travel

BEST HABITS TO FOLLOW TO HAVE A STRESS-FREE VACATION

Lisbon, Portugal

I am sure you have already found multiple blogs with tips for traveling. Like how you should learn the language or get travel insurance or bring multiple cards/power cord or comfortable sneakers, or…

Well now that we have those tips out of the way, here are some travel habits that worked for me – ESPECIALLY after I repeatedly made the same mistakes that I am asking you not to do below.

BRING YOUR CARD

Don’t exchange your currency when in the country. Or if you have to, try in the airports. While this is not a blanket statement, I have always found the best conversion rates when using my card to withdraw money from a bank.

I made the mistake of converting money in a city center in Spain (which by the way was busy – should be a good sign for trust). Out of the $200 we wanted to convert, we made it out with money valued at $120 after all the fees/conversion. With a different language and in the hustle/bustle we totally got swindled (legally ofcourse).

TRY THE HOSTEL LIFE

When I did my solo trip, I was surprised so many people recommended I stay at an Airbnb or hotel instead of a hostel for safety reasons. It was totally the other way around for me.

Anyone can follow you back to your room at an hotel; and at an Airbnb, the homeowner knows that you are by yourself. With hostels, you are constantly surrounded by people so there is less scope of someone not noticing if something is amiss. Also best place to meet people and so much better for your budget!

AVOID THAT TUMMY ACHE

Specifically for Asian countries: if you MUST eat street food, find places with more locals/people eating. This means that it’s a trusted food stall and people don’t get sick there often. Buy water bottles. And just take medicine – not all countries have 24/7 pharmacies.

Takoyaki in Osaka, Japan
Pani Puri in Kolkata, India
Snail in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Banh Mi in Hanoi, Vietnam

GOOGLE MAPS IT

One of my favorite things to do! Map out places you want to see in Google Maps and save the label when planning out the trip. And I mean EVERY place. Even your hotel.

In the beginning I would only mark some tourist places. But my life got so much easier and less stressful when I already had my hostel/restaurant/tourist places mapped. I could quickly route the places and find shortest paths – perfect for when I am tired at 11pm at night from walking all day.

Map out destinations on Google Map

I like to change the label to another marker after I am done with the trip. It’s so calming to see all the places I have been to.

TRAVEL MIDWEEK

If I need to travel between cities in an airplane and have a flexible schedule, I like to book it for midweek. Prices are usually lower then and transportation is less crowded.

Train station in Tunes, Portugal

HAGGLING IS A RITE OF PASSAGE

Street vendors expect you to haggle! They recognize tourists and sometimes even quadruple the actual price. At a souvenir stall in Bali, they were asking $20 for a small souvenir (that should be really worth $5). It was so high that we didn’t even want to haggle. As we were walking away, they kept asking us to give a return offer and came down a lot!

Cork bags in Porto, Portugal
Cuernavaca, Mexico
Mexico City, Mexico

But also know when to stop. Think about its worth to you, and how much you are willing to pay. Most sellers live day-to-day on very little profit. So please keep that in perspective.

DON’T GO BROKE

When buying souvenirs, check out all the stalls – don’t just get it at the first shop. All stalls typically have the same items. By then you will know the approximate price of the object, and the design/quality you like could be at that 4th stall you visited.

Lanterns in Hoi An, Vietnam
Shopping Street in Taiwan

DON’T GO BROKE II

Keep your eye hand on your bag, and don’t have too much money while out. There are pickpocketers at all tourist destinations. We fell victim to this in Madrid. Early morning. On a very empty street.

Also just avoid backpacks – or atleast don’t keep your wallet in it.

WHEN LIFE DOESN’T GO YOUR WAY

  • Make copies of passport and email it to yourself.
  • Keep few hundred dollars cash as backup.
  • Check if the city closes down in the afternoon. You would be surprised how many places (mostly markets/restaurants) close down for a break mid-afternoon RIGHT WHEN YOU ARE GETTING HUNGRY HANGRY.
  • Download Google offline map when you arrive to a new city. Perfect for when your $25/week international phone plan stops working as you are trying to get to your destination.

The biggest tip of all: don’t stress! Remember that if you forgot something, you can buy it at the destination. Lost something? Nothing you can do about it. You still have some backup money. So all you can do is, go with the flow!

Do you have any tips of your own that make your life easier while traveling? Comment below!