When you travel, you’re not only far from home and the people you trust, but you’re out there on your own. No one’s telling you the right thing to do and the right place to go – so it’s about you and yourself.
Teachers do travel and you deserve to travel safely and conveniently. Whether it’s an educational trip or vacation, I gathered the most important things you should know on how to avoid travel pitfalls along with a few wise precautions to ensure travel safety.
You must have your share of travel stumbling blocks. What was your biggest difficulty? Were you faced with danger?
By keeping your head up, you will be thinking quickly and alert like you know where you’re going. If you like to know how to avoid difficulties along the way, here are some tips, hacks, and strategies for a happy and secure journey.
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How to Avoid Travel Pitfalls
1) Plan Ahead and Book your Flights Early
One of the best-planned vacations is a good travel arrangement and that includes booking flights six to eight weeks ahead. Wow, too early? Actually, it’s not.
This span of time is the best on average for every vacationer (you) to buy an airline ticket. The reason is you are more able to pick the best dates, the flight of your choice, and even the most suitable seat you love.
Be familiar with the days when airline tickets are high (in your area). In general, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best days to buy cheap tickets. Even Saturdays are good days to fly and avail yourself of the cheapest option in the U.S.
Apparently, airlines post their reduced airfare deals on Monday evenings. This makes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday the cheapest days to fly. Sundays are the most expensive. Cheap flights typically are easy to spot during the no major-holidays period, but it can increase during spring break which is throughout March and April.
Things to be aware of:
When traveling to large cities, acquaint yourself with alternative airports. Most of the time, they offer lower airfares.
Discounted tickets are usually offered at the beginning of the week. Try signing up for email alerts from your favorite airlines to keep yourself posted of such announcements.
Don’t forget to clear your cookies. This prevents airlines from keeping tabs on your activity and jacking the price.
2) Pack Minimally But Surely
Even when you pack light, it seems that you still go with some bulk. It’s funny but true. It requires a certain talent to manage load as light as possible. So should you force yourself to carry less?
The trick is to list down all the basic things you need for your trip. If you have packing cubes or pouches – use them. These are four-sided bags where you can put essentials by category: shirts, pants, underwear, and other personal belongings. Don’t bring a lot of shoes, just the appropriate footwear.
Are you going to hike? Run? Or you’re attending a wedding? The most comfortable shoes are sneakers and flats. Use the bag specially designed for shoes. Packing this way will amaze you how the travel pouches can pack can hold like magic!
Don’t bring bottles of toiletries. There are mini containers, travel-size packs, or mini containers that you can pool in a smaller pouch, make-up in another pouch, and of course, an emergency first aid kit and “just in case items.”
Travel is convenient without bulky jackets and boots. The advantage of traveling less bulky saves plenty of room in your suitcase for souvenirs. When you have the most important things on your list – they’re actually all you need.
You’ll love these packing hacks!
- Lay a T-shirt on a flat surface. Place a pair of clothing like shorts and a shirt in the chest area and then fold the arms of the shirt towards the middle. You can place a pair of socks horizontally on top before rolling it up. This should prepare a day’s get up.
- When bringing disposable razors, sheath the razors with a “foldback” clip so the plastic guard will not come off.
- Pack a day pack ready inside a full-size bag then simply take it out when you need it. You surely will not lose any of those bags.
- So that you can easily spot your luggage, tie a small piece of brightly colored piece cloth to the bag. Now you won’t lose luggage in the pool of suitcases at the airport.
3) Find the Right Transportation
Should you hire a taxi?
Book transportation ahead. It’s a lot cheaper and gives some peace of mind that there is already a vehicle waiting for you upon arrival. No more waiting for taxis with your luggage or falling in line with other passengers.
Check rates weeks in advance so you get extras offered by the transport agency rather than paying ten times the amount when you arrive. Rates tend to be extremely high if you’re traveling the busiest times of the year like the summer months and Christmastime.
When planning to hire a driver during the whole duration of your trip, negotiate a fair price upfront. Your hotel can recommend drivers who can set up a fantastic journey.
When taking public transport.
Wandering a new place can be exciting, but the danger is you end up somewhere unfamiliar where you might be at risk. It pays a lot if you have an idea of where you’re headed and how to get back to your hotel. It’s even advisable to leave the address of your destination and phone number at the front desk. Most importantly, bring your hotel’s business card with you.
11 safety tips when taking public transport
- Control the urge of dropping at an area you don’t know. If you have to, then research the area beforehand and get information about the people and neighborhood.
- Study and remember where to catch your bus or train and where to get off. Write down hard-to-remember street names, stops, transportation, and area codes.
- If you’re traveling at night to a place you’ve never been before, ask someone to pick you at the bus stop or station. If you have no one to arrange with, always stay near other people as if you’re in a group and not alone. Act confidently without any hints of being new to the place.
- In any case that you feel anxious, keep your composure and act like a commoner. Sit near the door or close to the driver. When on a train, always stay close with other passengers. Avoid sitting in an empty carriage as much as possible.
- Always get a licensed taxi. If you’re taking a public utility jeep (PUJ) like in most Asian countries, read carefully and take the right direct route. If someone in the street offers a ride to your destination, politely say no.
- When hiring a car, confirm if the driver knows your name and your destination before getting inside the vehicle. A good driver will authenticate himself by showing you his ID.
- Sit in the back of the taxi or cab, especially if you’re a woman. This gives you a better view of everything on the road.
- Before disembarking, check if your way out is wide and free. Nothing or no one should be blocking your way out.
- In a situation where a taxi driver does not speak English well, show him the hotel’s business card. Local drivers are definitely familiar with it.
- If you happen to see unattended luggage bags or suspect packages near you, never touch it but immediately report it.
- Everything today is digital. You can find local transport apps and other safety travel tips for your convenience.
In destinations where English is not widely used, most public transport stations have English signage and English-speaking staff.
Be very conscious with time. At train stations, boarding gate closures are time-accurate and excuses are ignored. To be safe and sure, be at the train station ahead of time.
Don’t throw just-used tickets. Mostly, they are checked not just during boarding and arrival, but throughout travel time. Keep your tickets secure to avoid fare repurchases, fines, and long delays.
4) Try your Best Not to Sleep on a public transport
Napping at a public transport can be a relief in the middle of a travel day. But you are supposed to stay awake and be alert to what’s around you. This is where traveling with someone or in a group gets so life-saving – because you can take turns to sleep so there will be someone to look out you’re on a nap.
Most vacation travels take long road trips or train journeys overnight. Many travelers also take advantage of sleeping through the journey to save from night’s accommodation. A thing that you shouldn’t trust doing, especially when traveling alone.
Make it part of the plan to spend a night at a hotel, inn, or rent a room for a few hours. Get some sleep before continuing your journey so it gives you enough energy to stay awake. You need to do this at all costs not only to protect yourself from risk but also get to enjoy nature and country scenery as you travel through the night to sunrise.
5) Bring and avail of local currency
The simple question here is, “Should I bring cash both in USD and the destination country’s currency during my trip?”
The answer is yes. Even if you have credit cards, you need coins and little denominations for daily spending. For example, you can’t buy a bottle of water with a credit card. Being ready with local currency saves you and your day.
It’s also a total rescue in case the airport ATM isn’t working, or the local exchange counter has closed. You don’t want to run around the city looking for the nearest ATM for a pack of food, or walk all the way to your hotel because you don’t have local currency to pay a taxi.
Your debit or ATM card will allow cash withdrawals with the same interbank exchange rate as when you make a credit card purchase. Just try to be familiar with conversion rates, foreign ATM fees, and other bank charges for every cash withdrawal you make.
To track foreign exchange rates, there are phone apps you can use like AccuRate, XE currency, and CalConvert among a few. Install free apps on your phone so you can also track against your home currency.
There are several ways you can get local currency. Here’s a short guide.
Don’t bring all your cash, break it up and hide various amounts of it in different spots of your bag to reduce the impact of theft.
6) Blend in but don’t trust quickly
It’s a lot better to be friendly with people you meet. A simple smile, hello, and recognition help you get an intimate look and understanding of the local culture. It lets you see how the neighborhood move, their ways, and their language.
To blend in means appreciating their ways like coming in a simple attire that doesn’t make you look lavishly different. This helps people think you are in the country to appreciate what the place can offer. Presenting yourself as a humble tourist can save you from being a target for pickpocketing.
Being polite in any way builds trust between you and the locals. People want to be treated nicely like you also want to be treated with courtesy. Take your cues from them so it is easier to blend in. It doesn’t hurt to be likable. Remember that you’re doing this for the sake of safety and friendship.
Learning some local terms helps you understand local movements, as well. It’s also easier to inquire about something. The good thing is locals are more than happy to help you learn. The more you blend in the better you feel less stress.
7) Drink Just Enough
How should you drink while traveling?
Obviously, if you drink too much you will be out of yourself which you don’t want to happen. Remember that you’re too far from home to get drunk. A drunk tourist multiplies the risk of being a victim of crime. Take things cautiously by drinking just enough.
Beverages Should You Limit or Avoid
Juice, coffee, tea, energy drinks, soda, and alcohol are great treats, but any of these drinks can make you sleepy or tipsy. For your safety, think about the amount to consume. Some people feel relaxed after drinking tea which can induce sleep. It’s also difficult to get squiffy in the middle of your flight because you consumed more than enough Margarita.
While you can enjoy a frozen margarita at the airport, too much of it may get you banned from boarding your flight. If you’re a lady traveler, even a single ladies’ drink with mere 8% alcohol can have an impact on your senses.
Drink moderately to treat yourself to the taste of a local beer or the most luxurious Italian wine. Moderate means just enough to spice up your mood for a vacation. You don’t want to miss a day’s fun due to a hangover. Use your discretion and common sense. Too much of everything is TOO MUCH.
8) Be Aware of Common Travel Scams
Everywhere in the world has people ready to trick you once you let your guard down. So many people may come nice, but there are also opportunistic ones who are disguising as tourists like you. They invade tourist spots and places waiting for prey.
Some are even children who are trained to keep an eye on unattended personal belongings. In the worst cases that you’ve fallen to a scam or theft while on travel or vacation, report it to authorities right away.
Before you finalize a certain place to travel to, check out the travel safety tips for the country you’re off to. Planning ahead will give you an idea of your destination and save you all throughout the travel time.
9) Write Down a List of Emergency Information
Don’t wait until you need an emergency number before you act. Of course, no one likes to think of mishaps on a vacation but you never know when one strikes. It might end you up too anxious searching for contact numbers of hospitals, local police, or your country’s embassy.
It doesn’t take too long to jot down notes of emergency information of the country you’re visiting, as well. In fact, it’s life-saving. You have the access to all these essential numbers. A computer, tablet, or phone will help you travel smarter. But ensure these devices have full and extra batteries.
Have you experienced difficulties in your travel? What solutions did you do? Would you like to share them with us? Feel free to comment below.