Tip #1 – Talk to a Local
This is absolutely one of the best travel tips and a sure-fire way to make the most out of your trip. Traveling is much more than the seeing of sights. It’s the experiencing of a new place and new way of life. The best way to get to a know a place is by talking to the locals. And it’s not as hard as you may think! Most people are happy to talk to visitors and tell you about where they’re from. Locals are a great way to get the pulse of a city.
Give this a try: Try asking a waiter or bartender where some of their favorite places are. This has led me to discovering some really neat places while traveling.
Tip #2 – Pace Yourself
Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to do too much. In an attempt to make the most out of a trip people often try to cram so much into a day and by the end of it they can’t remember what’s what. If you go too fast you might end up depriving yourself of the real experience. You won’t be able to do everything in one trip. What you don’t see you can always see another time. Better to get a full experience with a few things than half an experience with many things. Remember, it’s not a competition, it’s a vacation!
Tip #3 – Find a Balance
Know what you want to see and see as much as you can without living each minute by a strict itinerary. Scheduling every aspect of your travels can lead to a very uneventful experience. Some of the most interesting and memorable experiences are had by chance. This could range from stumbling onto an old cathedral or eclectic part of town, to ending up in some Austrian mansion sharing a few drinks with locals.
Tip #4 – Do Something Cultural
This seems obvious, but it’s often overlooked and not given any real serious thought. Cultural activities involve more than just drinking an espresso and eating a baguette, but rather immersing yourself in some local cultural tradition; such as festivals, dances, or popular destinations for locals.
Tip #5 – Detach Yourself
Try and avoid email, Facebook, news, phone, and normal sites you visited. If you can’t refrain from getting out of your everyday routine then you might as well have stayed at home.
Tip #6 – Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
It’s always important to be comfortable in your own skin. However, we don’t really grow as people unless we crawl out of that box and experience what’s outside it. Do something that you never saw yourself doing. The great thing about vacation is no one back home will know what embarrassing things you did while away (unless of course you post it on Facebook).
Tip #7 – Get to Know a Place Before Moving On
This is of course limited to trips with some more time and flexibility, but we really encourage travelers to get familiar with a place before moving on. Otherwise you end up forgetting the places you’ve visited very quickly. The best way to spend your first day in a city is to simply walk and roam around getting familiar with the different areas, the public transit system, local culture, demographics, etc. This will make you feel more at home and will allow you to better appropriate your time to places you would enjoy most.
Tip #8 – Try Something New
This may be typical and generic advice, but it is still SO important. Actively seek something new. To add to what will already be an awesome vacation, allow yourself to feel away from home and experience something completely new.
Tip #9 – Set Aside a Day To Shop
Ladies, this one is for you. Unless you see something you absolutely must have when out touring around, save your shopping for a designated day (or afternoon). Otherwise you will end up spending half your time in shops rather than seeing the sights you came for.
Tip #10 – Take Everything into Account
Money, time, effort. All these things have a large bearing on how you tailor your trip. Expenses add up quick so always be aware of all the costs. Also, people often don’t think about travel time, which can take a huge chunk out of your trip. If have to spend more than half a day traveling, I usually write that entire day off because there are almost always delays, as well as time walking to and from stations, going through airports, etc. in addition to the fatigue traveling brings.
Tip #11 – Make Good Use of Your Time
Be realistic about what you will be able to do in a day, and try and be as efficient as possible. Look at a map before you head out for the day so you can see which attractions are close together so you don’t waste time backtracking. Scheduling trips to arrive in the morning can also save you a day. If you arrive in the afternoon or evening, you often feel like the day is already over and don’t end up doing much with it. Be conscious of the limited duration of your trip.
Tip #12 – Pack Light
As a general rule when packing, lay out everything you want to bring and then put half of it away. You often don’t use half of what you bring. Re-wear clothes, layer, rearrange wardrobes and do laundry in any city you visit. You can also buy little things like toiletries upon arrival. The less you bring, the lighter your load will be. This in turn means less you will have to lug around and the more room you will have to store souvenirs.