Best Travel Tips Ever?
Updated: Mar 2
A lot of people think that traveling is a luxury, and only the rich and famous can do it. The truth is, if it matters enough to you, everyone can work hard and save up for that dream vacation.
So if you love to travel (or would love to start traveling,) then let's start working, planning, and let's make it happen!
Here are some travel tips and tricks I have learned over the years that will help you make the most of your money and experience.
1) Pin Down Your Destination and Start Saving
I encourage everyone to travel, but first thing first you have to start saving money. How much money you need to save will depend on your desired destination. Make sure the money you will spend on your vacation will not affect your monthly expenses, and never use a loan to travel. Just like any investment, travel expenses should be the amount of money you're able to part with "freely." Traveling is worth a lifetime of memories, but if you are troubled by the expenses afterwards, you are not giving yourself or your travel the uplifting experience it's supposed to be.
I have heard stories where people are willing to be in a long-term debt, to spend on a vacation they can't afford in the first place (the same goes for a wedding.) There's no exact right way to travel, but traveling without savings is definitely the wrong way.
2) Book that Flight
Airfare cost is a huge chunk of your travel expense, so do your homework! Always check on the "My dates are flexible" box to see the cheapest possible period around the dates of your travel.
Take advantage of early bird prices and secure the basic economy seats, when you are sure of your destination and travel dates. I would say book 5 months ahead if possible, but a minimum of 3 months is ideal for non-holiday period. If you're traveling during the summer or Christmas break, the earliest you can book the better. It's not just the price of the airfare, but also the ideal schedule of those flights.
If you're planning to become a frequent flyer and doing longer-distance flight, sometimes it might be better to pay for the main cabin so you can collect the miles (this varies from airline to airline, so read into the fine prints.)
The earlier you book, 1) the better fare, 2) the ideal "time of day," and 3) nonstop flights will be available.
For example, if you are getting a good price on the airfare but you're departing on a 6 am flight, or you're reaching your destination pass midnight, those cheaper airfares may not end up being a good deal. You have to consider the additional cost of transportation, to and from the airport, where prices hike up during odd hours and holidays. Or if you arrive very late at night, you may have an additional hotel cost or other risk factors that may cost you a whole lot more than your initial flight savings.
Tips & Tricks: When you're traveling to a new destination, especially a new country, it's best to arrive during the day time where you have a lot of transportation options. Besides arriving too early or too late in the day, it will be a good idea to avoid the peak commute hours when you're traveling into a big urban city. The latter is simple, if you arrive at the airport say 8:25 am, you can just wait at the airport close to 9:00 am before you make your way into the city to avoid the crowd and/or traffic. It's never fun to drag humongous luggages into a packed train, or sit in traffic for longer than you have to.
3) Make a Must-See & Must-Do List
Making a Must-See & Must-Do List (and in my case the additional must-eat) will help to narrow down the areas where you should be staying. You can search for your accommodations by the areas of your interest or by its proximity to your landmark. For example, when I visit Bangkok I prefer to stay in Asoke area because that's where I used to live. I feel safer being in a familiar area where I know how things go down at night. Places can literally be "night and day" during the day vs. after dusk (I'm looking at you Charleston, South Carolina and Silom, Bangkok.) When I planned a trip to Paris, I chose the Eiffel Tower as my landmark. So when I found out that the hotel, that I later decided to book, was within a walking distance to the Eiffel Tower - it was a SOLD. I wanted to visit and see the Eiffel Tower several times during my trip, so I made my hotel choice accordingly.
Planning on the must-see and must-do list will also help you budget, and know roughly how much money you will need for the trip. On top of that, it will help build up the excitement for your long-awaited vacation.
4) Book Your Accommodation
Good accommodations with good prices fly off the shelf fast, if not just as fast as the basic economy seats. Once you know your desired landmark or the areas where you would like to stay, it's time to book your accommodations. With no affiliation, I recommend www.booking.com and www.hotels.com with their free cancellation search options, and prices of both are competitive. I usually use booking.com, but both sites are reliable. If you're booking hotels in East Asia, Agoda is the bigger player in the market so they may have more rooms and options.
In recent years I find that some quality hotels are cheaper than quality Airbnb, although this varies on your destination. Note that quality Airbnbs (nice conditions, good location, reasonably priced) are booked much faster than hotel rooms, so if you prefer the Airbnb experience try to book as early as possible.
Once your destination has been decided, and your trip is confirmed, pay for it in advance with the no cancellation option - that's always the cheapest possible price. However, after a worldwide pandemic, things are so uncertain that I recommend the free cancellation options. Many hotels now try to list the best prices on their own websites, so if you know where you want to stay, check the hotels' website or social media for their exclusive promotions.
Tips & Tricks: Keep in mind that different parts of the city, even different parts of the same street can be so drastically different, and will have a major impact on your travel experience. Read lots of reviews prior to booking, and check Google Maps (when applicable) so it gives you a good idea of what the place and the surrounding area is really like. Hotels or Airbnbs can fabricate/ manipulate what the place looks like, but Google images won't lie. Look around the area and you will have a pretty good idea if you will be comfortable staying there or not.
5) High vs. Low Seasons
Be mindful of when the high and low seasons are for your travel destination. Booking ahead can save you a lot of money, and if you don't mind traveling during low seasons, it will be much more friendly to your wallet. High season means it is more expensive, and there will be a lot more visitors.
High and low seasons in different places also means different things, and it's not always weather related. For example, Orlando, Florida is pretty busy year round - but especially during the school breaks. You would think during the hottest muggiest months there may be less people, but because it's during the summer break, families flock to the theme park capital.
Tips & Tricks: If you want to make the most of your money and experience, I encourage you to pull your kids out of school and enjoy your destinations with less people. Check in advance with your kid's teacher on tests and important dates you won't want to miss. If you don't have kids, even better. Save up your vacation days and skip the holiday seasons. Your money will go a lot further when you're not traveling during the summer or long weekends where prices skyrocket.
6) Weather Rules
You cannot control the weather, obviously, but it will be smart to plan your vacation around the nice climate of your destination. Or if you have a certain slot of time open for holiday, check for places that have nice weather during your availability. For example, you have saved up for years for a gorgeous beach vacation, but if you're going during the rainy season - you just won't get that gorgeous blue ocean and sky. Pay a little more money to get the ideal weather, and enjoy that beach vacation you have always dreamed of to the fullest.
Keep in mind that planning ahead will help considerably, but mother nature works in wonderous ways. You may not get your money's worth due to the weather, and may have to plan for a re-do trip in the future. At the same time you can also fall in love with a place, and keep wanting to go back.
For example, when I went to Portugal in May, it rained all day. every. single. day. The incessant rain was bothersome, but the weather in mid spring wasn't too cold to stop us from exploring Porto. On the other hand, another leg of our trip was Marrakech. The average temperature was supposed to be in the beautiful High / Low(°F) 83° / 58°. The temperature turned out to be high 106°F! I was pregnant at the time so it wasn't safe for me to even step outside during mid day. Thankfully, our last leg of the trip was Barcelona where the weather was perfect. And now I wish I could spend all my future summers in Spain.
7) Eat Where the Locals Do
Affordability goes out the window if you decide to eat at a Michelin-starred restaurant or the special "hip happening," dress-to-be-seen eateries. If you appreciate fine dining, set aside extra budget. It's much more budget-friendly, however, when you dine where the locals do. A delicious local delicacy is always a great experience and available at an affordable prices.
For example, Thailand has food courts at the malls where you can get all sorts of delicious food for cheap in an air-conditioned space. Japan sells all sorts of ready-to-eat food in mini marts and supermarkets, some better than others, but they are all generally pretty amazing.
Tips & Tricks: Pack protein bars or lightweight snacks with you. Chances are you may get lost or some parts of the trips may take longer than you plan for. It's always a good idea to have some snacks to replenish your energy. However, when you visit Thailand or Japan, just stop anywhere for freshly made local delicacies.
8) Research for Scams
Before traveling to any new country/ city, be aware of the well-known common scams or crimes. Tons of people share their unfortunate experiences online, so learn from other people's lessons rather than to repeat them.
Even as a local, I fell preyed to a scheme. I took my then boyfriend, now husband, to visit a famous Thai temple. They have a photo op stand and I unknowingly took pictures for fun. After I took the photos, the scammer came out and asked for money and pointed to tiny fonts that were written on the photo stand. I was so taken back, embarrassed, and annoyed that people would do that to make a quick buck. A container nearby with a note that says "tips" will be much better-received and ethical.
Tips & Tricks: If you need help, go to information desk or take some time to look for a trustworthy source of help. The key message is to "look" for help. Chances are when you have someone approaching you to tell you or sell you something, avoid those situations is best. Good, honest people will be happy to help you when you approach them - good outcome is very unlikely to happen when they approach you.
9) Don't Over-Research
I know. I know. My advice is always to research and plan ahead. However, don't over-do it with your planning. I used to do a door-to-door itineraries, down to all the possible restaurants to eat. Often times, I had to toss my printed itineraries and make new ones. So yes, plan ahead but leave room for spontaneity and flexibilities.
For example, all the restaurants you want to eat at may be closed or the wait time may be too long, or weather will just give you a hard time. Leave some room to be spontaneous and experience the unique experience each trip will bring.
Tricks & Tips: I don't usually watch YouTube clips of where I'm going because I want to be wowed and experience it fresh from my own eyes as much as possible (but hey, if watching clips will make you more fired up to save money then go for it!)
"Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer." If you like this Best Travel Tips, you can support my blog by checking out my list of recommended items here on Amazon.
Hi, I'm Ketsiree Tury. Let's Connect!
Foodie | Blogger | Content Strategist
I blog about affordable family-fun, food & travel around the Sunshine State 🌅 & Beyond ☕🥐🌸🍵
Bangkok bred. Orlando based. The original blogger of Direct Bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap: Step-by-Step Journey.
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