Do you love to travel? Do you like meeting new people? Are you adventurous?
Over the last 20 years I have visited more than 40 countries. While gaining great memories and souvenirs, meeting new people and seeing new places, I’ve also come across some bumps in the road that have taught me some valuable travel lessons.
If you desire to get the most out of your travel experience, here are a few important tips to keep in mind to help make your travel easier, and help leave those bumps in the road behind…
1. Book your flights 2-3 months in advance. Generally, the earlier you book, the better price fare you get. Airfare rarely goes down in price unless there is a sale or an airline pricing error. When you book early you not only get better rates, you also get better flight availability. Some airlines have minimal daily or weekly flight availability. Booking early helps minimize the number of connecting flights you may have to take.
2. Check your destination airport. Before booking your flights, check if flying to other airports close to your final destination might be cheaper or more convenient. Make sure to shop around for your flight – know that direct isn’t always the cheapest option but it may be the most convenient.
3. Use loyalty points and air miles. There are many ways to collect loyalty points and travel miles through everyday spending. Many credit cards offer loyalty programs that allow you to accumulate points which you can then use to get free night stays in hotels, free tickets to museums, or even free flights.
4. Pack extra clothing into your carry-on. Put essentials and any medication in your carry-on bag. Packing a swimsuit is also a good idea if you are going on a beach vacation. Of course you can buy most of these things if your bag gets lost or delayed, but having them in your carry-on will save you money and time. On my way to the secluded resort on a tiny island in Maldives my luggage was lost. Not having prepared my carry on made it so hard for me to find the basics such as toothpaste and a toothbrush. The resort’s shop charged $30 to arrange delivery from another island.
5. Do not plan out every moment of your trip. Plan 1 to 3 daily activities and ensure you have some free time to wander around. Sometimes the best moments are those we never planned on having. Leave some room for spontaneity!
6. Haggle. In many countries haggling is a part of the culture. Determine what the practice is in the country you are visiting. In many small souvenir shops you are expected to talk the seller down. It might be intimidating at first but with a little practice haggling can be fun and instead of paying $40 for organic rose oil in Hurghada, Egypt you might get it for $7.
7. Try new food. Non-local food is almost always more expensive than the local cuisine. In Vietnam, a bowl of pho is less than a dollar, but a burger will cost substantially more. Personally, the most unforgettable foods I have tried were fermented fish sauce and grilled ostrich in Vietnam, deep fried scorpions in Thailand and smoked alligator in Sri Lanka. Open your mind, and let your taste buds experience new pleasure.
8. Don’t keep all of your cash and cards in one spot. Keeping all of my sources of money with me while on a walking tour around Valetta, Malta was huge mistake. I lost it all and had to ask my friends to send me some cash. Hide extra cash or extra credit cards in a separate bag. Better yet, if your hotel room has a safe, store your extra cash and credit cards there. Keep with you, only what you think you will use for the day.
9. Learn a few basic phrases in the native language of the country you are visiting. A few phrases like “Hello” or “Thank you” will make it easier to start a conversation with locals and they will always appreciate your effort.
Accept there may be mishaps while you travel. You simply cannot predict what can or may go wrong. However, learning how to handle these bumps can make you a better traveler and help you have a great travel experience and the best memories.
Cattelan Private Wealth Counsel Team