Whether you like to travel solo or with a group, these are some travel tips I have learned through my travels that will be useful for any destination or season.
1. Learn the Local Language
Of all my travel tips, this one is my favorite! I always try and learn a few words of at least the main language spoken in the country I am visiting. Simple words like hello, goodbye, please, yes, no, thank you, excuse me, good morning and good night go a long way with locals. It’s the best way to get any local to help you if help is needed.
Also try to learn the pronunciation or the sound of certain letters (j=h and ll=y/sh in Spanish, c before an i or e is pronounced ch in Italian, also c+h makes the k sound in Italian, j=y in Germanic languages, such as German, Dutch, Icelandic, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian)
I have found that Duolingo is one of the best apps to learn another language! It’s a free and can be downloaded from the Apple App store or Google Play store and covers lots of languages.
2. Change Money Locally
Don’t even bother changing currency to that of your destination before you get there. In most European countries, ATMs will usually give you the best rate and by this I mean a rate that is pretty close to what you would see if you googled the exchange rate for that day. The only caveat is that your bank may also charge you a fee for it. Mine charges $5 but if you pull out a considerate amount, the $5 becomes insignificant in the grand scheme of things. ATMs are convenient and you don’t need to stand in lines at banks or money exchangers.
Here are somethings to consider
- You will need a debit card and will need to tell your bank that you plan on withdrawing money abroad. If you bank online, this can easily be done from you online account by creating a travel plan
- Some banks have a cap on how much you can pull out from an ATM per day. Ask your bank beforehand to so you can plan ahead
- Stay away from independent ATMs that are not associated with a bank. (i.e., TravelEx, Euronet, Cashzone) Most of these charge high fees. How can you identify if the ATM is an actual bank ATM or not? Either research the names of local banks in your destination before you arrive or use google to look for actual bank ATMs once you get to your destination
In most Asian countries, your best bet is to carry some crisp $100 bills. You will get the best rate for $100 bills and the rate will come down as the denomination decreases. Of course you can still use ATMs in Asian too, but there may be a cap on how much you can pull and if your bank and the ATM’s bank both charge you a fee, it might not be worth it in the grand scheme of things. If you do change money at an exchanger, count all your notes before you leave the exchanger. Airport money exchangers have the worst rates. Exchange only a bare minimum if you have to at the airport.
I also use credit cards with no foreign transaction fee wherever credit cards are accepted. Again, don’t forget to set a travel plan if you use your credit cards abroad so that your card doesn’t get rejected for fraud.
3. Stay Connected without Burning a Hole in Your Pocket
Forget roaming! I always get a sim card from the country I visit. To date, I haven’t paid more than $20 for a sim card and usually get at least 10GB worth of data.
You will need an unlocked phone to use a local sim but you can call your service provider and get this done before you leave for your trip. The best place to get a local sim is at the airport itself. Most countries require you to register your sim card and phone shops at airports will usually take your passport details and do this for you.
4. Eat Like a Local
Eat like a local for the best food and more genuine dining experience. Restaurants near major tourist attractions are usually rip offs. Not only will you end up paying more, but the food might not even taste that great. Here’s how to identify a local spot
- You are the only (or one of the few) tourist(s) around and the rest of the place is full of locals
- The menu is not in multiple languages
- There are only a few/simple things on the menu. This means that there is a high probability that the food is made from scratch
5. Learn the Local Transportation System
Don’t forget to look up information about the train, metro and bus system of a destination when you are planning for a trip. It’s easy to miss this as you spend time on figuring out attractions and hotels but is as important as attractions and hotels.
Also learn about the local taxi system. Always agree on the price before you get in to a taxi. Apps like Google translate come in super useful if you need to understand or speak another language.
Are you planning a trip anytime soon? HERE is my post on how to plan for travel
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Solo traveler! Check out my solo travel guide HERE
Click HERE to check out my packing list and tips for any season or destination