{advice} Ten of the Best Travel Tips, From a Super Frequent Traveler

You probably know by now that I am a very frequent traveler, and I thought it was about time I put together my top ten travel tips. What did I miss?

Ten of the Best Travel Tips, From a Super Frequent Traveler 

  • If there are 2 of you traveling together, and the plane has a 3-seat configuration, book the aisle and the window seat. If no one has the middle seat, you can easily trade with that person so you can sit together. The middle seats are (obviously) the least popular choice so they are last to book and most likely to be left empty in case of a flight that’s not totally full.
  • When traveling internationally, it’s usually astronomically expensive to use cellular data. But your hotel usually has Wi-Fi. While still in the hotel, use the Wi-Fi to find maps and routes that you’ll need for the day, and take screenshots of all the maps. That way when you’re out and about, you can view the maps in your photo app without having to use data or Wi-Fi to access the maps!
  • If you’re traveling to a country that uses a language you don’t speak, print out the hotel address or homepage before you go and bring it with you on the flight. Then you can just hand it to the taxi driver or dispatcher at your arrival airport and be confident you’ll at least get to your hotel. This is an especially good idea if your destination uses a different alphabet!
  • In a similar vein, in places with a different written language, like Asia or the Middle East, ask your hotel to write down all of the places you may want to go in the native language, so you can communicate with taxi drivers. And don’t forget to tuck the hotel’s business card in your pocket so you can easily get home at the end of the day.
  • This may sound overly simplistic but it took me a while to figure this out. If you don’t know what the tipping customs are in the place you are visiting, just ask the people you are thinking about tipping whether it’s customary to tip and if so, how much. They’ll almost always tell you the truth and you don’t have to worry if you’re over- or under-tipping.
  • Pack a couple of large Ziploc bags in your suitcase. They come in super handy in many instances: wet or stinky clothes, exploding medicine bottles, keeping phones sand-free at the beach, packing up leftover snacks, and much more.
  • Bring layers of clothing for a plane or train. I am always amazed when people are getting on an airplane for a long flight wearing shorts and flip flops- flight temperatures are totally unpredictable, and usually on the freezing side! For a long flight, I bring several soft layers, a pair of comfy slipper socks, and sometimes a plush scarf that can double as a pillow.
  • People love to complain about how bad airplane food is, but there is a simple solution: just pack your own damn food. A couple of nice (but not too stinky!) cheeses, some good salami, a baguette, a piece of fruit (no bananas; they get mushy and smelly), and some nuts will be so much nicer than anything the airlines have to offer in economy class. Let them provide the wine and you’ll have an excellent feast. No need to sully your palate with grody airline food.
  • When out and about for the day, never leave home without some kind of portable, filling snack like nuts or Clif bars. You never know when your plane will be delayed, your train will get stuck in the tunnel, the traffic will be insane, or the restaurants will be closed for a holiday. That emergency Clif bar has saved me from being hangry in many circumstances.
  • 3 words: Noise. Canceling. Headphones.


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8 Responses

  1. Oh wow, never thought about the booking trick! I’m going to keep that in mind for the next journey. I’m also always amazed when I see people boarding long haul flights with flip flops and shorts. I actually always bring a pair of cozy, warm socks with me, because my feet get cold so easily on planes…

  2. Rahul says:

    A few more from me:

    – When traveling for a few weeks in the same country, get a local sim (which means you need an unlocked phone). Almost everywhere in the world plans are pretty cheap and so you now have a local number and data to go with it!
    – Hate plane food? Order Asian or Indian meals (they have both veg and meat based offerings). Its actually not that bad (and as a bonus you get your meals before everyone else!).

    • Karen says:

      @Rahul good call on the Asian/Indian meals idea. That can work well if you like that kind of food. I have never tried a local sim because we always move around so much, but if I ever stay in place for long enough I will have to try it!

  3. Karilyn says:

    These are perfect…from another very frequent traveler 🙂 Wifi is amazing all over Europe. It’s only here in the US that all of the hotels charge so much! We survived all over Barcelona on their free wifi. Our son would play in the playground while we caught up on social media through the city wide wifi. win-win!

  4. Bernd says:

    Instead of taking picture of maps, google allows you to save maps for use offline. Simply save a map of the area (usually you can save an entire city, or at least a significant portion of it) before leaving the hotel using he free WiFi. As long as you leave mobile data in the off position you can then use google maps (GPS is free) without having to use data.