Travel has changed a lot in the last few years. While it’s still possible to go virtually anywhere you want, there are more restrictions to consider. In order to continue traveling, we must all learn to travel smart and with an awareness that allows us to be safe and healthy.
So, in this day and age, what does it mean to travel smart? Here are some tips to jot down and be aware of when you go abroad, along with some travel products that I think make travel that much easier.
Tips To Travel Smart
1 – Research Your Destination
What are the travel requirements at your destination? Do you need a visa? and how do you get one? Are there restrictions in the dress codes or regarding parts of the country to avoid? Are there tourist red flags to watch out for? For instance, on my trip to Vietnam, we were told to only trust certain cab companies because the others had a tendency to cheat or inflate prices for tourists.
On the same note, during your research note down the safest places for you to stay. In some areas, hostels can be unsafe and in others, they are the stay of choice. Also look into the locations within different cities, including specific neighborhoods, to avoid and to book your hotel. Central locations are generally safer and better connected, making it easier for you to sightsee.
2 – Take A Medication Kit
Medications in other countries can either be really expensive, or non-existent. What am I talking about? Think antibiotics, allergy medications, antidiarrheals, antihistamines, cold, and pain medications. Your physician can give you antibiotics commonly used for travelers’ diarrhea, and the rest you can get over the counter.
Travel smart, make a kit and take it with you. You’ll be assured that you have what you need to get through a rough patch (should one arise), and you’ll save money while you’re at it. No point in breaking your travel budget because you get sick!
3 – Covid Precautions
This is a thing and likely will continue to be for some time. Take medical-grade masks (surgical, N95, KN95) with you, travel-sized hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and some rapid antigen covid tests with you.
Why the covid tests? Because testing in other countries may be limited, or very expensive. On my trip to Finland, the cheapest antigen test I found was 79 euros (ouch!).
4 – Modes of Communication
Hopefully, before you travel you’ll tell someone about your plans so that someone somewhere knows where you are and what you’re up to. In the same way, you should have a way to communicate with people back home in case you are lost, in a bind, or need help.
Most cellular service providers from the states will work abroad, however, you may accrue roaming charges. The best way to find out is to call your provider. Alternatively, if your phone is unlocked you can obtain a foreign sim card and have a temporary number while you travel. This can be helpful if you are traveling in a group and wish to communicate freely without depending on WiFi access.
5 – Travel Smart With An Adapter
Travel smart with an adaptable travel plug in. (see below). This universal adapter works with plug sockets in pretty much any country, plus gives you the option for multiple users with the many USB ports! I never travel without mine.
6 – An RFID Wallet
Your information can be stolen by people scanning your passports and credit cards through your purse from afar! An RFID wallet protects you from the crazies, and if you pick the right one, is also a functional and smart way to carry all of your important documents.
This one from Amazon has a zipper (always better to prevent things from falling out), multiple slots for credit cards, cash, or documents, is waterproof, and can comfortably fit your phone as well.
7 – Access to Money
Speaking of wallets, while the entire world seems to work on credit cards, there is no substitute for cash in your travel wallet. Have a way to obtain cash while you’re abroad (e.g an ATM machine) or take cash with you. This travel smart tip gives you a financial cushion should you end up in a situation where a card is not accepted, or if you lose your cards altogether.
8 – TSA Friendly Suitcase
If you’re like me, then you probably only travel with a carry-on and backpack. If not, no worries. There are suitcases available in all sizes that have TSA-friendly locks. I also recommend, for carry-ons especially, a hardtop suitcase. This prevents your bag from looking full, and from gate agents going crazy that your suitcase is too big.
Here’s my preferred pick:
The advantage of a TSA-friendly lock is that when you go through security and they decide to do a spot check on your stuff? They can open up using a master key without messing up your lock. Just be sure to make the code to the lock one that is easy for you to remember.
9 – Water & Snacks
Check out this hydroflask for your next trip! Mine fits comfortably in the side pocket of my backpack.
In addition, I always recommend that you pack some of your favorite, travel-friendly snacks. While food is a great way to explore local customs and flavors, it can also get old really fast if you don’t like it. Having some snacks, like granola bars, instant oatmeal, or trail mix can go a long way toward helping you get some nutrition and having something to eat if the local cuisine isn’t working for you.
10 – The STEP Program
Another layer to add to these travel smart tips is to register online before you leave with STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This gives the State Department your information and lets them know where US citizens are around the world. In the event of an emergency, lockdowns, or unplanned conflict, the State Department will be able to communicate with you directly and help you get home safely.
I’ll also add to this, especially if you’re going to areas of the world that are more remote and less developed, look up and be aware of the location of the US Embassy. Keep that information handy so that you know where to go in an emergency.
There is no substitute for experiences that allow you to see the world. Whether you’re traveling overseas or staying stateside, in an ever-changing climate, politically, socially, and medically, it’s important to stay vigilant, be prepared, and to travel smart. You won’t regret the steps you’ve taken to explore and get home safely.
Featured image courtesy of unsplash