Ah, traveling — love it or hate it, you have to do it to get to where you want to be. But don't worry; experienced travelers are here to help make your journey less painful and mundane. Here are some of the best travel tips an online travel community volunteer should be on your list.
1. Location Beats a Luxury Room
I am bound to agree with this person who gets straight to the point, “location beats a luxury room.” They explain, “if I can walk to get midnight munchies and to a few points of interest and public transport, I'll put up with a lot, provided it's kept clean.” 100%, this.
Don't get me wrong, staying in a high-quality hotel can improve your experience tremendously. Still, when visiting a foreign city for the first time, you shouldn't be spending enough time in your hotel room to care about whether there's 24-hour room service. That's not how you explore another culture.
2. Prepare for Jet Lag Even If You Think You Don't Have It
We often hear how jet lag (the effects traveling between time zones has on your circadian rhythm) can make you feel tired, moody, and hungry. However, one commenter insists it also affects you in ways that aren't immediately obvious, like mental clarity and decision-making, even if you seem to be functioning normally.
They suggest staying hydrated on your flight and adjusting your sleep schedule to your needs, even if it means sleeping at weird times and arriving early to your obligations like work meetings.
3. Prepare Your Offline Resources
When you arrive in a new place in a foreign country, you'll need to know where to go and how to communicate. A traveler advises you to download the entire city map on Google maps.
That way, you can use it offline even if you don't have wifi. Likewise, another commenter pointed out you can do this with Google translate to ensure you can read any signs around you. Nothing's worse than being clueless and without the internet!
4. Use Flight Aware to Track Your Flight
Are you worried about missing flight updates? A resourceful traveler uses Flight Aware, which displays real-time flight traffic. This nifty tool, they say, shows you if your flight will be canceled or delayed before the airline even sends you a notification so you can be ahead of the game.
It even tracks your inbound plane 24 hours before your flight. This, they say, helps them anticipate whether their flight will be on time and when they need to get to the airport, saving them hours of pointless waiting.
Another person warns, however, that you should use this technique cautiously because they could bring in another plane or crew, but your flight might not be delayed.
5. Know the Laws of the Land
A few people comment that you should learn the laws and customs of the country you're visiting. What's legal and customary back home may be different here. A carefree holiday may sound fun, but it won't be if it lands you in jail for ignorance.
Another traveler adds, “This applies to all those people who wanted to get drunk [in] middle east countries, or women not wearing burkas, and don't let your children wear rainbows …” Yeah, not very wise. Don't be that person.
6. Taking a Greyhound Bus? Double-Check Where It's Going
A veteran Greyhound bus taker claims that if they hadn't verified with the bus driver exactly which city they were going to and shown them their ticket, they would have gotten on the wrong bus five times! So always show them your ticket and ask where the bus is going, especially if it's a far stretch. Ending up in the middle of nowhere by yourself would be a nightmare.
7. Search for Flights in Incognito Mode
According to one individual, a clever flight hack ensures you search for flights in incognito mode. If you don't do this, your browser will save your cookies and keep raising prices each time you go back to search. Outsmart your browser, and don't let it know you want those flights: Voila, cheaper flights, just like magic.
8. Pack a Bunch of Empty Plastic Bags
Someone recommends packing plastic bags so you can separate your wet and dirty clothes when you inevitably have to put them back in your suitcase. They also say they use them to store spillable liquids like lotions and sunscreen. I can verify this is a helpful hack. I now take about ten Ziploc bags with me on any given trip.
9. On Long Trips, Buy Necessities & Toiletries On Site
As someone rightly pointed out, packing everything you might need on a week-long trip will be heavy and could cost you extra money. Leave out the toiletries like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and toothpaste, which you can buy once you get to your destination. It's much cheaper to buy these things once you're there than to pay an extra $50 for an overweight suitcase.
10. Unlock Your Cell Phone & Buy a Local Sim Card
To avoid those ridiculous international cellphone fees, you should buy a local sim card, says one traveler. To do this, you'll first need to check that your phone is unlocked with your phone provider.
You can find highly cheap data plans or pay-as-you-go plans for next-to-nothing, and you won't have to worry about getting charged for international roaming. I did this when I traveled from the U.S. to Australia, and it was a saving grace. I would never pay for an international plan with my home cell provider.
This thread inspired this post.