Most people aren't born ninja travelers. Sometimes it just takes time and multiple travel experiences to learn these things, but I want to help speed up the process and turn my mistakes into knowledge for your future travels and experiences! Here is a list of my top 22 travel tips to become a ninja traveler.
1. Do your research. This one usually goes without saying. Research your destination, places to go, things to do and flights before booking your trip. No need to book everything in advance, but it's nice to have an idea about what you might like to do when you arrive at your destination.
2. Go incognito. Use private incognito mode on your browser to search for flights and hotels on booking websites to hide your browsing history. These booking websites like to track your cookies and raise prices on your searches.
3. Pack light. Trust me on this one... you never seem to use everything you pack! Cut what you think you will need in half! It's ok to wear the same thing twice, pick up some detergent at your destination and take advantage of your bathroom in whatever accommodation you end up in, or stay in a vacation rental or accommodation halfway during your trip that has washing facilities.
4. Get travel insurance. One thing you should not forgo. If something goes wrong, you don't want to be out of all the money you could be out of, heaven forbid something were to happen. This is the most important thing you need to get for your trip, especially if traveling abroad.
5. Pack an airplane bag. If you are checking your main piece of luggage, pack a few necessary items in your "airplane bag," just in case the airline were to lose your luggage. (i.e. toiletries, extra outfit, swimsuit, jacket etc.) Random things can ruin your travel plans but not if you're prepared for the unknown!
6. Don't forget those noise cancelling headphones or earplugs. You'll need your sleep. Invest in them. Pack them.
7. Relax. Most every time I plan days packed with lots of activities and things during travels, they never quite go to plan. Relax. It's okay! Things have a way of working themselves out and as a bonus, some of the best memories I have found during traveling, have been the spontaneous, unplanned ones. Things will work out.
8. Always bring extra batteries and USB chargers. With all the picture taking and documenting of your trip, it's amazing how quickly phone and camera battery life seem to go. I always whip out my external USB charger that has multiple ports for my go pro and IPhone.
9. Pack a towel. You never know when you might need it. At the beach, hiking, during a storm, etc. Hotels will charge you if you use their towels on an adventure and it comes back covered in dirt and mud. My favorite travel towel is a large microfiber towel. It's super compact, lightweight, super absorbent and cheap! Get one here.
10. Take an extra bank / credit card with you. Things happens. Sometimes unfortunate things. It's best to have back up in case you get robbed or lose a card during your travels. Better safe than sorry. An extra tip: Use cards with no international bank fees! Save that money honey.
11. Get lost. Wandering through an unknown city is a great way to get to know it. Some of my best memories have been without a plan, wandering and coming across those hidden gems I wouldn't have found had I gone on the normal "tourist" route. Ask the locals about the best local spots to visit. You usually won't be able to find these gems on the web.
12. Make extra copies of your passport and important documents. Also have a copy emailed to yourself and in your phone. Better to have access to copies of important travel documents, then to not in a time of crisis.
13. Learn basic phrases in your destination's language. It will be beneficial for you to get you what you want and where you want to go quickly. The locals will appreciate it also!
14. Take only the necessities on a day out. Always leave some of your cash or cards back at your hotel in the safe or hidden places. If something were to happen, knock on wood, you have a back up plan waiting for you.
15. Connect with other travelers and locals. It's amazing the friendships you'll make during traveling. One of my favorite things is hearing other peoples' stories and about their travels. We all come from different places, but I always learn something new from someone I meet during my travels.
16. Take photos. I too have been guilty of forgetting to take photos and wishing I had them later on. Take them of places, of people and with people. And make sure to free up a bunch of storage on that phone of yours before getting to your destination. Nothing is a buzz kill quite like trying to delete photos frantically when that dreaded "storage full" alert pops up during a travel moment. I use an external hard drive and Google photos for all of my media backup needs. Google photos is free and super convenient.
17. Use points and miles for free travel. The best way to travel. Not sure where to start? Start with signing up for a travel rewards credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or the Bank of America Travel Rewards card, just to name a few. Most cards give you points just for signing up.
18. Don't overplan. Plan one or two things for the day, but don't plan the whole day. Let things happen naturally. The spontaneity will make for the best memories and stories from your travels. I find it the best way to experience a new place. The days I have too much planned and too much crammed in always make me wish I had less planned.
19. Ask for an upgrade. When checking in to a hotel or accommodation, ask for an upgrade! It can't hurt! And usually hotels never book out all of their rooms at one time, unless it's a popular holiday.
20. Wi-Fi. Need Wi-Fi? Starbucks, cafes and libraries will be your best friends. They offer free wi-fi should you need it on the go or if your hotel charges for it. Or purchase a portable wi-fi for smartphones, tablets and laptops like Tep. You can have internet access wherever you go.
21. Airport security. Stand behind business people, not families. Chances are, the business people have flown quite often and have their security line game down to a science. Families tend to go at more of a glacial pace.
22. Stay in hostels. You'll meet a lot of people and they're super cheap!