A few weeks ago, I wrote about 70 of my top travel tips. Since I wrote that post, I’ve been thinking about other tips that I’ve picked up from my travels, and I wanted to share them! These tips cover more of the small things I like to bring with me when I travel and the little ways I’ve found to make my life easier while away from home.
So, without too much fanfare, here are 59 (more) of my top travel tips:
1. Bring sunscreen and actually use it. Sunscreen can be expensive and hard to find in some destinations, so if you can, try to bring your own. It’s a terrible feeling to be sunburned and crabby on your trip, so do your best to reapply consistently. Try to choose a formula that isn’t chalky or overly hard to rub in or oily, all of which will make you less likely to reapply.
2. If you’re a picky coffee drinker like me, you can bring your own coffee setup. I own this small, collapsible coffee dripper. Just pack it, along with some paper filters and ground coffee beans, and you can have decent coffee wherever your travels take you. It will work without the paper filters, but it’ll take longer and be harder to clean, so I’d strongly recommend packing a few.
3. Bring some tea bags. Tea bags weigh almost nothing and can help mask the taste of unpleasant tap water, if needed.
4. Most coffee shops and gas stations will give you a cup of hot water for free, so you can make your own tea or coffee using their hot water.
5. Bring an insulated thermos to keep water hot. This can be useful for making ramen noodles, as well as tea or coffee. You can fill it while out and about, or at your hotel/hostel before heading out for the day.
6. If you’re traveling somewhere where food is very expensive and you want to save money, you can bring pre-packaged foods that can be cooked with only hot water. My favorites are Trader Joe’s rice noodle bowls (they come with a bowl, after all!) and the Indian food that comes in foil pouches. This tip saved us a lot of money when we were backpacking in Iceland!
7. If I’m going for a long trip, I like to pack bar shampoo + conditioner. You can cut the bars in half if you don’t need the full bar for your trip. Plus, if you’re conscious about cosmetic ingredients, bar shampoos and conditioners usually contain fewer harsh and harmful chemicals.
8. Consider buying a cheaper laptop for your trip. When I traveled through Latin America in 2018, I left behind my Macbook Pro in favor of a lightweight and inexpensive Chromebook.
9. Most hostels have small libraries where you can swap out books you’ve read for new ones.
10. If you don’t need prescription lenses, bring cheap sunglasses (but make sure they’re UVA/UVB blocking). On a recent trip to Mexico, we found some seemingly brand new Ray-Bans in the sand on an empty beach. If you have cheap sunglasses, they’ll be one less valuable item you’ll need to worry about.
11. Make sure you know how to order water in your destination. In Mexico, if you order “agua” they’ll sometimes give you a soda, so you want to order “agua pura” (still water) or “agua con gas” (sparkling).
12. What is “safe” to do in one place may not be safe in another. Always adjust to your surroundings. While in one city it may be perfectly fine to hail a cab on the street, in the next it could be quite dangerous.
13. Get a haircut before long trips. It helps your hair stay detangled and recently cut hair is easier to care for.
14. Bring a small jar of coconut oil–it can be used in a pinch as a heavy-duty moisturizer for dry hands, lip balm, chafing, etc. Just be sure you also bring sunscreen! Be sure that your jar seals tightly because melted coconut oil will spill all over your bag.
16. If you are prone to knee pain, bring a knee brace. This style worked the best for me and is easy to pack. Again, consult your doctor before use.
17. If you’re traveling somewhere with food borne illness issues (think: anywhere you’ll need a typhoid vaccine to visit), bring some anti-diarrheal pills. Simply put, if you need them, you won’t want to have to try to figure out how to find them.
18. If you’re going on an extended trip, invest in quick-drying bras and underwear that you can wash in your hostel or Airbnb. Choose styles that you’ll be comfortable wearing everyday. Black underwear doesn’t stain as easily as other colors.
19. Backup all of your photos periodically while on your trip. I like to use the Google Photos app and periodically delete the copies from my phone to make sure I have enough space.
20. Make a shared Google photo album with your travel companions. Upload your photos to the album during your down time on your trip.
21. You can buy a fake wedding ring to wear if you want to ward off unwanted suitors.
22. Check vintage shops for clothes. In some places, these shops will be very expensive, but other times they’ll be affordable and have great finds. I’ve gotten two of my favorite pieces (a purse and a jacket) from vintage stores while traveling!
23. If you’re going somewhere warm or staying in a hostel, bring flip flops/plastic sandals or buy a pair after you arrive. There will likely be shower floors or other surfaces you don’t want to walk on in bare feet, and you’ll probably end up leaving these shoes behind when you fly home.
24. Memorize your credit card number. If you’re ever in a bind and lose your wallet, at least you’ll be able to book a flight home or a place to stay. Honestly, though, this comes in handy more often than you might think!
25. Buy a sleep sack or sleeping bag liner (or make one out of a sheet). This will save you from dodgy sleeping situations like a dirty hostel bed. I prefer silk ones because they’re very lightweight and pack small.
26. Get a digital luggage scale. This is helpful for any trip you’ll take! It’s so much easier to reorganize your bags at home, when you can still easily leave things behind. This is the style that I use.
27. Bring birth control and condoms. It’s always a good idea to be prepared.
28. Pack a water bottle sling. They’re a great way to carry around your own water while you’re out for the day if you are sharing a backpack with a friend. I like to keep cash in my water bottle holder because I figure no one will bother to steal it.
29. If you’re traveling with someone you don’t share finances with, be sure to settle money regularly–it’s much easier and will help to prevent bad feelings around money.
30. Be weary of anyone who seems overly friendly, especially if they approach you in public. Get out of there ASAP if they continue to talk to you even when you express disinterest, it’s probably a scam.
31. If you do get scammed, try not to dwell on it. If you’re not hurt and all the person took from you was a little money, try to cut your losses and just move on. Don’t let them steal your trip from you, too.
32. If you’re traveling somewhere with bad relations with the US or don’t feel comfortable saying where you’re from, you can always say you’re from Canada. This is advice I first heard from one of my Spanish professors in college.
33. Keep some cash in your socks/shoes in case you get pick pocketed and need money to get home.
35. Keep your purse and/or backpack in your lap when you’re sitting in public. It’ll be easier to keep an eye on.
36. If you have valuables, wear your bag in front of you when in busy places like train stations to prevent pickpockets.
37. Consider bringing a packable backpack. Pros: they’re lightweight and inexpensive. Cons: they don’t offer much support, and they’re not usually very fashionable. Here’s an example.
38. If you’re working remotely on your trip, be sure that you know where you will be working during the day. If at all possible, don’t try to figure it out when you get there, especially if you have meetings. You can read more of my remote work trip tips here.
39. Download WhatsApp before you leave and make an account. Much of the world communicates using WhatsApp!
40. Take only the cash you need for the day. Having extra cash is a liability, so try not to carry around more than you need. When in Europe, I try to use my credit card or Apple Pay whenever possible to minimize the amount of cash I spend.
41. There’s no shame in stopping at a Starbucks or a McDonalds. They are safe places to stop, use the free wifi, use the bathroom, and eat some food that almost certainly won’t make you sick (in the short term, anyway). Plus, it can be fun to see how they market to people in different countries.
On a recent trip to Mexico, the entire town we were staying in (Tulum) lost power, so we went to Starbucks for an air conditioned break, some coffee, and a pizza from the Domino’s next door because Starbucks and Domino’s had backup generators that most of the town didn’t have. Just be sure that you also sample the local cuisine (tip #61 from this post).
42. Use Google Maps or other apps to find great restaurants. In my experience, Google Maps is the most widely used and easiest to navigate, though Yelp also works well in some areas.
43. Avoid TripAdvisor. They have repeatedly covered up sexual assault accusations by deleting reviews.
44. Eat at expensive restaurants outside of peak hours. If you’re going to splurge on a nice restaurant, you’ll save money if you go for lunch, happy hour, or desserts/cocktails instead of dinner.
45. Don’t be afraid to haggle. As a general rule, if there aren’t prices listed, you’re expected to haggle for a better price. Sometimes the price is low enough that I don’t bother, but it’s usually better to try to negotiate. If you don’t like negotiating, try simply walking away. Often, the vendor will shout out a lower price at you as you leave. Then, you can turn around and buy it for the lower price if you still want it.
46. When it comes to restaurants, the busier the better. You can usually tell something is going to be good if there’s a long line of locals waiting outside the door. I’ve been known to, on occasion, just step into a line to see what the fuss is about.
47. Sometimes you simply have to pay for tourist experiences. Don’t skip them just to avoid an entrance fee!
48. Take photos! Have people take photos of you! Take photos with your new friends! For a long time, I was hesitant to take photos, and now there are tons of moments from my travels that are only memories because I never captured them with a camera.
49. Buy local art and unique souvenirs. On a recent trip to Paris, I bought two small paintings that I later framed in Ikea. In my partner’s office, he keeps a small 3-D printed sculpture that we bought in a museum gift shop. Our keychains have small keyrings I bought from a street vendor in Naples. You can plaster your home with little mementos from your time abroad.
50. Make a list of people you want to buy gifts for and check people off as you go on your trip. This will result in better gifts because you won’t be panic-buying at the airport on your way home.
51. Bring tweezers. Trust me, you never want to be stuck with a splinter in your foot and no way to remove it.
52. Try to keep tissues somewhere accessible in your bag and take them with you when you go to the bathroom. You never know when you’ll need some toilet paper and there’s none to be found.
53. If you like to cook, try buying a cookbook while you’re traveling (if you can find one in English). Since I moved to Ireland, I’ve been surprised at how different the cookbook selections are–I can’t even find most of my favorites without special ordering them. Cookbooks also make great gifts for the chef in your life.
54. Journal while you travel. It’s a fun way to look back at even the mundane little things you did that day while on a trip. It can also help you cope with some of the more stressful moments of travel.
55. Know that travel is not always going to be fun and light. There are moments when travel can be very challenging, which is part of the experience. Try your best to be adaptable and patient, most things have a way of working out in the end.
56. Get enough sleep. You’re probably already pushing yourself harder physically and emotionally than you would at home, so try to get enough sleep every night.
57. Hostels are famous for having travelers with loud alarms for their early morning flights, so bring ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper.
58. Eating out while traveling can be delicious, but make sure you’re getting enough vegetables and protein. After a few days or weeks, you’ll start to feel the effects of a high fat, high carb diet. Cooking a few meals in your hostel or Airbnb can be a great way to make sure you’re getting enough veggies.
59. If you’re a musician, consider buying an instrument from a local artisan. My partner bought a handmade charango in 2018 (pictured below with the man who built it).
I hope these tips help you make the most of your next trip! Did I forget anything? Do you have any travel tips or hacks that you swear by? Let me know in the comments!