My Personal List of Travel Tips

These are some things that I do before I travel someplace. What do you do?

This is a list of things I do when I travel

A buddy of mine is traveling abroad for the first time so I sent him the following based on my experiences traveling around the world. If you have some tips I should add to this, send them my way or leave a comment below!

Random tips

  • Pack light – this is primary. You don’t want to lug a ton of stuff around. It’s called “LUG-gage” cause you lug it around.
  • If traveling with someone, split up that luggage so that if one bag is lost, the other bag still has half the other person’s stuff.
  • On that note, put at least one full change of clothing in your carry-on bag, JIC they lose your luggage.
  • Take a photo of the outside of your hotel so you can show your taxi driver where to go. OR get a stack of business cards from the hotel when you arrive and just hand them to the taxi driver when you need to get back.
  • Download or carry around a city and/or subway map.
  • Instead of changing money, if you are going to a place with a good banking system, just take money out to an ATM machine.
  • If you’re going to go out at night to party, leave your hotel keys with the front desk of the hotel and most of your credit cards and valuables locked up in your room.
  • If you’re going to a particularly bad place, register with the State Department that you’re going there so they know you’re in country.


  • If you can afford it, consider getting some merino wool clothing – socks, tee-shirts, etc. They are naturally anti-microbial (meaning you could get away with washing them less), last forever, and regulates internal core-body temperatures – not just for cold weather.
  • Bring some old clothes that you don’t care that much about. This way you can toss or donate them if they get damaged or if you end up buying new clothes for the trip home.

Stuff to Bring

  • Money belt – it’s old school stuff, but lemme tell you, it works. They’re cheap and you can keep most of your scratch close to your body.
  • Regular crazy glue – for reasons I can’t get into now, I often end up with some pretty deep cuts so I would just bring crazy glue to seal it shut without stitches. This was a while ago so you should check to see if airplanes will still allow you to bring it onboard.
  • Velcro wallet. Fill this with expired cards and few bucks. If you do get mugged, you can give them this.
  • Anti-bacterial wipes
  • A good book – try mine (shameless plug, I know).

Stuff to Prep

  • If you’re going to one place, obviously you should get a guidebook. The wife and I like Lonely Planet and Rough Guides when we were younger but that has changed to things like Frommers once we got older. BUT if you’re going to multiple places, a better bet would be to stop off at the library and take a few dozen books, photocopy the places that interest you, and bring a small binder along.
  • Speaking of photocopying, photocopy the following and keep it in a completely separate place where you keep the actual items: passport, all tickets & reservations, driver’s license (actually, all IDs: hostel card, etc), and itinerary.
  • When I was in Paris, I actually downloaded and did a self-guided walking tour by Rick Steves; if you’re like me and can’t stand people, it’s a good way to go. Especially if you’re traveling alone. Get them here.
  • Get the phone number, address AND a PICTURE of the US Embassy/Consulate of city you’re staying – take pics from Google.
  • If you have a smart phone, download and install the free TripIt App to organize your trip.

Food and drink

  • Bring nuts, packaged granola bars. You need to have food your body is used to having.
  • As a rule of thumb, when you’re local and see food you want to eat, if it’s been boiled or deep fried you should be ok with most things. If it’s cold, proceed with caution.
  • If you’re going to place where bottled water is a must and have a bottle with you on the trip there, ask the airline to fill it for you before you land.
  • In some places – especially tropical places – be mindful of raw fruits and vegetables. If you peel the fruit yourself, you’re probably good to go.
  • Bring whatever stomach stuff (gas, diarrhea meds) you know work for you here. JIC.
  • For drinks, bottled/canned stuff is ok, but in some places, check the seals.
  • Bring iodine tablets if you’re really roughing it and might have to have water you’re not sure about.
  • When in doubt, follow the American Forefathers and drink beer. NOT rum (as delicious as it is) since hard alcohol won’t quench your thirst.
  • The above is especially true if you might get ice in it. If you order soda, you run the risk of them putting ice in your drink but not with beer. Beer: The smart traveler’s companion.

Here’s some of my travelogues:

Finally, I’m taking a cue from the very cool Speaking of China – who was kind enough to mention me the other day – and asking your opinion: What do you do when you travel?

Location: back from the gym
Mood: woozy
Music: here’s nothing else in our lives so critical, As this little home
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6 replies on “My Personal List of Travel Tips”

Good tips. Here’s a few I would add. Instead of photocopying all my important info, I take pictures of everything and email it to myself. I also have an app called Tripit where you can store all your itineraries, hotel reservations, etc which doesn’t require wifi to access. Just make sure you can wipe your phone clean if you ever lose it. Also, I never check-in bags, only carry-on. I’ve traveled for 2 months straight with just a carry-on. For local currency, I always wait until I arrive at the local airport and take cash out of the ATM. Easiest, safest and good exchange rates (just go online beforehand to make sure the airport has ATMs, but most international airports do). So far, no major travel mishaps (besides getting majorly ripped off by a little girl selling fruit at Ha Long Bay and once paying $52 USD for five pieces of exotic fruit in Sao Paolo). 30 countries and counting… oh! and duct tape. Somehow, it always comes in handy.


Yup, I agree with the ATM and Tripit – I actually wrote them above as tips also, so great minds think alike.

Yes, the pictures is a good idea too; I’m still working the way I worked before smart phones but I figured that there might still be people without smartphones AND it’s still good to have paper copies (I think) because smartphone thefts are huge.

I used to carry around duct tape too but I figured that plus the crazy glue tip would make me sound like a serial killer.

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