There’s been a lot of talk about the “traveler vs. tourist” and who does it better. Truth is, though, no matter what you call yourself or where you go, what’s important is you took the time and trouble to get there: it’s all about the experience. But whether you travel for work, for play, full time, or just escape every once in a while, there are a few things (of many!) you might want to keep in mind to make the most of your getaway.
1. Eat like a local
It doesn’t have to be for every meal—especially if you’ve booked an all-inclusive resort or are traveling by cruise ship—but
2. Ask permission when taking a pic
People aren’t sightseeing
3. Take care of your tech
This means not only keeping your phone tucked away and being aware of your surroundings when you’re taking a pic, but also making sure everything you take is in a sturdy case (read: waterproof). This includes making sure you have the right chargers and the right electrical adapters for the country you’ll be visiting.
4. Protect your online self
You’ll be able to connect far and wide—and cyber-thieves will connect with you if you’re not careful. The best way to secure your data is using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) every time you connect. This extends a private network across a public one and lets you send and receive data as if you were connected to a private network. Sign up for one before you leave!
5. Back your stuff up
You online stuff, that is. External hard drives and sticks are great, but definitely consider a cloud-based service to make sure you lose nothing!
6. Read up a little on your destination
Some customs in Asia and Arabic countries
7. Make sure your luggage isn’t anonymous
Baggage claim is a sea of black suitcases: make yours stand out! Even if you buy a hot pink bag or a purple trunk, mark it as your own with stickers, duct tape, colorful ribbons—anything you can do to it so there’s no mistaking who it belongs to
8. Don’t get dehydrated
Between the flight and the excitement of
9. Keep TP in your backpack
Whether it’s a bunch of tissues in a baggie or an actual squished (half) roll of TP, you’ll be happy you have it when the tour bus stops in a tiny, charming town… with a tiny, not-so-charming public bathroom and zero paper. While we’re on the subject, take a stash of anti-diarrheal medication with you. Just. In. Case
10. Take digital copies of all your important documents and identification
Scan them or photograph them (clearly) and email them to yourself and someone you trust back home. That includes your credit cards. If everything gets stolen, you’ll have something to take to the embassy and/or purchase what you might need to get home (or continue on your trip)
11. Be the early bird
As tempting as it may be to loll about in bed, if you want to see popular attractions the earlier you get there the better. Unless, of course, you enjoy taking pictures of the tops of people’s heads.
12. But do visit them
Those attractions are popular for a reason: they may or may not be what you’re expecting, but you won’t want to leave without seeing them.
13. Take notes
You can take an actual travel journal (and a glue stick) and create an amazing handwritten record of your trip, or you can download one of the many cool smartphone journal apps out there for
14. Less cities, more experiences
Jam-packed itineraries might look good on paper, but they don’t leave room for exploration or actual experiences. You don’t want to be scheduled within an inch of your life—half the fun is being able to stay longer if you’re enjoying yourself or leave earlier if you’re not. Also, take into account travel time, especially if you’re going far (add one extra day on either end).
15. Advise your bank of your travel plans
Or you could be left standing with a blocked credit/debit card and zero cash. You don’t even have to call the bank anymore: sign into your account online or use the bank’s app. Easy as pie and will save you a LOT of headaches
16. Bonus: sign up for a SkyMed/Global ETS membership before you go!
Find your best plan at www.skymed.com!