23 Little-Known Travel Secrets That Every Wanderer Should Know

I asked 23 well-traveled people for their ultimate voyaging secret — the thing that even the amateur traveler should know about — and here is what they told me.

1. Josh, 24

When it comes to lodging, Location > Price. Staying on the outskirts of town will never be as good an idea as it seems — you’ll pay a lot more in transportation and wasted time. Not to mention, there are countless other unforeseen variables that could end up costing you significantly more than the extra 15 Euro it would’ve cost to stay in the heart of the city.

2. Sandy, 28

Always give directions to a taxi driver as if you’re bored and have done this 5,000 times. You run the risk of having them drive you around in circles if they can tell that you’re a tourist and don’t know any better.

3. Casey, 31

If you wear contacts, this is a must. When flying, even if you’re carrying on a suitcase, keep a little travel bottle of solution and a case in your pocket. Sometimes you’ll have to gate check your carry-on and those too get lost. That way if you’re stuck at the airport or if they lose your bag, your eyes won’t feel like they’re filled with glue. The travel kit the airport gives you after losing your bag covers just about every necessity except for your contacts.

4. David, 28

If you’re going to a foreign country and don’t know the language, take pictures of words and the translation for places you need to go to. It’ll be easier to navigate around because locals will understand you better than you pointing and s l o w l y speaking English at them in an above-average decibel.

5. Talia 26

Always bring airplane socks — like the crappy ones you get in stockings, made out of Beanie Baby material — because nothing is more warm and comfy when you’re on the plane.

6. Jackson, 32

Always call a car the night before if you’re going on an international trip, and keep the taxi name and number along with your passport, ready to go.

7. Kelly, 22

Always bring more underwear than you need. Packing underwear should be your first priority, because somehow you always end up needing more underwear than you thought. And ladies, make sure to bring feminine products, even if you don’t think you’ll need them. Something about travel does strange things to the female body.

8. Sasha, 21

Stop only traveling in grandiose ways. If your dream is to get out there and see the world, don’t forget that the “world” also contains cities a few over from yours, day trips to mountains you’ve never seen, inexpensive train rides to new states and such. People end up not traveling at all because their only dreams are to see places that would cost thousands to get them there, don’t forget that there’s tons to explore right in your backyard, and for very little money.

9. Joey, 29

Roll your clothes when packing for extra space. Also, pack clothes that can all be worn as a matching outfit.

10. Bob, 33

Talk to the Cab drivers. Whenever I travel, I always try to connect with my cab driver. They’re usually excited to talk and often have interesting insight on local restaurants, bars, and clubs whether they frequent the spots or not. Plus it gets you in a social mood and gives you conversation fodder for the other people you meet while you’re traveling.

11. Sam, 27

Go on free walking tours! Tons of countries offer these now, and most hostels have brochures if you ask. They’re tip-based so you can give your guide whatever you want at that. They’re usually young adults or college students who are fun and looking to make some cash on the side. Plus, it’s a fun way to make friends with the other people on your tour. I’ve ended up going out to drinks with people from more than one tour.

Sandemans “New Europe” tours are very popular.

12. Callie, 23

As much as you possibly can, avoid hotels. First, they are far too expensive for what you end up getting, especially in tourist-heavy cities. Second, they offer nothing except for a tourist experience of wherever you’re visiting. Find alternative lodging by using a site like Airbnb and acclimate into a place, even if it’s only for a short vacation. You’ll feel more integrated and you’ll be able to truly see what life is like as a local.

13. Kaitlin, 27

Make sure you stay mobile while traveling. Packing a ton of stuff you have to lug around and traveling with a big group can be a hassle. When you have a big group, you have to do things that make everyone happy and that’s a lot to balance when you have limited time to relax or explore an exotic location. When you travel light and you have a small group you can drop everything for whatever unique experience you discover once you get there, you can be in touch with what is truly edifying and not just follow the plans you made based on Google searches. Your travel time is a scarce resource, guard it carefully.

14. Joanna, 29

I would say, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to do touristy things or to look touristy. When you are traveling you are a tourist so you need to just accept that and allow yourself to stand on the corner scrutinizing the big maps they hand out at the train station or wherever. It’s your vacation, just decide to impose that on the world until you get back to where you live. This will help you be less inhibited which will help you have a good time.

15. Tarrin, 30

When you’re traveling in developing countries and eating at smaller family owned establishments, don’t be afraid to ask to meet the owner if convenient. If the food was even passably good then compliment them, tell them how great it was and how much you appreciate it. It will likely make their day and start a conversation. This is how you enter into a foreign community, with thankful grace.

16. Joseph, 22

Definitely don’t forget flip flops for showering in hostels.

17. Eliza, 28

If you’re really strapped on cash, try using Couchsurfing or WWOOF for free lodging. You have to be cautious, but they’re generally safe and can be a great way to meet people.

18. Hallie, 26

When you’re in big cities like Rome or Barcelona, do not carry a purse with a flap that can be easily pickpocketed, or keep valuables in the outside pocket of a backpack. Either suck it up and wear a money belt, or carry a purse with multiple zippers, keeping your important stuff in the innermost zipper and holding the bag in front of you (not swinging behind you) at all times.

19. Maria, 23

Always clear your cache and cookies when you’re searching for airfare, because the sites will keep your IP on file and change the prices you see. You have to trick the websites!

20. Bea, 33

If you’re traveling with a smartphone but can only use Wifi, load up maps while you’re in a cafe or hostel, then screenshot them so you can refer to them later.

21. Lydia, 30

Try to find some hostels with kitchens in the common areas. It’ll save you money, and is the best way to meet other people in the hostel.

22. Olivia, 28

Don’t pay the extra money for international phones or (God forbid) roaming charges. Put Skype on your phone, load up a little credit, and call/text people using wifi. If you really are in an emergency, you can turn your roaming back on. But you don’t need your phone as much as you think you do.

23. Jane, 34

Always tell someone where you are. If you take a day trip to a new city, if nothing else, tweet about it. It’s never a good idea to have no one know where you’re supposed to be — it makes you less free, yes, but it makes you infinitely more safe.

image – tinto

Presented by Cayman Jack – Arguably the Most Refreshing Margarita in the World.

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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