10 Great Travel Tips

suitcase travelThe blogger Matthew Karsten, the self-proclaimed “Expert Vagabond”, has spent four years traveling around the world.  He sold everything he owned and started his journey with a one-way flight from Miami into Guatemala City.  I recently came across an article where he shared 30 valuable tips learned from traveling around the world.  Here are ten that I think are particularly interesting:

Wake up early: Waking up at sunrise lets you have attractions all to yourself while avoiding crowds, and is a magical time for photos.  Sketchy areas are also less dangerous in the morning.

Stash extra cash: Cash is king, as the saying goes.  To cover yourself in case of an emergency, have at least a couple hundred dollars’ worth, God forbid you lose your wallet, your card stops working or the ATMs run out of money.  Stash it somewhere convenient, such as socks, under shoe inserts, a toiletry bag or around the frame of your backpack.

Meet local people: Make a point to avoid other travelers and start conversations with locals.  Basic English is spoken widely all over the world, so this is easier to do than you think.  Be friendly, smile and say hello, and even the most unfriendly-seeming people will open up to you.

Take lots of photos: These could be once in a lifetime experiences, so remember them forever with plenty of photos; they cost nothing, are easy to share with others and don’t take up space in your luggage.  Just remember to get out from behind the lens sometimes and enjoy the view.

Keep an open mind: Don’t judge the lifestyles and cultures of others, listen to opinions you might not agree with, practice empathy and embrace different possibilities, and you might learn something.

Try Couchsurfing: If you truly want to experience a country, staying with a local in the form of couchsurfing is the way to go.  There are millions of them around the world who will host you and provide recommendations.

Don’t be afraid: Reading the news, it’s easy to think that the entire world is dangerous.  Keep an eye out for sketchy situations, but don’t let that shape your entire trip.  All you need is common sense, and you should be okay.

Eat local food: Even if you think you know what Mexican or Chinese food tastes like, you’re probably wrong.  Taste a bit of everything, even if you don’t know what it is.  Try street food from vendors with big lines out front.

Say yes: Be impulsive and say yes when somebody invites you to meet their family, try something new or explore a new place.  Such situations often turn into the best stories from your experience.  Challenge yourself to try things new; if something normally makes you uncomfortable, try it.

Get off the beaten path: Cliche as it sounds, seek out interesting and unusual places that don’t see many tourists, and you’ll get plenty of memorable travel experiences.  Travel to popular sites, but don’t rule out any places.