Looking at a map while traveling.

Top Travel Tips & Tricks Guide to Travel like a Pro in 2024

Are you looking for travel safety tips? Check out Cultivate Traveling’s guide on keeping yourself and your belongings safe while exploring new destinations.

Table of Contents

From securing your luggage to staying aware of your surroundings, our practical tips will help you have a worry-free adventure.

Don’t let safety concerns prevent you from experiencing the world—read our best travel tips guide and start planning your next trip with confidence.

Over the past 25 years of traveling worldwide, we have learned our share of lessons. For instance, we left for the airport without my husband’s luggage.

Or the time that my husband arrived at the airport without his passport.

Then, we arrived in Cinque Terre but didn’t have a hotel room because it was overbooked.

The most recent incident was when my husband’s work cell phone was stolen from his pocket while boarding a crowded train in Paris.

Sometimes, you can’t avoid making a travel error, and it’s all part of the journey. In this post, I will list some of the most common mistakes travelers make and how to avoid them.

In the end, travel with patience and expect the unexpected.

Our Trusted Resources

Booking.com: for booking accommodations

Fare Drop: for finding the best airfare deals.

Viator or Get Your Guide: for all my activities

Discover Cars: for car rentals

Airalo: for eSIM card

Trainline: for booking train tickets

Vuori & prAna: great sources for travel clothes

Columbia: great clothes and accessories for outdoor adventures.

International Drivers Permit: for getting your IDP

Travelex: for Travel Insurance

Before you go, Top Safety Travel tips

Securing your Luggage and Important items

First, it is always a good idea to place an AirTag in checked luggage when flying. This can help you quickly locate lost items or missing bags during transit and arrival.

Consider using one in your personal bag and/or passport document holder. I highly recommend this passport document wallet and 4 pk of Air Tags from Amazon.

Backup your Mobile phone

Also, don’t forget to back up your important cell phone content (especially photos) before departure day! If something happens and you need to replace or restore your phone, all those memories and personal information will still be safe and sound.

Plan on how you will stay connected

Check with your cell phone provider about their International rates. In most cases, it is more expensive to use your carrier when abroad. Check out Airalo for an eSIM for the country or countries you visit. This is the most economical and easy way to get cell coverage.

Once your Airalo account is set up, give your contact information to a trusted friend or family member. I use the Whats app to stay in touch with loved ones.

If you are only going to use Wi-Fi, keep your cell phone in airplane mode. Connect to the Wi-Fi at your hotel, stop in local coffee shops or other places with free Wi-Fi.

Secure your important documents

Save a digital copy of your boarding pass onto your Apple Wallet for easy access. Make copies of your passport, driver’s license, credit cards, and other important travel documents. If these items are lost or stolen, you’ll still have copies. I use this binder to store all my copies of important documents. I also put all the memorabilia and receipts in it as we travel.

My travel folder that I prepare before every trip.  I add all my itinerary information, all my confirmations and also any copies of important documents that I travel with. As I travel I store all my memorabilia and receipts in the pockets as well.  It's an Avery Flexi View Presentation Book.

In addition to having the photocopies with you, leave copies with a family member or trusted friend. Also, give them an itinerary of your travel plans with the address of your hotel, hotel phone number, and other important information.

In addition to your travel documents, remember to bring a copy of your health insurance, note the 800 phone number of your financial institutions, travel insurance information, and local emergency numbers in an emergency situation.

Contact your Bank and Credit Card Company

Before you leave, contact your bank to let them know you will travel. Also, if traveling abroad, ensure your credit cards do not have a Foreign Transaction Fee. If it does, research the best travel credit card with no fees and apply for it.

Find Facebook Groups for your travel destination

If you are traveling solo, it’s a great way to meet other people who are also traveling solo. These Facebook groups are helpful as many people have the same questions that you have or people are suggesting local experiences that you won’t find in guidebooks. They can be a wealth of information.

Flight Booking Travel Tips

Make sure that you have a valid Passport or Identification

Next, double-check the expiration date on your passport before booking any international travel. It’s important to ensure that you have at least six months of validity from the RETURN date of your passport before leaving the country. Many foreign countries are very strict with this rule.

Flying domestically? Make sure that you have valid identification. Soon, all States will require you to have a REAL ID. Don’t get caught unaware at the TSA line. It’s a good idea to ensure you have a REAL ID the next time you update your driver’s license.

Book Non-Stop Flights when Available

Avoid flight connections when booking, as this could increase the likelihood of missed flights and more time wasted at the airport. If you have a flight connection, ensure enough time between flights or look for other options that don’t involve a layover. Flight connections also increase your risk of losing your bags.

Allow 1.5 hours for Connecting Flights

If you are flying Internationally, you must allow a minimum of 1.5 hours between flights if you have to clear customs. When we fly domestically, we will allow an hour between connecting flights, usually if we are familiar with the airport.

Booking non-restricted Tickets

Additionally, avoiding restricted tickets can help save time and money while booking flights or tours, and aiming for direct flights (if possible) will give you more control over your schedule.

Check into the flight as soon as it becomes available

With more airlines charging to pick your seat, check in to sit next to your travel partner as soon as possible. Checking in early also lets you know how full your flight is. When a flight is overbooked, they will often offer you a travel voucher to fly at a different time.

Buy Travel Insurance

Remember travel insurance! If the unexpected happens during your travels, it’s always best to be prepared by having the necessary coverage in place. You should consider getting insurance for medical emergencies and natural disasters.

Download Apps Before Leaving Home

Especially CityMapper or Google Maps. I prefer CityMapper because it gives real-time updates on public transportation times. I prefer Xe for currency rates, Google Translate for the local language, and Uber or Freenow for a taxi app.

Research Visa requirements

After you have booked your flights and hotels, make sure to check the Visa requirements of the country that you are visiting. You will want to fill out the necessary paperwork as soon as possible. You don’t want any surprises at the security checkpoint.

Get Your Vaccinations

It depends on where you are traveling, but you should check the suggested and required vaccinations of the countries you visit. You may have to show proof of vaccination. Besides, who wants to get sick while on vacation? I certainly don’t!

Airport Travel Tips

Be Savvy Travelers going through TSA

When going through security, avoid getting in line with families with children, as this can significantly delay things—opt to be with business travelers instead.

If you don’t have TSA pre-check, have your liquids separated and in a TSA-approved bag. Wear shoes that are easy to take off and put on. Have your electronics ready to take out. Don’t forget to check your pockets.

Apply for Global Entry or use the Mobile Passport Control App

Apply for Global Entry to make traveling easy. With Global Entry, not only do you enter through U.S. customs faster, but you also get TSA pre-check.

Another option to enter the U.S. quickly is using the free Mobile Passport Control App service. This will allow you to enter all your information before arriving at Customs. You can then enter a special line for those using the Mobile Passport Control app. Don’t confuse it with the Global Entry line, though. Global Entry is different than Mobile Passport Control.

Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)

If you are a U.S. citizen, you should enroll in the STEP. Once you enroll in STEP, you will be notified by the U.S. Department of State of any travel advisories in the countries that you are visiting. Also, note the nearest U.S. Embassy where you will be visiting in the event of an emergency.

Make sure that all your luggage has tags

Your luggage must be tagged properly. Make sure that your tag information is up to date. Every piece should have a secure tag on it. Don’t depend on the airline tag to give them your information.

Carry a reusable water bottle

Flying is dehydrating. Carry the water bottle empty through the airport security checkpoint. Once through, fill up your bottle with water. It also comes in handy while touring. Hydrating is a must while traveling and will help you with jet lag.

Destination Travel Tips & Safety Advice

Beware of your Situation

Avoid places with people standing outside trying to lure you in, as they may not be reputable.

Use your common sense and trust your instincts. I always tell my children that it is better to leave a situation and ask questions later than to hang around and find yourself in danger. Report any suspicious activity to the local police.

Don’t draw unwanted attention to yourself. Don’t store your cell phone or your wallet in your back pocket. Consider using a money belt to store your items.

Research the safety of your destination and what tactics are commonly used to scam people. Don’t be an easy target. Educate yourself on travel scams and potential risks.

Whenever possible, use a Credit Card versus a Debit Card

When making payments, use your credit card instead of a debit card to pay for hotels and car rentals, as it offers more protection against fraud. Also, your card usually has a hold, tying up your bank account.

Looking for hotel bookings? Check out Booking.com for the best rates on a hotel room.

Carry minimal Cash and only one credit card while touring

Also, carry only one credit or debit card while touring and keep cash amounts minimal, just enough for what you need that day.

Always Pay in Local Currency

If a taxi driver does not accept credit cards or tips, have some cash on you. Upon landing in the new country, we try to find a cash station at the airport. You will pay at the best rate if you pay in local currency. This applies when using cash and credit cards.

Learn the Local Language

In most cases, the local people speak English as a second language. It is just courteous to know a few words or phrases in the local language, such as “please,” “thank you,” hello,” “goodbye,” “how much?” and “Where is the bathroom?”. Traveling is the best way to meet new people and experience the local customs. Be considerate of their home country.

Avoid Restaurants in the Tourist Areas

The closer you are to a tourist attraction, the more you will be charged, and most likely, it won’t be that great of a meal. Try to find places that are away from the tourist sections. Use Yelp and Open Table apps to read reviews and view menus.

Also, beware if the menu is offered in multiple languages. That is an indication that it will be overpriced.

Consider eating at An Expensive or Hard to Reserve Restaurant for Lunch

Often, a restaurant has a special lunch menu with lower prices than the dinner menu. Also, getting a reservation during the day may be easier than in the evening.

Eat Street Food

Some of the best local food can be found at the markets or food trucks. It’s a great way to save money and time. Step out of your comfort zone and grab food at a local vendor.

Embrace the Culture

Be open to trying new foods. Talk to the locals. The reason for travel is to expand your horizons. We always ask our taxi driver and our tour operators where they like to eat. It’s a great way to discover local restaurants that do not cater to tourists or are listed in tourist books.

Get a City Sightseeing Card

Buying a city sightseeing card may be cheaper if you plan to visit lots of museums and typical tourist attractions. They often include public transportation, too!

Book Refundable Hotels and Tours in Advance

Whenever possible, I try to book refundable hotel rooms and tours. Most are canceled at least one week before travel; some are 24 hours before. Booking in advance gives you the best choices regarding hotel rooms and tours and the flexibility to change plans. I use Booking.com for our hotel rooms and Viator for most tours.

Basic Packing Travel Tips

Use Quality Luggage

I have been happy with my new TravelPro Carry-on hard-side spinner. Things that I look for in luggage are easy-to-spin wheels that glide easily, are lightweight, able to expand, and a comfortable extension handle that rises easily.

Pack a change of clothes in your Personal item

When packing, always remember to include a change of clean clothes in your item bag. That way, should there be any unexpected delays or cancellations, you can still look presentable and comfortable when you arrive at your destination.

Carry your Medications in your Personal item

Always keep your important medications in your item as well. My favorite personal item is this backpack from Amazon. I also use this backpack often when I carry my camera equipment.

Check the local weather forecast

Before you close up your suitcase, check to see if the weather forecast has changed.

Wear comfortable Shoes and Clothing

Also, wear comfortable shoes so you can easily enjoy a day of sightseeing. Always wear light layers when traveling to adjust your outfit depending on the temperature. Nothing ruins a vacation quicker than having cold or hot weather ruin it for you!

Pack Light

Nothing is worse than lugging around heavy luggage and items you didn’t need. Make a list of all your essentials. Try to plan your outfits by day with the activity in mind. Once you have that set, try eliminating half of what you planned to pack.

Color coordinate your clothes and think of ways that you can re-wear them. Pack items that are lightweight and will dry easily.

I don’t like to do laundry on vacation as much as the next person, but sometimes, bringing one pair of black pants is easier than three.

Wash them in the sink and roll them in a towel to squeeze out the access water. If you pack the right kind of fabric, it should be dry the next day.

Mix items in your luggage

If you are traveling with a partner and have more than one bag. Mix your clothing items to have some still in case one piece of luggage gets lost. Don’t forget to mix in a pair of shoes and underwear too!

Always pack a jacket

Even if I am traveling somewhere tropical like Maui or somewhere in the hot summer months, I always travel with a jacket. Nights may be cooler than you thought, or the air conditioning may be working too well. It’s best to be prepared.

Have a checklist of Essential Items to Pack

I always keep a checklist on my cell phone to add to while the thought crosses my mind. I use the AnyList app, and it also hooks up to Alexa. If my phone is not handy or my hands are full, I can tell Alexa to add it to my packing list for a particular destination.

Take pictures of your luggage

The summer of 2023 has been the year of missing luggage. Not only should you have air tags/tiles inside your luggage, but taking a picture of it would be a good idea if you need to file a claim. Also, take a picture of the inside of your bag to prove what you packed.

Travel with a First Aid Kit

Carry a first aid kit with basic supplies such as bandaids, moleskin for blisters, and painkillers just in case something happens while on the go. This is a great kit if you are starting. Otherwise, I refill as needed.

Bring spare Batteries and Cords for your electronics

Depending on the type of travel I’m doing, I bring certain cameras and electronics. Always pack a spare battery for cameras.

Bring extra cords to charge your electronics. You never know when one will stop working, and you don’t want to spend your travel time shopping for one particular, hard-to-find item.

Pack extra Memory Cards

Bring at least one spare memory card if one fails or becomes full. Memory cards are always more expensive to purchase in tourist areas.

Bring a foldable laundry basket

Whether I’m traveling for just the weekend or three weeks, I always have a collapsible laundry basket for dirty clothes. It keeps your hotel room tidy, and you don’t have to mix your clean clothes with your dirty ones.

More Great Travel Tips

Carry a power bank to charge your cell phone

It is surprising how quickly our cell phones’ battery drains, especially when taking pictures and using map apps and other apps. Ensure you are not without battery in your cell phone in an emergency. I carry this wireless power bank that is slim and magnetic.

Pack a small day bag to use while touring

I carry a small packable day bag while I’m out touring the city. Make sure it has secure pockets and only holds what you need for the day.

Journal your Travels

Record your travels using a travel journal or notes app; document where you went, what you did, and how much it cost! It’s also great for memories and will help if you make a photo album about your journey! I use ChatBooks to make all my travel photo albums.

Schedule time to relax

Don’t forget to schedule a chill day; nothing is better than relaxing and discovering something unexpected about a new city. Don’t have your itinerary so scheduled that you are off schedule for the rest of the day if you have a travel delay.

Leave some time to walk around and enjoy the sights. One of my favorite travel tips is to keep an open mind, wander around a new place, and enjoy time at a local restaurant. You will be surprised that some of the best stories come from days without plans.

Shoulder Season is a great time to Travel

Shoulder Season is my preferred time to travel, especially Internationally. The crowds are less, the weather is milder, and you will usually find the best deals on airfare and hotels.

Be Patient and Respectful

Be patient if your travel day doesn’t go exactly as planned. Things are bound to happen and shouldn’t ruin your entire trip. Take a deep breath and move on to your backup plan. Also, be respectful to the workers; most things are out of their control.

On your first day, Look for Free walking tours or Hop on Hop off bus

Finally, take a free walking tour upon arrival at your destination to get the lay of the land. This will help you orient yourself with the city and give you plenty of useful places to check out during your stay! It’s one of the most underrated travel tips.

Take a food Tour

Another way that I like to get to know the city and culture of where I’m traveling is to take a food tour. It’s an opportunity to ask questions to a local.

My husband and I took a food tour in Poznan, Poland. We were the only people on the tour.

At first, I was slightly disappointed because having others with us makes it enjoyable. Although it was a different experience, we got to know the local guide and what it was like to live in Poznan. It was a fantastic experience!

Hop on, Hop Off Bus

If you don’t want a walking tour, the Hop On Hop Off Bus is another great option for getting to know the city. My biggest advice is not to have a must-do tour or sight scheduled for your arrival day. Too many times, flights are delayed. Keep the first day low-key, especially after long-haul flights. To avoid jet lag, keep busy, but don’t schedule too much so that you don’t recover from the long trip.

In conclusion, I hope that these tips give you peace of mind. Make new friends, enjoy the journey, and have safe travels! What are you waiting for? Pack your bags and get ready to explore the world!

Go grab life, and don’t forget, always wear sunscreen!

Happy Exploring!

Enjoy this post? Here are my other posts with travel tips: Travel Resources and How to Survive a long-haul flight or Best Travel Essentials for Packing a Carry-on Bag 2023

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  1. Thank you for your valuable tips! I found new ones like mixing clothes with your partner’s luggage. Never thought about missing luggage but yes, it could happen!

    I also like that you mention lunch specials being cheaper than dinner. We always opt for lunch because we’re morning people and usually skip dinner but now that I thought about it, we saved a lot of money doing that! Saving your travel tips!

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