Tips for Tourist
Read a history book!
You can’t understand a place’s present if you don’t know anything about its past. Read up on the destinations you are visiting. It will give you a deeper understanding of this place you’ve wanted to see for so long!
Here are some of my favorite travel reads from last year. For more book recommendations, read these articles:
Don’t be ashamed to walk into a Starbucks or McDonald’s.
Sometimes familiarity is comforting and both places have free wifi and public restrooms you can use. (Just don’t eat the food at McDonald’s! That shit is gross and unhealthy for you! You can get it back home!)
Don’t fly direct
When booking flights, sometimes it is cheaper to fly into airports close to your final destination, and then take a train or bus to where you need to go. Be sure to shop around for your flight and know that direct isn’t always the cheapest route. My favorite flight search engines are:
- Momondo – This is my all time favorite search engine. They always seem to find airlines that offer the best deals and their calendar view lets you see which days are cheapest to fly. I like them because they search the small booking sites no one else does.
- Google Flights – One of the best flight search engines out there, Google Flights lets you enter your departure airport and see flights all over the world in a map so you can see where the cheapest destination in.
- Skyscanner – This great website searches a lot of different airlines, including many of the budget carriers that larger sites miss.
Always get behind business travelers when in security lines.
They move fast since they are usually in a rush and travel light. They know the drill. Line up behind them as much as possible. You’ll speed through the line!
Never get behind families.
They take forever. It’s not their fault. They just have a lot of stuff because of the kids. Try to avoid getting in lines with lots of kids. It’s going to take awhile.
When you check in to the hotel, don’t be afraid to ask for an upgrade.
They have a lot of flexibility when it comes to assigning upgrades at check-in. It never hurts to ask. Often times they can accommodate you if the hotel isn’t full. Just be super nice!
Libraries, Starbucks, and most cafés have free Wi-Fi.
If you’re staying someplace that charges you to connect, check out one of these places. You can connect for free.
Lunchtime is the best time to visit historical sites.
Be a contrarian. You’ll have fewer crowds getting in your way as big tour buses, groups, and most travelers head to lunch. It’s always best to visit an attraction super early, late, or when people eat. You’ll have even the most popular places to yourself!
Never eat in a touristy area or near a tourist attraction
As a general rule, I walk five blocks in either direction before I find a place to eat. The closer you are to tourist attractions the more you are going to pay and the worse the food (and service). Use websites like Yelp, Google Maps, Foursquare, or Open Rice to find some delicious and popular restaurants around you.
Additionally, never eat anywhere the menu is in like 6 languages! That means the restaurant is just for tourists!
Locals don’t eat out every night and neither should you.
Go grocery shopping. You can learn a lot about locals’ diets by seeing the type of food they buy. Plus, it will save you a lot of money. You won’t regret it. Cook your food, save money, surprise yourself!
Eat at expensive restaurants during lunch.
Most expensive restaurants offer lunch specials featuring the same food they would serve for dinner but half the price! That’s the best time to eat out when you travel.
Pack a flashlight.
It will let you see at night, you avoid stepping on stuff, and help you tell ghost stories. Who’s afraid of the dark?
Carry a basic first-aid kit.
Accidents happen so be prepared. I take band-aids, antibacterial cream, and ointments for minor cuts and scrapes. You never know when you’re going to need it and you can’t always get it when you travel.
Book flights 2-3 months in advance to get the best price.
Don’t drive yourself too crazy trying to get the absolute cheapest fare. Spending five hours to try to save $10 will cause you a lot of stress. Here are some article on how to save money on flights: