The best advice I ever got is 'travel by yourself every once in a while. That's the only way to fully embrace a new environment without reservations.'
There is nothing that screams amateur like a bunch of tourists following a tour guide like a pack of school kids.
The experience is more authentic if you have to get out of your way to interact with the locals and with fellow travelers.
Don't get me wrong, group travel can be fun, but an overly planned itinerary is usually what you get out of it. Plus, there is always that one person who dictates where everyone goes.
So, the next chance you get to travel by yourself, do it. It just might change you.
There are several ways to travel like a pro, even when you're doing it for the very first time. Here are the best hands-on tips to take that trip like you've been hoping on and off flights all your life.
1. Your best chance is with Google
Before you travel to a new place, find out the things to see, or the budget places to visit in that area.
Whether you're traveling for work or leisure, you will want to see what the country or what the city has to offer. Plus, if you find out about some cool spots beforehand, you won't feel as lost when you arrive at your destination.
2. Look for travel deals
Everything is cheaper if it comes in a package. Travel agents collaborate with hotels, airlines, shuttle services and local personnel to assemble amazing deals for their clients.
They usually have offers (for a limited time only) that cover flights, accommodation, airport transfers, a local travel guide, and sometimes visa fees, all in one comprehensive package.
Most of them will share this information if you ask. So, take it upon yourself to inquire about these deals.
For example, at this year's Pearl of Africa Expo in Uganda, there were so many travel agents and airlines e.g Turkish Airlines & RwandAir.
They had special all-inclusive offers running until the end of the Easter period. So, take advantage.
3. Travel off season
In the Travel industry, there are three seasons. Two of these are the most important. They are the determining factor of how expensive travel can be.
You have the high season (June to August) and the off season (November to March).
The high season, also known as Summer in many countries, is a period known for a lot of tourism. In this period, flight and accommodation prices rise. This is not the best time to travel if you have the option.
During the off season, when the demand is low, hotel and air ticketing prices are lower to compete for the fewer travelers. This is the best time to score affordable deals from airlines.
4. Is your staple food allowed onto the flight?
If your carrying food onto an airline, find out if it's allowed onto the flight beforehand.
Those weird bugs (as airport security calls them) could be a staple to in your culture but a potential poisonous substance to foreigners.
So, before you pack up your delicacy, read about the restricted items from the Airline's website. If it's not featured, then you probably can talk your way through security.
This section is dedicated to all the grasshopper lovers. I see you!
5. Research about the weather
I know, I know, the weather thing sounds obvious. But trust me, there are many people who assume the weather in the foreign country is similar to their local weather.
So, they just pack up whatever they've been wearing at home for their destination. Only to be caught off guard by the strong winds or the unbearable heat.
So, always find out before you start packing.
6. Learn the currency
If you're coming from a country with a weaker currency, it can be exciting to see fewer 0's on a price tag.
Do not mistake these fewer 0's for cheap, you will be surprised how much that costs in your local currency.
It's always helpful to educate yourself about the currency of your travel destination before you leave your home country.
Google the cost of living in that country and the common expenses for that country. Then, set a budget to guide you on how much money to carry with you.
Of course this will differ once you arrive at your destination, but it will guide you and help you avoid living beyond your means.
7. Learn to pack like a pro
Like I've mentioned, you don't need to pack all your delicacies to your travel destination. Learn to pack like a pro to maximize your space. Remember, it's all about essentials.
Airlines restrict luggage and charge for extra bags. For long flights, two bags are fine (check the permitted weight from your airline).
For short and budget flights, usually a carry-on bag is free, and the check-in luggage is charged.
If you're having trouble with how to pack efficiently, there are many travel bloggers who have dedicated time to helping out. Look up some tips.
8. Online check-ins.
Whether you're flying through Entebbe, Jomo Kenyatta or JFK airport, you can still check in online.
The online check in procedure entails providing some personal information, answering security questions, choosing your seat, confirming the amount of luggage, and accessing your boarding pass.
It can be done 24 hours before departure depending on the airline.
This is very essential if you're running late. Instead of waiting in the long lines, if you've done online check-in, just proceed to the luggage drop-off point, or if you only have hand luggage, straight to your boarding gate.
Pro tip: Don't forget to print off the boarding pass or have it emailed to you. And if choosing a seat online costs extra, leave it out and do it once at the airport.
9. Avoid inconveniences
Always scan your ticket and forward it to your email. Also, take a photo of your boarding pass and your other travel documents, just in case you misplace them.
10. A pack of gum may save the day
If you're flying for the first time, carry some gum to chew during take offs/landings. During take-offs and landings, the airplane cabin is pressurized.
Among first-time flyers, the change in pressure commonly results in a sharp pain in the ears.
When you chew gum, the act of continuous swallowing encourages the ear muscles and the nasal cavity to open up hence reducing the pain.
Alternatively, you can eat sweets or drink something. It will have the same effect. In most cases, you will only experience this pain once - the very first time time you fly.
11. Look fly when you get off
If you're on a long flight, you may want to carry certain toiletries like a toothbrush, tooth paste, lip balm etc. A moisturizer too could come in handy because flying tends to leave the skin dry.
You may also need a change of clothes for long flights to avoid looking shabby when you arrive at your destination.
Pro tip: Carry all your essentials and at least two sets of clothes in your carry on bag, just in case the airline misplaces your luggage (this happens more often that you might think).
12. The socket matters
Before you travel, always find out about the different plugs and the type of socket used at your destination.
There are type A, B, C and D sockets. Find out the kind that you need to avoid getting disorganized.
13. Let's talk about your money
You may need to change your money before you travel. But don't change it all at once. You could find better rates at your destination.
Plus, there is a possibility that you won't use up all the changed money, especially if you're spending a short amount of time in the foreign country.
You don't want to lose some of your money to the inconsistent foreign exchange system, so change what you need, and hold onto the rest.
14. Social media is the best option
You've arrived at your travel destination and met so many nice people you want to keep in touch with. The best option is to collect their social media contacts instead of phone numbers.
It's the best way to keep in touch years after you meet the people. Generally, people change their phone numbers more often than they change their social media accounts.
Lastly, don't step on people's toes
I like to end my articles by reminding readers of the most important thing to remember when visiting a foreign country.
Always respect local customs.
In my article Things you should never do when you travel, I share some general guidelines that every tourist needs in a foreign country.
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About the author
Hi, I am Angelica, a creative writer with a particularly intense interest in travel blogging.
After graduation, I started this blog to write about what I love to do...Travel. And occasionally, a few other topics.
Oh, before you go on with your fab life, leave a comment below and subscribe to my mailing list. Cheers!
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