Travel Tips

Here are some (108) travel tips to help you to research, plan and book your next trip.

  1. Use a Travel Researcher – This is the easiest method in finding the ideal holiday for you. But I would say that wouldn’t I? Of course, if everybody did this then there wouldn’t be any need for this book
  2. Use a Good Travel Agent – It can take a while to find a good travel agent.  You need somebody who really understands your requirements. They should remember that just because they had a great time at a particular hotel, it does not mean that you will. Be careful as some agents work to gain incentives; the hotel that is recommended may give the agent a free holiday
  3. Brainstorm Your Trip Planning – As part of your planning and research, you shouldn’t worry about the cost at first as this will only restrict you. Just write down everything that you want to see, do, eat and drink. Of course, budgets are very important, but it’s quicker and more fun to find a holiday that matches your requirements and budget instead of finding a holiday to match a price limit
  4. Health – You may be required to have vaccinations when visiting certain countries or taking part in activities. Websites can be a good source of information, but you should always consult your GP or visit a good travel clinic. When using a GP, some jabs are free and some require a private prescription. A travel clinic will charge for all your jabs
  5. Passports – Some countries have a requirement that there is a minimum of 6 months validity left; others need a blank page for the on-arrival visa. Check that your passport meets all the requirements
  6. Visas – For some countries it will be necessary for tourists to obtain a visa. Some are easier to get than others and should never be left until the last minute. You may be able to board a plane without a visa, but you will be sent back on the next available flight if you try to enter a country without one. It is down to the traveller to obtain these and not the travel company, although they should tell you if you need one or not. Check using the relevant website
  7. Thursday, Friday or Saturday? – If flying away for a long weekend it is cheaper to fly out on Saturday instead of Thursday or Friday
  8. Ignore ‘Price From’ Ads – These rarely have any relationship to the final cost. They are usually based on low season and full room occupancy
  9. Days or Nights? – When you are comparing prices for holidays from different suppliers, check to see if the duration is given in days or nights. Days may include travelling time; nights may include flying overnight and not nights in a hotel. An example is an ad for a trip to Boston. The headline said ‘6 days’ but the trip only included 4 nights at the hotel
  10. Use Online Forums -People love to talk about their holidays and help others to enjoy their time away. Forums are websites where people offer their opinion and respond to cries for help. Questions may be answered by locals or tourists that have visited there
  11. Always double check – If you are unsure of a source of information when researching your own trip, always double or triple check
  12. Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Website – Check the travel advice for your chosen destination. Here you will find advice on crime, safety and other useful tourist information about your chosen country. There may be warnings not to travel, which will mean that you won’t get travel insurance
  13. The Weather – You should always check the average weather conditions and seasons before booking. The information supplied by the tour operator could be based on average daily temperatures or the average highs. Use a detailed website to check this, and look for seasons of adverse weather conditions, such as cyclones and hurricanes
  14. Have an experience holiday as well as a relaxing one – Split your break to try something new. This could be a safari, mountain climbing, walking through the desert with goats, anything out of the ordinary. You can still relax on the beach for a few days before you fly home
  15. Vary your Daily Plans – If you are touring or exploring, vary the itinerary so that you are not busy every day and that you have time to relax
  16. Don’t Forget Your Own Needs – Travelling with others will mean compromise, especially if travelling with children. However, this is your break too so ensure that you get some ‘me time’
  17. Use Tourist Offices – This could be their overseas offices and local ones. They will be able to give you up-to-date information on places to eat, things to see and any events or occasions that may enhance your trip, or may make you delay it if it’s going to be too busy, or suffer disruption due to major civil engineering for example.
  18. Choose the Hotel, not the Star Rating – Hotel stars or the local equivalent are not always interchangeable around the world. Also, why stay in a 5 star hotel which may have loads of facilities if the 4 star next door has all you need. A 5 star hotel with a golf course does not mean better food or service than a 4 star hotel without a golf course
  19. Use Hotel Review Websites – But READ every review and don’t just go by the rating. Somebody may complain about something that you find acceptable
  20. Use the hotel website – This will have far more information than a tour operator’s description and may even include guides and suggestions for the local area, how to get there and special offers. When using a hotel website, check the pictures carefully to see if you can get a rough idea when they were taken. They may have been taken when the hotel was built, or when it had its last makeover 20 years ago
  21. Contact the Hotel Direct – This can be for examples of their menu or for suggestions for things to do.  If the hotel is given enough notice they may be able to cook your favourites. If you don’t get any response to your request for information, at least you know what level of service to expect if you book
  22. Search for Adverse News Stories – By using search engines such as Google or Alta Vista you may find news stories about the hotel. This will pick up complaints and problems that may not be on any review website, such as investigations by TV shows such as BBC’s Watchdog. As an example use TripAdvisor to check ‘Holiday Village Turkey Sarigerme’. Then Google ‘Holiday Village Turkey Sarigerme Watchdog’…
  23. Use Google Maps – This can be used to check the hotel’s neighbours. An overhead photo may show a quarry, business centre, waste ground, etc. The map option may show if a nightclub, police station, airport or hospital is next door
  24. Google Maps can also be used to look for restaurants, clubs and pubs, etc. in the area close to your hotel
  25. Book Before You Leave – When you have found restaurants, etc., book them before you leave to avoid disappointment and to ask for special requests
  26. Protection – Check how your trip is financially protected before paying. If it’s a package holiday with flights, there should be an ATOL in place. The ATOL number can be checked on the Civil Aviation Authority website  You need to know what will happen if the tour operator, travel agent or hotel goes bust.
  27. Cancellation – Before booking any element of your trip ensure that you understand all the cancellation policies. This is very important if you put your own trip together. For example, if your flight is cancelled, you may still have to pay for your hotel if there is a 100% late cancellation fee
  28. Finally Booking – Only book flights or package holidays when you have everybody’s passport in front of you. It can be very expensive to correct somebody’s name so that it matches the name on the passport. Is Sue ‘Sue’ or ‘Susan’ or ‘John’, ‘Jon’ or ‘Jonathon’?
  29. Travel Insurance – Always get travel insurance and use a broker. Get them to explain all the small print and what is and isn’t covered. A ‘one size fits all’ policy may be very expensive to include your health requirements and belongings. A specific policy may work out a lot cheaper in the end
  30. Credit and Bank Cards – Inform your bank and credit card companies that you will be using your cards overseas. Otherwise you may find that they are blocked and it’s an expensive phone call to make from your resort
  31. Travel Documents – Scan all your travel documents, including passports and email them to a secure online email service, such as Hotmail, so that you can print copies in an emergency
  32. Food Allergies/Dietary Requirements – If you have a food allergy or a specific dietary requirement, ensure that you have cards printed in the local language explaining this
  33. Medication – If you are on medication, check that you can legally take this medication into the country that you are visiting and/or connecting through. You may need to arrange for a permit
  34. Misleading Brochures – Expect that something may not be as described in the brochure or website, and don’t let it spoil your holiday. Make a note, report it if possible and mention it on your return
  35. Your Contact Details – Always have your contact details inside the case as external ones may fall off. If you are worried about security only have your name and mobile number listed, or ask your travel company if you can use their address to return the lost luggage
  36. Emergency Contact Details – Put all the phone numbers for your holiday in your phone. This includes the hotel, travel company, airline and emergency numbers back home. Make sure that they are stored in the phone’s memory and not on the sim card. Then if you use a local sim card to save money you will still have the numbers to hand
  37. Flight Research – There are review websites for flights as well as hotels, so check to see what previous passengers have thought about their flight. It may be worth choosing a more expensive carrier just to ensure that your flight isn’t too stressful
  38. Flight Times – Try to fly as early as possible as delays snowball throughout the day, so the earlier the flight, the better the chance of missing delays or only having a minimal one. It follows on that you should avoid the last flight home if possible as if this one is cancelled it’ll be a day or two before you finally get to leave
  39. Stopovers – If you are flying an indirect route, think about an extended stopover to explore somewhere new.
  40. Save Money – Never buy anything at the airport unless you really, really have to
  41. Connecting Airport – Also if flying indirect research the connecting airport. You may be able to take a quick city tour, book a hotel room for a few hours, use a gym or do some shopping
  42. Airport Toilets – Queues for the toilets are always longer before passport control, especially if your plane has been stacked for a while (with the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign on). Try to wait until luggage reclaim, or you will find yourself at the back of a long queue waiting to clear immigration
  43. Check-in Online – If possible check-in online, this will ensure that any specific meal requests will be ordered and you can choose your seat (if available). Use SeatGuru to find the best seats in your class
  44. Don’t Leave it to the Last Minute – Most flights are oversold as the airline banks on a certain percentage of passengers becoming a ‘no-show’. If everybody arrives the last to check-in may be bounced. Allow time for the security checks, as airlines are becoming stricter in gate closing times
  45. Dress for the flight and not the destination – It may be 100°F when you arrive, but it’ll be a lot cooler on the plane
  46. Beach Towel – Use a beach towel as a blanket while flying. It will be warmer and larger than an airline blanket, and it will save space and weight for your suitcase
  47. Airport Security – Check the airport security checks for all the airports that you will be travelling through. It will save time and prevent you losing items due to confiscation. Sometimes connecting passengers just travel through special channels to their next flight, other times full checks are in place. For example all checked luggage travelling to/from/through the USA must be unlocked, or locked with a certified TSA padlock
  48. Departure Taxes – Make sure that you keep enough local currency to pay any departure taxes. Credit and debit card or travellers’ cheques may not be accepted
  49. Wine – If you have to drink wine only have white wine to reduce the chances of staining your clothes, especially if travelling with children, as it can easily spill. Also turbulence can occur at any time, so take care if drinking hot drinks
  50. In-flight Entertainment – Most airlines list the in-flight entertainment online. If they don’t, then try giving the reservations department a call. A portable DVD player may be the best solution if flying with children
  51. Luggage Claim – Make your cases stand out so that it’s easier to see them on the carousel and to track if they get lost. Colourful string and straps can help but if they are fitted incorrectly they may come loose and jam the conveyor belt. A colourful case is the best solution
  52. Trial Size – Trial size toiletries and medicine are handy for travelling. Collect free samples
  53. Hotel Staff – Hotel staff can be a great source of local information. A friendly word could get you a unique experience. If your hotel doesn’t have a concierge service, be brave and walk into one that does (remember to tip)
  54. Always be polite to staff as the level of service may increase
  55. Small Dollar Bills – If you have low denomination dollar bills at the end of a trip, keep them. They can be used as tips around the world
  56. Housekeeper – Leave a daily tip with a small gift
  57. ‘Please Sir, can I have some more?’ – If you are staying all inclusive, don’t be afraid to order a meal that you have never tried before. If you don’t like it you can always order something else. Also if the portions are too small – ask for more!
  58. Hotel Name and Address – If you are staying at a small hotel, a hotel with a similar name to another one, or you can’t speak the local language, grab a hotel flier or business card so that you can show it to a taxi driver
  59. Minibar – These can be very expensive to use, but if you’re happy to pay, or if it’s included, leave a note (with a tip) listing your preferences if the standard supply is not to your taste
  60. Electric Supply – Check the power supply and whether your electrical items will work. Not all small appliances are dual voltage, this includes phone chargers
  61. Plug Adaptor – One adaptor is never enough, so pack a four way extension lead as well
  62. Large Valuable Items – If something is too large for the room safe, use the hotel’s main safe. Or use a secure box/case with a security cable
  63. Foodbags – Pack some sealable food bags so that you can easily take food to your room if there is no room service. They will also be handy for grabbing extra fruit at breakfast
  64. Cleaning Your Teeth – Unless you are 100% sure that the hotel water is safe to drink, always use bottled water
  65. Phone calls – When calling home, use phone cards and not the phone in your room. You may be charged a connection fee, a minimum call fee, and then a fee per minute/part of a minute. Your mobile may be able to use a SIM card with cheaper rates, or you could use a computer phone such as Skype. Check the cost of computer access before using it as it may work out more expensive. If the WI-FI is free or with a reasonable daily charge use WI-FI phone
  66. Humid Resorts – A humid resort may mean a musty smell in your room, so buy a perfumed plug-in. Do not be tempted to bring one from home and use with a plug adaptor. This may result in a fire
  67. Doorcard Power Switch – Some hotels have a door card holder which also switches on the electricity in the room. If you really must have an ice cold room to return to, a shop rewards card may fit the holder
  68. Dresscode – Check the dress code for the hotel and for any restaurants that you may use. These are stuck to (more rigidly in some places than others) and I have seen people turned away
  69. Additional Costs – All additional charges must be made clear to you at check-in. If they are, ask the front desk for a list. If a charge isn’t mentioned to you, don’t pay it when checking out
  70. Your Room -If you don’t like your room, say so before unpacking, either to the hotel porter, or to the hotel manager. Don’t leave it until later as the hotel may be fully booked
  71. Free Room Upgrade – To increase your chances of a free upgrade, book for a non-peak time (over the weekend at an urban business hotel, for example), or let the front desk know that you are celebrating a special occasion
  72. Cheap Room Upgrade – Ask if any special incentives are being run when you check-in. At off-peak times you may be able to negotiate a nominal fee
  73. Delays – Always contact the hotel if you are delayed. They may put you down as a ‘no-show’ and give your room to somebody else. If you are on a 7/14 night package holiday you should not need to worry about this
  74. Fire Safety – If you are staying at a large hotel, there is a feeling among some travel writers that you should not stay above a certain floor level. This varies depending on the writer, but the idea is that you shouldn’t stay on a floor higher than the tallest local fire engine ladder. This varies between 5 and 7 floors. When you have checked in, and especially if you are travelling with children, you should try the fire evacuation instructions. When you do this you will get familiar with the route, so hopefully there will be less panic if a fire should occur. Also, if you spot any problems, such as a locked or blocked fire exit or missing extinguishers, you can report it to the management. Then if nothing changes you can report the hotel to the local authorities.
  75. Room Safety – If you are unsure about your safety in your room, use a rubber door wedge to jam the door closed while you sleep. This will prevent intruders with a door key from sneaking in
  76. Car Hire – Not all car hire companies will accept debit cards for a deposit, only credit cards. This applies whether you book direct or through an agent
  77. Local Driving Laws – Make sure that you know the local driving laws. In some countries there is a requirement for certain safety items to be carried at all times. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that these items are carried and not the hire car company
  78. Private Transfer – If you are on a package holiday, book a private transfer to the hotel and back to the airport. This will save a lot of time hanging around for others and will speed up check-in at the hotel and at the airport
  79. Taxis – If you had great service from a taxi driver, grab his card and use him for the rest of your trip. As he gets to know you he may come up with some suggestions for you to try
  80. Always agree a price before getting in a cab. The hotel will give you a rough idea of charges to expect
  81. Animals – Never touch any animals, wild or domestic, around the hotel. Apart from the chance of being bitten, you may pick up some nasty parasites
  82. Local Laws – Always respect the local laws. If you are unsure about anything, such as drinking restrictions, minimum ages or dress code, check with the countries embassy before you leave. Even a small kiss could land you in trouble
  83. Money – Never take out more cash than you think you’ll need when leaving the hotel. Always carry loose change with you for tips
  84. Bottled Water – When buying bottled water, never let the vender undo the cap for you, always check for yourself that the cap was sealed correctly before you buy it. This applies in restaurants as well
  85. Touts – Never sign anything in the street, take anything that is free or go off with ‘salespeople’ unless you are 100% confident that you are safe and will not get ripped off
  86. Language – Learn a few words of the local language. It will go down well and may increase the level of service
  87. Paying by Card – As when you’re at home, don’t let your card out of your sight. Also you may be offered the opportunity to use dynamic currency conversion. Don’t, as the rates are set by the business and will be poor, and you may still be charged extra by your card provider. Leave card payment exchange rates to your bank or credit card company
  88. Toilet Breaks – Never miss the opportunity to take a toilet break. The next chance may be a long time coming
  89. Fluids – Drink plenty of bottled water throughout the day
  90. Hygiene – Wash your hands frequently and carry hand sanitizers
  91. Photos – Be careful when taking photographs of public buildings. It may be against the law to photograph government, police or military buildings
  92. Be Vigilant – Make sure that you feel safe and do not draw too much attention to yourself. Theft can happen in airports, so always keep your luggage within sight, check forums for the latest scams. The FCO website has advice on being safe and reducing the chance of being targeted by con artists
  93. Packing – An online packing website may help to ensure that you don’t forget any essential items. This can offer a list of suggested items, either as a general list or a specific one for your destination. Some can also be customised
  94. Tea Lights – Pack some tea lights (and matches) in case of power cuts
  95. Gasses Repair Kit – Always pack this in your checked luggage and not your hand luggage as the screwdriver may be confiscated
  96. First Aid Kit – Carry two, one for your hand luggage and a more comprehensive one for your checked luggage. Remember to check the contents of the hand luggage kit against the list of approved/prohibited items listed in the airport security checks
  97. Bug repellent – Carry a small bottle or can of bug repellent in your hand luggage. Hotel check-in desks are a hot spot for little flying bugs
  98. Waterproof Case – Use a waterproof case for the beach and snorkelling to hold your room key. Check how waterproof it is in the room, as the beach is too late to find out that it doesn’t work, especially if you have paper money in it
  99. Food You Don’t Want to Try – If you are going to an event where you may be offered a local delicacy that you really don’t fancy, explain when you get there that you have traveller’s belly. Then not eating will not cause any offence
  100. Travel Games – Travel games can relieve boredom when delayed, if the weather is poor, and to help you to meet new people
  101. Clingfilm – Useful for sealing leaking containers, carrying food and covering burns
  102. Head Torch – A head mounted torch has so many uses, from reading in bed to checking   in dark places for bugs or dropped items. Remember to take spare batteries
  103. Coach Trips – If you are on a coach tour, the rear seats don’t recline, the front seats may not have reading lights or any leg room. However, the further back you sit the more delays in getting off due to slow moving passengers!
  104. Cruises – On a cruise, your luggage will be taken to your cabin for you. However there may be a delay, so ensure that you have enough items in your hand luggage to enable you to freshen up
  105. Cruise Safety – A cruise ship is just like a holiday resort, and is not the place to take unnecessary risks with your own personal safety. Treat strangers, even staff, in the same way as you would in a hotel, city or resort
  106. Ports of Call – On a cruise itinerary a stop off may be listed as a ‘port of call’. This may mean only a relatively short stay, only allowing time for official (and sometimes expensive) tours. Always check the length of time allowed in a port when choosing your cruise
  107. Tenders and Multiple Ships – If a port isn’t large enough for your cruise ship, you will go ashore in a tender (or a taxiboat). Check the timetable for the port, as it is not uncommon for three or more ships to arrive on the same day. This can mean delays in tenders and a high chance of over subscription for the tours. If it is somewhere that you really wanted to visit try, to pick a cruise that has the port to itself
  108. Remember that you’re on holiday – Accept things may be slower than you’re used to, but what’s the rush?