How to Travel (Like a Pro) for Beginners
I don't know about you, but I find myself needing a 6 month vacation about every 6 months. With the highly-contagious “wanderlust” going around (Cough, Cough! I'm Sick), choosing a destination is usually the easy part. The steps after that can be tricky for first-time travelers, but I'm here to give you all the pro tips!.
The small details can be overwhelming, so let these basics on trip planning help you out when you’re unsure how to travel.
As a self-proclaimed “frugal first-class” traveler, I scour the internet for the best deals and prices on flights.
- Google Flights
It's the best place to start for a comprehensive search. If I’m not ready to buy the flight just yet, I like to use the “Incognito” or “Private” window on my internet browser to get an idea of flight prices for the dates and the destination I’m interested in travelling.
- Booking Direct
Don’t forget that booking through an airline's website can score you promotional discounts and other loyalty rewards. It does pay to earn frequent flyer miles! And you can always try booking two one-way flights as a less expensive alternative.
- Other Ways
I’ve always had luck with those routes, but I hear Skyscanner is another option for finding the low fares. Just confirm your reservation with the airline once you’ve purchased and you should be ready to fly!
I live for a charming boutique hotel, but lately Airbnb has been a major game changer for me. The company goes above and beyond to serve their customers, and the hosts are usually just as accommodating and helpful.
I’ve stayed in sparkling clean apartments in prime locations through Airbnb.
Like I said before, a quaint boutique hotel that stands out from the crowd with a unique style and cool vibe that capture the essence of a city is my jam.
Read More: Staying at Sol House - Taghazout Bay
Read More: Staying at Riad Kasbah in Morocco
Read More: What to Pack for a Caribbean Beach Vacation
- Hotel Booking Sites
Sites like Hotwire, Bookings.com, and Hotels.com are key for last minute bookings.
If you don’t mind waiting until you get to your city to find the right area to stay in, then take advantage of big chain hotels and high star resorts offering deep discounts just to fill rooms in the hotel through these sites.
How I Decide Where To Stay
Pictures can tell a beautiful story, but all the fun happens in the reviews.
I like to read a couple of the most recent reviews, then I dive into the poor and lowest star ratings. I read through the terrible experiences to know what’s the worst I can look forward to, and see if and how management responded. This process quickly weeds out the bad options.
Once you start traveling more, you’ll find a hotel group that suits your style and you’ll likely want to stay at a place where you have a rapport with the company.
Planning What To Do
It’s handy to have an itinerary, but don’t forget to add time in it to just go where the city takes you!
- Research Before You Leave
Every city has its’ own unique sights to see and popular attractions, and you should put them on your itinerary.
I encourage you to look beyond common attractions to find the things that you’re interested in. If you love to dance, find a Latin dance club in Miami or if you love to bake, you can look for a baking class in Paris!
- Ask for Recommendations
You can always ask your host or concierge desk for recommendations on things to do when you get there.
Yelp and tripAdvisor are invaluable resources when deciding on excursions and sights to see.
Pleaseeeeee don’t spend all your time at an international Starbucks. Find the well-known local restaurants, cafes, and bars and experience the culture. The best part of traveling is venturing out of your comfort zone and trying something new.
- Take a City Tour
Almost always one of the first things I do when I arrive in a new destination is take a city tour.
Once I’m familiar with the area, I like to set out and discover restaurants and activities as I go. That’s how I uncover the culture of a new place. As always, be smart about safety and mindful of your surroundings!
Figure out what you’ll need to bring and the type of luggage or bag you should use based on the length of your trip, your destination, and planned activities.
This “carry-on queen” has, unfortunately, experienced an airline losing her luggage and it wasn’t fun. Ever since then, I try really hard to limit my luggage to carry-on only.
Plus, carrying on saves you time by bypassing bag check-in before the flight and skipping the baggage carousel wait after the flight.
I always check the weather of my destination before packing. I don’t want to be wearing flip-flops and board shorts in a rainstorm or have my parka at the beach.
Be wise (weather wise!) and look up the weather reports before you go.
You can learn how I fit everything in my carry-on in this Packing Essentials Carry-on Guide.
Whether you’re driving on a road trip or jet-setting off on a weekend getaway, know the rules of the way.
Traveling through a major airport can be stressful. Rules and restrictions are ever-changing so staying up to date on what to bring and what not to bring can save you a big headache and a full bottle of lotion. (I've had to throw one away at security!)
Once You're There
- Hotel Check-in
When I can avoid checking in at the standard check-in time (usually 3pm), I do it.
If you arrive early: your room may not be ready, but they’ll usually hold your luggage and it’s nice to get the paperwork and all that taken care of without waiting in a long line.
If I arrive late at night: I like to call ahead of time to let the front desk know when I’m arriving so they hold a room and don’t consider my reservation a “no show”.
Getting Around Town
Make your itinerary flow seamlessly by looking up directions to and from your hotel and your planned attractions and sights before you set out.
Get your trainers, sneakers, hikers, flats, or sandals ready for the road! It may not always feel like it when you're strolling from sight after sight, but you may end up walking for miles while exploring a new city.
Treat yo feet!
Pack compression socks for long flights snd long walks.
- Public Transportation
It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the city or neighborhood you’re visiting, either by taking a city tour or just understanding the sight locations, roads and public transit in the areas you’ll be traveling.
The Rome2Rio website is a great resource for ground transportation routing.
- Ride Sharing
Lyft and Uber can help you get around most places, but some cities have their own preferred ride-sharing apps! And a good ol' fashion taxi is always a great option.
Enjoy uncovering a new place for yourself!
I like to think that an angel gets its’ wings every time a bell rings AND every time someone takes a trip to a new place.
Remember that travelling is a privilege, and when we travel, we are enlightened and awakened. We discover new parts of ourselves and it can give you a huge boost in confidence knowing that you stepped outside of your usual surroundings.
Sometimes it may feel uncomfortable or like our norms are being challenged, but that just means we’re given the chance to grow.
Uncovering a new place gives us the opportunity to see sights unseen, feel the history or a place, meet amazing people and taste unique / exotic foods.
I don’t take it for granted, and I feel blessed to have been to the places I’ve been. I’m eternally grateful and forever changed by my journeys, and I hope you can relate!
Where are you planning on visiting next?!
This is not a sponsored post. These are companies and resources I use for my own travel. At not cost to you, I may receive a small commission if you use some of the links I provide.