How can I become an expert traveller? What do I need to know before leaving? How can I organize my holidays in a better way? What do I need to put in my suitcase? …
Anyone who is planning a trip wonders questions like these. With today’s post we will reveal what are, in our opinion, allthe precautions that a wise traveller should take before and during the journey. Since the opening of our blog Twins of Journey, we knew we wanted to write an article on this subject; in fact, friends often ask us for advice regarding how to plan their holidays, so we decided to create a list of rules.
In addition, given some episodes experienced by the co-blogger of this site, Elisa, in Marrakech recently, we realized that everyone should follow these simple rules to travel peacefully without worries. Below, you will read the result of years of experience on self-organized travels, in which we have gradually mastered our skills, learned from our mistakes and improved the planning of our adventures.
Here are our 10 rules of the good traveller:
1. Choose the best period for each destination.
# 1 The good traveller knows he should always choose the right season to visit his destination, because the weather will surely affect his vacation!
The destination of one’s trip should always be chosen according to the period available for traveling; or if you have a specific destination in mind, choose the best season of the year to visit it.
Here a practical example to better understand the concept: who has the holidays in August and wants to go to the Caribbean probably will risk finding tropical storms or even worse phenomena like a hurricane, being the rainy season. There is certainly the possibility that this does not happen, but the risk of an unstable weather in that period is higher.
Sometimes, it happens that travel agencies offer last minute or low cost offers for dream destinations in the off season months:
“At the age of 20 I made my first trip out of Europe, completely inexperienced I went to an agency that offered me an economic package for Marsa Alam, in Egypt, at the beginning of September; I accepted enthusiastic. The result? A beautiful place but the temperature was really unbearable, even by taking a bath in the sea I wasn’t able to cool down! “-Julia-
2. Book widely in advance.
# 2 The good traveller begins to plan his trip many months before the departure, to find the best offers and get as much information as possible about the place he will visit.
In our experience, we have learned that booking in advance brings many benefits such as the possibility of evaluating airline ticket and hotel prices.
For example, we use Hopper, an app that alerts us when it is the right time to book the flight (in the period we choose), namely when it is cheaper, listing all available airlines and their prices.
Hotel costs also change a lot during the year and booking in advance may help find both the cheaper solution and availability in “famous” facilities: in recent years the use of social networks, such as Instagram, has created a new type of travellers; in other words, people who choose the accommodation and the destination of their holidays based on how these are “instagrammable“. This has increased the popularity of many facilities, sponsored by influencers, which are full, months and months in advance.
“By organizing our road trip across the US West Coast, we chose a design house found on Instagram, inside the Jousha Tree National Park. Although we tried to book it very early, the house was already full for the following 6 months “-Twins-
Making reservations in advance also allows you to have more time to inquire about your destination thanks to travel guides, internet and stories of friends.
3. Respect customs and traditions.
# 3 The good traveller respects customs and traditions of the place he’s visiting, finding information about the religion, traditions and laws of the state he will visit.
Inquire about the culture of your destination is very important, especially if this is totally different from yours. Remember that you are the “guests” and therefore it is correct to respect their rules and to read up on the behaviour to be held, both for a matter of respect and prudence.
“When I went to Dubai, I was careful not to wear short and low-cut dresses; in fact, I often found signs showing the correct clothing to wear in order to enter, for example, in shopping malls. “-Giulia-
Please, be especially responsible and respectful towards the environment wherever you are; unfortunately, our planet is already enough polluted!
4. Know the risks.
# 4 The good traveller reads up on dangerous factors of every destination to be sure to take all the necessary precautions and to be as safe as possible.
Whether your destination is a developing country or an ultra-modern city, every place has its dangers and it’s good to know them in advance. There are many risks, such as diseases, crime, natural disasters, dangerous animals and so on … so, for a safe stay, we always advise you to start preparing yourself for what you might find in your destination. We usually get information through the Italian Foreign Ministry’s website (viaggiaresicuri.it) that allows us to have a broad overview of the situation in each country. Of course, something unexpected can happen at any moment, but, still, being aware of what could happen helps to be cautious and not to take anything for granted.
“When we were in California we visited Yosemite National Park and having read on the guide that there was a chance to meet the bears, we inquired about the right behaviour to keep in case of sighting.” -Twins-
5. Organize your suitcases to the best and always weigh them before departure.
# 5 The good traveller knows the airport rules on baggage limitations and informs himself of the weight and size of suitcases accepted by the airline he has chosen. He also knows that organizing suitcases correctly saves time (and money) on during the security checks.
Hands up who have thought to have a proper baggage and then instead was stopped at the airport checks … It is a common mistake to forget about the right composition of your luggage, neglecting the preparation. In our opinion, everything in the suitcase should be sorted, based on when it will be used. What should never be missing in a baggage are medicines; before every departure, we go to the pharmacy to buy all that stuff for every eventuality.
Excluding dangerous substances and objects (weapons, knives, acids, etc.) that obviously cannot be boarded, you must respect the regulations for the transport of liquids in the cabin suitcase: you can carry up to 10 containers of 100mL, packed in a plastic bag of maximum 20×20 cm size. Everything else goes in the hold luggage. Another important thing is to know the maximum size and weight of the luggage allowed, both for the cabin and the hold ones, by the airline company you are traveling with. In fact, exceeding the maximum weight can be charged with a considerable tax. So, always remember to weigh your suitcases before the departure and, if we may, we suggest you leave few kilos left for eventual purchases during your holiday.
” I once did my baggage in a rush and, afraid I was forgetting something, I instead brought too many things. On the way there, my suitcase barely passed the check-in, while instead on the way back I added small bottles of sand (the mania I share with Giuli to take home sand from every place we visit), various purchases and souvenirs … conclusion? I had to ask my traveling companions to bring in their suitcases some of my belongings, which otherwise I would have had to leave at the airport. “-Elisa-
6. Find the best solution to move during the trip.
# 6 The good traveller is informed about the most suitable means of transportation during a trip, for each situation and destination, to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Knowing how to move around abroad has always been a concern that afflicts anyone who has to go on a journey. Every place, city, island and so on, offers different possibilities to move and everyone is free to choose the best solution for him. Unfortunately, not all destinations are safe, so it is always very useful to do a thorough research on the most practical way to move safely. You should also pay attention to possible scams, like when local people take advantage of inexperienced tourists, charging them much more than they should.
“I received a ticket to Marrakech a few days before Christmas, a gift from my fiancé; I had very little time to organize an itinerary and read about everything I needed. I hadn’t the chance to find out the best way to move around in the city, I only knew about the existence of Petit taxis (local taxis without taximeter). This led me to refuse the transfer that the hotel proposed me for € 35, thinking that a local taxi was less expensive. The Petit taxi was actually cheaper but arrived at the walls of the Medina we could not get to our Riad by car. So, a gentleman with a cart (agreed with the taxi driver) took on the luggage and in few minutes we reached the hotel on foot. It was very kind from him to help us, but in exchange he asked us € 20 that we had to add to the cost of the Petit Taxi. “-Elisa-
7. Do a search on local food and restaurants that are worth trying
# 7 The good traveller makes a research on the best local restaurants, to try new culinary experiences and avoid eating badly during the holiday.
The food, when traveling, is always a mystery and sometimes we don’t plan our meals, but we go to the first bar / restaurant / fast food that comes along. When we started to travel, we were too careless about food and we often ate so badly that we had to take medicines for stomach ache. This has pushed us to pay more attention in finding good places to eat when we travel. Obviously, you cannot plan everything, it will always happen to have to improvise and eat in the nearest place, but you can still draw up a list of “interesting restaurants” to try during the holiday. In addition to having discovered that, it is easy to find good food in every country and it is also interesting to have the pleasure of trying out worthy restaurants. Surely this has improved our holidays.
“Still in the United States we followed an itinerary through the West Coast and we often found ourselves eating in the first place we found, without having previously done research. You have to know that I’m used to eating lots of fruit and vegetables, so all those sandwiches, fries and burgers put me in difficulties. At the end of the holiday I came home with stomatitis. “-Elisa-
8. Organize a complete itinerary.
# 8 The good traveller, when facing very challenging journeys, plans the full itinerary to make the most out of the available time and to know exactly where to find the services.
Not all journeys need to be planned from the beginning to the end; take for example a week on a Greek island: how nice is it to be able to relax, living the day without any schedule? However, other journeys require an itinerary, both to be able to see as many things as possible, and because some destinations are completely wild and with few services available. Organizing your itinerary in advance, including attractions, restaurants, gas stations, shops and so on, helps you to save time and take control of the situation. Itineraries are useful especially when you decide to take a route through a country.
“During our trip to the United States, we drove for 4 hours from Arizona to California through a desert area. Since we had planned the route in advance, we were aware of the lack of services along that stretch and we planned to refuel the car before leaving and to buy water and some snacks. “-Twins-
9. Use websites and smartphone applications.
# 9 The good traveller always downloads helpful applications for his phone to face every possible event.
Nowadays we all use smartphones, especially when we travel, to be always connected and inquire about what is necessary. The most useful applications and sites on holiday can be those related to weather conditions (weather, tides or those to find the aurora borealis), those of language translation, for currency conversion, those related to traffic, geographical maps that can be consulted off-line and add points of interest, those for editing photos and videos and those of social networks, where you can share with your friends the most beautiful moments but above all discover new places, attractions and much more. Remember to always use these apps on vacation, especially when you’re in a foreign country!
“When I went to Iceland, I downloaded the currency exchange app to my iPhone, as the Icelandic Crown is in circulation here. However, when making purchases, I decided not to consult it due to laziness. You can imagine my face when I found I had paid € 60 for two bottles of soap … I will never do this mistake again! “-Julia-
10. Bring a camera with you, always!
# 10 The good traveller always brings his camera with him when he travels, to capture every moment of his journey and to remember with nostalgia every place once he returns home.
Whether you are a professional photographer, an amateur photographer or not a photographer at all, every time you travel you should always bring a camera with you to immortalize every moment. Nowadays people use especially the phone for photography, but we will never give up on the charm of looking at the views through the viewfinder of our cameras! The photos are our most vivid memories and we believe that only the cameras do justice to the beauties that belong to our planet.
“I still remember when I went to Hawaii and I took beautiful photos of landscapes and endless nature with my reflex camera. Some months after, at home, I saw some pictures, taken with a telephone, of friends who were on vacation just where I had been; the photos were grainy, underexposed, the colours were off and nothing seemed like what I had actually seen before. It seemed almost to have visited two completely different countries! “-Julia-
So, there is, in our opinion, no better investment than a good camera!
This last one is not a rule, but, always remember to live every journey with an open mind, learn new things, let yourself go to incredible experiences, make friends with local people, have fun but above all come home with a heart full of emotions! These are our 10 rules when we travel … what are yours? Are you a good traveller? We are curious! See you soon ♥