Here are our favorite International Travel Tips as well as domestic travel tips. We have come up with this over decades of road trips, mountaineering expeditions and family vacations around the world. Most recently, we put these travel tips to the test on a trip to see the 7 Wonders of the World in 13 Days.
These tips are intended to save you time and reduce stress.
Top 6 Travel Tips for Domestic Travel
- Never check a bag and never go to the counter. Checked bags not only get lost and miss connections, they mean you have to go to your hotel right away instead of going straight into activity at your new location. We prefer no carry-on bag. Instead, we usually just bring a small daypack or laptop backpack like the Patagonia Arbor. This brings us to the next tip…
- Pack Insanely light - Yeah, you know to pack light, but have you ever tried going insanely light? Give it a shot. Try going with just:
1 - pair of: shoes, pants, shorts, bathing suit.
4 - shirts, socks and underwear
1 - jacket
I think you'll be amazed how having less clothing reduces your stress of
having to figure out what to wear every day. You end up with more time to enjoy your location and less time organizing and moving your stuff. Once you start traveling light, you might begin living light as well with more time spent having experiences with friends and family and less time spent organizing and maintaining stuff.
For long trips, either have laundry done at the hotel or wash your clothes in the sink.
For fast drying, thoroughly wring out each item, place on a towel, then roll the towel (like you are rolling up a sleeping bag). Next, walk around on the towel. This pulls most of the moisture out of each item.
- Boarding Pass and Itinerary Backups on your Smartphone and the Cloud - Take screen captures of passports, boarding passes, hotel and rental confirmations and store them to a photos folder on your phone. That way you will have quick access to them even if you don't have internet access. Also, make sure these items are also stored in the cloud somewhere like Google Drive or Dropbox.This way, even if you lose your phone, you can print these items out at a hotel or mailing center like FedEx Office. If you lose your drivers license, you can usually still get on the plane. Go straight to security and the person checking ID's will have a superior come over. That person will then want to see some other forms of identification like a credit card. This process can take as little as 5 minutes but allow an extra 30 minutes to be safe.
- Book Hotels or AirBnB Last Minute - First, the reasons why you might not want to do this: 1) if you're the type of person who gets stressed out not knowing where you are staying long in advance 2) if a big event or conference is planned during your stay. If neither of those apply to you, we recommend rolling the dice and booking last minute to find the best deals. We usually use the following apps and go with which one has the best deal: Hotels.com, HotelTonight and Kayak. Airbnb is another option.
- Buy internet access before you take off - If you have to buy internet access on your flight, it's usually cheaper to buy it at the airport instead of on the plane.
- Hotel Lobby's Have the Best Bathrooms - It helps to look the part of a guest.
- Use Apps, Not Websites, When Booking Hotel Rooms - For some reason, you often save 5-20% by booking on the Hotels.com app instead of booking on the Hotels.com website. This applies to other apps as well.
Top 5 Travel Tips for International Travel
Stoked on top of the tallest sport climb in Thailand! Khao Chin Lae, located in Lop Buri, Thailand.
Photo: Jill Marion
- Sit at the Front of the Plane and Walk Briskly to Passport Control - Nothing is worse than starting a trip by waiting an extra hour in customs/passport control because you were in the back of the plane.
- The expiration date on your passport is not the expiration date - Yes, this makes no sense, but it expires 3-6 months before the expiration date. It's stupid, but when you are stuck in the customs room pleading your case, they won't care about logic. They'll send you back to where you came from. Vacation over.
- Practice searching your email for a car, hotel, and flight confirmations - This sounds easy, but many of us are used to searching our email on computers but rarely do this on our phones. For example, the Apple Mail on iPhones is notoriously hard to search. The trick is to go into "All mail" of the mail client you use (e.g. Gmail).
- Use Uber/Lift - Most major cities have Uber. Uber is usually cheaper than a taxi and, more importantly; you can go right to the curb of the airport instead of having to wait to change money (Uber charges your credit card on file). Uber is also much less stressful because you don't have to worry about getting gouged on price, if your driver is taking the best route, or how much to tip.
- Make sure your credit card doesn't charge international transaction fees and has a chip - Most credit cards charge international fees which are around 3%. That adds up quick and is annoying. Also, many countries now require a chip in your credit card.
Most importantly, get out there and have more adventures.
You deserve it.
Chris McNamara hopping the Great Wall of China.
Photo: Megan Sullivan
Our Other Travel Articles You May Enjoy