After spending some time talking to one of my closest friends about my experiences travelling, I realize that my tips and tricks did not end with my previous Top Ten post and so I here I am continuing to share my wisdom. Whether you are a solo traveler or travelling with a group of friends, let me help you navigate your way around the world.
1. Download an offline map on your cellular device before heading abroad
During one of my first trips abroad, a friend I was with had downloaded an offline map to help her navigate the country we were in. Before this, I never knew there was such thing as an offline map and was astounded by this information. And so, my advice to you is to consider downloading one before taking off. With the rise of technology these days, there are a wide range of offline maps available.Not only do these maps offer the lay of the land but are also able to give you directions on how to get to and from places. My app of choice: Maps.Me. What makes this app superior to the rest is it is your one stop shop for offline maps spanning the globe. Thus, if you are planning on visiting multiple locations on your trip simply download the app and the offline map for each country and you are ready to go! No flipping through multiple applications on your device!
2. Get an external battery case/pack for your phone
We all know that dreaded moment when you’re travelling and having fun, and suddenly your phone dies. Not only are you now left with no means to capture the scenery that surrounds you, but you have also lost your means of communication and means to navigate the city (offline map mentioned above). The solution: an external battery pack. For those wondering where to purchase such things, Amazon offers a broad selection, as well as your local Costco, or electronic stores. While I am guilty of not having an external battery pack, I have in more than one occasion kicked myself because of it. As a female traveler, it definitely provides you with a peace of mind when traversing the streets abroad.
3. Heading to a country that doesn’t speak your language? Don’t fret. Google Translate is coming to your rescue…most of the time.
If you are heading to a country in which you are worried about travelling to due to the language barrier, do yourself a favour and download the offline official language of the place you are visiting. Now while we all know that Google Translate isn’t perfect at translations, something is better than nothing. If the country your visiting has an entirely different alphabet, do not abandon ship. Rather, if you find yourself lost in a foreign country, visit a tourism office, hotel, or currency exchange business where more often than not there will be someone who speaks English. So, take a breath, calm down, and look around for the following establishments. Do not let your fear of the language barrier keep you from travelling. If I can do it, so can you.
4. Opt for shorter tours rather than lengthy week long tours
My advice is often to do as I say, and not what I do. And so, while I am incredibly guilty of purchasing longer tours, it is not the most time efficient means to see all the sights in a country. The reason being is usually on these tours you spend a lot of time on buses and/or boats and have shorter periods of times to check out the cities you are visiting. That being said, the positive aspects of week long tours is the sense of comradery that is created among travelers. During my travels, I have participated in two group tours and while I do wish we did have more time checking out certain sights or were able to arrive earlier, I would not change my decision to go on a group tour. That being said, if you are more concerned with seeing sights then consider opting for shorter tours instead and doing more individual travel. In doing so, will maximize your time visiting the sights on your list while having a taste of the comradery among travelling strangers.
5. Do not let fear stop you from travelling alone
As I mentioned in my previous posts, after my friend unfortunately could not join my tour in Greece I made the decision to head to Greece alone. So how did I survive? Just breathe. Travelling alone, especially as a female was absolutely terrifying. As I sat there boarding my flight, all I could think about was every goddamn news headline about violence towards women across the globe and atrocities committed to us. Do not let that fear stop you. Now let me ask you something? Wherever you live currently, Have you not faced unpleasant experiences and found yourself in dodgy areas every now then? And yet, here you are. Breathing and living. Do you spend every waking minute of your daily life fearing everyone who shares a sidewalk with you? No. So, take that leap of faith and head on out there. For those who are afraid of getting lost, consider doing your first solo trip with a tour group (I know I’m contradicting my previous point here). The website TourRadar allows you to compare and purchase tours across the globe run by various tour operators. I have had nothing but positive experiences using them and would highly recommend utilizing their services. Want to bite the bullet and go completely solo? Consider staying in hostels. Whereas hotels can often leave you feeling isolated, hostels are great in that you will meet other travelers like yourself who you can easily bond with. Furthermore, many hostels offer a variety of tours and events to help you mingle with travelers and make friends abroad. Whatever you decide, just take the leap and go for it!
4. Looking for suggestions and a free place to stay? Check out Couchsurfing.
This platform offers travelers a space to ask locals questions about the best places to visit in the country they are travelling to. Not only this, but as the name suggests Couchsurfing provides a platform for travelers with a shoestring budget to meet locals willing to offer a place to stay for little to no cost. The great thing about this app is as more people stay with these hosts, references are added to their profile to ensure they are a safe and good host. While I have not used the following app, I have met many travelers abroad who rely on this app and have had great success.
5. For the love of God, get travel insurance.
I know, I know. What are the odds that something will happen to you while on vacation, right? Well as the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. And so, do yourself a favour and get yourself some travel insurance. You never know what will happen while zip lining cloud forests, hiking mountains, and visiting sanctuaries or simply walking down the street. Although I only had to use my travel insurance once while abroad it was at that moment I realized how important my insurance was. Furthermore, nowadays many travel credit cards already include travel insurance with them so consider getting a travel credit card to save yourself some major bucks. Those looking to get some serious protection? Look no further than WorldNomads. While many travel insurance companies only offer protection in regards to basic activities, trip interruptions, and personal belongings, WorldNomads can be customized to protect you during all your adrenaline fueled activities. Whatever travel insurance company you choose, stay safe my friends!
6. Bring an extra credit card with you and inform your bank of your travel plans
Now, here is the thing. You never know what might happen when you go on vacation and sometimes that might mean that one credit card you didn’t think would get lost or stolen is now out of your possessions. As a result, you are now left with only the spending cash you brought with you and no emergency fund. As a result, I strongly urge you to consider bringing two credit cards on vacation. Before doing this, however, make sure to inform your bank of your travel plans. I know a lot of banks nowadays state this is no longer necessary due to them being able to recognize your patterns of spending but take the two extra seconds and let them know. As someone who was told two days before a trip that my credit card has been compromised and I was almost left without a backup plan, trust me when I say you will want one.