1. Make a checklist
Never underestimate your ability to forget your passport, charger and contact solution at home. Always make two identical checklists of everything you are packing, one to tick off before you leave and another for when you’re about to leave the hotel. This will help you pack everything you need and also not forget any of your goods at the hotel. Another tip: it always helps to compose your list a few days prior.
2. Make sure you get to the airport an hour early for domestic flights and two hours early for international flights.
The airport can be a really intimidating place, from the ridiculously long luggage check-in queues to trying to locate your terminal gates that are 800m away. Allow yourself enough time to deal with any delays that may occur.
3. Do research on things you’re not allowed to bring into another state and/or country.
I got this idea when I watched Airport Dubai. While we know the usual drugs, sharp items and explosives are not permitted but did you know that in Dubai (because gambling is not allowed) you are not allowed to bring any poker chips into the country? The last you want is to be held in customs, fined or even incarcerated for something you could’ve avoided. They say knowledge is power so get knowing.
4. Learn how to say basic things in a foreign language
This is particularly if you’re going to a country where English is not the medium of instruction or a significant amount of people only speak the language indigenous to them. Learn how to say basic phrases like
• My name is
• I’m staying at…
• I am lost, how can I get to…
• I am _ years old
• Thank you
You should also know how to comprehend the responses to these questions. You don’t need to take a master class, you can just search the internet.
5. Have enough gratuity money
It’s always polite to tip the people who serve you during your stay. This varies from the concierge, parking attendant, waiters, maids and butlers. It’s just a small token of your appreciation for the great work they do.
6. Try to always have new experiences
This is something my family and I failed at on a few vacations. Avoid doing things that you can do at home or that you have done before. A lot of towns have restaurants that the locals rave about because of their uniqueness to that particular location. Avoid eating at franchises all the time (although once won’t hurt). If you live in a coastal city, don’t spend most of your time on vacation at a beach, how different can the water really be? Research “Things you must do when you’re in _” so as to get an idea of what activities the location has to offer.
7. Take a walk
Take a break from being couped up in a bus or car and just explore your new surrounding on foot. This way you can have conversations with the locals and have the time to take in your surroundings. If the location allows, you can go on a hike and visit new terrain.
8. Take a bus tour
These are usually inexpensive and last at most 3 hours. Who knows the best places to go to better than a tour guide? While you’re on the bus you can even get ideas on which areas you’d like to visit in depth next. This is also a good way to meet people are who just as unfamiliar with the place as you and you can exchange travel ideas or even make friendships. The possibilities are endless.
9. Be in the moment
This is of vital importance. Granted you do want to take pictures and have a photographic memory of your adventures but what’s it all worth if you don’t feel the moments? Capture a few moments then put your phone or camera away and just delight in the moment.
10. Purchase merchandise
Buy something (even if it’s just niknaks) from where you were. Let’s be honest, buying large ticket items can be quite taxing on your pocket so if you cannot afford it do not stress. Just buy something small like a keychain or a bracelet.
Enjoy your travel adventures.