Stepping outside your comfort zone is something that is a prerequisite for a successful travel experience. Although, it’s not always easy to prepare ahead of time for the inevitable differences between your ordinary world and the one you will be entering, a few tips will help make the transition both easy and enjoyable.

When traveling out of the country, it is advisable to drink only bottled water. This is especially important in countries where the quality of their tap water may be questionable. It’s better to possibly pay a bit more and be safe than risk getting sick because of contaminated tap water.

When traveling internationally on a budget, consider taking flights rather than trains to your destinations. While trains are perhaps the more traditional mode of transportation for backpackers, many airlines offer discount flights that are much cheaper than train tickets. This way, you can travel to more places without adding to your budget.

If you know that you are going to have a long layover in a city, check what there is to do beforehand. A 3 hour layover in Washington D.C. can easily turn into a quick tour of the Washington Mall or a long sit in Minneapolis can become a quick shopping trip to the Mall of America!

When packing for your trip, make a list of the essentials and stick to that list. Pack in advance if you can. If you simply throw all of the items you think you’ll need into your bag the night before, you’ll end up with over-sized heavy luggage that will be difficult to transport.

Remain vigilant while you are traveling. It is no secret that tourists are often the mark of pickpockets and con artists. Whether you are vacationing or traveling on business, remain vigilant. Pay attention to your surroundings. Being cautious and wary of others who might wrong you is the very best defense against them.

As you make your travel arrangements, consider using the bidding features that are available on several websites to secure your hotel accommodations. You can bid on hotel rooms at drastically reduced prices, but you don’t know which hotel you are staying at until they charge your credit card. You can often get at least 50 percent off the regular rate of the room using this method.

Make sure to bring everything you need on a flight with you before boarding an airplane. Snacks, meals, headphones, and anything else you might need are available on an airplane, but the prices will be absurdly high. If you board a plane prepared, you won’t be at the mercy of the airline’s prices.

Do not carry your passport around wherever you go, leave in a safe place in your hotel room. In the case that you were to use your belongings or get robbed, at least your passport will not be taken. You cannot come back to the country without your passport.

When traveling, take along a pillow and a small blanket. No matter how you are traveling, a pillow and blanket will make the trip much more comfortable. Usually airlines have them, but could run out. If you have your own, then you will be confident that it’s clean and sanitary.

It can be difficult to eat healhty while traveling. Skip the roadside restaurants, but instead bring your own food. Pack your cooler with fruits and vegetables, crackers, yogurt, granola bars and cheese. These things are easy to pack, and easy to eat while on the road. Don’t forget the water, it will help you stay hydrated as you drive.

If you are traveling with liquids, use pieces from a plastic bag to help you avoid spills. Many people put their liquids in bags, but while this protects your other items, it doesn’t keep you from losing something that you need if it all spills out. Instead, tear off small pieces from plastic bags. Take off the top of your bottle, put the plastic over the opening and replace the cap. You won’t have to worry about leaks any more!

A great travel tip is to bring a door wedge with you whenever you’re staying at a place that makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable. Most hotel rooms have chain link locks but they’re not very sturdy. A simple door wedge in place can keep an unwanted visitor out.

Make sure you plan for layover time when you are traveling. Layovers can sometimes last eight to sixteen hours. You do not want to end up waiting that long at the gate for your next flight. Check attractions near to the airport, and go have a little free-time fun.

Make sure to bring everything you need when traveling. If you wear glasses, bring an extra pair in case the first gets broken. If you take medications, bring them in their original labeled containers with the prescription. If in doubt, also bring a letter from your doctor confirming your need to take the drug.

When you are going to a foreign country which speaks a different language you should be sure to teach yourself the top 20 – 50 useful words. While the ideal situation would be to speak fluently, when you just know some of the most basic ideas and phrases it will help you get along.

Keep in mind what your embassy cannot do for you when you are traveling. While they can help you in many ways, there are some things they won’t help you with. They cannot act as official interpreters, they cannot provide you with legal council or money for legal council and they cannot investigate crimes.

When planning a hunting or camping trip, always be sure to have an accurate and up to date map of the places that you will be visiting and keep them with you. You should bring a GPS, or at least a compass to help you get your bearings if you become lost or disoriented in the woods.

Now that you’ve gotten a few tips for making your travel experience a success, you can go forward with confidence. Apply these time-honored tricks of the trade and pass them on to those who may be accompanying you on the journey. Everyone will benefit from being more informed and aware.

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