Everybody who loves to travel knows that it is full of pitfalls. One wrong step and your vacation could be ruined – by a dingy hotel room, an overpriced restaurant, a wasted afternoon at a tourist-trap attraction or an overnight flight crammed in the middle seat. Though travels are full of major decisions, paying attention to little things is what makes a trip easy and less stressful. Guarantee a smooth trip by planning it thoroughly. Here are some tips to get you started.
Tip #1: Make a list
It’s always a good idea to make a list, and this should start before you even go on a vacation. Make a list of all the things you need to pack, and all the things you need to handle before going on a trip. For instance, do you need to pay the electricity bill before you leave, hire a dog-sitter maybe? Put all these on a list. Then, move on to making more lists: A list of all the places you want to see, a list of all the things you want to buy, and perhaps even a list of things you want to do while you are on vacation. “Making lists clears mental clutter and lets you travel hassle free. Remember, you can never make too many lists,” says 34-year-old Sudha Pant who has been taking at least two major vacations every year for the last five years.
Tip #2: Stash extra cash
You never know what might happen when you are traveling so first and foremost, calculate your expenses and then carry some extra cash. “Don’t think of this as extra expenditure, you always have the option of bringing it back. But in case of emergencies, you will be glad you decided to take some extra,” says Luna Bhandari, 28, who recently found that she had under-budgeted everything for a trip to Singapore. Had it not been for the extra cash she always carries with her, she wouldn’t have been able to enjoy her week long vacation as much as she did. And to be safe, make sure you stash some in a few different places. Some safe zones could be inside toiletry bags, around the frame of a backpack, and even sewn behind a patch on your bag.
Tip #3: Have a backup
If you carry all your data on your phone or laptop, then having some important documents on paper can save some serious hassle sometimes. There have been instances of phones crashing or the battery running out as travelers were in the process of checking in for a flight that has caused serious delays. “I accidently deleted my e-ticket and there was no WiFi access at the airport so the guard at the gate wouldn’t let me in. They told me to call the airlines and somehow re-issue my ticket,” says Rabi Pradhan, 41, who found himself in this dilemma while on a business trip. Thankfully, Rabi had a printed copy of the ticket in his luggage. “But don’t make the mistake I did, and carry it on your person,” he adds. It would also be a good idea to keep both digital and physical copies of your passport, visas, driver’s license, birth certificate, and important phone numbers ready to go in case of an emergency.
Tip #4: Take lots of photos
“You can never take too many photos,” says 26-year-old Rakshya Adhikari, who confesses that she takes as many as 10 photos of a single place, much to her friends chagrin. But in her defense, she says, for most trips, you might only see a particular place or meet certain people once in your lifetime so do yourself a favor and take lots of photos. Don’t worry about looking like a ‘tourist’ because that is what you are anyway. Great photos are the ultimate souvenirs. They don’t cost anything. They are easy to share with others, and they don’t take up space in your luggage. Just remember, once you have your shot, to get out from behind the lens and enjoy the view.
Tip #5: Splurge a little
While budget travel allows you to travel longer, travel more, and still have money leftover in the bank, sometimes it might actually be nice to spend a little on some luxuries while you are traveling. “The whole point of traveling, besides seeing new places and experiencing new things, is to relax and rejuvenate too. And you can’t do that when you are constantly looking at the prices of things and mentally calculating expenses,” says Shruti Rana, 37, who likes to save cost on airfare and hotels, but doesn’t look at food and drink prices on restaurant menus. “You save somewhere and spend elsewhere. It depends on your priorities,” she explains. Book a few days at a nice hotel, eat out at a fancy restaurant, or spend a wild night on the town – do something that lets you live a little without worrying if you will have enough for the rest of the trip.
Tip #6: Eat local food
One of the best ways to sample local culture is through local food. Think you already know what Mexican food tastes like? You are probably wrong. Nobody does it better than the locals. So make it a point to taste a bit of everything when you travel, especially if you don’t know what it is. You could also try asking local people for recommendations. And if you are scared of eating street food, choose vendors with big lines out front. These will almost always be hygienic and good. “Many people are scared that they will fall sick if they eat at roadside vendors. But that isn’t necessarily true,” says 49-year-old Suresh Basnet, who claims to have only fallen sick twice during travels. And once, he says, it was because of spicy food.
Tip #7: Act local
And by this we don’t mean you walk around as if you know each street and like you have seen it all before. But to act like a local, you have to arm yourself with enough knowledge and be ready for surprises and occasionally getting lost too. For this, download an offline map of the place you are visiting, familiarize yourself with the local transportation, and learn some basic phrases if your language isn’t primarily spoken in that area. Also, make it a point to visit the local tourism office. They know about everything going on in town. They can point you to free activities, special events happening during your stay, and everything in between. “The best thing to do to get to know the local area quickly and efficiently is to ask the hostel staff for information. They deal with budget travelers all day, every day. They know exactly where to go for cheap meals and attractions,” says Pragya Neupane, 32. She makes it a point to converse with the staff at the reception desk of the hotel she is staying at before she plans her itinerary for the day. “They point you to the right direction every single time,” she concludes.