If “travel more in 2020” is on your new year resolutions list, then you’ve come to the right spot! Planning a trip domestically or abroad can be stressful, but it’s well worth it for the experience. Here are 10 tips to consider while planning and traveling this coming year.
There is a common misconception that traveling is expensive. It doesn’t have to be this way! There are several companies that track prices and share deals, so you don’t have to do the work. Google Flights and Hopper are my personal favorites, but I know many people that use sites such as Next Vacay, The Flight Deal and Scott’s Cheap Flights to name a few.
Packing light has many advantages, but if there’s one in particular that I should mention, it’s the fact that your personal items and clothing are guaranteed to arrive. Luggage is often lost in transit and there’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination, ready to begin your vacation with nothing but the clothes on your back.
Be sure to keep copies of important documents in case the originals are lost during travel. I personally like to keep a copy with someone at home and a scanned copy in the notes section of my phone. Some assistance can still be provided in the case of an emergency, even if the original documents have gone missing.
There’s something about a tour guide working only for tips that will always rank high on my list. Not only do they typically share the most amazing stories and history of the city, but the experience itself helps build familiarity of the city. I always suggest doing one these tours on the first or second day of travel in order to get to know the area.
It’s hard to go to the Romes of the world and not visit the Colosseum. To avoid crowds, try going early in the morning when everyone’s still waking up or during lunch while most are eating. This way, lines are shorter and pictures have less photo bombers.
Some of the best spots can be found by complete accident. Whether it be a local hangout or a hole in the wall restaurant, wandering off the beaten path has the potential to provide an experience of its own. But be sure to write down the address of your hotel in case you get TOO lost.
If you are looking for a less touristy experience, always ask a local. Get advice on things to do, places to eat and neighborhoods to visit. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with strangers. I have found this is a great way to really get a feel for the culture and how people truly live.
Every city, state and country has a local cuisine. You can learn a lot about a culture based on the food. You may find a dish you know, prepared a different way, that provides you with a completely new experience. Who knows? You may even find a new favorite food or learn recipes that you can take back home to try. Oh, and eat the street food! Ask a local for the best spots.
It’s always safe to let someone know where you’ll be in case of an emergency. If you’re traveling out of the country, it’s possible you won’t always have access to your phone without WiFi. Be sure to share hotel details and flight information with someone at home to be on the safe side.
If you plan every day to the hour, you may miss out on different experiences or feel stressed by the pressure of continuously needing to make a reservation. I typically plan one “attraction” per day and let the rest of the day go as it goes. Be flexible and don’t be afraid to cancel a reservation if something more interesting comes about. Sometimes the best experiences come from the unplanned moments.
Whether it’s your first trip or 100th, always remember to enjoy every moment and keep an open mind. While you’re traveling, be sure to share some of your favorite moments with us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook at @mycarolinayac. Safe travels everyone!
Nicholette Macklin is a 2013 graduate of the University of South Carolina and serves on the Young Alumni Council. She currently lives abroad in Munich, Germany and works as an International Business Development Manager for the South Carolina Department of Commerce. Nicholette is definitely a great go-to Gamecock on all things travel related!