Essential, basic and advanced travel tips for operatives in the field, civilians abroad for business or pleasure and nomads living life on the road.
If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home. ― James A. Michener
050) When planning on staying long term abroad, consider opening a local bank account to avoid ATM fees and for non-restricted card use.
049) When having products shipped to certain countries from retailers, there are often exorbitant taxes upto 40 percent that you have pay in order to claim the package before you can accept it.
048) Only 70 of the 195 countries in the world observe daylight savings time. So take that into calculation when managing time zones.
047) Remember that some travel tips are not evergreen, their relevance, accuracy and value changing over time and with events.
046) If going to a tropical place and you’re sensitive to the sun, it helps to get a base tan at your local tanning salon. It prevents sunburn and makes you blend in with the local population.
045) If you have food allergies, keep photos of those foods you’re allergic to in your phone to show non-English speaking servers to warn them – instead of fumbling with a foreign language.
044) Add a currency converter app to your mobile phone.
043) Pack your laptop / tablet within easy reach in your carry-on bag. So that it’s quickly accessible when taking it out for security checkpoints at airports.
042) Don’t complain to people who have no control over the situation when things go wrong, and they will. It doesn’t help and it just annoys everyone.
041) In poorer countries, be prepared to pay “foreigner prices”. It’s when small local shops charge more for tourists than they do for the local people.
040) The emergency phone number “911” is not universal, but its usefulness is universal. It’s strategic to know that number of the country you’re in.
039) The best pickup line to a local with a language barrier is simply; “Hello!” in their own language.
038) If you have to bribe a cop (in a developing country) to get out of a tough but not too serious of a situation, ask how much the “fine” is – as if paying for a “ticket”.
037) Always take the business card of your hotel and keep it on your person. It’ll come in handy to get back; such as showing to your non-English speaking taxi driver. Instead of trying to give them an address in a foreign language.
036) Uber / Grab drivers often ignore customers without a local phone number, so it’s another reason to pick up a local SIM card.
TSA Zipper Lock
035) Corrupt cops sometimes target tourists with a “passport scam”, in which they hit you with a fake fine for not having your passport with you on the street. Pretend you don’t understand and they’ll usually give up.
034) If using padlocks for your checked baggage, use TSA enabled locks, especially when flying in the US. Otherwise, when necessary, security will literally break through your bag if they can’t break through the lock.
033) When sitting or waiting for long periods of time in public (bus stop, train station, busy street corner etc.) with multiple bags, “daisy chain” them together and or tether them to a stationary object using straps to make them harder to steal.
032) Overstaying your visa means you’ll have to pay a fee for each day that passes. After a certain amount, you may be arrested, legally charged and deported. But a day or 2 is usually fine.
031) Never say “but I’m American” as a defense / elitist way or “America is the best country” in a serious / cocky way. It will not go well.
Luang Prabang, Laos
030) Always have loperamide in your packing list / EDC if going overseas, to combat travelers’ diarrhea that can hit at the worst times; bus, train, waiting in line, walking in a new and foreign city etc.
029) Tipping is not universal. It’s not always necessary and can even be considered rude to tip. Do a quick search of wherever you plan on going to figure it out.
028) Titanium is rarely if not ever set off by airport metal detectors remain fully visible under full-body and X-ray scanners.
027) The cheapest way out of the airport is by bus or train. Taxis will cost several times as much. This will also give you a quick lesson on using the local transportation.
026) Even if packing light enough for just carry-on, have a much smaller (than the primary) bag, such as a “daypack“, to put in your valuables and or for daily (EDC) kits.
025) Airbnb offers huge discounts when booking a week or more and bigger discounts on a month or more.
024) Avoid seats near the lavatory on flights. Other than the obvious persistent smells, this area will have significant foot traffic.
023) Instead of carrying your passport all the time for daily casual activities, have a picture of the ID page on your phone.
022) If there’s a meter in a taxi, demand the driver to activate it. This is the number one way to get ripped off, by them charging you whatever they want.
021) Visas-on-arrival often have different time lengths for you to be able to stay depending on how you arrive. For example, Thailand gives you 15 days if you entered the country by land and 30 days if you entered by air.
Gili Meno Island
020) As a nomad, it’s ideal to have at least 2 debit cards and 2 credit cards. Leave 1 of each in your packing list / accommodation until you need them.
019) Try to keep a bit of the local coin on yourself when out. Public transportation often requires exact change.
018) When at an airport with no free WiFi, ask lower level staff like the janitors and cleaners for the password. They are more likely to share it than security or the airline employees.
017) If in doubt in a potentially dangerous city or neighborhood, travel with other nomads or befriend a local… Safety in numbers.
016) Don’t pay crazy prices to your mobile phone service provider from home for international data. Buy a SIM card and monthly-by-month service at your new location.
015) Learn to book everything yourself, avoiding middlemen and travel agencies whenever possible. You’ll almost always pay much less and it’s good practice.
014) Never speak louder or slower in frustration when speaking to local people – it doesn’t help. You’re in their country, you’re the outsider. Remember this language travel tip.
013) At bare minimum, you should learn how to say “hello” and “thank you” in the local language. These 2 words are very common and useful for everyday normal conversation.
012) For the most competitive prices when booking flights, use Kiwi. I’ve gotten the cheapest prices 9/10 times and they have a unique calendar searching function.
011) To get an extended hour to check out of your hotel in the morning, simply call reception from your room and ask. More often than not they are happy to assist.
010) Hostels are great for those that don’t mind shared rooms at extreme budget costs, but their real charm is the social aspect. It’s exceptionally easy to meet like minded people.
009) Never speak negatively about a person’s religion, politics or country while in their country. It’s rude, unnecessary and illegal in some places.
008) Always carry a “tactical pen“, other than for airport arrival cards and impromptu writing, they’re excellent for self-defense with no legal risk.
007) If you get queasy on flights, the most comfortable economy seats are right above the wings. Select these whenever possible.
006) If you arrive past midnight from a flight and haven’t booked a hotel yet, stay the night at the airport instead. You’ll save a night of hotel cost and it may not be easy to find vacancy or good prices after hours.
005) Sign up for a VPN account so that you can browse and shop the internet securely. This allows bypasses any regional blocks for services like Facebook, Netflix and many others.
004) When choosing a credit card specifically for travel, make sure there’s no international fees for purchases.
003) Take out the maximum amount for ATM withdrawals when abroad to reduce fees.
002) Always check online prices before booking a hotel in person. It will almost always be cheaper on booking sites.
001) Keep calm and travel on.
*These travel tips will be continuously updated over time with new intel – last updated on 02/08/2021.
[OPTICS : VANG VIENG, LAOS]