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Top Travel Tips

Galavante Confidential – Top Travel Tips
August 7, 2013
By , Founder and Editor-in-chief

You wouldn’t go tramping off into the Adirondacks without your all-weather Hilleberg tent, REI Igneo sleeping bag, and Asolo hiking books. Likewise, you wouldn’t dream of jetting to St. Barths without your Céline sunglasses and Etro caftans. Essentials are just that – essential, and usually quite obvious. But there are some situations you have to experience before you can navigate them with finesse. As they say, live and learn, and this holds true for all types of travel.

Admittedly, though, we’d rather not live through five hours at Madrid’s U.S. Embassy moaning, “Como se dice ‘stolen passport’?” to learn that having a copy of the front page on hand is super helpful. While on the road, you want to maximize the fun and minimize the hassle. When it comes to travel, it pays to come prepared. Our Galavante team has covered over 195 countries collectively, many of us spending 180 days a year exploring the world. Here are our top travel tips to make your life just a little easier on the road.

Pre-Trip

  • Make a packing list. It goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: Pack appropriately for your trip. If you’re hiking and mountaineering for the week, leave the Louboutins at home. If you’re in Milan, dress to impress. Schedule out exactly what you’re going to wear each day of your trip, from day to night. Plan to recycle outfits and get creative on your combinations. Shoes add a lot of weight and require space in your baggage, so pack them sparingly. Wear your heaviest pieces and layer for the flight, to save room in your bags. 
  • Learn to carry on. Unless you’re a Kardashian and it’s your job to be high maintenance, or you’re traveling with a family, checking luggage is for amateurs. Pack right and you’ll never have lost luggage or long waits at the baggage carousel. 
  • Photocopy the front page of your passport, and take it with you on all international trips. Should you ever lose your passport, this piece of paper will save you lots of hassle.  
  • If you’re traveling to a conflict area, get to know the address of your embassy and possibly even register with them. 
  • Call your cell phone company before you leave to confirm global coverage and know the cost. No one likes that huge phone bill post vacation.
  • Pre-book all of your car rentals and hotels. You should be ready to hit it from the moment you land. 
  • Have an emergency pack of over-the-counter drugs. We cannot tell you how many times that one little pill of Imodium has been our savior in foreign countries.

It’s All About the Dough

  • Carry small bills with you, optimally in the local currency, or at least in U.S. dollars, for tips when you arrive. In many developing countries, they will be more than happy to take those dollars in lieu of no tip. 
  • Try to have a little local currency on hand when you arrive, and plan to use the ATM at the airport. You don’t want to get stuck without any currency in a toll booth or, in countries like Russia, having to go to several different ATMs until your card miraculously works. 
  • When staying in a hotel, don’t wait to tip housekeeping until the end of the stay.  Tip daily; it’s amazing what extras that will get you, from a super clean room, fruit and chocolate treats, and even paper origami.

On the Ground

  • A little courtesy goes a long way. Learn to say hello, thank you, and please in the language of your host country. 
  • Depending on the country, consider pre-booking your airport pickup. For Paris, it’s easy and economical to just hop in a taxi. But places like Russia and Nicaragua? Not so much. In London, it may be less expensive to pre-book a car than to take one of the waiting taxis into town. 
  • Pickpockets are a professional hazard of travel. They are rampant in London right now, which seems deceptively safe with the arrival of Prince George and all. Don’t fall for the “look at this golden ring I just found” or the mustard on your jacket trick. Each region has its own pickpocket technique, so just be aware. 
  • The point of travel is to experience something new. Don’t be that American eating at McDonald’s in a foreign country. Branch out and be open to new experiences. There are few things that can change your life like travel, so sit back and enjoy.