Ensure your next trip is the best one yet with this 50-item travel tip checklist.
1. Get a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. I use the Capital One Venture Card.
2. Open a checking account with a bank that doesn’t charge or reimburses for ATM withdrawals abroad. I have a Capital One High Yield Checking, which reimburses my ATM fees up to $15 each month. Charles Schwab is another recommendation.
3. Do a homestay for a first-hand glimpse of life as a local.
4. Pack light and travel with just a carry-on. Less to worry about, less to carry and no baggage fees.
5. Pack Clever Travel Companion pickpocket-proof clothing and keep valuables safe from thieves.
7. Spend an afternoon getting lost in a neighborhood. Just make sure to check with your hotel’s front desk to learn where is safe to wander.
8. Become loyal to an airline and a hotel and sign up for their points programs. Rack up those points for free and budget travel.
9. Try something you’ve never done, and maybe even never heard of.
10. Do something that scares you. For me, I went skydiving, bungee jumping and canyoning until travel led me to conquer my fear of heights.
11. Travel solo at least once to grow you relationship with yourself, feel empowered and realize exactly what you’re capable of.
12. Make a local friend and have them show you their favorite local spot.
13. Sign up for CouchSurfing. Even if you don’t like the idea of sleeping on a stranger’s couch (for free), you can make use of the local city forums to find and plan meetups with locals and other travelers. Meetup.com is good for this, too.
14. Spend at least one day immersing yourself in nature.
15. Skip the taxis and take public transportation like a local.
16. Better yet, ride a bike or walk for more eco-friendly travel.
17. Ask your taxi driver how they would spend one free afternoon and use their suggestions.
18. Google “[city name] free walking tour.” They’re usually very well done and you pay with tips.
19. Give yourself a local mission, like finding the best tacos or the most interesting art museum.
20. Research local issues — it’s best to inquire with locals and local organizations — and find a way to get involved.
21. Pack a safety whistle. It’s small, light and can save you when danger approaches, whether that be a potential attacker or aggressive animals.
22. Leave your gadgets behind when out exploring, or limit the amount you use them to one hour per day. It’s healthy to disconnect sometimes.
23. Combine exercise with exploring by going sight-running (yes, it’s a thing) or cycling around a city.
24. Opt for one sunrise or sunset hike.
25. Leave your jewelry, makeup, hair products, styling tools and heels behind and let yourself breathe (although if you want just a touch of pizazz for cheap, these jewelry items are budget-friendly and travel-centric).
26. Learn the art of layering. Choose a color palate and pick only garments that go with it to mix and match pieces and pack more efficiently.
27. Find out what the national drink or dish is and try it.
28. Learn one new word per day from the local language. Need help? Read ” Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World” by Benny Lewis.
29. Ask the people you come in contact with each day questions, like what led them to become a taxi driver, or what inspires their handicraft making.
30. Find something cool to do not listed in your guidebook.
31. Purchase travel insurance. You really never know what could happen, especially in today’s crazy world.
32. Book only responsible hotels and your operators. Try to go as local as possible.
33. Only travel with people you’re compatible with. Don’t be afraid to sit down with a potential travel partner beforehand and ask important questions about budget, trip expectations and lifestyle (or risk ending up with these terrible travel partners!).
34. Read amazing travel tales for inspiration, like “Tales From Nowhere,” “A Woman Alone: Travel Tales from Around the Globe” and “Annapurna: The First Conquest Of An 8,000-Meter Peak.”
35. Sign up for a responsible volunteer experience.
36. Go to a local museum and find a historical fact that interests you. Then, research it further.
37. Skip any dieting or calorie counting and opt to try everything you can, even if it’s just a taste.
38. Discover something you never knew before about the place.
39. Send a postcard. As in, a genuine paper postcard with stamp.
40. Buy locally-made souvenirs instead of Made in China nick nacks. Here are a few tips for finding the perfect travel souvenir.
41. Try a new food you’ve never heard of.
42. Download the top 10 songs of the destination to your iPod or a CD and get a vibrant dose of local culture.
43. Buy a local outfit or accessory and rock it.
44. Make a local handicraft. Learning how to do traditional weaving in Okinawa is one of my most treasured experiences.
45. Skip doing the things you’re supposed to do — you know, all those “must sees” — and instead do what you want to do.
47. Research local customs before going to your destination and abide by them, even if they seem odd. You’ll be much happier not offending the locals.
48. Ask a local artist or artisan if you can watch them work.
49. Download apps like HotelTonight, Groupon, Living Social and Roomlia for flash sales and major last minute hotel deals.
50. Get involved with the sharing economy and immerse yourself in local culture on a budget.