As a full-time traveler, it helps to have the right tools in your belt. Or know where to find them. Here are my favorite travel tips and tools to help easily and safely travel the world!
Heads up, this post contains affiliate links to recommended websites.
1. travel light
Long term travelers are often big fans of minimalism because owning and traveling around with less stuff instantly makes your life easier. Minimize your stuff. Travel carry-on only. Add multi-functional pieces to your wardrobe.
Carry one multipurpose bag (like these cool ones from cabin zero or litegear) that's easy to wear on your back and easy to slide under any seat. Don't waste time or money checking bags. You're free to wander, explore and walk as much as you want without having to worry about, drop off, lock up, or check bags.
2. go green
Try to be the greenest, most eco-friendly human you can be because there is no Earth 2. Take steps to aim for zero waste. Recycle. Upcycle. Use zero waste items so you can easily avoid disposables. Compost. Make your own natural products.
As Aliyyah Eniath so eloquently said, "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, and kill nothing but time."
3. be smart
Book smarts, street smarts and good old common sense will help lower your chances of stupid mistakes and disasters on the road. Read up on your destination. Take the right steps before you travel and know how to stay safe as a solo traveler.
Be aware of common scams, like the Mexican shakedown, or specific cultural customs, like in Sweden. Be smart in choosing attractions to visit by avoiding tourist attractions that hurt animals and look for reputable rescues or sanctuaries to support instead.
4. get apps
5. eat lunch
Going out for dinner at restaurants can be pricey, so instead, go for lunch. Lunch is almost always cheaper and often has more limited daily specials available. Many restaurants plain old run out of the good stuff by dinnertime.
Local marketplaces like weekly village markets and farmers markets are often only open a few hours in the afternoon. And you can also find street vendors around lunchtime trying to catch people on their lunch breaks from work. Street food rules!
6. walk more
Skip all the expensive and annoying transportation (when you can) and walk more. It's easy, free, and doesn't require worrying about tickets or apps.
Walking also lets you slow down and explore at your own pace. You notice the details, wander with wonder, and discover interesting things and places along the way.
7. keep entertainment
Always have something for your brain to do during waits, queues, delays and on long rides or flights. Lonely planet has digital chapters. Amazon has e-books and audiobooks. Download books from iBooks or movies from Netflix.
8. stash cash
Get cash in the local currency and stash it in a few different places in your stuff. This way, if your card doesn't work, if the restaurant or shop doesn't take it, if it gets lost or stolen, or if you get robbed!, cash can save your butt.
And spend it before you leave the country or all your coins will magically turn into souvenirs.
9. stay connected
You need data to stay connected and to travel, but don't bother buying local sim cards in every country. Get a global sim card (like keepgo, forbesfone and iroam) that you can use everywhere around the world and just recharge as needed.
10. buy one-way tickets
Buy one way tickets for air travel because they're often cheaper than roundtrip, with better flight plans, and give you more flexibility in your travel.
11. rent onward travel
Rent onward airfare from Fly Onward so that you have proof of onward travel for immigration. Pay only $9.99 for a valid ticket that disappears after 24 hours.
12. know your visa
Don't ever overstay your visa in any country. You risk fines, penalties, future entry bans, and jail! If you're traveling in Europe, you need to be aware of your Schengen visa. It's a stupid complicated, retroactive 90/180 algorithm, but you don't have to have an aneurism constantly calculating it because you can keep track with an app.
Also, Schengen visa time directly counts against your entry into the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. No, they are not Schengen, but if you're close to or over your Schengen visa limit, you can be denied entry to the UK and Ireland because they're afraid you won't be allowed back in Schengen countries and therefore won't leave theirs. I've said it before and I'll say it again, UK immigration is no joke, folks. They do not want tourists. Be prepared.
13. leave a trail
Americans should enroll in STEP because it keeps track of your travel plans and emergency contacts just in case anything should happen while you're abroad.
14. get your mail
15. easily plan travel
I absolutely love using rome2rio to plan travel. It searches every available form of transportation and even gives you approximate prices for every route.
16. easily book flights
To easily find the best flights, I like momondo. It's beautiful, user-friendly and lets you search lots of filters to find exactly what you're looking for. Or, get someone to book flights for you.
17. get free accommodation
18. get cheap accommodation
19. find flexible hotel deals
Need a hotel in a pinch? Booking.com guarantees the best prices on hotels and even gives you the option to reserve rooms and change or cancel as needed. Easy breezy.
20. always have insurance
Always have current health and travel insurance that covers you where you're traveling. You never know when you might need it and immigration often asks for proof in order to get a visa. Always be ready.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that may earn me compensation if you purchase through them.