Essential Travel Tips

Essential Travel Tips


Essential Travel Tips

I've traveled to some of the most beautiful places on the planet, as well as to some places that I cannot mention because I'm still bound by secrecy. Amongst all of the readily available travel tips, I've found the best way to travel is by staying happy, healthy and safe and making sure you pack the right kits to be prepared for whatever may come your way.


Be light and nimble

My first rule of thumb is that I must easily be able to carry all of my stuff for an extended period of time. Airports, train stations, bus stations and boat docks can the most stressful time of travel. Being light makes it easy for you to move distances and ensures you're self-sufficient.

Don't plan too much - Recon

There's just no way you're going to know what you'll feel like doing once you get somewhere new. And if you do, chances are it will not be what anyone else wants to do. Have a couple of things in mind, but don't be rigid about it.

Take Pictures

Don't be shy or worry about looking like a tourist. Take many a photo and worry about sorting through them when you get home. Be careful to get permission before you take photos of local people. Sometimes it can be offensive.


Get your shots early

Some immunizations need to be delivered over time. Go to your local immunization office, tell them where you're traveling, and they'll know what you need. If your insurance doesn't cover these shots, be prepared to pay a lot of money. They are more expensive than you might think.


Visit your doctor and get a set of antibiotics for the trip. If he or she will not give them to you, my advice, find a new doctor.

Treat your body well

Don't use this time to start overeating and stop working out. Eat a good diet, get plenty of rest and get your hike on.


Call your bank

One of the most dangerous things you can do while traveling is run out of money. Before you leave for your trip, make sure you call your bank and let them know that when they see a transaction for some Monkey Balls and a new pair of headphones from Thailand that it is indeed you making those purchases. Don't sweat it... they won't judge. Also if you happen to lose your wallet, they're fully aware of where you are and can help you out.

Don't try to help

Okay, I'm not being a jerk here. I met with a group in Ethiopia who works with the street kids there. They explained that when you give money to children on the streets you're actually encouraging bad behavior.

Believe me, it's tough not to give in, but you'll also notice that once you pull out the cash you'll be swarmed by anybody and everybody who is in the area.

Do tip

Often when you're in third world countries it's common for someone to offer to watch your car for you. This puts you in a bit of a spot because it's not like they give you a choice. I've tried not to tip these unsolicited guards only to find it pisses them off and causes trouble. Keep a couple of bucks in a separate pocket so you can slip them a little something without showing them your wad.


Always carry a flashlight in your pocket or pocketbook. You never know what situation you may end up in while traveling in a foreign place. It can be a life-saver.

Taxi driver pre-negotiation

Before you get in any cab, always ask the taxi driver how much it will be to get you there. Also make sure he knows where the hell "there" is!

Get comfortable

Once you're settled in, spend some time at a coffee shop and do some people-watching. You'll get a good sense of and settle in to the local culture much easier.

Back up your...

  • Computer - Make sure you don't lose all of your photos or important work documents, especially while you're traveling away from home.
  • Passport - When you get set for your travels, be sure to have both physical and digital copies of your passport in hand. In fact, I suggest you keep multiple photo copies of your passport, and always have one on your person. If you end up losing your passport, you can go to any embassy and they'll be able to help you out.
  • Driver's license - Keep physical and digital copies of this, as well.
  • Your brain - Yes, you may think you'll remember everything, but "back up" your brain just in case. For example, write down the name of your hotel and the address of where you're staying. Also, get their phone number and test it.

Essential Kits

Shower kit

When you're packing your personal hygiene essentials, go big - you'll thank me later. Running out of any daily essential you need sucks, and you can spend a bulk of your day looking for whatever it is you're out of.

Everyday carry

Your "everyday carry" is exactly what it sounds like. Be sure your backpack is packed with essentials like chapstick, sunblock, water, healthy snacks, travel guides, a knife, light jacket, hat and, of course, you're trusty flashlight. Whatever you think you may need if stuck in some random situation, you should be prepared with your everyday carry.

Plane Train and Automobile

You're traveling - be prepared for your mode of transportation. Have that pair of earplugs handy in case you get stuck next to the loud traveler - especially the snorer, that's the worst. Also have your scarf, sunglasses and a good read readily available.

I've been all over the world, and I have to say, I've learned quite a bit along the way. I hope you take some of these tips to heart. In the meantime, enjoy the ride!


About Eric Davis

Eric Davis served our country as a U.S. Navy SEAL and decorated veteran of the Global War on Terror. Eric has been recognized as one of the premier sniper instructors in the U.S. military and has served as a Master Training Specialist at the SEAL sniper school. Davis is also the host of The Loadout Room, author at SOFREP, a GovX "Insider" and founder of the human performance company Average Frog. Follow him, and all his exploits, on Twitter @EricDavis215

Leave a comment:

James F.

2/24/2014 7:00 AM

Good stuff! Work smarter, not harder!

Eric D.

4/2/2014 7:11 AM

You got it!

Gordon M.

2/24/2014 6:53 PM

thanks eric, good stuff

Eric D.

4/2/2014 7:11 AM

Your welcome

Brenda B.

3/5/2014 8:51 AM

Eric, good article. As a female who has traveled extensively, and alone, I can only say "Hooah". I'd add a couple suggestions: never carry all your cash in the same place. I keep cash, credit card, and passport in a ZIPPERED pocket, as well as packing a purse/backpack. Keep your radar working, ie, if an area or situation feels uncomfortable, or you are uneasy for no obvious reason, listen to that small voice and get the Hell out. It has served me well. BTW - I read and enjoy your writing on SOFREP

Eric D.

4/2/2014 7:13 AM

Thanks & excellent addition. I'm always amazed (this sounds sexist) when I see women traveling alone. It just seems like you guys have an entire different set of threats to worry about that men in general don't. You're a great example for the ladies to get out there and see the world.

greg j.

3/7/2014 6:59 PM

I have practiced your advice in many ways. However, you gave to me new insights. It is appreciated. I salute you. Greg

Eric D.

4/2/2014 7:17 AM

Thanks Greg.... There's some great additional insights in these comments here as well. One team.

greg j.

3/7/2014 6:59 PM

I have practiced your advice in many ways. However, you gave to me new insights. It is appreciated. I salute you. Greg

Thomas F.

3/15/2014 12:01 AM

There's somethings I believe you might have left out 1. A silver Zippo lighter and when u get it every 3 days fill it for two weeks then leave it open for 5 days. After it dried out tie a piece of string to the inside part just like you are filling it and pour some K-1 also known as kerosene in a glass jar with a lid and let it soak. Make sure you put extra flint under the felt pad. Y did I say buy a silver Zippo it can be used as a signaling device and it can be completely submerged in fresh or saltwater and still light. there's so many things you can use a Zippo for I can't list them all 2. I carry a small pill bottle and I put extra batteries in it for the flash light. 3. Always if you are on daily Medication pack 2x what you take for the Vacation and keep in separate place with your copy of passport and Drivers license. And this doesn't add much weight to your pack. If anyone think I am forgetting something just add it in please just remember what you add think of how much weight will it add to my pack. BM 2 Thomas Finke USN RET.

Eric D.

4/2/2014 7:20 AM

Thomas, Great addition. I especially like the Zippo idea and additional possibilities. I'll add this to my kit. I'm off to Sudan soon and I'll have an updated "EDC" kit with me and let you all know how it works. Eric

Kent O.

7/7/2014 4:12 AM

I suggest flash lights that use AA battries not 123. You can almost always find AA. Also the SPOT tracker and SPOT sat phone are good to go. I carry an American Flag stuffed under my hydration bladder on a pull cord. A good air pannel and if I am foot moble to the US embassy in a hurry it lets my fellow Marines know to hang fire and not shot me!