Travel Advice You Don't Normally Hear About

Planning a big trip can intimidating. If you are traveling to a new country whether it's your first time or your fifth time, I'm sharing a few tips I came up with from my own experiences of traveling abroad. Particularly the ones you didn't hear about before you left.

Research Before you Go
I’m sure the first thing you think about when deciding to travel is to plan. There is so much work that goes into planning a trip abroad, knowing what the best hotels are, your budget, your itinerary, and even meal planning. The list is endless. But there are some things that you might not think to research.

Know what you want to see and do. Doing a quick search on what there is do in a specific place could reveal hundreds of options. while it’s unlikely you’ll have enough time to see everything, know in advance what is important for you to see, and what you can pass on. Find a few top choices and research all of these well before your trip. Sometimes there are huge savings and time benefits to booking tickets in advance like skipping long lines. Some places may even require you to book ahead such as the famous Last Supper mural in Milan. We had to book a specific day and time almost two months in advance!
Search for photos before you go. There may be places you want to see and you don't even know it! It may be a day trip so you would have to plan accordingly.

I love to search Instagram photos for a particular location before I go somewhere. It gives me ideas of places I want to visit and different photographs I want to shoot. 

Dress Fashionable, Comfortable, and Smart 
Your clothes are actually a very important part of your trip. Dressing appropriately is essential. Looking back on past trips, I was mainly focused only on packing light and I’ve come to realize there needs to be more thought into the outfits I bring. Here’s a list of several good tips when it comes to packing clothes for a vacation. 

Research the weather. One of the more obvious ones, knowing if it will be cold, rainy, hot, or humid and then taking into account the extreme on each side. Plan for cooler nights even in a hot destination and the unforeseen warm day in a colder climate. Having clothes that be layered will make this an easier task. 

Pack clothes that are versatile. Take clothes that can be worn with several outfits. While bright colors and statement pieces are always nice for some trips, when trying to pack light you can leave these at home in exchange for more interchangable options. Also do a few quick searches on what the current trends are in your destination. Know what to pack that will allow you to blend in and not look super touristy.

Find clothes that are both comfortable and fashionable. While you definielty don’t want to be walking down a rainy, cobblestone street, in Scotland in high heeled shoes, don’t forget that you are on holiday and you’re more than likely going to be taking lots of photographs. Your comfortable yoga pants and GAP sweatshirt might not be the best thing to take pictures in all day and you'll probably be looking at your photos for years to come. Find things that are fashionable yet comfortable, such as walking shoes that can be dressed up and can be worn comfortably all day long. A good rule I always say is to avoid logos or clothes with words. That also goes to say, take the extra ten minutes in the morning to get ready, and look your best.

Always be prepared for rain. You might still want to be outside all day even if it's raining, so come prepared.

Invest to Your Benefit
It is possible to travel under a budget. Im sure you already know that planning your trip financially is probably the first step you think about. You've worked extra hard to save up that extra cash for this trip and you want to travel as cheap as possible. You even set aside money for the unforeseen costs, and the worst of the worst. You may have forgotten about stuff you will actually need during your trip. While these may vary person to person, these tips can help you think of things that you would need to buy before you leave. 

Spend the extra money on a nice camera. Let’s face it, its 2016 everyone has a smartphone and its just so handy to pull it out when you want to take a photo. While this might work on a daily basis seriously think about other options. Again, these are photos you will want to look at for a long time so spending a little extra on a nicer camera can really be worth it. You can also avoid costly charges to your phone bill altogether by simply carrying your camera and leaving your phone at home. Don’t go out and buy an expensive camera two days before you leave that you have no clue how to work. You’ll waste valuable time and likely missing a good photo because of it. Sticking to a nice point and shoot that doesn’t take up an entire bag may be the way to go. You don’t have to go all out but getting an easy to work camera that takes really good quality photographs is an essential to remembering your trip vividly down the road. 

Luggage can make or break you. Really nice luggage is expensive and you may be tempted to just use that old bag your parents gave you when you went off to college. This may be a huge money-saver or it might be a money pit depending on the nature of your trip. If you are traveling around to multiple places and will be using your luggage consistently, its best to think about investing in at least one nice piece, probably a carry on sized bag. Getting this before you leave will allow you to get the best price as well as the one you want for much cheaper than if your suitcase breaks running to catch a flight and you need to buy one in the airport. Newer suitcases also tend to be lighter and easier to pack.

Have money set aside for excursions. The real take away from a time abroad comes from the knowledge I gained from visiting museums and the like. Even if you aren't into art or history there is usually a lot of take-away down the road and they are also some of the most memerable parts of a trip.

Be Prepared and Aware
Leaving the country can be quite scary but also quite extraordinary. Just don’t get too caught up in the moment. Remember to always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t fall for petty scams, such as pickpockets or when making purchases. Research known scams before you go. Avoid crowded or unsafe areas and be on the lookout to avoid any suspicious people. While it doesn’t hurt to be friendly to locals and those around you, never share where you are staying or give any personal information to strangers. Don’t plan to meet up with anyone that you’ve recently met and never trust your luggage or bag with someone you don’t know and ask questions as you feel needed. If you are traveling with a group don't let others guide you into sticky situations even if that means splitting up.  


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