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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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