Tips To Be A Savvy Traveller

Updated: Sep 3

Travelling is a fun and enriching experience. Being a savvy traveller though, makes travel even more enjoyable. We have been travelling together for over 15 years now and have learnt many lessons along the way! We would like to share some tips with you so that you can enjoy hassle-free travel the easy way.


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Halve Your Clothes & Double Your Money

This is a very common tip amongst most seasoned travellers for a good reason ! We can almost guarantee that you won’t need or use all the clothes that you pack for your trip. Packing less clothing makes your bags lighter and makes travel easier. The truth is that if you really need something that you didn’t pack, you’ll be able to find it wherever you are.


Have More Than One Credit / Debit Card With You

It’s better to be prepared than stuck without a way to pay. Sometimes a vendor doesn’t accept a certain type of card, or your card could get lost or stolen. At times like these, having a backup card is an absolute lifesaver and means you won’t be forced to wash the dishes in order to pay for your dinner!

Check out our post on TransferWise Bordeless vs Revolut accounts for some tips on saving on fees.


Notify Your Bank That You’ll Be Travelling

Most banks now have the facility that you can do this online. Be sure that you have notified them that you will be travelling, or else they might block your cards the moment they detect any foreign activity.

You will find some more tips on the benefits of using a cash vs card here.


Visit The Local Tourism Information Office

These days we want to find all our answers on the internet, but there is still a lot of value in visiting the local tourism office, particularly in small towns. They will be able to tell you about local events and any current discounts or specials which you may want to take advantage of.


Try To Blend In

This might not always be possible, but there are huge advantages to blending in with the locals and not standing out as a tourist. Some typical things that you can avoid are travelling with a large camera hanging around your neck. Or wearing a travel money belt and flapping a tourist map about. Blending in will result in fewer touts trying to take advantage of you and will make you less of a target for pickpockets.


Always Have Copies Of Your Important Documents

You never know when or where you may lose your passport or have it stolen. It is really useful to carry a certified copy of your passport with you as well as having a digital copy of your passport available both remotely (in cloud storage) and offline (on your smartphone) for easy access. This counts for any other important personal documentation you may have. Having a few spare passport photos with you can also be very handy.


Find Free Restrooms

Don’t be shy to ask to use the restroom instead of paying somewhere. Many places such as McDonalds and Starbucks have free restrooms. Often just asking a local can save you the time and money of finding a pay toilet. There are even apps available such as “Finding Public Toilet” which can help you to find a facility near you!


Make Sure Your Smartphone Is Unblocked

Many people just assume that their phones will work overseas. If you are intending to buy or use a local SIM card, then make sure that your phone is locked to only your country.


Make Use Of Live Translation Tools

Language can be one of the biggest challenges when travelling. We always recommend learning a little of the local language, but this is often easier said than done! Luckily, we have some excellent translation tools available these days. So don't forget to use them to allow yourself to explore and experience new things!


Know Your Cell Phone Roaming Charges

Before you set off on your trip, be sure to know what your local cell phone service provider’s roaming charges are for both data and phone calls. We know many people who have come back to nasty bills for voice mail messages that have been left while they were overseas!


Beware Of Free WiFi Spots

Most areas will have a free WiFi spot somewhere. Ask the locals or just go exploring. Often it is worth even paying for a coffee somewhere if you get access to the WiFi. But do be careful as to what you do over unsecured WiFi connections. Never do any banking or transmitting of sensitive information over these networks.


Use A VPN

Making use of a VPN can help you maintain privacy when connecting to unsecured WiFi networks. It also allows you to “change your location” which is often useful.


Have Dinner At Lunch Time

In many places, you can enjoy the exact same meal at lunchtime for much cheaper than at dinner time. Chances are you’ll also drink less and save even more!


Be Aware Of Your Surroundings

You may be wanting to relax on holiday, but try not to let your guard down completely. Always be aware of your surroundings and remember that you most likely stand out slightly from the crowd and may thus be considered to be an easy target for crime. Often your alert body language can be enough to deter a possible criminal.


Carry A Refillable Water Bottle

We always have our refillable water bottles with us when we travel. They save you money, are good for the environment and it’s good to ensure that you stay hydrated when travelling.


Have A Travel Inventory

This may seem tedious, but once a bag goes missing or gets stolen, it is harder than you think to recall everything that you had packed in that bag! Having an inventory makes it much easier to know what is missing and to assist with a possible travel insurance claim.


Get Any Necessary Vaccinations

Consult a travel clinic and get the necessary vaccinations depending on your travel location. These can sometimes be rather expensive, but getting ill in a foreign country can end up costing you a lot more and will not be a pleasant experience.


Don’t Be Afraid To Negotiate

It doesn’t matter where you are, it never hurts to ask for a discount or to negotiate with vendors. Street vendors in some areas will inflate prices by more than 100% expecting you to negotiate them down. Even some fancier establishments will give you a discount if you just ask!


Travel Insurance

Make sure that you have at least some form of travel insurance BEFORE you leave and that it is valid for your trip. Many travel insurances are not valid if you don’t have a return flight or if your trip is longer than a set duration. Be sure that you know what you are covered for and what exclusions there may be. Being informed means that you can assess your risks and weigh up your options accordingly. You can read our articles on Travel And Health Insurance as well as The Ultimate Travel Insurance Comparison. We also have an article dedicated to Travel Insurance For The Long Term Traveller.


Pack A Lightweight Scarf

This is a very handy travel item, as it can be used in so many ways. You can not only use it as a scarf but also for sun protection, to cover your shoulders or knees when visiting a religious site and even as a beach towel or picnic blanket.


Offline Maps

Make sure that you have your maps downloaded for offline use (Google Maps) or make use of another offline routing app (Maps.me) so that you are able to route even when you don’t have data.


Be Prepared But Don’t Over Plan

Yes, there is a big difference between being prepared and over-planning. Being prepared allows you to have some sort of idea what you can expect and it can sometimes even allow you to be able to be more spontaneous at the moment. Over-planning, on the other hand, creates so many expectations which can lead to disappointment when things inevitably don’t go entirely according to plan. Travel is all about enjoying new experiences, so relax, be open to possibilities and just enjoy the journey.


Keep Your Valuables On You At All Times

There are no guarantees to ensure that your valuables don’t get stolen, but you can try to protect them as best possible. Whenever you need to store or check your luggage, even in under-carriage bus holds, it’s always safer to keep your valuables on you.


Back-Up Your Photos Every Night

This may seem like an exaggeration, but one of the worst things that you can lose on any trip is your photos of the trip. Some things just can’t be relived! So make sure that you back-up all your photos every night, preferably to more than one place. We make sure we have a physical back-up as well as cloud storage back-up. Google Photos is great for this.


Track Your Spending

This may seem tedious, but it is a really useful thing to do, not only when you travel, but in ordinary daily life too. Tracking your expenses will help you to budget for the future. It will also allow you to see where you spend most of your money and give you ideas for possible future savings. We love the “Trabee Pocket” App, which allows you to create custom categories and use multiple currencies with a travel budget. If you would like to see some of our Budget Reports, head over to our Travel Finances Page.


Wear A Mask

No, not so that you can rob a bank! If you’ve travelled to Asia, you will know what we are referring to. In many Asian countries, people wear masks when they are ill to prevent/reduce spreading their germs. This is a very considerate strategy, but it is unfortunately not that common throughout the rest of the world. The good news is that you can wear a similar mask when travelling to reduce your risks of being contaminated by the many germs that are inevitably in the air in confined public spaces such as stations, airports, trains, buses and aeroplanes. Yes, depending on where you are, some people might look at you a little strangely, but in our opinion, that is a small price to pay for reducing your risk of getting ill.

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