
9. 26. Locals don’t eat out every night and neither should you.
Go grocery shopping. You can learn a lot about locals’ diets by seeing the
type of food they buy. Plus, it will save you a lot of money. You won’t regret
it. Cook your food, save money, surprise yourself!
27. Eat at expensive restaurants during lunch.
Most expensive restaurants offer lunch specials featuring the same food
they would serve for dinner but half the price! That’s the best time to eat
out when you travel.
28. Pack a ashlight.
It will let you see at night, you avoid stepping on stuff, and help you tell
ghost stories. Who’s afraid of the dark?
29. Carry a basic rst-aid kit.
Accidents happen so be prepared. I take band-aids, antibacterial cream,
and ointments for minor cuts and scrapes. You never know when you’re
going to need it and you can’t always get it when you travel.
—-> Here are some tips for packing a professional first aid kit!
30. Book ights 2-3 months in advance to get the best price.
Don’t drive yourself too crazy trying to get the absolute cheapest fare.
Spending five hours to try to save $10 will cause you a lot of stress. Here
are some article on how to save money on flights:
5 Steps to Booking a Cheap Flight Online
How to Always Find a Cheap Flight
31. Stay in hostels
10. They are cheap, organize events, you’ll meet a lot of people, and they are
just tons of fun! Plus, hostel bars sell cheap beer. Here are some posts on
how to pick a hostel (and some of my favorite ones):
My 17 Favorite Hostels in the World
My 9 Favorite Hostels in Australia
10 Tips to Successfully Pick a Hostel
The Best Hostels in Europe
My Favorite Hostels in New Zealand
32. Use Meetup, the sharing economy, and hospitality websites to
These websites will help you get an insider’s perspective on your
destination by connecting you with locals in the places you visit. The
sharing economy has changed the way people travel allowing you to meet
locals, get off the tourist travel, and save mega money! It’s a triple win –
and resources that I use all the time when I travel. Here’s an article on how
to use the sharing economy (and what websites to use) when you travel.
Here are some of my favorite sharing economy and hospitality websites:
Couchsurfing – This website allows you to stay on people’s couches or
spare rooms for free. It’s a great way to save money while meeting
locals who can tell you much more about a city than you will find out
in a hostel/hotel.
Airbnb – Another good accommodation alternative, this site connects
with homeowners who rent out their homes/apartments to you.
EatWith – There is a fee (everyone sets their own price) but this is a
great way to do something different, pick a local’s brain, and make a
BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides
with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a
seat, they approve, and off you go!
11. Gumtree – This Craiglist like site is an amazing resource for travelers.
You can find travel partners, rideshares, jobs, second hand gear,
homestays, and much more.
Lyft – Get locals to pick you and drop you off where you need to go!
It’s about 30% cheaper than a taxi.
Getaround – Need a car for a few hours? Rent someone else’s.
Getaround allows you to rent people’s unused cars by the hour.
33. Be open to strangers
Not everyone bites. Say hi to people on the road. Turn strangers into
friends. Remember they are just like you! They want to live a happy, full life
and have hopes and dreams too! You never know. You just might make
some lifelong friends.
34. But keep your guard up.
Some people do bite, so keep a healthy level of suspicion. You don’t want
to fall for any travel scams or get yourself into uncomfortable situations. Be
open but cautious.
—> Here is a list of travel scams to avoid.
35. Try new food.
Don’t ask what it is. Just put it in your mouth and see if you like it. If you
put your guard up, you might miss out on some unusual and delicious local
cuisine. Here are some articles on how to eat delicious — and cheap — food
around the world:
My 29 Favorite Restaurants in Europe
16 Delicious Places to Eat in NYC
How to Eat Cheap Around the World
37 Places to Eat in Tokyo
How to Eat Around the World on a Vegan Diet
12. 36. Avoid taxis.
They are always a budget buster. Never, ever take a taxi unless you
absolutely have too!
37. Take an empty metal water bottle through airport security and
ll it up at your gate.
Drink from the tap when you can — you’ll save money and help the
environment. If you’re going somewhere where you can’t drink the water,
be sure to get a water bottle with a filter. I love LifeStraw and Grayl as my
two preferred ones.
38. Take free walking tours.
Besides being free, these tours will give you a good orientation and
background of the city you are visiting. I love, love, love taking walking
tours when I travel. You pass the time, you get to pepper the guide with
questions, and you get to learn so much about where you are! Take a
walking tour when you travel! Here are some lists of my favorite free
walking tour companies in the world:
The Best Walking Tours of New York City
The 12 Best Walking Tour Companies in London
39. Get city attraction cards.
If you are going to visit a lot of museums and other attractions in a short
period of time, a city pass is going to save you money on admission (plus
most provide free public transportation too!).
40. Take pictures of your luggage and clothes.
If your bag gets lost, this will help identify it more easily and speed up the
process of having your travel insurance reimburse you.
13. 41. Carry emergency cash.
Because emergencies happen. Like that time in Romania when I couldn’t
find an ATM and needed money for the bus to the hostel! I usually try to
keep around a $200 USD in emergency cash in case something happens!
42. Get good shoes.
You walk a lot when you travel. Don’t beat up your feet. Love them as much
as they love you, and they’ll take you to amazing places.
43. Get vaccinated.
Because falling prey to an illness in a foreign country is not fun — and many
countries require you to get vaccinated in order to visit them so, regardless
of your opinion on the subject, you just might have to.
—> Here is an article on how to stay healthy on the road
44. Learn to haggle.
Haggling is a fun, playful way of not getting charged the foreigner price.
It’s the art of negotiating and one that will help you throughout all of life,
not just at the market.
45. Use points and miles for free travel.
You can go a lot further in the world when you don’t have to pay for it.
Learn the art of travel hacking and collect points and miles through your
everyday spending so you can get free flights, accommodation, train
tickets, and other forms of travel! It’s what all expert travelers due to lower
their travel costs and something you should do too! Here’s how I earn 1
million frequent flier miles every year!
46. Take a jacket.
14. Nights get chilly.
47. Eat street food!
If you skip the street food, you miss out on culture. Don’t be scared. If
you’re nervous, look for places where kids are eating. If it’s safe for them,
it’s safe for you.
48. Get travel insurance
Travel insurance is the most important thing you get that you never want
to use. If something goes wrong, you don’t want to be out thousands of
dollars in bills. It will be there if you get robbed, flights get cancelled, you
get sick or injured, or have to be sent home. It’s comprehensive and, for
just a few dollars a day, one of the best investments you can get for a trip.
You may think you’re superman/woman but so did my friend who broke
her arm, didn’t have insurance, and had to pay thousands out of pocket.
Insurance was there when I had to replace my camera and when I popped
an eardrum scuba diving! Get it! Here are some tips on how to find the
best travel insurance.
My favorite companies are:
World Nomads – I buy all my travel insurance from World Nomads.
They have great customer service, competitive prices, and in-depth
coverage. I’ve been using them since I started traveling in 2003.
Insure My Trip – The best insurance for those over 70 years old.
49. Be patient.
Things will work out in the end. No need to rush. You’ll get to where you
are going in due time. Travel is about the journey, not the destination.
50. Be respectful.
15. Locals are willing to help you out, but there’s probably a language barrier,
so keep your cool when something doesn’t go your way. If you don’t, you’ll
end up just looking like an asshole tourist.
51. Don’t overplan your trip.
Let your days unfold naturally. Schedule two or three things and let the day
fill in the rest on its own. It’s less stressful, and letting the day just take you
is one of the best ways to travel. Here’s my advice on how not to overplan
See Be patient.
53. Be frugal — but not cheap.
Don’t be pennywise but pound-foolish. Look for deals and don’t waste
money, but don’t miss out on great experiences or walk 10 miles to save a
couple of dollars. Time is money. Spend them both wisely.
54. Take earplugs.
Snorers are everywhere and you need your sleep.
55. Always have an extra USB charger.
Batteries die. Your good mood shouldn’t.
56. Take photos of and with people.
Lots of photos. Years from now, you’ll want to look back on those nights
you can’t remember and the people who made them memorable.
57. Book your tickets online
16. If you’re planning to do any activities or excursions on your trip, book them
online. Companies usually offer a discounted price when compared to
buying in person. Not only that but you’ll be able to pay with a credit card,
giving you some extra protection as well as more travel points!
58. Sign up for ight deals
When it comes to travel, your flight(s) will likely be your biggest expense.
Save money by signing up for flight deal websites like Scott’s Cheap
Flights, The Flight Deal, and Secret Flying. You’ll get epic flight deals
straight to your inbox, saving you time and money. Also be sure to sign up
for airline newsletters, since that is where they will announce their sales
59. Pre-book your tickets to attractions
Many major attractions allow you to reserve your spot and skip the line.
Always look online to see if this is an option. This will you to avoid wasting
time in multi-hour lines and go right in. I’ve seen people wait hours for the
Paris Catacombs, Louvre, London Churchill War Rooms, churches, temples,
historic fortresses, and more. Pre-book the day before, skip the line, get to
see more during your day!
60. Avoid TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor is fine when you need opening hours or an address, but when
it comes to reviews I ignore it completely. People always leave a negative
review when something bad happens but rarely leave a positive review
when something good happens so the reviews tend to be skewed. On top
of that, it’s very easy to create fake reviews and make a place seem better
than it is. Many hotels and restaurants hire firms to artificially inflate their
reviews on the platform. Additionally, TripAdvisor has been known to take
down reviews that are overly negative as well reviews on sexual assualt.
Use TripAdvisor with caution. Or better yet, don’t use it at all.
17. 61. Finally, wear sunscreen.
For as the Baz Luhrmann song “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.
The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
Whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
Than my own meandering experience.
There you have it! My top travel tips! Follow them and you’ll be the best
traveler you can be in no time flat! Leave a comment below and add
anything you think I missed!
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day
My New York Times best-selling paperback guide to
world travel will teach you how to master the art of
travel save money, get off the beaten path, and
have a more local, richer travel experiences. Click
here to learn more about the book, how it can
help you, and you can start reading it today!
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two
favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the
globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
If you want to stay elsewhere, use Booking.com as they consistently return
the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. I use them all the time.
18. You can book your hostel – if you want that instead – with Hostelworld as
they have the most comprehensive inventory.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and
cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I
never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve
been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer
the best service and value are:
World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel!
I list all the ones I use to save money when I travel – and I think will help you
Last Updated: January 3, 2020
Stay Updated On The Best
Travel Deals and Tips!
Hi! I'm Nomadic Matt and I'm here to
help you travel more for less.
Sign up to get my best travel tips as
well as these free guides to help you
19. C AT E G O R I E S
MY NEW MEMOIR IS OUT!!
Points & Miles
plan your next trip like a pro:
A Suggested Packing List
61 High Impact Travel Tips
17 Step Planning Checklist
Your Guide to Getting Free Flights
SEND ME TRAVEL TIPS!
21. Want to share your tips and advice? Got questions? Visit the community forum
to ask questions, get answers, meet people, and share your tips!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you,
I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the
income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.
FACEBOOK TWITTER PINTEREST EMAIL
22. A Traveler’s Manifesto: 30
Travel Rules to Live By
4 Tips for Traveling with
9 Tips for Better Family
23. THERE ARE 54 COMMENTS
Marie October 2, 2014 at 11:10 am
Great tips in travel and some for life in general! I’ll have to come back to
this as a quick resource while planning/packing/traveling. Thanks!
David October 2, 2014 at 12:15 pm
Such good advice! I already do lots. The ones I haven’t, I will now.
One more: pack your old clothes for travel. If you lose it, it’s not a big loss.
And you might need to make space for travel acquisitions.
Kristin October 2, 2014 at 12:25 pm
GET YOUR FREE TRAVEL
Learn everything you need to know
to travel like a pro with this exclusive
starter kit so you can travel cheaper,
better, and longer on your next trip!
First Name Email GET IT NOW
24. Don’t be so quick to diss money belts — I never travel without one. I just
have the kind that tucks UNDER my clothes so no one knows it’s there and I
can have my most valuable possessions (my passport and SD cards — in a
ziploc so they don’t get sweaty) with me, tucked away safely.
Amy October 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm
All great tips! I’ve learned many of these the hard way. I’d also include car-
rying some stomach meds in that first aid kit, just in case. They’re usually
easy to find in big cities but might be tougher if you’re in more rural areas
or traveling on a day stores are closed. Plus that way you might not have to
be as paranoid about eating the delicious street food!
Michael October 2, 2014 at 3:22 pm
I’ve been reading your blog for a while. This is the first time I felt compelled
to leave a comment.
Love the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference.
Juergen October 2, 2014 at 10:38 pm
But McDonalds is the public toilet which sells food!
I’m never ashamed to go to McDoof (as the Germans call them ~ McStupid)
to use the toilet, as almost everywhere in the world they are in cleanliness
25. at least above average local standards! That doesn’t mean I buy anything –
except a coffee on odd occasion…
Victoria October 2, 2014 at 11:31 pm
Love this post Matt! 100% spot on advice. It should be printed at the front
of every tourist guide (yes I’m old school) and handed out to students 🙂
Enrico October 3, 2014 at 1:50 am
What about a travel vest? I have one that has 7 pockets where I keep my
passport, cash and credit cards. When it’s comfortable and convenient, I
a sports coat over it, perfect! I don’t put my wallet in my back pocket.
Sandra Molyneaux October 3, 2014 at 2:21 am
Good advice. Here’s a dozen more. (1) Packing a towel: get a thin, cotton
towel used in Turkish Hamams. They pack to nothing; dry out fast; double
as a sarong, Mosque head covering, or picnic cloth. (2) Universal sink stop-
per – don’t leave home without one. (3) As much silk, light cotton, Gor-tex,
and synthetics as you can tolerate. Dries fast, light weight to pack. (4) Pre-
scription scripts – diabetics know this is critical; others can use the advice
as well. (5) Money belts – absolutely use them!!!!! (6) Lunchtime museum
visits – check opening hours!! MANY close at lunch. (7) Locks: Yes, but add
thin fishing lead wire (loops on both ends). Lock luggage together or to the
26. overhead bin of buses and trains. (8) City Attraction Cards: some work;
most don’t unless you want to race from museum to museum. Do the math
first. Often transit cards are a better deal than the full event cards. (9) MA-
JOR sites/museums: book admission times/fees on line in advance. Why
stand in line at the Louvre, etc. when you could be inside appreciating. (10)
Double-check all opening hours on line and ask TIC what sites are closed
(for renovation; lack of funds; you name it). All guide books, no matter how
useful, are out of date the minute they hit the stores. (11) Learn to use Kin-
dle (or similar) for travel reading but as NOT guide books (worthless). (12)
Location, location, location. Sometimes, that cheap hotel/hostel/apartment
in the boonies is worth the savings, but not if you want/need a quick re-
fresher in the afternoon. AND, always ask floor level and elevator availability
when renting an apartment! European floors begin on the “ground” level,
not “first floor” — and the stair cases can be very high. Not all of us are
twenty-something Australians who can climb mountains with full packs.
Celeste October 3, 2014 at 9:51 am
I would add, for women, to get a very sturdy (think Pacsafe) cross-body
purse with slash-proof straps and lockable zippers, and never take it off
your body until you’re back in your hotel room. You and your stuff will feel
very secure knowing that the straps can’t be cut and the pockets cannot be
Jo Fitzsimons October 3, 2014 at 11:19 am
“Don’t buy a money belt – they’re stupid” I’m so glad this is in there. I see so
many people travelling with money belts, digging into them at bars or to
27. pay food vendors. Much more obvious than pulling a note out of your wallet
Carla October 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm
I would prefer to book aisle seats on international flights, I really use the
bathroom and I find it uncomfortable to ask other people to give me space
if I´m on the window seat, plus I´m always tempted to go to my hand lug-
gage in international flights to take out the book, or put it back, to take out
some slippers or put it back… I´m such a mess hehe… so I really need the
Another thing! as well as the earplugs, I would definetely suggest the sleep-
ing mask, for those who can´t sleep unless everything is really dark, and I
find it difficult to sleep on planes with the lights they keep on during the
flight (I need total darkness) and this is very useful for hostels or dorms
where there is always somebody turning on the lights while you are
Carla October 3, 2014 at 12:12 pm
I would definetely prefer an aisle seat on International flights, I frequently
use the bathroom and it could be a little bit uncomfortable to bother other
people while I´m on the window seat, plus on long flights I go to my hand
luggage very frequently, to take out a book, to put it back, to take some
slippers, to take them out, etc… I´m such a mess hehe…
Another thing! as good as it is to take earplugs (plus most airlines charge
for those) it´s good to take a sleep mask for those who can´t sleep without
total darkness, and in planes there´s always subtle lights left during the
28. flight, they are also very helpful at hostels or dorms where there´s always
somebody turning on the light while you´re sleeping…
Cindy October 3, 2014 at 12:46 pm
Love the tips. Here are a few of mine.
Women: use a big tote bag instead of a purse. My purse fits inside, as well
as a lot of other things, and there is not airline baggage fee for a “purse” .
Remember, you can always get shampoo and toothpaste at your destina-
tion. If the liquids restriction is the only thing preventing you from carrying
on your luggage, buy it there.
They sell clothes where you are going and they’ll be souvenirs of your trav-
els. Like Matt said, take less than you think you’ll need.
I travel with a collapsible duffel bag (folds down to about 4x4x2 inches). In
the event I’ve purchased more than will fit in my small carry-on bag, I can
always check a bag on my return flight. This also comes in handy when
you’re bags are over the weight limit. You can take a few things out until
you are under.
My latest travel gadget is a solar phone charger. It has a carabiner so you
can attach it to your backpack or purse and charge your phone while your
Last one: When you are flying with your phone on, it is looking for gps co-
ordinates and cell towers. Put your phone in airplane mode and make cer-
tain the gps gets turned off. This will save your battery charge.
29. Sammi October 3, 2014 at 3:11 pm
Anyone who paraphrases Douglas Adam’s must be talking sense 😀 defi-
nitely put a smile on my face this evening
Kathryn October 3, 2014 at 3:31 pm
I’d say always get the aisle seat on an international flight. It makes it much
easier to get up and walk around, avoiding DVT. If you are travelling with a
companion, get the two outside seats in a row of three. People are unlikely
to pick the middle seat and, if they do, they are pretty likely to swap.
My tip to my future self, because I’m getting old, is to pack some inner soles
with good arch support.
Karyn October 4, 2014 at 1:48 am
Favourited for future reference!
It’s interesting, I’ve heard all these tips in various blog posts from many
bloggers over the years. But when they are all collated together like this
you kind of reflect on them and go, “…yeah. I totally have to make sure I re-
I particularly agree about taking lots of photos. On my last big trip I tried to
reign myself in a little bit so that I was living in the moment and not so fo-
cused on seeing everything through my camera lens. While I think that’s a
very good thing to keep in mind, now I keep trying to tell people about the
various stuff I saw but I have no proof.
30. I’m also now in the position of having a travel blog and wanting to write
about stuff I saw, but it’s hard because I didn’t take enough photos of the
things I want to talk about. lol
Ryan Biddulph October 4, 2014 at 4:08 pm
I’m big on packing light and being open. Fab post!
I bring minimal stuff with me. I wash clothes frequently because I’d rather
carry around less, traveling light, than carrying a bunch of stuff I’d rarely or
never use. I recall my first trip through Southeast Asia. I brought jeans,
more than 1 long sleeve shirt and about 5 other things I never wore during
the 2 year period.
I received a great workout but it made no sense. Now I pack light and I toss
things out quickly if I erred in packing them, because I know letting go
lightens my energy, and physical, load.
I’d also say using small luggage rocks too. Forces you to pack light.
As for being open, most folks on earth are nice, kind and will chat you up
for a bit. I made a few awesome friends here in Fiji by being open, by say-
ing “bula!” and by extending the conversation just a little bit. Sharing your
thoughts, and connecting, helps you make friends and if you haven’t made
at least a handful of travel buddies over the years you’re missing the point.
Thanks so much Matt. Loved this post because I’ve experienced and used
so many of these tips during my world travels. Being on the road teaches
us the best lessons and if we’re open to learning we make our travel lives
31. Tweeting soon.
Signing off from Savusavu, Fiji.
Sam October 5, 2014 at 12:37 am
Great list! I wish I had read the one about reading the history before my
first trip to Cambodia. I meandered around the temples of Angkor Wat and
played with the macaques but that was it.
I’m going to Australia in a couple of months and this time I am reading its
And from my limited experience, I have learned two things: 1) have infinite
patience, and 2) see yourself as a traveler, not a tourist.
rick August 21, 2018 at 8:16 pm
Knowing something about the country you are visiting will endear you
to its citizens-things like who the King or Premier is and maybe some-
thing about a new bridge or building just built will astound even your
Marilyn Long October 5, 2014 at 3:34 pm
32. Great list of tips! I do have to say that I have been very thankful in the past
for a nearby McDonald’s. Years ago when I was not a very experienced trav-
eler, I arrived on a train by myself in Munich. I don’t speak German beyond a
very few basic phrases. The train station is large with numerous exit doors. I
knew where I wanted to go but didn’t know which door to take that would
put me in the right direction. After standing there indecisively for some
time, I realized that I would simply have to select a door and go out. When I
did exit, the sight of golden arches about 2-3 blocks away was most wel-
come. I knew that I could go there, order some coffee or perhaps some-
thing else breakfast-like and study my map to orient myself. It turned out
that I had selected the best door to exit, but it was the ability to sit some-
where somewhat familiar that gave me the confidence to carry on with my
travel plans. I agree with several other posters, too, that McDonald’s can be
depended upon to have clean bathrooms, often the only ones available.
Peggy October 5, 2014 at 7:58 pm
Love these tips! Though I prefer an aisle seat instead of a window on long
haul flights – the only exception is if it’s a red-eye flight. Also – carry a trav-
el towel, preferably a thin, light chamois. Fluffy soft white bath towels are
an indulgence when you’re on the road, not a necessity!
Ashley March 19, 2015 at 6:55 pm
Awesome advice, I agree about packing light.. I have found that you wear
two to three items of clothing constantly so stick to them and keep room
for all those treasures you will bring home along the way… Good luck travel-
Lindsay April 15, 2015 at 5:56 pm
And that lock — make it small! I used to make the mistake of carrying
around big old combination locks, until I realized they’re too big to fit in a
lot of hostel lockers!
Samantha October 5, 2015 at 7:17 pm
Awesome list Matt. I also wanted to mention about bring a wash cloth
when traveling to Europe. We have never seen any in a hotel or flat where
we stayed. Just thought it was interesting. I also take pictures of my drivers
license, passport, prescriptions, etc. You never know when it might come in
handy. Thanks again for a great list.
Steve Manning October 13, 2015 at 11:02 pm
Always carry a few heavy duty zip loc bags. So many uses holding
cables,and small items, emergency ice pack, holds food and water, wet
clothes, booties to keep socks dry in snow, waterproof maps, phone, cam-
era and hundreds more….
Jodi January 8, 2016 at 12:36 pm
34. For the part about looking at a map… yes don’t be afraid to look like a
tourist… because you are one! I see so many people trying to pretend like
they aren’t tourists when they clearly are. Who cares? It’s especially silly
when Westerners do it in Asia. Just do your thing, look at your map. Be
happy to be a tourist!! Yea!
James Bergman February 1, 2016 at 11:51 am
You bring up a good point, I’d much rather look like a tourist than get mis-
erably lost! I want to make 2016 a year of traveling. I figured I have the time
and the means, might as well make it happen before life gets too busy.
Thanks for the tips!
Sophia September 12, 2016 at 5:00 am
I absolutely love these tips Matt! They are super humorous but so true. I
love the money belt one actually. I plan to sew a secret pocket into my
pants for my emergency cash – I read that somewhere and thought it was a
good point. Although, come to think of it – when I want to use the cash,
how do I get it out without everyone else noticing. Hahaha. I’ll figure it out.
Sanda December 11, 2018 at 10:05 am
Bathroom 🙂 I go to the toilet, take out a bit more than i need and
voila! I feel safe.
35. Rita January 20, 2017 at 2:21 am
Great article. You had me at towels for galactic hitchhiking. “Don’t panic, in
large friendly letters.” A fav in regular quote rotation in our house. I’m
proud to say I live and do most of the tips! Will need to remember the
incognito browsing. Who knew? And I’m definitely on #teamnomoneybelt.
But I still can’t bring myself to step into a Starbucks. Can barely even do it
in the states! Happy travels and thanks.
Ed August 1, 2018 at 11:30 am
Such a great article. Some absolute nuggets here. My top tip is always have
a copy of your passport and travel documents and don’t take a money belt.
This has saved me on more than one occasion!
MikeDW August 1, 2018 at 1:33 pm
You might want to mention that many (most?) banks with online services
allow you to instantly set daily & weekly limits on your ATM and credit card
purchases, and many of them let you adjust those limits for a particular pe-
riod of time, such as when you are traveling. I always set lower limits on my
cards when I am traveling, just a bit of insurance.
Also, avoid using PayPal in any country other then the most developed
ones. PayPal is notorious for “freezing” accounts if you should happen to
make an online purchase while in a developing country.
36. About “learning to haggle” it would have been nice to see some references
to guide newbies. My suggestions for beginning some skills:
1) don’t haggle for cheap souvenirs; it makes YOU look very cheap. Save
your bargaining for substantial items.
2) observe the locals and how they do it (even if you don’t understand the
3) smile ALL the time; NEVER get angry.
4) ask the price first, then pause, then look thoughtful, then smile and say,
“too much”, then ask if can they go cheaper.
5) wait for THEM to ask how much you want to offer; don’t be afraid of of-
fending them by offering a price you think might be too low (50% off the
starting price is OK)
6) they will of course say “oh it’s not possible!” (But it usually is possible,
especially on somewhat expensive items!) Then smile and look thoughtful
again. If you want to make another slightly higher offer, go ahead. Other-
7) begin to slowly walk away. Most of the time the merchant will call after
you with another price. If it sounds reasonable take it! Otherwise…
8) look thoughtful again, pause, and ask “is that your last price?” (“last
price” is a magic phrase, usually). Again, if it sounds reasonable, take it!
9) NEVER agree to a price, but then back out of the purchase. Very, very
10) if you want to decline the purchase in a polite way, you can say (with a
smile) “I’ll come back later” or “I want to look around some more”. (Occa-
sionally, this will lead to another even lower offer from the vendor.)
11) Be aware that there are cultural differences in haggling. In Indonesia, for
example, bargaining is a leisurely (and often lengthy) process, often more
akin to just basic socialising. In China, on the other hand, business is usually
conducted very rapidly and with little concern for social niceties.
My $.02 contribution to your fine article!
37. Colleen August 4, 2018 at 10:36 am
Apart from the things mentioned I also take a few clothes pegs and cable
ties. I take my old phone with and purchase a local sim for it. I then make it
a hotspot so use my regular phone for everything except if I need to make
local calls then I use my old phone. I am wary of using public wifi so always
use my own data.
Mick McGrenaghan August 11, 2018 at 9:26 am
Matt, great tips but can’t agree with you on Trip Advisor. Whilst I agree
what you stated does go on as with a lot of similar sites ( false reports etc) ,
I have used it a lot as a guide to hotels, tour companies, private organiza-
tions, general travel advice and not once did I think I was deceived. The
travellers reports were spot on when I got there and used them. So there is
a lot of good in Trip Advisor as a helpful tool when I travel. I think you’re
being a little to harsh on them. Keep up the great work for us. Cheers
Scot McKay August 11, 2018 at 12:48 pm
Let’s just say I’ve traveled both before there was a Trip Advisor and af-
ter. I’m extremely grateful for it.
Paula Morgan August 11, 2018 at 7:48 pm
38. I also disagree re Tripadvisor. The forums are really helpful and the
photos people post of their hotels can give you an idea of what to ex-
pect. I think most people are intelligent enough to read between the
lines with reviews these days. Even though there are fake reviews
there are a lot of valuable ones.
Bill T August 11, 2018 at 9:52 am
Matt – You are wise beyond your years. Great tips, Thank you!
Scot McKay August 11, 2018 at 12:46 pm
Along the lines of #25, never eat at a restaurant with very few people (or
nobody!) in it…especially when it’s mealtime.
Miran Vnuk August 11, 2018 at 4:01 pm
When I was in Peru in 2010 with the intention of hiking the Machu Pichu
Trail,that year there was massive floods and we were not allowed to do that
hike.I had a Goretex jacket,hiking poles and boots ,and also I purchased
some things along the way ,I had another 50 days left of my trip in South
America and I did not want to carry all this extra stuff in my pack sack,one
of the guides told me / us that we should send it home , from Lapaz Bo-
livia,where postage was cheap ,about $40 USD. Doing this I saved lots of
39. space and weight,if you want to buy something some where sent it home
,mail parsel post.
Anton August 13, 2018 at 11:28 am
Not using a money belt is not great advice. Not showing you have a money
belt is. I was express kidnapped in Peru by a fake taxi, robbed at night on a
train in India and was pick pocketed in the Philippines. I had an additional
incident in Peru with a mugger who slammed into us at tried to snatch and
grab one of my two companion’s bag. I carry several extra credit cards, a
second cell phone and my passport and hundreds of dollars in backup cash
when traveling, which I keep in pockets that are going to require my coop-
eration for a thief to access. I keep cash and my preferred credit card in
separate pockets in my outer garments, and figure that whatever is there
has to be of low enough value that it is expendable in the event of criminal
action. Amazon has packs of 20 zipper pocket pouches that can be sewn
into clothing. In addition to shooting pictures of the serial numbers of my
phones and cameras, I email photos of my birth certificate, passport, pass-
port photo, driver’s license, and credit cards (front and back). Plan on being
robbed at some point. If you travel long enough, it is going to happen. I live
near Khao San Road, and just going to the market is an opportunity for a
smash and grab or a sleuthy pick pocketing. I plan accordingly, and use
money belts for my passport and Departure Card as well as secondary
credit card and emergency cash. Having been to emergency rooms twice in
Thailand and Vietnam once, it is necessary to have several hundred dollars
worth of cash on hand for emergencies. ATMs and bank balances are nice,
but can be pretty worthless if you are not in a major city when fortunes
change for the worse.
40. TARYN LAU August 14, 2018 at 7:50 am
I always love travel tips. One tip I always have a hard with is trying new
food while traveling. I want to know the food is good before I spend the
money or else I feel like the money is wasted. So what we started doing is
buying one item I know I’ll like and my husband buy’s another item we want
to try. That way we can share the food and at least I know I’m getting
something I will like.
Derek Cullen October 30, 2018 at 7:52 pm
Fantastic tips, Matt. I especially like that you recommend being frugal but
not cheap. Having worked in Africa for 5 years, I see tourists do this all the
time. That is, they try to bargain with locals too hard and it comes across as
Nick Houston November 21, 2018 at 11:43 pm
I really like this tips. For added security though, I always attach a gps track-
er inside a secret pocket inside my bag. It’s always better to keep an eye on
your belongings but It might be hard once you are enjoying.
Davaughn Barham November 28, 2018 at 11:32 am
Thank you so much for these tips Matt! As a college student, I’ve been
searching for the easiest way to travel while balancing my school work. Ma-
41. jority of these tips gave me exactly what I needed to know, especially num-
bers 23 and 49. Thanks again.
Mariana December 4, 2018 at 7:36 am
Very nice tips!! Espcially number 35. I am usually afraid to try new food, but
it is really nice because we discover a little bit more about the place we are!
Socorro S. Reinhart December 4, 2018 at 8:51 am
Great tips! I’m travelling for the first time in a few years and am a little ner-
vous, but these helped me feel a little better about it! Thanks for Sharing.
Natalie February 20, 2019 at 3:36 am
I couldn’t believe there would be 61 tips in this article, that’s a lot! So, I
came in and read them all. Yes, there are 61 tips here, but 49 and 52 are the
same. I want to add 1 more – always have a copy of a passport and a pass-
port photo with you, especially while travelling abroad. Unfortunately, none
is guaranteed from being robbed and having your photo with you, you’ll
make replacing your passport way easier. Personally, I made passport pho-
tos for all my family in Passport Photo Maker program and have digital
copies in my email, so I can get access to them any time.
42. Marven June 27, 2019 at 2:49 am
Shoes do matters.For most of my trips anywhere, I have worn these dream
pairs in the past. They are waterproof, comfy and supportive in any situa-
tion. Also with good looking
Vick July 11, 2019 at 9:14 am
I never travel without VPN. I have my tablet and always carry it to all of my
trips. I like to travel cost-effectively and NordVPN is here for the rescue.
When I have to buy tickets, on a plane, bus or train, ar recheck certain sell-
ers site with different servers and in most cases, prices differ. So it’s like a
little life hack from me. Moreover, when you travel, you mostly connect to
wifi at the cafe or stations, and it’s not secure. When you use VPN, you se-
cure your traffic, and prevent possible hacking attempts. I 100% recom-
mend purchasing a VPN, and I can say, that NordVPN is a good choice.
Marquette September 7, 2019 at 3:03 pm
Fabulous tips but I must say, the Baz Luhrmann reference is the wisest!
Time to go refresh myself on that song…
Shaylee Packer December 30, 2019 at 9:09 am
I never thought about packing a small towel with me when I go on a trip. I
guess I always just assumed that there would be one at the hotel. As you
43. Leave a Comment
mentioned, there are times when I am not at the hotel when having a towel
would be a nice thing.
Olivia January 14, 2020 at 11:33 am
This list is insanely helpful! These will definitely be my new checklist for the
next trip. I swear I always end up forgetting something which is picked up
at some souvenir shop. Super random but I actually started taking Florajen
Probiotics two weeks before I leave on trips which helps my digestion while
travelling. I know it’s not a typical packing item but it’s become a random
necessity for me.
leojhones January 20, 2020 at 6:26 am
Yesterday I finished all my reservations from STA Travel for my Thailand
tour. I felt very surprised after observing their offered services for students
to explore. I have also applied coupon codes from MyCoupons on my book-
ings and got nearly 30% Off. Guys! Just try it once..
Post My Comment
By posting a comment, you agree to our community friendly, anti-spam comment policy that can be found
GET MY BEST STUFF SENT
STRAIGHT TO YOU!
SEND ME TIPS
Leave a comment
Travel Media Courses
BOOK YOUR TRIP
Travel Credit Cards