Have you ever wondered if there are travel secrets you’ve yet to unlock?
Tips, tricks and secrets that only the initiated know?
I’ve been on the road for the last three years.
This year, the longest I’ve spent in one bed in a row is 24 nights, and the next longest is two weeks. I’ve hit well over 100 individual flights (and missed one, the first I’ve ever missed), achieved Gold status on Emirates (which has bagged me five upgrades to business since April, niiiiiiiice), worked in eight countries (including Saudi Arabia), visited the states twice for conferences, visited my birth country (the UK) three times, and based myself out of Chiang Mai, Thailand.
But I’m not unusual. More people live this lifestyle than you might realise.
Digital Nomads and travel bloggers – sometimes the same, sometimes not – choose to live a life on the road, and don’t tie themselves to a physical location for work and play. This experience gives them an interesting perspective on travel, and many useful thoughts on how to make that travel easier, better or more fun.
I asked a number of them for their most unusual, or weirdest travel tips, and have collected them here. Try out their tips, and visit their blogs for more great writing, perspectives on travel and fascinating insights into their lifestyles.
1. Write it Out
Katherine from Making Her Way
“In the age of e-tickets and QR codes, I travel in the hard copy stone age. Although I do check-in online and use e-tickets on my phone, there’s something oddly comforting about having a written schedule and hard copy backups. When I have a big day of travel ahead of me with multiple flights, trains, or transfers, I write it all down. I’ve been traveling around with a small notebook (see Katherine’s gorgeous picture above) I bought in Amsterdam which has been really helpful.
In addition to transit information, it contains phone numbers of contacts, along with ideas or thoughts that pop up into my head along the way. Writing my schedule down, including important information like dates and times helps keep it all straight. Another reason? As an American I’m still getting used to the 24-hour/military time format that most countries operate on. Making sure I decipher AM and PM hours is crucial. There is something about writing things down which makes it more concrete in my mind too.
My other unusual tip, is slightly embarrassing. Not really sure why but I always say “do a good job, do a good job” during every take-off and landing. I have a moderate uneasiness of flying sometimes. I think I may have gotten it from Steve Buscemi the movie “Armageddon” =) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GPREd0zg5A”
Katherine writes at MakingHerWay.com, and has spent two recent 9-month stints living and traveling around western Europe. She’s currently stateside, working as an independent contractor in software and planning her next international adventure.
2. It Starts With Your Feet
Sean Ogle from Location 180 & Location Rebel
“At risk of sounding like an 80-year-old man, the best thing you can do on long flights is get a pair of good compression socks. I hopped off a 17 hour flight feeling much better than I typically do after picking up a pair.”
3. Starve a Little
Niall Doherty from Disrupting the Rabblement
Sounds insane, but hear me out. Obviously you need to eat at some point, but my hack is to refrain from eating until you reach your destination. I did this quite a few times last year while busing around South and Central America, sometimes fasting for as much as thirty hours at a time.
- You save time by fasting in three ways: no time spent buying food; no time spent eating food; and a lot less time using the bathroom.
- You save money because you don’t buy anything at overpriced rest stops.
- You avoid sickness because you don’t eat any questionable food at those rest stops.
Aside from that, fasting helps you practice patience and self-discipline. Plus, you can look forward to a nice big meal to break the fast when you arrive at your destination.
Of course, be sure stay hydrated (I bring a big bottle of water with me on long bus rides) and do have some snack bars with you in case you start to feel faint and really need a bite to eat.”
Niall Doherty writes big words, builds digital things, and occasionally helps people figure out how to live a travel lifestyle. He hails from Slieverue, County Kilkenny and now lives in Amsterdam. You can find out more about him over at ndoherty.com.
4. Peg It
Carlo and Florence from Next Stop Who Knows
Yep, a simple clothes peg.
You may one day find yourself in the situation where you badly need to use the toilet in a bus station, restaurant, hotel etc. However, regardless of sanitary conditions, you’ll also find that sometimes the door won’t have a lock on it, meaning that anyone can just push open the door and walk right in.
That’s where a handy clothes peg comes into play!
On more than one occasion in the past few months while travelling in India we used a clothes peg to jam under the door to provide a little security and some much-needed privacy while sitting on the toilet!
In instances where there is too much space between the bottom of the door and the floor and a clothes peg seems pointless, don’t fear as you can get the same security and privacy by jamming the peg at the side of door instead of the bottom.
It works 95% of the time, and as it’s something that weighs next to nothing, a close peg is now a staple accessory in our day bags. Try it and thank us later!”
Carlo and Florence are travel/lifestyle bloggers over at www.nextstopwhoknows.com. They left home in July 2013 for Thailand in pursuit of building an online business that would allow them to sustain a more location independent lifestyle. They’ve managed to do just that and today, they enjoy the freedom of exploring and enjoying the experiences that far-flung countries presents them with – providing the Wi-Fi is stable of course!
5. Jay from Rat Race Maverick
“You’ve just arrived into some country tired, alone and without a local sim card or mobile data. The bag you’re carrying has turned from cheerful travel companion into a depressingly heavy bag of bricks that seems to get stuck on every chip and stone on the street. The street names are comprised of strange hieroglyphics and navigation is impossible.
For all you know, the nearest wifi is back at where ever you left from, so Google Maps won’t help you.
This is a situation I find myself in all too often. That’s why I make sure my phone has Here Maps to complement Google Maps. I have no qualms about plugging it – it’s made by Nokia’s maps-department (the only department at Nokia that’s done their fairly well in the last 15 years) and you can use it *offline*.
So when you’re leaving, just download the map for the upcoming countries. Overkill, you might think, but when you want to find that obscure little bar in Budapest, the bus station in Belgrade or just navigate some labyrinth of weird alleys in Barcelona, you’ll pat yourself on the back for thinking ahead.”
Jay is a comical marketer with an affinity for blogging and a passion for helping non-conformists find their way out of the rat race. You can find him roaming the streets of Barcelona or at Rat Race Maverick!
6. Bag It Up
Jub at Tiki Touring Kiwi
How many times have you settled into your seat on the plane, thrown bits and pieces into the seat pocket only to forget them to grab when you left the plane? Myself, sunglasses and boarding passes to connecting flights have been victims (Ellen’s note: I lost a kindle this way!).
Solution: Get a small nylon bag with a carabinar attached. Once you take your seat put all your loose stuff in the bag and attached the carabinar to the seat. Such a simple idea and will save you & me losing silly things and fumbling around in the seat pocket (which can be yucky).”
Jub left New Zealand in 2011 and has been battling away as he explores the world. Still full of energy he won’t be ‘settling down’ anytime soon. He writes at tikitouringkiwi.com
7. Pay With Time, Not Money
Michelle and Jedd at Intentional Travellers
“Get free room and board, plus invaluable cultural exchange, by offering your skills and labor. There are people all over the world looking for a little help on their farms/B&Bs/backyards. It’s not all manual labor or construction, some want English tutoring or childcare. In exchange, they will host you at their place, for stays of varying lengths.
To find these opportunities, we use the membership network Help Exchange – similar networks include Work Away and WWOOF – but we also do an informal version of this kind of exchange within our personal network. We offer to help with a home improvement project when we stay long-term with friends or family. Our friends would never charge us rent but we still want to contribute in some way, to thank them for their hospitality. It’s a win-win: we get to travel cheaply and have an authentic, local experience and they get much-needed help around the house.”
Michelle and Jedd are returned Peace Corps Volunteers who became digital nomads. They inspire and equip every-day people to pursue life-changing experiences around the world. Find them at IntentionalTravelers.com
8. Prepare For a Fair Fare
Mar at Testarossa Travel
“It’s late at night and you’ve just arrived after a 15-hour flight. Maybe it’s Bangkok, or Shanghai or Bali. The airport is a loud, crowded sea of humanity. You’ve never been here before, and the unknown makes it intimidating. You’re greeted by a throng of taxi drivers vying for your business. You notice they don’t use meters. “How much to XYZ Hotel?” you ask, and they quote you a price. But then what? How do you know if that price is fair or how much you should haggle? There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being ripped off.
After booking accommodations, email the hotel/hostel asking them how much you should expect to pay a taxi/tuk-tuk from the airport and if the taxis use meters. Also ask if you should expect to pay a premium for late-night arrival (some cities add surcharges after 9:00 PM). Having that information will work wonders when haggling over the fare with the driver, and you’ll get to your destination knowing you were treated fairly.”
Testarossa Travel shares stories about the amazing people of the world and the places they live. Join the roaming redhead on her “grown-up gap year” journey around the world.
9. Get a Guide Book. Then Bin It
Scott blogging at LinkedIn
That’s a tip given to me by an Alaskan smokejumper I met while backpacking in the mountains of south New Zealand 7 years ago.
It hasn’t failed in any of the 4 continents I’ve visited since then.
Not that there’s anything wrong with the LP-approved places. If that’s what you like then I hope you enjoy it, but I find that getting even a teeny bit “off the beaten path” makes everything better:
– The people are generally nicer – they’re not as jaded by overexposure to visitors
– The food is better (and cheaper) – since it’s what the locals eat and are expert at making
– The accommodation is better and less pricey. It is catered towards local travelers and they demand the best.
A side note: I can’t count the number of impromptu parties that have been thrown when I’ve shown up to less-visited places throughout Asia. One small village in Laos even killed a chicken and prepared a dinner when I came.
So wherever you are travelling, consult the Lonely Planet, but use it to navigate away from the most crowded places. This strategy has worked well for me and I am confident it will work for you.”
Scott is a math tutor, commercial writer, and aspiring entrepreneur originally from Tennessee who got hooked on travelling after hitchhiking all over New Zealand in 2008. His dream is to democratize education by creating a publishing empire. Read his blog and connect with him on LinkedIn.
10. Record in the Round
Norbert at Globo Treks
“I use this cheap trick for my time-lapse photography while traveling. Whenever I want to do a panoramic or rotating time-lapse video, I place my GoPro/camera on top of a flat egg timer (found for cheap in Ikea or any other store) so the camera can rotate and capture a wider scope of the scenery or even a 360 degree time-lapse!”
Professionally trained as an Architect and naturally educated as a traveler, Norbert quit his job and left behind my life in NYC (and everything attached to it) to travel the world – he plans to visit all UN listed countries before the end of 2020. Read his blog to see how affordable and possible it is to travel the world.