Our 75 Best Travel Tips for Beginners After 15 Years of Adventure on Road

by Jun 5, 2020Travel Wisdom18 comments

It has been almost 15 years now that we are travelling together. And we plan to do it for as long as we live. This blog is about the mistakes we made and what we learnt from our travel . If you love travelling, I am sure you would love our best travel tips from our experience of wandering on the road for more than a decade.  I am sure these travel tips will help all those who want to venture out.

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To be honest, I had always loved travelling. And Agni was just the opposite. He was someone who loved the luxury of his bed. Well, we met, we fought, we loved and finally, I was able to bring him out of his comfort zone. I mean, quite literally!

Our first trip was to Digha, the nearest beach destination from Kolkata. The first time is always special, like many other things in life. It was a short trip, but it taught us a few valuable lessons.

Believe me; travelling is not easy, especially when you are just starting it. We have made countless mistakes. We spent a lot of money because we did not research well. And at times, we lost valuable time and energy because we tried to save money.

Finally, we realized that the cheapest way is not the smartest way to travel.

There was a time when we lacked the skill of travelling smart. We made a lot of poor choices.

We got scammed. We got stuck in a riot in Kashmir. While travelling in Nepal, we realized that the debit card we were carrying did not support international transactions and we were unable to withdraw money from ATMs. Speaking of money, we also got robbed at Kanyakumari.

We were stranded in a highway in Arunachal Pradesh once. We missed trains and even flights.

I had sprained my leg while on the Rupin Pass Trek, could not walk, but still managed to complete the trek!

And we also managed ourselves to book in a seedy hotel in Guwahati and had the police knocking at our doors in the middle of the night.

Maybe we will save these misadventures for a separate post. But all these had taught us to be smarter and better travellers. So don’t make the same mistakes we did. Learn from them.

Here we have compiled this list of our best travel tips so that you can travel smarter.

Things we learnt after 15 years of travelling _ our best travel tips

Let’s talk moneyMoney and Budget Travel Tips

  1. Travel without breaking your bank

As much as you love to travel, we would advise you never to spend beyond your means. This is infact one of the most important money tips that we can give you. The feeling would not be great if you face a huge debt after you are back from a trip of your lifetime.

So what can you do instead?

Instead of spending fortunes on foreign trips and exotic locations, travel to getaways in your own backyard. Explore your own city, state and country before you save up for bigger trips.

We had started travelling since our college days. During the first few years, we had explored the places near our hometown. Even after we got our jobs, we did not plunge into foreign trips. We explored a lot of weekend getaways near Kolkata, our hometown and then explored various parts of India. We went for trekking and other adventure activities that did not require a lot of money.

So let me put it this way – unless you have the money to spend on bigger and foreign trips, enjoy the beauty of your own backyard. You will be surprised to find that your own city, state or country has so much to offer.

Not all of us have an endless source of moolah and it would be great if we keep a tab on them.

Travel tips for budget and money hacks

  1. Start saving early and bring more money than you need

If you want to go for the trip of your lifetime, start saving early. As I said before, it is not worth going into debt for travelling.

After you have saved enough, decide on a tentative budget for your trip. Once you have a fair idea about how much you are going to spend on that trip, carry more amount than required.

This is one of the most practical travel tips that we can give you.

When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money. – Susan Heller
  1. Track your spending

I know this can be annoying while you are travelling, but believe me this is the best travel tip I can give you related to finances. We usually have a spreadsheet where we keep a note of everything that we spend in a day. It includes all our major spending as well as the small ones like a cup of tea or a bus ticket. We have observed that the smaller ones that we usually do not keep a track take a major chunk of our travel spending.

Tracking your spending is helpful as you will be able to know how you stand financially. You might have to put a reign on your expenses. And if you have done well, then you can probably give yourself a little treat.

Make use of a spreadsheet. If you are not carrying your laptop, then the good old journal will do the trick.

  1. Take an extra Bank card or credit card with you

This is another very important point and we learnt this the hard way. While travelling in Nepal, we found that my ATM card did not support foreign transactions. Fortunately, we had another Debit Card that worked.

But what if your bank card gets frozen, stolen or gets eaten up by the ATM machine? You would be screwed then, my friend! Unless you are carrying backup cards with you.

We always carry a second bank account card with us along with a credit card. And we keep these cards at separate places. So even if the wallet gets stolen, we have access to other bank cards and money during our trips.

Very vital travel tip: Let your bank know when you are travelling abroad.

  1. Don’t change your currency at the airport

They will give you the lowest exchange rate. Don’t change your currency at the airport, if not in an emergency. Go to the local markets where you will find a better deal.

  1. Take Emergency cash and Keep them at separate places

It is always good to keep some emergency cash with you stashed in a few different places. How much you will keep that depends on the place you travel. Usually, for international travels, we keep at least a couple of hundred dollars of emergency cash. In case your wallet gets stolen or ATMs do not work, this will help you. And if you have used a part of it, keep refilling it.

Keep them in different places. We usually keep some in an old pouch that I have, some in the toiletry bag and some in a few secret places!

  1. Be ready to haggle

If you are buying from the streets and local market, then don’t be shy to bargain. This is infact quite a common tip and you will know it as well. Most of the shopkeepers in touristy spots hike the prices almost double. So bargain before you buy. And ask a few shops before deciding to buy.

  1. Skip hotels if on a budget 

One of the best ways to save money is to skip hotels. We usually prefer hostels that also allow using the kitchen. In this way, we can cook our own meals and save a lot of money on eating out. Locals do not eat out everyday and neither should you!

For longer periods of travelling, it is also good to rent an apartment with a kitchen. This is good if you plan to stay at a place for a longer time.

Hostels are best way to save money - travel tips

  1. Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights

Skyscanner is a great way of finding cheap deals on flights. We use Skyscanner while looking for our flights.  Generally, we like to keep things flexible. We do not usually have a fixed destination to fly in or out. We usually check the flight details of all the places nearby and then decide on our destinations. The rest of the places are managed and planned later.

The Master Plans – Tips on planning and organization

  1. Do not over plan and your travel plan should be flexible

Planning is good, but over planning is not. One of the most important things that we learnt after 15 years of travel that while on the road, plans will always change. After you arrive at a place, you might fall in love with it and spend more time there. You might even hate the place and want to leave immediately. You might come across some event that might compel you to change your plans. You never know what will happen on the road.

Well, it is good to have a rough plan, but I would not recommend you to book everything in advance so that your plans become non-negotiable and you end up regretting it.

We are often asked by our readers about how many days to spend in a place. To be honest, we do not know the right answer to this question. I honestly don’t know what you will enjoy and who you will meet in a place.

Travel plans should be flexible. We would suggest you keep a starting point and plan a few must-do activities of that place. And then go with the flow.

What we suggest

Get your tickets done and a first few days of accommodation. Figure out the rest on the way. We usually do not book accommodation in advance for our trips and usually find our places to stay on the go. We sincerely believe in the mantra “we will always find a stay, no matter what!”

Finally, trust your instincts and let the universe take care of the rest.

  1. Early planning and booking

Well, it is always a good habit to plan and book early. Not that we ourselves follow this travel tip always, but we have definitely found that planning early has some advantages if you are going out for a fixed number of days.

Quite obviously, flights are cheaper if you plan early and sometimes you also get a good deal on tours.

  1. Learn basic phrases in the native language of your destination

You do not need to learn the language of the place where you are travelling. Learn a few basic phrases in the local language and that can improve your travel experience. Learn basic phrases like, hello, thank you, nice to meet you, sorry, can I take your photograph, where is the toilet etc.

Not being able to understand and speak can be frustrating. We had a real hard time explaining what we wanted to eat in a small restaurant while travelling to Myanmar. In such situations, miming helps. Finally, Google translate is there to help and so are images in your phone.

  1. Read a book about the country and research

Before you travel to a new country, read a book about it to know more about the place, the people, history and culture and also the best attractions. You can read any guidebook or any books or novel written by a local author.

A little research is good before you visit a new place or country. In this way, you will not have the feeling “I wish I had known this before.” Do not worry, you will still discover a lot of new stuff on the road, but your travel experience will be much better if you know a few things beforehand.

So yes, read and research before visiting a new place, especially a new country. Read about the local customs and make sure you are aware of any gestures that might offend the locals. Research!

Travel Tips - Read a book about the country - Lonely Planet

Time to pack your bags – Useful Travel Tips on packing

  1. Travel light

You almost do not need half the things you think you need while travelling. We had done it also. We usually packed a lot and never used half of the clothes and things in the backpack. Initially, we have two 60 litres backpack for both of us. Now we travel with one 60 litre backpack and Agni’s camera bag. We carry a daypack also.

Travel light and you will travel better.

  1. Have a Packing checklist handy

Having a packing checklist for travel is very important. While packing, just tick off the list and you are quite ready. In our initial days, we had often missed taking many important things. Once I had forgotten to carry my mobile charger. Since then the packing checklist has become a part of our travel preparation.

  1. Scarf or sarong can be a lifesaver

I have realised that carrying a scarf or sarong is quite important. A scarf can be useful in a variety of situations, especially if you are visiting places of worship like temples, gurudwaras and mosques. And you never know when you might need them while exploring a conservative country.

Cover your head or wrap it around your shoulder or use it as a sarong, scarfs have been lifesavers for me. They had also served as good headgears for sun protection, makeshift towels and also for carrying stuff.

Our Backpack - travel light - travel tips

  1. Take a reusable water bottle

Get your own reusable water bottle. Period. If you haven’t noticed, the environment is already suffering because of plastic waste and human activities. Do not add more to it by buying more bottled water. Buying bottled water is bad for the environment. But having tap water is not safe everywhere.

So it is better to invest in a water filter bottle and use them in your adventures. This way you can save both the environment and money. We use a filtered water bottle on our trips and usually do not buy bottled water.

  1. Carry Backup batteries and power bank

What can be more dreadful than having a dead battery in the middle of a perfectly beautiful photographic opportunity? This had happened to us quite a number of times. Both our camera battery and phone batteries died when we were at the Junargali summit during the Roopkund trek. The entire panoramic view of the mountain ranges was before us, but there were no means to capture them. Well, those views were for our eyes only and we carried back the memories in our heart.

Nevertheless, we learnt that it is important to keep backup batteries and a good power bank with us. These days, we do not travel anywhere without a spare and charged battery and a fully charged power bank.

  1. Carry extra passport photos and your important documents safely

If you are visiting a foreign country, it is better to get a few passport-sized photos printed with you. How many? Maybe, a dozen!

This might sound funny, but carrying extra passport size photos helps in a lot of ways and has saved us in many situations. They are needed for applying for visas, getting permits and even sim cards. I needed one and a copy of my passport to get a SIM card in Nepal. It was good that I had a few in my backpack, or else it would not have been a great experience to wander around the place looking for someone to click and print me a passport photo.

Carry your original Passport, photos and documents properly along with their copies and keep them in a proper accessible place.

  1. It’s good to carry some emergency items in your carry-on bags

Keep some emergency items in your carry-on bag should your baggage be delayed at airports. We usually keep a few important things in our carry-on bags.

  1. Always carry a lock and a flashlight

Another important travel tip is to carry a lock with you whenever you travel. You never know when you might need them. Locks are important especially when you are staying at hostels and travelling by train in India.

I know of an incident where the suitcase of our co-passenger was stolen while we were travelling by sleeper class train in India. Her suitcase was not kept under lock while the others had their luggage under lock.

Flashlights can come really handy while travelling, especially in remote areas. They are definitely important while going for camping and hiking. They are a lifesaver during power cuts. So carry that flashlight.

  1. Carry mosquito repellants

Mosquitoes can attack you anywhere. So carry a mosquito repellant with you to save yourself from all those deadly diseases.

  1. Carry minimum first-aid

Accidents can happen anywhere. So my next travel tips are to be prepared for this. Carry minimum first-aid like Band-Aids, anti-bacterial creams, cotton and ointment for minor cuts and scrapes.

  1. Always pack your things the night before your early flight

If you have an early morning flight, pack your bags the night before. It will save you a lot of hassles and also not disturb other’s sleep in the morning.

Agni Amrita

Prevention is better than cure – Travel Safety Tips

  1. Travel Insurance is very important

This is one of the most important travel tips I would give. Get travel insurance if you are travelling abroad. I have heard about a lot of horror stories about travellers getting sick and injured in foreign countries and spending a fortune in treatment and hospitals. Travellers have often got into debt because of this.

Don’t think that this cannot happen to you. We use World Nomads as our travel insurance provider for our foreign trips and recommend them to everyone. Though we did not have any situations to initiate a claim, but I have heard that they are good to deal while initiating a claim.

  1. Backup photos and files in multiple places

You need to take a backup of the photographs and not just in one place. We lost some precious photos of Mizoram and Tripura after our hard drive failed and we are still sorry for losing some great and priceless photographs.

Also keep digital and physical copies of all your important documents like passport, visa documents, driving license, marriage certificate, health insurance and important phone numbers. You might even want to keep a copy of your credit card numbers.

We usually scan our important documents and email them to us. You can also use Dropbox, Drive or any other online software.

  1. Use a VPN

While travelling, you will probably be exposed to unsecured Wifi networks. We did not understand the importance of VPN before, but with more and more cyber frauds, VPN is important to protect yourself from malware, hackers and all those lurking out there.

You can also change your location and watch your favourite shows while using VPN (though we personally do not like to watch TV shows while travelling!)

  1. Mark your luggage so that it stands out

Put some stickers or your name tag on your luggage. I am sure you don’t want your luggage to be exchanged at the airport or bus and train station. Make your backpack stand out among others by tying some ribbons or putting some sticker.

Also, take pictures of your luggage and bags. If by any chance your bags get lost, this will help in identifying them easily and will also help in the process of the reimbursement by your travel insurance.

 Because we Care – Responsible Travel Tips

  1. Choose your tours wisely

Travelling introduces us to many wonders, but as travellers, we often do not realize what harm we are causing to the environment, local ecosystem, wildlife or culture.

To be honest, we are also guilty of these mistakes in the past. But with time, we have realized the importance of travelling responsibly. Well, sustainable travel, eco-travel may sound like big words, but a little conscious effort on our part can make a lot of difference.

While in Sundarban, the largest mangroves in the world, we had gone for a boat ride in the creeks. We had seen a few tourists from another boat throwing plastics in the river. Our guide took the boat in that direction and picked up the garbage from the river and also scolded the guide in the other boat. We knew then that we had chosen well and always recommend them to others for Sundarban trip.

Sometimes, you will not realize when you book a tour. But if you see something is not right, speak up. That often works. Even while booking treks we research the trekking company to know about their sustainability and green trail programmes.

A girl smiling at Myanmar market - know more about our Myanmar backpacking trip

  1. Do not judge and embrace difference more freely

Do not judge people, their lifestyle and custom if they are different from yours. Do not judge people by the food they eat. Please keep an open mind when you travel. Listen to opinions that are different from yours. Even if you have to put forward your point of view, do that in a gentle manner.

I have encountered many travellers speaking badly of a community or people because of their food choice. I find that extremely hypocritical. If you cannot embrace difference more freely, you should better be at home. The world is definitely not a place for you.

  1. Mix with locals

This is one of my best travel tips. Meet the locals and talk to them. Look into their eyes and smile. Make new friends. The starting point can be asking for directions. You never know what hidden gems you may find out after talking to them.

As travellers, Agni and I simply love to meet people. And it works for us as we love to explore the culture and festival of a place. Who better than locals can tell us more about the traditions, cultures and festivals of a place?

Having Chee at Lachen in North SIkkim

  1. Hire local guides

By hiring local guides, we are actually supporting the local community. Also, sometimes the local guides can give you valuable insights into places that no outsider can give.

We always prefer to hire local guides when we visit places that we have less knowledge about. And most of the time, these guides have become our friends. We have an immersive and meaningful experience of the place with the guides. Sometimes, we have been invited to their homes and we could see the life and culture of the place in a much better way.

  1. Ask permission before taking photos

Would you like if some random people come and takes your photograph when you are not in one of your best looks? Or your hair is not in place? Would you like if someone enters your house and starts taking pictures of your personal space?

I am sure I would not like it and so are the others. So before taking photographs, ask for permission. Put yourself in their shoes and you will understand.

Towards a Healthy and Happy Body – Fitness tips while travelling

  1. Fitness is an integral part of travel

You need to be fit to travel longtime. And even for shorter ones, we believe that you can enjoy your vacation in a much better way if you are fit. Just imagine that you have travelled to Bhutan. It would be a travel sin to not visit the Taktsang Monastery when in Paro, Bhutan. And because of your fitness level, you are unable to do so. I would really feel bad if that happened to me.

Exercise when you are at home and also when you travel. You do not need fancy equipment or a lot of space to do some basic exercise. And if nothing works out, then walk. Both Agni and I believe that there is no better exercise than walking.

Trekking at Rupin pass

  1. Drink more water hydrate yourself

Yes, yes, I know that drinking more water will lead to visit the loo more often. Even then, drink water and keep yourself hydrated. Drinking lots of water actually keeps you away from many diseases. The last thing you would want while travelling is to get dehydrated and land in a clinic.

While travelling, you will probably be out in the sun for a long time. There are high chances of getting dehydrated, especially if you are travelling in countries like India. Drink water, fruit juice, coconut water or whatever fancies you. Of course, I am not talking about carbonated drinks here.

  1. Take into account jet lag and travel fatigue

While planning for travel, we do not usually keep these things in mind. But travel fatigue and jet lag is very real. Believe me. Let me give you an example. After taking a night bus from Kakkarvitta to Kathmandu, we were already tired. However, we went to Bhaktapur to witness the Bisket Jatra the day we arrived and Sindoor Jatra on the next day. But after spending our time at the celebrations of Sindur Jatra, we were so tired that we did not wish to visit the village Bode for the next celebration. We simply returned to our hostel and slept off.

So when you are planning the number of days you are staying at a place, keep jet lag and general travel fatigue in account. Remember, you will probably not want to be out on the roads exploring 12 hours every single day. The body needs rest. Give it.

  1. Embrace your nerves

They will never go away. Even after 15 years of travelling, we still get nervous before a trip. We are nervous before visiting a new country, we are nervous to try something that we have not done before. The nerves will be there. So simply embrace it. They are natural.

Embrace your nerves - travel tips for beginners

Personal Hygiene Travel Tips

  1. Travel with toilet roll and carry solid toiletries

Take a toilet roll with you whenever you travel. They are most helpful, especially during long journeys.

Also try using solid toiletries, especially if you are travelling without a check-in luggage. I prefer carrying my own toiletries rather than using the one provided by the hotels. My own are usually of better quality than those provided in the hotels and it also helps in reducing wastage.

  1. Pack extra underwear and socks

Yes, carry them extra and thank us later. Underwear is very important for personal hygiene and I don’t mind carrying them extra. I am all ready to carry fewer clothes, but those underwear are a must. And so are socks. Nothing puts me down like dirty and smelly socks.

  1. Carry a towel, always

This is an major travel tips that I am sharing with you. I know you will get a bath towel in your hotel, but carrying a travel towel is actually a key to successful packing. You never know when the towel will come handy, be it a beach or picnic. Travel towels are light and quick-drying and are easy to carry as they fold up small. Do carry a travel towel and thank me later!

  1. Wear flip-flops in hostel showers

Yes, wear your flip-flops in shower and keep your feet protected from all the nasty stuff on the bathroom floor, especially if you are staying in a hostel or using a shared bathroom.

  1. Now some personal hygiene tips for the ladies on the road.

During the first few years of travel, maintaining personal hygiene on the road was something I was wary of. With time, I have become more aware of personal hygiene and taking care of my health during travelling.

For long term travel, sexual health is quite important for solo female travellers. Do not neglect your health, both physical and mental, while on road.

There was once a time when I absolutely hated to go out during my period days. But gradually I realized that travelling during the periods is not a bad idea at all. If you are using sanitary pads or tampons, dispose off them well. However, I would suggest using menstrual cups during your periods. They are safe to use and also the most eco-friendly options available.

Apart from these, do carry your deodorant, wet wipes and sanitizers wherever you go.

Visit your doctor and get a health checkup done before you leave for a long trip. This travel tip is for everyone.

Travel is fun – Some travel tips to get more out of your trips

  1. Bucket list is not important

There is one thing that we learnt after 15 years of travel is that lists are not the driving force. When we started travelling, we had a long list of places to visit, things to do. With time we realized that we will never (yes, never) be able to complete that bucket list.

I know you have a list. It feels great if we can tick them off. We actually had an excel sheet where we had the names of the places or activities we wanted to do. Once we did that we coloured it green. With passing days, we realized that the list is getting bigger and our life will not be enough to complete it.

So we ditched the list and started enjoying our time on the road as and when it comes to us. We do make a plan for the places we would visit in a year and simply experience the joy of travelling.

And yes, priorities can change over time. Accept that you won’t be able to see everything. So prioritize and chose your trips accordingly.

  1. Enjoy little things of life

Travelling has definitely taught us to appreciate the little joys of life. We do not need much to be happy. We are happy if we see a flower blooming or when we see a bright sunrise. I believe this is the greatest thing that we learnt from travelling.

sitting on the meadow and watching the mountain range on the way to Phalut

Enjoying the beauty of nature on the way to Phalut from Sandakphu

  1. Wake up early in the morning

This is one of the top travel tips that we practice always. Yes, always! Wake up as early as you can and go out. Most of the tourist attractions are usually open early in the morning. Use the time to have the entire place to yourself.

Early morning is also a great time for taking some great photographs. Use the diffused light to get those magical photographs and perfect Instagram shots. This is also a good time to interact with the locals.

Apart from the mentioned benefits, you will also have a lot of time during the day.

  1. Slow down

Slow down and enjoy yourself a little more. There is one thing that we have understood after 15 years of travelling is that we cannot see all, cannot visit all and definitely cannot live all. If we want to experience the magical sunset then we might have to give up the spectacular light and sound show.

Do not try to cram in all activities and places. Remember the good old saying, quality above quantity. Sometimes it takes time to discover the best of a place. So slow down and enjoy your time at a place instead of thinking about what you are missing.

Being crazy near Rupin Pass - Laugh at yourself - travel tip

  1. Laugh at yourself

I am sure that there will be times when you have done a really silly thing that made you look like a fool. I have many such incidents to my credit where I screwed up and found myself as a laughing stock. Just imagine, I had once gone out on a walking tour wearing my towel beneath my skirt! When found out, it was a hilarious situation, but for the others. I was embarrassed all right. But then I thought what the heck! Let me laugh at myself.

Well, that laugh at myself had got me new friends. I still make those idiotic mistakes, but instead of getting embarrassed, I laugh at myself!

So in situations like this, laugh with the others. Believe me, there is nothing as relaxing as a good laugh!

  1. Be out of your comfort zone

That you are out travelling is a proof you are out of your comfort zone. Now push yourself harder and try to do things that you are afraid of.

Playing with the snow at Chadar Frozen River Trek

Trying to conquer the snow and cold at Chadar Frozen River Trek

If you are scared of heights, try paragliding or bungee jumping. If hiking gives you anxiety, go for more hikes. Eat something weird.

While travelling, you are already not in your convenient place. What can get scarier or worse? Try new things and you may never know what you might discover about yourself.

  1. Visit local markets

Local markets are one of the best ways to know about the people and the place. It is in the local markets that you can see the city or town come alive. They are the best places to find out what are the popular things in the country. They are also sometimes the best places to buy souvenirs.

Bogyoke market at Yangon - visit Local markets - best travel tips

  1. Say yes to random invitations

We have never regretted saying yes to any random invitation. Infact, they have led us to some of our greatest experiences. We have had so many invitations to eat in places we least expected. Those are the places where we found some of the warmest people. Those were the times when we made wonderful memories and discovered a new place.

Nepali marriage in Bindyabasini Temple at Pokhara

When we got invited to attend a marriage ceremony in Nepal

  1. Get lost on purpose

Sometimes getting lost is the best way to discover a hidden gem. Personally I am very bad at maps, both offline and online. And I have usually got lost whenever there are no straight ways. And believe me, I have discovered some of the best things after getting lost.

I always believe that the best way to explore a place is on foot. Both Agni and I love walking and often walk around a city without having any particular place in mind. We had discovered a beautiful mound in Bagan when we had got lost and could not find our way back to our hostel.

To Live is to eat – Eating Out Travel Tips

  1. Never eat in touristy areas and near tourist attractions

Most of the food joints and restaurants near tourist attractions in a city are overpriced. And the food in most of them is not the tastiest. If you want to save money, then look for places to eat in places away from the touristy areas. Also avoid restaurants where the menu is in more than 2 languages.

Varanasi Food Guide

  1. Eat local and street food

One of the best ways to know a place is by tasting the local cuisine. Don’t shy away from tasting the local food every now and then. Food is a great way to know the people and culture of a place and I would not miss that for anything.

Street food is not always unhealthy. Infact, in our Gwalior trip, we actually lived on the street food starting with breakfast and ending up with dinner.

Our Best Travel Tips for Travelling Smarter

  1. Optimize time, energy and money

This is the most important lesson that we have learnt in all our 15 years of travelling together and the best travel tips we are giving you.

Travel needs time, energy and money and we need to strike a balance between the three.

Sometimes the cheapest way to travel is not the best way to travel. You might save money, but you might lose a lot in terms of energy and time.

The most costly way is also perhaps not the best way. You might miss out on the local and authentic flavours and culture if you are on an expensive tour. The money spent might not be worth the experience you gather.

So our best travel tip to you is optimizing time, energy and money. For example, you might have to hire a car without taking the local transport if you do not have adequate time. This travel tip is especially for all those travellers who also have a full-time job.

  1. Stay in touch

Whether you are travelling for a long time or have gone for a weekend trip, please stay in touch with your family, friends or colleagues. Let people know when and where you are travelling.

To be honest, when we were stuck in a riot in Jammu, I had for a fleeting moment thought that I would die that day. I remember not telling our parents that we were headed towards Kashmir (we were totally sure that they would bring the house down and would not let us travel to Kashmir which was then considered a “dangerous” place for tourists). In that single moment, I wished I could talk to them at least once.

However, as you can understand now that I had lived to tell the story, but I realized the importance of staying in touch with our loved ones while travelling.

This is especially important for long term travel; especially if you are travelling solo. Do not forget to call your family and friends once in a while. You can even send them postcards like in the old fashioned way. Relationships are fleeting when you travel solo. So it is better for your mental health to keep in touch with your peeps back home.

  1. Don’t be afraid to splurge once in a while

It is great to be extravagant at times. Both Agni and I are advocates of budget travel. We can actually travel and experience this fascinating world more. We have no qualms on backpacking and travelling on a shoestring budget and have also travelled on an average budget of $10 per day.

However, it is good to go over the budget and splurge once in a while. Staying at a nice and boutique hotel or spending money on a wild adventure once in a while is totally worth it. So don’t shy away from enjoying yourself and spending money on yourself once in a while.

  1. Invest in a good camera

The photographs you click will be some of the best memories of the place you visit. So our next travel tip is to invest in a good camera. Before the trip, understand how it works and gives you the best result. Make sure you also carry gears to protect your camera and equipment.

Travel Tips - make new friends

  1. If there’s no internet embrace it

If there is no internet, then that is not the end of the world. Infact it is the time to communicate with others. Talk with your partner, go for a walk, meet other people or read a book.

  1. Take a lot of photos and more photos of yourself

This is perhaps the most vital travel tip I am giving. Take a lot of photos. You might visit these places only once in your life. You are also less likely to meet with those people again. So take a lot of pictures and save those beautiful moments.

Also, take a lot of pictures of yourself. They will be more than just photographs; they will be memories of a lifetime.

Agni and Amrita at Sindoor Jatra Nepal

And finally after you have captured your shot, remember to come out from behind the camera to look and enjoy the view. This last step is quite important.

Know your Travel Style

  1. Travel in the shoulder season

Shoulder seasons are one of our favourite seasons to travel. The weather is usually milder and things are more affordable than the peak seasons. The places are also less crowded with tourists.

  1. Take Free Walking Tours

Whenever we visit a new city, we try to join a walking tour. We totally believe that the best way to know a city or town is by walking. A good way of knowing the city and also saving money is to join a free walking tour.

Most of the cities have free walking tours led by the locals who will provide you with great insight into the city, its history, culture and people. It will also help you to be familiar with the new city. You might also make a few friends on the way as well.

It is better to book a free walking tour ahead of time. However, at the end of the walking tour, your guide will expect a tip. You can pay whatever you feel like, but we suggest not being stingy. We usually suggest $5-10 for a free walking tour. Also, at the end of the tour, do not forget to thank the guide for his time.

  1. Get a free travel pass/ city pass

When visiting a city, we recommend getting a city pass. These passes are a great way to save money as they usually cover most of the best attractions of the destination in a single pass. It also allows you access to public transport and also helps you skip long queues. If you want to explore the destination in a proper way, then city passes are a great way to save money and time.

  1. Visit the touristy stuff in a city

Yes, visit them. I know offbeat is the new fun and going off the beaten track is definitely a novel experience. But the touristy stuff in a city are popular for a reason. Would you visit Paris and not go to the Eiffel Tower? Or come to Kolkata and not visit the Victoria Memorial? Hit the famous places in a city along with the offbeat ones.

In Pokhara, we did just the same. We simply decided to book two tickets on a tour bus that was doing a sightseeing trip in Pokhara. We loved the places it took us. They were the most famous attractions in Pokhara and we were happy to discover it in our own way.

visit the touristy places in a city - Victoria Memorial in Kolkata

Victoria Memorial, one of the iconic attractions in Kolkata

  1. Always visit the local tourism office

It is always a good idea to visit the local tourism office. They know about the best places in the town, special events, festivals and other important information. Some tourism boards offer discounts and transportation at cheaper rates.

  1. Go to the places that interest you the most

Now that you know you cannot probably cover all the attractions in a destination, decide on what interests you. Visit the places or do the activities that you like most. If you love food, go for a food trail. If you are adventure enthusiast, look for the adrenaline pumping activities near the place. For us, we visit places that bring us close to festivals and culture.

Some Insider’s travel tips

  1. Mind your shoes

This travel tip is for all those travelling in the Indian subcontinent and the places where you have to remove shoes before entering a place. It is a good habit to mind your shoes and to keep it in designated shoe racks outside temples and mosques.

  1. Expect everything to go wrong

We can actually write pages about all the things that went wrong while travelling. No matter how meticulously you plan and how prepared you are, something or the other is bound to go wrong. You might get scammed, miss a flight, lose your luggage and so on. Being prepared for the things to go wrong is simply going to help you cope with that later.

And don’t lose your temper when it does

I know it is more difficult done than said. But losing your temper and mind will not help things. Take a deep breathe, cool down and handle the situation. This too shall pass!

  1. Learn to be patient

Patience is a great virtue. And this virtue will be of great use while travelling. Travelling for such a long time has definitely increased our patience and tolerance for mishaps. Do not fret over things that you have no control over. This will only increase your blood pressure!

Do you have a long waiting time at the station? Consider reading a book or listening to a podcast. Missed your train? Don’t worry, there will be another one. Things are bound to go wrong. During these times, take a calming breath and remember that it could have been worse!

  1. Keep a journal

Journals are your best friend during travel. You think you will remember everything, but once you are back home, or even to the next destination, you are bound to forget something. Maybe the name of the bus stop, or the handsome guy you met at the trip or whatever.

So my next travel tip to you is to keep a journal. And do not keep it for a show; write down all the important stuff.

I used to write in the notes of my iPhone. But after one of the trips, there were some issues with the phone and it got restored to factory settings. I lost all that I had written. After that, I prefer my good old journal.

  1. Wear your normal clothes

We love travelling in our pyjamas and tees – the one that we wear in our homes. They are comfortable and do not take much space in our backpacks. We love our tees and are happy wearing them everywhere. Infact, you will probably see me in the same pink jacket in most of my pictures!

I know that you want to look your best in the photographs. Believe me, I also feel the same way and sometimes manage to carry some fancy clothes with me. But Agni would never budge out of his comfortable pyjamas and his worn-out jeans. My vain self sometimes wears a few fancy dresses for pictures.

Sometimes the places are so beautiful that they do not need you to dress well. I also think the best thing you can wear is the happiness on your face on seeing something spectacular. See this picture below where we are just wearing our normal clothes. Don’t we look all lovely and radiant?

Bagan travel blog - wearing normal clothes while travel

  1. Write down the address of your accommodation before you arrive

It is always good to write down the address of your hotel/hostel before you arrive. It is there on your mail alright. But what if you cannot access your mail when you land at the place? So it’s good to write down the address and keep it with you. And collect a card of the hotel or hostel once you are there and keep it with you.

  1. Maintain a routine while checking out of a place

We usually lose things when we are checking out of a place. So before checking out, make sure to check the bathroom, cupboard, desks, under the beds and any other places in the room that can hide your stuff. After that, check whether you are carrying your passport, ID cards, laptop, camera, mobiles, hard disk, chargers and wallets. We have started this checkout routine after I had left behind my ID card back at Bangriposi.

  1. Make most of your layovers

Explore a new place during long layovers. That is the best time to explore the city and visit some of the attractions. Some places also provide some long layover tours. Be sure to check them out.

  1. Buy souvenirs

Buying souvenirs is like taking a piece of the place back home. Buy souvenirs when you visit foreign countries. It might not have to be a costly one but definitely take something back home.

RECOMMENDED READ: SOUVENIRS FROM INDIA THAT YOU CAN TAKE HOME

  1. Don’t compete with other travellers

Travel for yourself and not for what your peers think. These days I have seen many people travel just because others are doing. Travelling is not a fad. It is not something to be done because of competition. Travel is a personal experience, something to be cherished. Each one has their own reason for travelling. Do not be the travel snob. Get beyond the numbers.

And for all the young and budding travel bloggers, we have this advice.

Travel for travel’s sake. Do not travel because you want to start a travel blog. You may start a travel blog if you travel and want to share your love for travel with others.

A few more extra travel tips

  1. Always carry a jacket with you.
  2. Do check your passport expiration date.
  3. Don’t be afraid to use a generous amount of sunscreen.
  4. Go for food tours.
  5. Say Thank you more often! And keep that smile always.

Finally, don’t forget to be grateful. Be thankful that you can afford to travel, which cannot be done by a majority of people. Be thankful that your health allows you to travel, and you have saved enough that let you travel and see the world. Also, embrace sustainable tourism and try to reduce your carbon footprint. Always keep the old saying in mind:

We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.

Finally, as you travel and expand your horizon, do not forget to share your experiences and your best travel tips with others. 

Travel Longer, Better and Smarter.

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Our best travel tips after 15 years of travelling

Things to consider before travelling - travel tips

Agni & Amrita

Agni & Amrita

Travel Experts

We are Agni and Amrita, the story-telling team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers and partners in crime in travel and (mis)adventures of life. We have been travelling together for more than a decade looking for immersive experiences while enjoying the little beauties of life. We are intrigued by heritage, culture, festivals and people and that is reflected in our travel. And yes, we love the Himalayas too.

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18 Comments

  1. I read your article very nice thanks for share

    Reply
    • Thank you!

      Reply
  2. Travel is such a great teacher and the beauty of it is one never stops learning with travel. Every time you pick up your bags and leave the threshold of your home, there is some new learning waiting around the bend in the road. We can identify with each of your tips which are really helpful and garnered after years of travel. Love the way you have covered the entire gamut of activities related to travel.

    Reply
    • Thank you Sandy and Vyjay. I am sure you guys have some great tips to share as well!

      Reply
  3. An excellent list of travel tips! I love learning bits of language and it is always appreciated, even if I sometimes pronounce things wrong, it gives us all a laugh.

    Reply
    • Thats so true about pronunciation! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

      Reply
  4. These are all great tips that I have also learned during my years of travel. The misadventures though are what memories are made of and something to laugh at in years to come (although maybe not at the time).

    Reply
    • Thank you Kelly for sharing your thoughts!

      Reply
  5. Great tips Amrita, I definitely follow most of these. Though I am a bit bucket list obsessed, so maybe ai need to follow your advice and slow travel more. One day I’ll learn how to haggle 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks Freya. Each traveller has his/her own way of travelling. I think we should try all – slow travel, bucket list, touristy stuff and everything!

      Reply
  6. So many great tips! What a comprehensive post. Slowing down and going with the flow is often hard for me, I rush around to see as much as possible! I’m learning to take it all in a bit more.

    Reply
    • Thanks Kendra. Both slowing down and rushing has its own beauty. We do what we find the best for us. 🙂

      Reply
  7. It shows that you are such a pro – even I as a passionate traveller can still learn a thing or two. Very comprehensive post – I’m sure that you get ever traveller ready with this. Great job!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much!

      Reply
  8. Such important tips for travelers of all experience levels. I’m especially a fan of not turning down invitations. While it can be uncomfortable, attending private events are one of the best ways to experience a different culture.

    Reply
    • Thanks Jenna. We had some of our best cultural experiences after accepting random invitations. But that again, you need to know which one to take and which one to decline.

      Reply
  9. wow what a comprehensive indepth post. Learning to laugh at yourself is the best and I totally abide by it – even in dire situations.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Jo!

      Reply

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