As Malcolm Gladwell says, you need 10,000 hours of experience to master something. So unless you’ve traveled for more than 416 days, you’re not an expert traveler.
Since you’re reading these words, you understand the power of learning from other people’s experiences.
And since you’re obviously looking to discover some new things to improve your upcoming jaunts around the world, you’re in luck: We’ve teamed up with our friends at Zipcar to come up with four simple ways that are sure to make your next vacation more enjoyable and cost-friendly.
1. Make sure to have your travel docs
Imagine you’re halfway across the country, your flight leaves tomorrow, and you lose your backpack. Not the biggest deal in the world—except your passport’s in it… and also your driver’s license. Yikes.
What do you do?
In such a scenario, getting back home can be somewhat of a nightmare. You have to make an appointment at the U.S. embassy (sweet!) and show proof of identity or citizenship.
Avoid this altogether by taking photocopies of your passport and other identification before you jet out of the country or go on your next road trip—which is actually what the U.S. Department of State recommends.
Keep them somewhere safe when you travel—and not in the same place you store your actual travel docs.
Without travel docs, you won’t be able to drive or fly… so definitely come prepared with extras.
2. Pack your bags like a pro
Savvy travelers never bring any more luggage with them than they absolutely need. At the same time, they cram as much of the stuff they want to bring along with them into as little space as possible.
You’ll have an awesome time on your next trip when you learn how to pack like a pro.
How exactly can you do that?
It starts with wearing your heaviest clothes—your favorite hoodie, a pair of shoes, and jeans, for example. Instead of wearing them, pack your gym shorts and flip-flops in your backpack or luggage. It takes up a lot less space. So does rolling your clothes instead of folding them.
One last tip: Pros don’t pack anything more than they need to pack. To illustrate: If you’re going to be staying somewhere nice, don’t bring along things like soap, shampoo, or towels. The hotel or resort will provide those items for you.
Sometimes, less is more.
3. Use inexpensive transportation options
Traveling is expensive. That’s the whole reason we started Dollar Flight Club—to help people like you see more of the world without breaking the bank. Once you get to your destination, seek out inexpensive transportation options everywhere you visit. Walk when you can. When you can’t, hop on a bus or train.
If you're leaving town for a day trip - or traveling for a few days - a service like Zipcar can give you the convenience of car ownership without any of the headaches, and for a lot less than owning a car.
Zipcar gives you on-demand access to cars near you by the hour or day to go where you want, when you want. As a member, gas, insurance, maintenance, and a designated parking spot are included—saving you an average of $600/mo versus owning a car.
You might be tempted to pay for whatever transportation option presents itself during your trip, thinking that you’re on vacation and why not, but a little bit of strategic planning can go a long way toward saving you big chunks of change—which you can then use to do other awesome things during your trip.
Next time you want to get off the beaten track, think Zipcar.
4. Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers
Kurt Vonnegut tells us bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God. So, as you prepare to explore another place, get ready to tango.
When we grow up, we’re told to never talk to strangers.
It probably makes sense when you’re five. But it definitely doesn’t make sense when you’re an adult traveling through an unfamiliar country, state, or city.
You’re exploring a new place, after all. Or at least somewhere you don’t live. And that’s exciting. But you’re also going to a place that’s full of a ton of new people.
Don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation or ask someone a question. Be courteous, polite, and friendly. As long as you aren’t making an ass of yourself, odds are that you’ll meet at least a few interesting people—and maybe even make some lifelong friends.
Enjoy your trip!
You’ve been staring at your calendar for months now in anticipation of the trip that’s right around the corner. You’re going to have a blast.
But you might have even more fun by keeping these tips in mind—and maybe even put one or all of them into practice and see how it works out for you.
Soon enough, you’ll be a seasoned travel veteran—ready to offer imparting words of wisdom to rookies who need it.