Here’s some helpful tips that I’ve learned from traveling abroad the past few years. Almost all these tips are found scattered in various articles on the website but I’ve compiled them here for easy viewing.
Be wary of thieves on buses/trains and restaurants:
It depends on where you are in the world (South America in particular) but always be alert on local buses and put your valuables bag inbetween your legs or on your lap with a strap around an arm or leg. Thieves are always on the lookout for sleep deprived travelers and will try to separate you from your bag by suggesting you put it in the storage space above the seats.
Going in with little to no expectations is the best thing you can do for your travel experience since you won’t have much to be disappointed about. The “oh wow” experiences were usually ones that I didn’t know about so the element of surprise was still intact. Usually you’ll be able to meet people who have already done plenty of research along the way or you can easily plan while there’s downtime moving from place to place.
If you’re checking in your main pack on a plane, bus, or train you might want to invest in a larger bag hold your main pack so it’s protected on route to your destination. I’ve had curry oil, olive oil, and other random things poured onto my bag while in the luggage hold and it’s a time consuming process to clean. Buckles and drawstrings can also get caught and snap.
Try Out Hitchhiking:
Give it a try at some point and you’ll be surprised who picks you up and what adventures you might encounter along the way.
Try Out Couchsurfing:
Couchsurfing is a great way to meet locals and learn more about a country. It’s starting to get over run by people who just want free accommodation so do a bit of research and learn what makes a good surfer before you make the plunge. It’s very rewardingd dfff
Breaking the ice:
Having cigarettes (not the healthiest option but an easy in for a lot of situations), candy or gum to offer is a great way to break the ice and interact with strangers on the road.
Try to have at least two photocopies of your passport in B&W and carry one on you wherever you go. You’ll need it to exchange money or purchase transportation tickets most of the time. In certain countries you’ll get harassed by police with nothing better to do. It’s best to show the copy and explain that the real one is back at your hotel.
Visa Page Stamps:
If you’re running out of visa pages and want to prevent border control employees from stamping a blank page then put a post it note on any empty page. It’ll be easier for the employee to figure out which pages are empty instantly and at the very least will give you a moment to speak up.
Two Debit Cards:
Try to open up two checking accounts at your bank and carry an ATM card for each account. In the event one is compromised you’ll still have access to your funds by transferring money between the two online. It’ll be difficult to get a replacement card if you’re not stationary.
Inspect ATM Machines:
When you’re withdrawing cash it’s worth taking a moment to check for any suspicious alterations to the machine. The most common tricks are to replace the keyboard, inserting a copying device into the card reader, and/or a small inconspicuous camera above the keypad.
Carry New and Recent Versions
of Paper Notes:
I always carry at least a few crisp U.S. hundred bills or Euro notes. U.S. dollars should be the latest 2006 or 2009 series notes. Anything older will usually get rejected. It’s also worth noting that lower denomination bills will get slightly worse exchange rates.
You might want to consider carrying a decoy wallet with deactivated cards, an expired ID, and a small amount of cash. The majority of petty theft is quick so pickpockets and robbers will go away empty handed.
If you’re not a student but still have an old student card then you might be able to get away with student discounts in countries where English is not common. I would either convince the staff at the ticket booth that the expiration date was the year I started school or just tire them out because we couldn’t communicate. Some attractions and museums will only accept an International Student Identity Card or ISIC. If you’re heading to Thailand you can easily get a fake one in Bangkok.
I do a lot of scuba diving on my travels and the only things you really need are your PADI card and dive computer. I would recommend bringing your own computer so you don’t waste time fiddling with a rental underwater. It’s rare that dive centers will request proof of your diving experience to explore certain sites so don’t worry if you haven’t been keeping up with your logs. If you have extra space in your pack I would try to bring your own mask. I’ve had several dives ruined because of poor fitting rental masks.
Your smartphone GPS works without any signal or phone service. With google maps you can save maps offline or connect to a wifi signal to load an area on a map. GPS works as a separate signal so you can then walk around a city constantly updating your position without having to opening up a big paper map.
Power Plug Adapters:
Get separate adapters or a set that snaps together and avoid the huge all in one device. The all in one adapters don’t always stay in the outlets because of their weight. Keep in mind these adapters just change the prongs so you can plug in devices to wall outlets in different countries. They do not convert voltage.
I always carry a small bottle. Getting sick while on the move is no fun.
Sleeping Mask and Ear Plugs:
Both these items are handy when sleeping early in hostels or to block out any intense snoring. It’s also useful to have if you’re sleeping in the airport or on the plane.
It’s very handy to have some extra toilet paper on you at all times. Realizing you don’t have toilet paper while doing your business is what nightmares are made of.
Bring a small pack of dryer sheets and also place a sheet in each stuff sack of clothing you have. It’ll keep your clothes smelling nice and your laundry from reeking. You can also throw one into your smelly shoes after a long day of walking.