In my last post, I gave my 4 best tips for those new to traveling abroad. However, if you’re more comfortable with traveling on your own, below I’ll outline some of my favorite tips to get the most out of your trip.
TIP #1 – TripAdvisor
Before leaving, my go-to pre-planning tool is TripAdvisor. Although you can use the site as an all-in-one resource for flights, hotels and other vacation-aligned packages, it’s always my best bet on planning my excursions for the city/country that I intend to visit.
Simply typing into the search bar, “things to do in (city or county)”, will give you numerous options to indulge in during your trip. These options are often listed by what’s on sale, historic sites, must-have foods, and biking and walking tours to name a few.
In any event, if there’s something to experience in the place you intend to visit. You’ll find it on TripAdvisor.
TIP #2 – Free Walking Tours
The quickest way to meet locals in the know, free walking tours are great for maneuvering congested cities or simply enjoying a countryside town.
Usually the guides are locals and know the culture and history in context. They will usually work for tips ( I suggest a generous one) or may set their own tour price for the tours they advertise for a fee. If you’re on a free tour, some companies will allow their guides to upsell you as well. Although you’re not required to do so, you may want the extended time to learn more about the place you’ve visited.
And how do you find them? Simply search “free walking tours in (city).” And remember to check their reviews!
TIP #3 – City Bus Tours
If you don’t mind paying for your experience, city-based tour buses are other great option as well– Hop On, Hop Off and Big Bus Tours are some examples.
My usual if I choose this route– On my first or second day of arrival, I’ll ride the length of the tour, without getting off the first time around, just so I can hear about all of the excursions and history at each stop. While doing this, I’m making a mental note of where I’ll get off the second go around.
Even though I usually will explore every stop after that first go around, taking the time to take in the information and culture in one trip really gives me a brief overview of the city. And, I find my comfort level with getting out and about on my own at a later time has increased drastically.
TIP #4 – Staying with a Local Host
If you’re feeling a bit adventurous and don’t mind a bit of uncertainty, staying with a local in their home can often have big rewards.
There are several options for companies to use. Some services have hosts who do this out of the goodness of their hearts at no charge you you at all– they’re just looking to show you a great time in the city they love. And some services, will require you to pay a fee to the host.
But, as in all things, you’ll want to do your research. Sometimes you can come upon some shifty situations. But my overall experience had been excellent after I’ve traveled for 7 months to 6 countries, staying with over 10 different hosts in 2015. Some were free (Couchsurfing) and some were not (Airbnb).
My favorite experience was staying with my host in Johor Bahru, Malaysia for 10 days. And since she was a Couchsurfing host, my stay was free.
She had done lots of travel in her own time, often staying in places that required little-to-no money, so she gladly returned the favor to other travelers as well– and wanted to show off her city and the unique places to visit.
Among them, we went to the South China Sea, to a Fishing Village, all the best local places to find cultural cuisines, and many more.
So do you have any best practices when preparing to travel abroad? Please let me know in the comments!
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