When I left London for my first solo travel adventure, although I had researched into tips and tricks to ensure I did everything correctly, I made many mistakes. On the other hand, I also believe I did a few things correctly and now I couldn’t imagine not doing them, before and during my travels. They are even recommendations I have given to my friends who are interested in travel.
Travelling, like everything, is something that you get better at with time and experience, so don’t be disheartened if you make mistakes in the beginning or wish you did things differently.
If you have previously looked into travel tips, or know a few yourself, the obvious still applies such as be flexible with your travel dates and pack light but I’m really happy to share with you my top ten travel tips, and I really hope they help you out on your journey.
Tip 1 – Check the location of your accommodation
This may sound like a really silly tip, as if you would rent accommodation miles from the city you are visiting, but what I mean by this is check what is nearby. If there are certain attractions you want to see, try and stay closer to them. I know when I first travelled, I was so cautious with spending too much money that I found the cheapest accommodation which stated it was in the city I was visiting and just booked it. Sometimes this worked out okay if the city itself was cheap however in more expensive cities, I sometimes ended up being a long walk away from what I actually wanted to see and where I wanted to explore. I’m not saying you need to splash out a ton of cash to find a great place to stay, just make sure you check the location and how far it is from everything. This will also save you money as you won’t be tempted to spend on public transport or a cab if you’re close to what you’re interested in. Airbnb is unable to give you addresses before booking so find the street name or the area which you can easily put into Google maps to get a general idea of where the accommodation is located.
Tip 2 – Always carry a padlock
Many hostels will provide you with a locker for your personal belongings, however you usually have to pay to use one of their padlocks. I was unaware of this before I started travelling, I was just very lucky that I carried a padlock with me on my bag, as I was checking it in/putting it under the bus and felt a lot safer with a padlock on. This meant that I was able to use this same padlock to lock my personal belongings away. If you are staying in a shared room, and feel worried about your luggage and personal belongings being taken, I would suggest two padlocks. Personally, I wasn‘t too worried about my luggage but I did have my deodorant stolen in Hungary so take from that what you will.
Tip 3 – Find restaurants having deals
For me, this tip was especially helpful when travelling in countries that I found to be expensive like Norway and Denmark and it is to google restaurants in the local area to see if they have any deals, such as a certain day of the week where they have discounts. Luckily in Norway, we found a pizza shop that offered 50% off all vegan and vegetarian pizzas on Mondays. We knew where we were going for dinner that night! This helped us to save a lot of money and doesn’t take too much time. You could do this before leaving your own country, or even whilst you are relaxing at your accommodation. I usually just Google something along the lines of ‘(city) food deals’ or ‘cheap food (city)’ of course, I usually add the word vegan to mine also. By the way, if you ever find yourself in Norway, the pizza restaurant is called Peppes Pizza. I would generally recommend eating local food but nothing wrong with eating here too.
Tip 4 – International bank card
When I first went travelling, I decided to use my UK bank card, and just called them to inform them that I was leaving the country (which I did at the ferry stop in Dover). When I looked back at my bank statements from that time, there were a lot of international transactions, and although it’s only a few pence here and there, it definitely adds up, and I probably spent over £100 just on those. So, I picked up an international card, the one I use is Monzo, it’s really easy to use; no transaction fees and I’ve never had an issue with it. I also recommend you use this card when booking bus or train tickets from a country that is not your home country as this will also incur a transaction fee.
Tip 5 – Secret compartment
This is something I hadn’t thought of until I was shopping for items I might need on my travels and I found this sunscreen bottle that was actually empty for your belongings. I knew I had to purchase this straight away. I always made sure all my important documents such as passport, insurance information and bank notes for every country apart from the one I was in were kept in here. This meant that at quick glance, if anyone was to try and steal from me, they would be unlikely to take the sunscreen bottle. This definitely made me feel a lot safer and I would recommend everyone get one of these as they’re cheap too.
Tip 6 – Find unique activities
My favourite attractions are those that are different and unordinary, of course I love the classic tourist destinations but if you’re like me and have an interest in the weird and wonderful, I would recommend finding attractions from locals that not many people know about. For this, I usually use Atlasobscura.com, it’s a great website filled with one-of-a-kind experiences and a lot of these are cheaper than the popular tourist places, or sometimes free! Be aware though, some of these are very hard to find, although sometimes people leave comments with tips to help find them, or they may not be available anymore. Me and a friend once drove for miles to see an abandoned airport in Cyprus but when we got there, it had been turned into a military base and we were turned away. I will soon be making a blog post about the best, strange attractions I have been to.
Tip 7 – Meet locals/don’t wear earphones too often
This is almost two tips in one, the first one I have seen before on many travelling tip posts and it’s to meet the locals. They will be able to help you with the language as well as show you exceptional locations that tourists are unaware of, and although there are many sites to help you meet new people, it is also very easy to meet people in public places. This is where the second half comes in, when I am in London, if I’m alone, I will spend most of my time with my headphones in, it’s become normal for me to do this. When I went travelling, I didn’t wear earphones when walking down the street however, I did wear them when on buses/trains/planes and sometimes when eating alone. In the beginning this made me feel more confident and less nervous, but I believe it stopped me meeting as many new people as I could have. On my last trip, I decided to not wear headphones at all unless I really didn’t think I was going to talk to anyone, such as in bed or if the bus was empty. I ended up talking to so many more people and making so many new friends. Other travellers and locals spoke to me more on public transport as well as whilst I was eating or having a hot drink.
Tip 8 – Smaller bag inside your larger bag
This tip is mainly only for if you’re travelling for a long period of time and have a larger bag, and it’s to carry a smaller bag inside. For me, this was the bag I used on a daily basis. When I was moving from one country to another, I filled this bag with everything I wanted to have with me on the bus/train from one country or city to another. This included snacks, drinks, chargers, book, and anything else you think you might need. This meant that when you had to put your larger bag under the bus, it was easy to pull this smaller bag out to have everything you need. If you’re short on space inside the larger bag, even just using a carrier bag will work and won’t take up any more space. I found this is be so convenient and so quick since you often want to get on the bus/train quick to get a good seat if it’s busy.
Tip 9 – Portable charger
Even when I’m around London, I carry my portable charger and I thought this was a common occurrence for everyone, especially when travelling, however, I quickly found that when I travelled with others, they didn’t carry a portable charger and always wanted to borrow mine. Using your phone so much for google maps and photos can really drain your battery, and it’s awful having to go all the way back to your accommodation to charge your phone, particularly if you’re alone, you really don’t want to be out without a charged phone. This is why I always carry a portable charger and it’s definitely an essential for me.
Tip 10 – Eat some meals at your accommodation
One of the easiest and cheapest meals for me to eat at my accommodation was breakfast, I hardly ever had breakfast included in my stay meaning I would have to find somewhere else to eat. There was usually a supermarket close by where cereal and milk were pretty cheap, this meant that not only had I saved money, I didn’t need to worry about where I was going to get breakfast. I could just get ready, eat breakfast and start my day of sightseeing. I also sometimes made something to take out for lunch such as a sandwich or pasta dish. Some accommodations, and mostly always in Airbnb’s, they had containers which you could borrow for the day to put your food in, if not, either buy one or bring one from home if you have space in your bag and know this is something you want to do. On one occasion, when travelling all day on a bus, I actually packed a lunch from home in a container which I was able to continuously use for lunches and snacks throughout my trip. I have also cooked dinner in my accommodation, this is a lot of fun if you’re with someone as you can cook together, or with new friends and I know when travelling for a long time, I miss home cooked and comfort meals that I know and love.
So, those are my top ten tips for travelling, I really hope they help you out a lot and you are able to put these into practice. If you have any more tips or any questions for me, please feel free to message me!