The majority of the population is not born with the savvy instincts needed to make it as a traveller. These savvy instincts only come from “on-the-road” experience. To begin with, a cataclysmic amount of travel mistakes are made, but every mistake is a lesson as long as you learn from it. Travel savviness is born from missed steps, cultural unawareness and foolish behaviour, in an attempt to try and save you the embarrassment of standing dumbfounded in the middle of an airport somewhere in the world; we’ve compiled a list of ten things to help you become a savvy traveller.
1. Pack Light
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 stuff anyway!
2. 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.
3. Definitely 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!
4. Have an Extra Bank and Credit Card
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 the time!
5. While we’re on banking
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!
6. Maps are your Friend
Looking like a tourist isn’t as bad as getting really lost and ending up in the wrong neighbourhood. 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!
7. It’s also okay to get Lost though
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!
8. Travel alone at least once
You’ll learn a lot about yourself and how to become independent. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. Travelling 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!
9. Visit The local Tourism Office (especially if you’re alone)
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!
10. Get yourself a good quality backpack/suitcase
By purchasing a small backpack, you will be forced 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.
Transforming travel mishaps into savvy expertise is a journey of learning and adaptation. As you embark on this adventure, armed with essential tips ranging from packing light to embracing solo travel, you’re setting the stage for a world of discovery. Let these lessons guide you towards becoming the savvy traveller you aspire to be. Start your journey today, and let every experience, whether it’s navigating new cities or overcoming unexpected hurdles, enrich your travels and your life. Ready to explore the world with confidence and curiosity? Begin your adventure now and turn your travel dreams into reality.