The world is an incredible teacher and only by traveling can you learn some of its most amazing secrets. It’ll teach you a bit about yourself as well!
Having traveled for several years, we’ve picked up a few travel tips and tricks. The kinda things we wished we’d known when we first set off all those years ago. Things that can prevent injury, discomfort, and expensive problems along the way.
The following tips will help you make the most out of your adventures, without taking away any of the mystery of life on the road. Essentially, they’ll help you save money, travel longer, and discover even more that the world has to offer!
So, let’s dive in!
Essential Travel Planning
They say that on the road, the best plan is no plan at all. While that sounds exciting and offers a romantic idea of travel, in real life, things don’t quite work like that. Having no plan can lead you to spend more money and run into more dead ends.
So, here are the basic travel planning essentials.
Transport: Getting Around With Ease
Unless you’re going to head out of the door one day and walk around the world, you’ll need to think of how you’re going to travel to, from, and within your destination. In this day and age you’ve got plenty of options, but it’s worth thinking ahead.
If you’re traveling long distance, chances are you’ll be taking a flight. Here are our top tips for flying:
- The early bird catches the worm: when you book your flight tickets in advance, they almost always work out cheaper than if you leave it until later.
- Compare prices: use tools like SkyScanner to quickly compare ticket prices from airlines across the globe. This way you’re guaranteed to find the most affordable fares.
- Be flexible: many airlines offer flexible tickets. While these are slightly more expensive, they do allow you to reschedule without paying large fees if needed. Life on the road is often unpredictable, and you never know how your plans might change.
- Know the restrictions: when packing your carry-on luggage, make sure you know what restrictions are in place. These differ from each airline and in some cases different airports, so check both. Also, be aware of weight restrictions on checked-luggage.
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you’ll still need to arrange transport from the airport. On top of this, you’ll want to look into your transport options for excursions and traveling from place to place.
Here are our top tips.
- Know your options: online tools like Rome2Rio are brilliant for helping you find the best route from place to place. They list flights, ferries, buses, trains, and even taxis, and make getting around a piece of cake for both long and short distances.
- Take care with taxis: there are many excellent taxi services around the world, but almost as many less legit drivers that will charge extortionate fees, or worse. So, research reputable taxi companies in advance, or use trusted taxi and ride sharing apps like Uber, Bolt, or Clever Taxi. Sign up here for Uber and get US$5 discount on your next ride!
- Vehicle or bike rental: hiring a vehicle or a bicycle is another great way to get around that literally puts you in the drivers seat. You have unlimited flexibility and can go at your own pace. Just be sure that you’re familiar with the rules of the road, as they may differ from your home country.
- Take a tour: many cities will offer walking or cycling tours which are a great way to become familiar with your surroundings. Walking tours are often free as well, just remember to take some cash to tip your guide! For more incredible tours and adventurous experiences, check out Get Your Guide.
- Self-drive: One of the best ways to travel is with your own vehicle. When it’s done right, it’s an amazing experience. You can check out our road trip top tips right here.
- Try cycling: what better way to travel than under the power of your own body! A cycling tour is a great, green way to get around and provides a glimpse into your surroundings few other travelers get to enjoy.
Finding Amazing Accommodation
There are tons of different types of accommodation on offer, from hotels to campsites. One of my biggest regrets from my early traveling days is not knowing about some of the less mainstream ways of finding somewhere to sleep.
Let’s take a look!
Accommodation is one of the largest expenses when you’re traveling, but there are many free options nowadays.
- Couchsurfing: has a global community, consisting of hosts, who offer up their couch for free, and travelers, who sleep on the aforementioned couches. It’s a great way for travelers to meet like-minded people and experience a place with a local. Besides paying a small fee to sign up, money never crosses palms, though it’s nice for the traveler to cook dinner or buy a round of beers! It’s a trust-based platform that relies on verification and user-reviews, making it pretty safe.
- Volunteering: for a superb immersive experience try volunteering. Workaway is a great platform that puts you in touch with projects around the world. From hostel work to boat building, there’s something for everyone. Hosts generally request 6 hours of work a day in exchange for food and accommodation, Other volunteering platforms include WWOOF and HelpX.
- House Sitting: another great way to enjoy free accommodation is house sitting, which can be great for both short and long term stops. Trusted House Sitters is a useful tool that matches potential sitters with owners of vacant homes around the world. Sign up now for TrustedHousesitters with 25% discount!
Hotels, Guest Houses, and More
Sometimes you’re split for choices in terms of accommodation while other times there’s only one option. Here are our top tips for making the right choice each time:
- Book in advance if you can: like flights, booking accommodation in advance can save you a chunk of cash. Sites like Booking.com make it easy to see all your options and find the best prices.
- Use AirBnb: AirBnb often works out cheaper than more traditional types of accommodation and has the added benefit of allowing you to meet the locals. Or, if you prefer privacy, you can often find great places that offer self-check in. There’s a huge variety of choices, from entire private apartments, boat houses, or a bed in a shared house. Sign up now for Airbnb get €25 discount on your first booking + get €9 on any experience you book (with a value of over €43).
- Use hostels to meet people: life on the road can get lonely, but hostels offer a chance to meet other travelers. They’re normally cheap as well if you go for a dorm bed and often enjoy excellent, central locations.
Why not pack a tent and sleep beneath the stars at night? It’s a superb way to travel and gets you up close and personal with nature.
- Check wild camping laws: in some countries you can pitch your tent almost anywhere and can enjoy absolute seclusion. However, this isn’t the case everywhere, and often you’ll need to book into a registered campsite.
- Get the right tent and sleeping bag: tents come in all shapes and sizes so it’s good to know how you’ll use yours before choosing one. If you’re thinking of a summer trip somewhere warm and dry, you won’t need kit that can survive sub-zero temperatures. Likewise, if you’re heading somewhere cold like Iceland (even in summer), be prepared to spend a little extra on equipment that is extra warm and reliable.
- Take care with campfires: be extremely careful when you set up your campfire. Check the wind, and position it so that flames have no chance of reaching your tent, or any dry wood, leaves, or grass. The best advice is to dig a pit and use a ring of stones to keep things enclosed. Never use wet stones from the river though, as the pockets of water inside will expand when heated and can cause them to explode.
Insurance: Keep Yourself Covered
- Health problems
- Emergency medical treatment
- Stolen or lost documents, credit cards, etc.
- Travel delays
- Lost or damaged luggage
- Personal liability
- Natural disasters
- Political and medical evacuations
- + more depending on the cover taken out.
Top Finance Tools
One unwelcome surprise we had on our early travels was the high fees set by banks when you take cash out of ATMs abroad or make a transfer. Exchanging money also had us losing cash in commission fees and fluctuating exchange rates. Fortunately we’ve discovered some useful tools since those early days that helped us save some money.
- TransferWise: This is awesome for sending cash abroad, offering low fees and up-to-date exchange rates. It’s free to sign up and quick and easy to use, saving you a huge chunk of cash on bank transfer fees. They also offer a multi-currency debit card which reduces ATM fees wherever you are. Sign up here for Transferwise and don’t pay any fees for your first bank transfer up to GBP500.
- XE.com: the world’s most up-to-date currency convertor also comes with a number of other cool features. XE also allows you to send currency abroad in just 3 simple steps, while dodging the large transfer fees. The handy app means you can access your cash with ease anywhere, any time.
- TravelSpend: sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of your budget while you’re on the road, but this money management tool makes it easy. It works online and offline, and keeps track of exactly where your money is going. Handy graphs and charts help you visualize your spending and keep you on budget.
Backpacking Like a Pro
Backpacking is the dream of many travelers and with the following tips and tricks it can easily be achieved.
Choose the Right Backpack
When you’re choosing a backpack for your travels, take your time, and do a lot of research. Imagine you’re a tortoise selecting a new shell. This backpack is far more than somewhere to keep your stuff. It’ll be your trusty companion and you’ll often be living out of it. Think about the following factors:
- Function: think about how you’ll use your backpack. Will it be your only luggage? How long will you be away for? Each scenario requires a different backpack.
- Size: consider the size restrictions on airlines if you plan to take your backpack as carry-on luggage. Also, make sure it’s physically comfortable to wear.
- Organization: staying organized on the road is important and a good backpack will have features such as packing cubes and compression straps to make things easier.
Once you have your backpack, it’s time to hit the road and put it to good use. Here’s what we wish we knew before we tried it the first time:
- Roll your clothes: you can fit a lot more clothes in your backpack if you roll them into sausages. They stack up easier too and are far more manageable. The exception would be thick sweaters, which are better laid flat.
- Wear it right: good backpacks come with a number of adjustable straps, but many people don’t make use of them all. They’re designed to be adjusted so the pack fits your body better and the weight is more evenly distributed. Take time to adjust each and every strap and you’ll feel much better with a fully loaded pack.
- Keep it clean: backpacks can soon start to stink if you’re not careful! Make sure you empty any food from them each day before something gets lost. If it gets wet, take everything out, rinse it with fresh water and allow it to dry inside and out (if possible) to prevent mold. Also, keep a separate laundry compartment/bag, and put an aroma bag in there to keep smells at bay.
Planning to do a lot of hiking on your travels? Great! It’s a superb way to get back to nature and relax, while keeping fit. Here are our top tips:
- Pick the right boots! If you’re serious about hiking, you’ll need boots that keep your feet comfortable and protected — see more below.
- Keep the weight down: avoid overloading your backpack as it’ll get heavier and heavier as the days go on.
- Dress for the occasion: proper clothes are the difference between freezing to death and enjoying a hike in intense weather! Adopt the layer system for the best results, and wear a waterproof jacket and pants if you anticipate rain or snow.
- Get the food right: pack food that is high in protein and is sure to give you the proper energy boost when you need it most. Sugar is also helpful, so don’t feel bad about taking something sweet. Look for food that packs up small and require the least amount of prep, such as boiled-in-a-bag meals.
- Know the risks: research the area you plan to trek. Look for things like dangerous wildlife, mosquitoes, and natural dangers such as quicksand or adverse weather conditions and prepare accordingly!
- Make sure you’re up for it: many multi-day hikes require you to walk several miles between different camping spots or cabins. If you’re not used to long-distance hiking, don’t try to run before you can walk. Do some practice hikes in advance to make sure your body is capable of something tougher.
- Have a backup plan: make sure you let people know where you’re going and how long you anticipate you’ll be away for so that they can notify rescue teams if you don’t return.
Choosing the Best Travel Gear
From hiking boots to GPS trackers, there’s lots to think about when preparing your packing list. A lot depends on the type of traveler you are, but here are our tips and tricks for choosing the best travel gear.
- Socks: look for thick socks to wear with your boots and choose materials that reduce odor and perspiration. Though expensive, Merino wool socks are probably the best you can find. Darn Tough makes a great range for everything from trekking to running to everyday use.
- Hiking boots: must be comfortable and properly fitted, otherwise your treks will soon become a painful nightmare. Try boots on in advance and test them out to wear them in before you hit the road. Look for quality, durable materials, water-resistance, and adjustable lace tying systems for the best boots. It’s worth spending more on good boots than almost anything else! Nanet is crazy about the hiking boots from The North Face, while Kelly likes a bit more sturdy shoes and loves her Columbia hiking shoes.
- Sneakers and day shoes: look for something cheap and easy going that packs up small. Cloth shoes are great for warm climates, as they fold up easily. If you’re heading somewhere with harsher weather, maybe just wear boots and avoid packing lighter shoes altogether.
- Sandals and flip-flops: my honest advice is to buy these locally rather than in advance. I know it’s nice to get attached to a pair of well-worn sandals, but they take up space, and are normally really cheap wherever you are in the world.
Sweaters, Pants & Jackets
- Wear Layers: if you’re traveling to colder climates, the best advice is to wear many thinner layers rather than one thick item. The layer system works by trapping warm air from your body between the layers, keeping the cold air from outside at bay. It can be applied to your upper and lower body by wearing thermal underwear and 3 or 4 thinner layers on top.
- Sweaters: avoid big bulky sweaters as they’ll just take up precious space in your bag. Again, Merino wool is a great material, like this zipped hoodie from Icebreaker.
- Pants: look for durable pants that will survive a bit of abuse. Cargo style pants with a number of pockets are a good idea. Also, pack a belt, as life on the road is a great way of shedding a few pounds. Check out Revolutionrace who have a huge range of outdoor pants for both men and women.
- Jacket: look for something waterproof and windproof that zips right up to the chin to keep your neck warm, ideally with a removable thermal lining. For warmer climates, look for a lightweight waterproof jacket to wear in case of rain, or a lightweight puffer jacket. The best will pack up small enough to hide away in your backpack. We are absolutely in love with the Fjallraven Keb Eco Shell jacket. It might be a bit more expensive, but it lasts forever and is really wind- and waterproof.
- RECCO: offers a superb system in which hikers wear a RECCO reflector that bounces a radar signal back to the detector that is used by rescue teams around the world. The signal gets stronger the closer you get, allowing rescuers to pinpoint the exact location of a lost hiker, even under snow and water. They work with over 150 brands that attach RECCO reflectors to everything from jackets to boots, though a standalone product is also available. Get your Backpack Recco here.
- Spot: offers an array of satellite communicators and GPS trackers. We’ve used the Spot Trace GPS tracker, which gave us great peace of mind that even though we were miles from anywhere, we could be found with ease in an emergency. Get your Spot Gen 3 now on Amazon!
- First aid kit: it’s always good to carry a first-aid kit on your travels. You can buy kits that come with all the basics, such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, gloves, painkillers, and much more.
There are tons of little extras that are really useful to travelers, from cool gadgets to a safety kit, here are some of our favorites.
- Day Pack: Always handy to have with you to carry water bottles and other things you need on the trail. Check out our Osprey Daylite Review if you want to know more about our absolute favorite daypack.
- Water bottle: it’s always good to have some water with you, especially when hiking or biking. We especially love the Camelbak Podium Chill water bottles, the dirt series to be precise. This water bottle keeps your drink twice as cold, even in warm circumstances and prevents it from getting frozen in cold circumstances. The dirt series also protects the drinking cap from dirt, which is very handy when cycling.
- Water purifier: this is a great tool if you’re uncertain about drinking tap water in a new city, or stream water while hiking. We always carry the Lifestraw with us, which you can use it by directly screwing it on a water bottle or by using the included drinking pouch.
- Carabiners: these are so handy and are great for keeping your backpack off the floor, attaching valuables to your belt, and much more! Why don’t you check out these super lightweight and sturdy ones which only cost a few dollars.
- Multi-tool: you never know when you’ll need a bottle opener or screwdriver. A simple, collapsible multi-tool is a must-have while you’re on the road, like this one that fits effortlessly on a keychain. For camping trips you might want one with a few more tools, like a real Leatherman.
- Playing cards: are a great way to pass the time on long journeys, but an even better way to break the ice and make friends in hostels or on train journeys. Air Deck makes a great set that is both water-proof and rip-proof, while packing up small enough to fit into any backpack with ease.
- Neck gaiter: not only keeps your neck warm in cold weather, but can be worn in many ways. It can protect your mouth and nose from pollution to sandstorms, or cover your head and ears to keep strong, icy winds at bay or even to avoid sunburn. We are huge fans of the Buff Merino Wool neck gaiters, as they keep you warm when it’s cold and cool when it’s hot.
Complete packing Lists
Are you ready to receive a dose of travel inspiration? Below you will find a collection of our personal travel stories. From our 3.000km cycling trip in Iceland to spending a long and dark winter in Lapland. We’ve been hitchhiking, kayaking, and did several multi-day hikes.
With stories and videos, we want to give you the travel bug. Even if you are not able to travel, we want to transport you from your living room to some of the most incredible locations on the planet.
There is beauty and adventure everywhere. You don’t have to go far to challenge yourself and push your boundaries. So, if you need some inspiration, here are some of our stories from the road. Enjoy!
What are you looking for?