Since becoming a frequent traveler and spending quite some time abroad, I have learned many things to do (and not do.) Traveling out of your home country should be nothing short of an enjoyable, eye-opening experience, and these travel hacks make it all that simple! Here are five tips and tricks I’ve learned from traveling abroad:
Pack multiple garbage bags
This is one travel hack that I learned early on. Having garbage bags to separate your clean clothes from dirty, dry from wet, and undergarments from daily wear is crucial to your sanity. You can fold the bags and use them to separate clothing while packing, then, during your trip, begin to fill the bags for your different uses. Also, I don’t mean to say the “b” word, but bugs are no joke. They will get in your suitcase, and they will return home with you if you aren’t careful. It’s smart to keep your suitcase closed when it’s not in use, but bugs can still find their way in if they smell something they like. Wrapping your used clothing in garbage bags helps to mask any scents.
Unless you’re staying at a 5-star, all-inclusive resort and have a personal bellhop to carry your suitcase from airport to airport, home to hotel, it’s best to pack light. If you know you will be traveling frequently or changing locations more than once, carrying a 50-pound suitcase is not fun (trust me.) Elevators aren’t all that popular either, so take that into consideration while you’re packing. It’s also best to assume you won’t have much storage space, especially if you are staying in a hostel or hotel. I learned that one when sharing a tiny room with four other ladies.
Don’t be afraid to try the local food
For many, eating the local food is the main goal of traveling abroad, but coming from the queen of picky eaters, it can be quite frightening. Before my first trip out of the country, I remember thinking to myself, “What am I going to eat for three whole weeks!?” It took me a few days to stray away from the basic chicken, rice, and beans, but once I did, I was pleasantly surprised. Now, I’m not going to lie, I didn’t try much, but I was glad to experience the local dishes and get a taste of the culture. The best piece of advice I can reciprocate is, “Try it at least once, and, if you don’t like it, you’ll never have to eat it again.”
Your smart phone is your best friend
There are so many apps nowadays that can make your travel experience simple and cheap, and can all be downloaded straight to your smart phone for free. Apps such as Google Translate and Microsoft translator can help you get around when you don’t speak the language. You can speak directly into your phone’s microphone as well, so typing to translate isn’t necessary. I used a messaging app called WhatsApp to text, call, and video chat without any international data fees, and a few girls in my group purchased a SIM card and/or pocket WIFI rental to stay connected during their trip abroad.
Tour guides are a wise investment
Although we are spoiled with a GPS and the internet in the palm of our hands, our smart phone can only get us so far. A tour guide is able to take you to all of the most popular locations, at the least busy times, and point you in the direction of the best local food/entertainment spots. I relied on a tour guide my entire trip, and I wouldn’t want to experience another country any other way! My guide was extremely helpful in translating language and cultural differences, and made me feel more comfortable in my travels. Your hotel or any local business should be able to point you in the direction of a good day tour guide, or if you’re looking for a more extensive guide, any travel agency can help!
Guest Author: Kara Straight
Hi! My name is Kara Straight. I’m a writer for a few different publications, and have my own lifestyle blog as well! My best friend and I love to travel, so we make sure to travel somewhere new at least every other month. My first time traveling out of the country was when I studied abroad in Costa Rica during one of my college semesters. And from then on, the rest was history! Check out her blog at Straight Livin’ With Kara.