1. ALWAYS keep photocopies of your important documents in a separate location from your important documents, and keep backup files in a DropBox Account.
I’ve had my passport, wallet, and house key stolen at the very beginning of a trip in Malta. It was awful, but luckily I had copies of all of them and was able to transfer money to my friend and he let me withdraw and use cash for the remainder of the trip. Now I even opened a completely separate checking account and keep the card separate from my wallet. If I lose it again or have my identity stolen again, (it’s happened once on a trip and once at home) then I have a backup means to money and don’t have to feel bad about asking people to assist me.
2. Always pre-plan full outfits including socks, shoes, underwear/bras, and accessories.
Don’t just throw together random shit. Try on the entire outfit and make sure everything ‘works’, then pack each outfit into a freezer bag. Voila! Organized, fashionable packing.
3. Don’t forget these key items no matter where you are going: flip flops (for shower shoes) , a hoodie, and extra underwear.
4. Take a business card from your hotel, write your room # on it and take a photo of it on your phone AND add it to your Drop Box account.
Obviously the side with the address. This comes in handy after you’ve had a bit to drink and need to take a taxi home. You can just hand them the address and they can get to your hotel easier! Also, if you have food at a particularly amazing restaurant, take a business card and stick it in your travel diary. You can recommend others eat there the next time you visit or remember to write about it in your blog!
5. Check out the local customs and laws BEFORE renting a car.
Mainly, the car rental age limit. I made this mistake in Malta and was out $200 and had to take the bus everywhere. It wasn’t very fun. Be sure to make sure you are at or above the legal age required to drive even if you’re legal age in your home country.
6. Spend your time away from social media
Enjoy your vacation. Limit your social media posts and checking to when you’re done for the day. If you have to post constantly while you’re gone, try scheduling posts on Hootsuite before you leave for your vacation! It’s a pretty epic site.
7. Keep a detailed travel journal
Oh man, I wish I would have started this far sooner. Even if it just means jotting down the things you did, this will help keep your memory alive and well! I always try to write about things I found funny as well as things that went wrong. Those always end up being the best memories. My boyfriend, Trevor, loves to draw the places we’re at, especially when we’re sitting there waiting on food. It’s perfect for our shared Travel Journal.
8. Check the weather before heading out
Even if it’s a typically hot place, cold weather and changes in weather happen frequently! I learned this the hard way while traveling to the Canary Islands during November. Usually it’s still pretty hot, but the week I went it was 50 F and raining the whole time. If I would have checked the weather I would have known. Guess who only brought shorts and tank tops? I did, and I had to buy all new clothes.
9. Have days off and don’t know where to go? Use my Skyscanner tip!
Are you trying to figure out where to go? Fill in the Departing Airport, leave the destination completely BLANK, fill in the dates and search! It’ll give you a list of all the places you can go in order of cheapest to most expensive and is VERY handy.
10. Rent Airbnbs with kitchens.
This will save you a lot of money on meals and snacks! You can head to the local grocery store and stock up on snacks, cheap booze, and water bottles (if the tap water isn’t drinking-safe) you will save an insane amount on the essentials. This is especially money-saving when most European Supermarkets have a great selection of wines for 1-3 Euro each. That’s how much one glass costs at a restaurant! You can keep them cool in the refrigerator and cook your breakfasts and some lunches.
11. Wake up early
This is mostly a big deal if you’re a lover of photography or videography. The Golden Hour (Hour before the sun sets/hour after it rises) is the best time to get gorgeous footage with the most vibrant colors. I love capturing the beautiful scenery at sunrise when most people are still sleeping.
12. Buy tour/event tickets online before leaving.
This is especially essential when visiting big cities like Paris or Rome where the lines are a literal mile long. If you buy tickets online, you’ll skip the lines and save money! Lots of times you can find sales online and do some shopping around for the best prices.
13. Do something that scares you
Now I don’t mean ‘Do something illegal or dangerous’. I mean do something that gets your heart racing. If there is a safe cliff to jump off of, do it! If there is a scary roller coaster, go on it. My biggest regrets are the things that I didn’t do. Do it for the stories, photos, and the memories!
14. Embrace that bad things will happen, and make the most of it.
Travel hardly ever goes how you expect it to, so make the most out of it. It’s raining all week on your beach vacation? Go to the beach anyways. Swim, surf, embrace it. Bring your GoPro and have the time of your life. These ALWAYS make the best memories. If it’s storming, check out indoor activities or restaurants that you may not have thought about going to.
15. Try to get an international cell phone plan before heading out
I hate going without cell service, so I make sure I have an international traveler plan on my cell service. It’s gotten me out of a lot of sticky situations and helped me save money by allowing my phone to be be my Car Rental GPS, TripAdvisor Restaurant Finder, as well as a Things-to-Do giver.
16. Bring food on your plane ride.
As long as it isn’t a liquid, you can bring your own food on the plane! Most people do not know this, but you can totally do it as long as you aren’t on a liquid diet (why would anyone do that to themselves anyways?!!?!). You can prepare your meals ahead of time in tupperware and put them into an Isobag purse-cooler. Viola! You save money on expensive-ass airport foods.
17. Get medications weeks in advance before you depart.
Sometimes pharmacies are out of the medications you’ll be in dire need of the days leading up to your trip. I learned this the hard way when my pharmacy was out of my birth control pill. I panicked because it couldn’t be filled before I left for my two week trip to the USA. Don’t make this mistake because it really isn’t fun.
18. Most important tip: Stop caring what other people think!
Seriously. These people will probably never see you again, so do wacky things! This doesn’t mean to be rude or a jerk tourist. Snap as many photos of yourself (yes, even selfies!) and ask other people to get photos of you as well. A moment of embarrassment will give you a lifetime of memories captured in the photos. It’s a snapshot of your life. Do as the Romans do!