20 Tips on Becoming a Better Traveler

20 Tips to Becoming a Better Traveler

  1. Remember that nothing is impossible. Ignore the naysayers and everyone who tells you it can’t be done, because IT CAN. If I’d have listened to all the naysayers in my life (friends and family included), I would never travel anywhere. Keep your eye on the prize. Perseverance is key and it’ll get you anywhere. Don’t give up.
  2. Chuck the itinerary, seriously, you don’t need it. That schedule that you made where every hour and minute of the day is filled up, just toss it. If you try to cram too many things into your trip, you’ll be exhausted and won’t enjoy any of it. Sure there are lots of things to see where you are going, but that’s why you make future plans to go back. If you learn to relax and enjoy the moment, you’ll appreciate it more. I mean, you’re on vacation right? Do you really want to see another schedule?
  3. Patience is a virtue. Missed your train? Missed your connecting flight? Don’t freak out, there will be others. Life is way too short to be sad and angry over little things.
  4. Don’t eat near tourist attractions. If you eat near a tourist attraction, you’ll most likely be paying more for your food than you should and it’ll be of lesser quality. Why? Restaurants near tourist attractions know that you won’t be able to tell the difference, so the food won’t taste as good as it should and they’ll charge you more for it. How do you avoid this? If you see “tourist menu,’ it’s probably best to move on. If the people working there don’t speak any English, you’re probably in the right place.
  5. Meet locals. You’re in a foreign country right? What better way is there to experience the culture of a place than to meet people who actually live and work there. You’ll also get in on the local secrets like the secret bread of Florence (yes, it does exist).
  6. Learn to smile and say hi. The simplest things make a world of difference. If you smile, people are more likely to come up to you and talk to you. When was the last time you spoke to someone who was grouchy? And learn how to say hi in the local language. Sure you won’t be fluent in the local language but learning how to say hi goes a long way. In Spain? “Hola!” In the Philippines? “Kumusta!”
  7. Say yes. You should still keep your wits about you, but if you meet someone and they invite you over to meet their family and have dinner, you should go! Why wouldn’t you? This is your chance for an authentic cultural experience, and the opportunity may never come up again. It could be a wedding or a festival or a road trip to the family vineyard in the countryside to try the special reserve wine. Just go. These are the things that make traveling worthwhile. Don’t pass them up.
  8. Try couchsurfing. It’s beyond amazing. I’ve been couchsurfing since 2009 and I
    Couchsurfing in Paris with my hosts Gaëlle and Gaël and their friend Christopher

    Couchsurfing in Paris with my hosts Gaëlle and Gaël and their friend Christopher

    can honestly say that my life wouldn’t be the same without it. Couchsurfing is a large community of people around the world willing to host you and get to know you. They’ll also give recommendations on where to go and where to eat, and if they have time, they’ll show you around. The best part? You’ll make life long friends and gain a better understanding of the world and its people. If you’re looking for an authentic travel experience, couchsurf.

  9. Learn to laugh at yourself. This applies to all aspects of life. You WILL make mistakes along the way, and that is OKAY. Just pick yourself up and move on. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  10. Eat the local food. A big part of experiencing another country’s culture is the food. Whether it’s chinicuiles in Mexico, balut in the Philippines, pasta nero in Italy or that extra smelly cheese in France, try it all. Just because it looks funny or smells weird doesn’t mean that it doesn’t taste good. Don’t knock it ’til you try it I say.
  11. Don’t be afraid. The world is full of scary things sure, but that doesn’t make it a scary place. Don’t believe everything you see in the media, it’s only ever one-sided. The world is a beautiful place and its people and cultures nothing short of awe-inspiring. More often than not, you’ll find that people around the world want to get to know you just as much as you want to get to know them. In the words of my favorite president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
  12. Be open-minded. Leave your prejudices, inhibitions, and misconceptions about the world where they belong…at home! It is absolutely paramount in my opinion. Don’t judge people just because they do things differently from you or speak in a language you don’t understand. You’re there for the experience, take it all in.
  13. Take photos, and take lots of them. It can be tempting to buy souvenirs everywhere you go, but keep in mind that they take up space and eventually start to get heavy. If you’re on a multi-week trip, your pack will be chock full of them. Do you really want to be hauling it around? Instead, take photos, and take lots of them. Photos are the best souvenirs because they weigh nothing and you can take as many as you want (at least as many as your memory card will hold). With photos, you can relive the experience, try doing that with a shot glass.
  14. People watch. Go to a cafe, grab a coffee and just sit outside. See how the locals live. It’s a good way to take in the culture and relax at the same time.
  15. Be respectful. This doesn’t mean that you can’t fun but just be mindful of where you are. If you’re going to visit a church or temple, dress appropriately. Guys, that means pants and a shirt, no shorts and a tank top. Ladies, don’t wear anything revealing.
  16. Be frugal. Your trip won’t be as fun if you’re always on a budget. Know when to save and know when to splurge a little. Don’t miss out on something just because you decided to walk ten miles instead of taking the bus for $2.
  17. Travel insurance. Don’t leave home without it. If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of being robbed while abroad, you’ll know what I mean. It kinda sucks when you’re stuff is stolen, especially when it’s stuff like your camera, computer or even your passport. World Nomads is a good place to start.

    the ever iconic Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona border

    the ever iconic Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona border

  18. Wake up early (or stay up really late). Ever go to take a picture of a tourist attraction only to find that everyone is getting in the way? If so, wake up early. You can get a picture of an empty Piazza San Pietro or an almost empty Fontana di Trevi. The other alternative is to stay up really late and get some awesome night shots.
  19. Cash is king. You won’t always be able to debit and credit cards when you travel, so remember to always have some cash on you. This is especially important if you are traveling to less developed countries where ATMs are far and few between.
  20. Most importantly, DON’T WAIT. The only way to become a better traveler is to actually travel. Sadly most people that say they will travel, actually never do. It’s always one excuse or another. I don’t have enough money or life got in the way. The world is constantly changing and what might be there today may not be there tomorrow. Don’t miss out on it. Don’t wait.
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