Whether traveling around the country or the world, you want to enjoy yourself. After all, you go on vacations to avoid stress, not bring it with you.
These budget travel tips are designed to help you avoid any speedbumps that could derail your plans.
1. Duplicate important documents
There are certain documents you might need for travel, depending on where you’re going. Making a backup copy of each one can come in handy if your luggage gets lost or misplaced along the way.
Here are some of the most essential travel documents you may want to copy:
- Travel visa
- Travel insurance policy, if you purchased one separately
- Vaccination records, if required for your trip
- Your schedule or itinerary
It’s also wise to keep a copy of your driver’s license or other government-issued ID and passport with you at all times. These documents can be difficult and costly to replace, so you may be better off having them on your person rather than putting them in your luggage. If you’re uncomfortable carrying them in your pocket, you might invest in a waterproof cross-body sling bag or fanny pack that you can easily wear.
2. Travel with minimal luggage
Airlines may charge added fees for checked bags over the allowed limit or overweight bags. Packing fewer items can save you money on airline fees and make getting around easier, too.
For example, say you’re interested in becoming a digital nomad, so you plan a backpacking trip in the Amazon. It wouldn’t make sense to have multiple bags with you. Instead, you’d likely want to limit yourself to just one bag with everything you need for the time you’ll be trekking through the rainforest.
3. Use a card with no foreign transaction fees while traveling
You might be using travel credit cards to cover expenses while you’re away, but bringing along a debit card in case you need to withdraw cash or make purchases can also make sense. However, knowing what fees you might pay to use your card is essential.
For example, your financial institution might charge a foreign transaction fee for international transactions. In terms of how much you might pay, we found that the maximum foreign transaction fee is typically around 3%. Chime doesn’t charge these fees, so be sure to bring your Chime debit card along.1
4. Master basic phrases in the local language
If you’re going to a country you’ve never been to where the native language differs from your own, try to master a few basic phrases and their responses. You don’t need to become an expert in the language, but it may help to be able to say phrases like:
- Do you speak English?
- Where is the bathroom?
- How much does this cost?
- Which way is…?
- I am going to…
- I would like to have…
- Speak slowly, please.
- I don’t understand.
- I need help, please.
- Excuse me.
- Thank you.
There are free resources you can use to learn these phrases. Duolingo, for example, is one of the most popular platforms for learning languages and there’s no cost to join. If you have some money to invest, you might consider a paid language resource like Busuu or Rosetta Stone. You could also look into free language-learning books at your library or free websites.
5. Avoid full-size toiletries in your luggage
You may not be able to think about leaving the house without your favorite moisturizer or shampoo. But full-size bottles can take up a lot of room in your luggage. If the containers get damaged, they could also leak all over your stuff.
Swapping out full-sized containers for smaller bottles can free up space in your bag.
6. Try local food
One of the best parts about traveling is tasting new dishes from each place you visit. What you might consider odd or unusual at home might be a delicacy somewhere else, but you will only know if you like it or not if you try it.
If you’re looking for the best cafes or restaurants nearby, you can check out a local travel guide written by someone who’s visited the area. There are also travel apps that offer restaurant recommendations.
But don’t stop there: some of the best places to eat might be hidden gems you’re overlooking. Local markets, for example, are often populated by vendors selling delicious street food if you’re willing to seek them out. If you’ve mastered enough of the language, you can also try chatting up locals to find out where the best food is.
7. Plan your outfits in advance
This travel tip can save you time, so you’re not scrambling to decide what to wear. Instead, you can plan out daily outfits based on the weather and temperatures you expect to encounter.
If you bring limited clothing, look for a hotel or other lodging with on-site laundry facilities. And if you’re going somewhere that tends to experience temperature swings throughout the day, dress in layers. Layering allows you to take clothes off (or put them back on) to stay comfortable regardless of the changing temperature.
8. Seek advice from locals
Local residents can be the best resource for exploring a new area. After all, they likely know the best places for sightseeing, dining, or recreation. You’ll want to learn some of those basic phrases mentioned earlier to speak comfortably to residents if there’s a language barrier.
Also, think twice before using your hands or face to articulate if your words aren’t getting across. Certain hand gestures you might be used to making at home could be considered rude in other countries.
9. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen
Sunscreen is a must if you’re going to be spending time outside while traveling. As with other toiletries, you may want to choose smaller, travel-sized containers that can fit into your luggage or bag.
Remember to reapply your sunscreen. Even if you’re not dipping in the ocean or lounging poolside, you could still sweat it off, leaving your skin vulnerable to sunburn.
10. Keep a lock with you
While you might be traveling light, protecting the things you’re taking with you on your trip is essential. Keep a suitcase lock on hand to help secure your possessions at the airport, hotel, or out and about.
11. Use lunchtime to visit historic places
Planning a trip to a popular destination could have you fighting the crowds every step of the way. If you plan to see the sights, waiting until lunchtime can help you avoid getting caught in the rush. While everyone else is grabbing a bite, you can explore with some room to breathe.
Aside from lunchtime, you could go very early in the day or later in the evening to avoid crowds. You’ll just need to know the opening and closing times for the places you want to see.
Also, note that there may be periodic closures during prayer hours if you want to visit a religious site, like a mosque.