Some travel tips from an amateur traveler

If you’re like me, you’ve seen plenty of travel blogs floating around the internet with authors claiming they know the best way to travel. This is not one of those types of articles. This list is for the amateur, by the amateur. In all honesty, it’s just a list of lessons I’ve learned whilst traveling that I thought others might need. It applies to all kinds of travel: road trips, state-to-state, and international. Please also keep in mind that everyone travels differently - some people love slumming it, others love to travel more luxuriously. I’m kind of in-between and this list is for those of you who are, too.

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  • ALWAYS BRING A REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE.
    I feel very strongly about this. For a lot of reasons. I think everyone should have a quality reusable water bottle because it saves plastic, saves you a lot of money, and staying hydrated while traveling can be surprisingly difficult! On road trips, I like to refill with ice water at gas stations. On long flights, I always refill at a water fountain or airport coffee shop. At your destination, as long as you know the tap water is safe, you should be able to use a reusable water bottle! Just do your research when you’re going to certain states/countries. I bring my Hydro Flask with me everywhere (this is not sponsored, I’m just obsessed) and it keeps everything cold for hours.

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  • BOOK A PLACE WITH A KITCHEN AND LAUNDRY.

    Most people have heard of Airbnb. I’m a huge fan. Last year, when we went to Norway, we saved a substantial amount of money on food by cooking the majority of our meals at the apartment we rented. While I think it’s so important to go out and experience cultural foods and fun restaurants, I don’t think you have to do so for every single meal. I’m also a huge advocate of booking a place with a washer/dryer because it allows me to pack way lighter if I can wash clothes during long trips. Now I know not everyone can afford to stay at an Airbnb, especially when traveling along, but no fear! A lot of hostels offer generous kitchen areas and some even have laundry too!

  • PACK FOOD.
    I always pack food for any kind of travel because I have a little handful of dietary restrictions that are easier dealt with on my own. However, even if you aren’t picky, you can save a good chunk of money by buying snacks before you go to the airport or hit the road. Airport food is spendy, and stopping a bunch of time during the day for a road trip is just annoying. Save time and cash by bringing your own snacks.

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  • DON’T BE EMBARRASSED TO DO TOURISTY STUFF.

    I love going out of my way to find the local hang outs, but I’m also not embarrassed to do the touristy thing - you might only see those places once! For example, when Jed and I went to Norway we took a long fjord tour and when we were in Northern Ireland, we booked a local Game of Thrones filming location tour. Super touristy? Yes. Super fun? Absolutely. Nowadays there is this weird outside pressure to ‘do as the locals do’ and while this is all fine and good, there is no reason to be ashamed of wanting to do the silly touristy stuff too. More often than not, the tour guides have a lot of cool info to share and you can learn a lot about a place in a short span of time. And they can even give you tips for places to go after the tour! It’s really a win win.

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  • TRIPLE CHECK YOUR ITINERARY.

    This one is kinda self explanatory. Just wanted it to be a reminder because I’ve definitely misread schedules before and I know a lot of others who have too.

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  • ALWAYS HAVE AN EMERGENCY FUND

    This is probably my most valuable tip. You could also call it an ‘annoying, unexpected expense fund’ because that’s basically what it is. (The emergency fund should technically be travel insurance but that’s a whole different ball game.) You never know when you’re going to need to get a new tire, a rental car, or a last minute hotel. Planes trains and automobiles are not cheap! Always have some extra backup money for those just in case moments (even if it’s a backup credit card!). My most recent trip was full of really big unexpected expenses. It always sucks to have to spend money you didn’t expect to spend but you’'ll be glad to have a backup plan.  Which leads me to my final tip…

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  • RESEARCH.

    This might sound extremely obvious, but I just want to put it out there… do your research. Check the cheapest modes of transportation, the exchange rate, the cultural norms, the common languages, the closest grocery to your Airbnb, etc. I didn’t do nearly as much research for our second Europe trip as I did on our first and it definitely bit me in the butt. We ended up having to pay for a lot of unexpected stuff because I failed to study… so it really helps to pay attention to detail. And the same could be said for trips in the states as well! Each state is different and there can be a lot of cultural differences, so doing some investigation can really go a long way! Also, for the record, the busses are cheaper than the trains in Europe.

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That’s all I’ve got for now. I honestly hope it helps and I hope it inspires you to go pursue your own adventure! Lets be real - if I can travel, anyone can!

Cheers to all the adventuring!

Photo locations in order:
Trinity College, Dublin Ireland.
Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh Scotland.
Nyhavn, Copenhagen Denmark.
Little Tilde, Copenhagen Denmark.
Some park in Trondheim, Norway.
Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota USA.
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland.
Nyhavn, Copenhagen Denmark.