Top 10 Travel Tips

Top Ten Travel Tips A Vagabond Life

My Top Ten Travel Tips have been created from the experience I have had of travelling and living abroad for many years. During this time I have made mistakes and learned some great tips along the way. In this article I have put together my top ten travel tips for having a great holiday.

1. Less Is More - Travel Slowly & see more

Top Ten Travel Tips #1

Travel Slowly And See More

This is one of the greatest travel tips I have learned in my years of travelling. When you have limited holiday time and are flying to another continent the urge to see as many countries and as much as possible in those countries is understandable.

When travelling fast like this what you really see is the inside of a train / bus / car – for hours and hours…and tiny glimpses of a city or country. Most long term travellers have learned the trick of travelling slowly and seeing more.

What does travelling slowly mean? 

Travelling slowly means something different to each person, in essence, it is about gaining knowledge of the local culture and people, making fewer plans and letting what will happen happen.

For us slow travel means having an entry point and an exit point and no fixed plans of what will happen in the middle, sure there maybe things we have noted that we would like to see but we do not let this govern our movements. If we like a town, village or country when we arrive we stay there and move on when we are ready, after all the next place may not be as good.

Not comfortable travelling this way? Ok but do plan less…here is an example.

When planning your trip pick out the top 2 or 3 major sites / cities / towns and visit them really well. Visiting Paris? Spend an afternoon drinking champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower, take a boat ride on the Seine and pick one (and only one) of the great museums of Paris to immerse yourself in. Hire a bike from one of the many velo hiring stations and cruise the back streets of this great city stopping along the way for coffee and cake, finally find a little Bistro to dine in. Travel like this and I promise you you will come away from Paris (or wherever you are) feeling like you have had an experience of a lifetime.

2. It is not like home - don't expect it to be

Top Ten Travel Tips #2

Don’t Expect It To Be Like Home

If you want  the country you are planning on travelling in to be the same as at home you are probably better to stay at home. It WILL be different – go with it and you will have a much better experience.

Travelling is all about experiencing new and different cultures, putting yourself outside your comfort zone and embracing change. Don’t be afraid to eat at side of the road food stalls, travel on public transport and stay in local guest houses, these things will become some of your best memories.

It is really important to respect other peoples culture and not to judge. Do a little bit of homework before you go to understand what the rights and wrongs are in the country you are visiting. For example – where can you take photos, can you fly a drone, how is it best to behave in churches, temples or mosques, what is the dress etiquette.

Always remember you are a visitor.

3. Talk To the locals

Top Ten Travel Tips #3

Talk To The Locals

Some of my absolute favourite travel memories are of times I’ve spent with locals. From singing karaoke with a Vietnamese family high in the Northern Viet Mountains to drinking tea and eating fermented yogurt in a remote Gobi Ger, this is what travel is all about.

In my experience locals are usually friendly and curious about foreign visitors especially if you are in an area that does not see many tourists. 

Locals also have the inside knowledge of their towns and area so will be able to tell you what to see, where to eat and how to get around. 

4. Learn a few local words

Top Ten Travel Tips #4

Learn (A Little Bit Of) The Lingo

Not only is learning a few basic words polite it can also be a necessity to getting around a city or country. Don’t travel with the assumption or expectation that ‘everyone speaks English’ as that is just not the case.

Please / Thank you / Hello and Goodbye is a must and some basic navigation such as ‘where is the bus station / train station etc’ is also helpful. 

Google Translate is an excellent tool and you can download translation for many of the more popular countries to use off line which we found invaluable.

We also find it helpful to write down what you want to know particularly if you are in a country with a non Latin based alphabet.

5. Be flexible

Top Ten Travel Tips #5

Be Flexible & Go With The Flow

Often when travelling you will meet interesting people or get to experience something you may not have thought about or planned. These can often be the highlight of a trip so do listen to other travellers and get hints from them, whether it’s a hidden restaurant, a brilliant beach or an entire city that little hint could be the experience of a lifetime.

6. Take local transport

Top Ten Travel Tips #6

Use Local Transport

I simply love travelling on local transport. Yes sometimes they are hot, crowded and slow and often you will be sharing the bus with sacks of grain and the occasional chicken, but that’s a huge part of the travel experience  and for years afterwards you will talk about ‘that time we were on the bus with chickens”

And the bonus of travelling on local transport is that it is really cheap so great when you are travelling on a budget.

7. Try The Local Food - eat In Markets and Street Stalls

Top Ten Travel Tips #7

Try The Local Food – eat In Markets and Street Stalls

Ok so you don’t have to try the deep fried spiders in Cambodia but do try more than Pad Thai in Thailand and Nasi Goreng in Indonesia. 

One of the great travel experiences of travelling is sampling local food and usually the best place to do that is at street stalls and hole in the wall restaurants.

We ask the locals where they eat or look out for restaurants that appear to have locals eating in them. Don’t be afraid that you won’t be able to order because you don’t speak the language or understand the menu – this is where learning a few basic words helps or you can always look at what others are ordering and point to show that is what you want.

I love taking cooking courses in the countries I visit. Not only do you get to cook yummy food you also get to meet some fun and interesting people.

Read more about food here

8. Stay in Apartments or self catering accommodation

Top Ten Travel Tips #8

Rent A Holiday House

You can save money by renting a holiday house which allows you to cook your own meals, unpack your bag while giving you a base to explore the area from.

The other bonus of  renting an apartment or holiday home for all or part of your vacation is you can live a little bit like a local. By shopping in the markets, eating at the nearby restaurants and generally mixing with the locals you will get a feel of ‘real life’ and put money back into that community.

Holiday Rental Tip: Today there really are just 3 main groups who do holiday rentals. The Expedia Group (packaged under multiple names) TripAdvisor and AirBnb. All of these groups charge both you and the property owner exorbitant fees for using their platform. If you find a property you like on one of these platforms do a bit of internet searching and you may just find that same property has its own website and you can deal directly with the owners saving you, in some cases 100’s of $.

9. ALWAYS have travel insurance

Top Ten Travel Tips #9

Always Have Travel Insurance

If you suffer a serious accident or illness while travelling  and have to be repatriated the cost will be so high that you or your parents could lose your house – it is as simple as that. 

While it is easy to look at travel insurance as an added cost that is eating into your travel budget and that you either don’t need or cant afford – think again. If you cannot afford travel insurance you cannot afford to travel.

As an Australian I use one of two travel insurers;

1. Cover.More

What I like about cover.more

  1. Well established and reputable 
  2. You can chose between medical only or full cover. Choosing the medical only makes it quite a bit cheaper BUT you wont be cover for anything else so if you travel with expensive gear you may wish to have the full cover.

What I don’t like about cover.more

  1. It is difficult and costly to extend once you have started your journey.

2. World Nomads

What I like about World Nomads

  1. You can purchase at anytime, anywhere.
  2. It is more flexible than Cover More and you can easily extend as you are travelling.
  3. Widely used and reputable.

What I don’t like about World Nomads

  1. Doesn’t give you a medical only option so you have to take the full cover which costs more.

10. Pack Lightly

Top Ten Travel Tips #10

Pack Lightly

The last thing you want to do is drag a heavy pack or case around the world. It is heavy, awkward when you are trying to get on trains and buses and really does inhibit your movements.

There are so many articles and blogs on what to pack and how to pack. Packing is subjective and very dependent on where you are going, climate and how many times you will be moving on.

I have a simple rule – I know what weight I am comfortable carrying and my pack has to meet that requirement – no exceptions. 

I use packing cubes to keep everything organised and I would never travel anywhere without using them. And I carry my camera, laptop and electronics in my day pack.

See what is in my pack here