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During my short life I have the privilege to say I've had the most amazing traveling experiences. And if there's something I've learnt, it's how to travel like a pro. Here are some tips that'll help you become a savvy traveller.
1. Choose a nice, cheap hostel.
OK, number 1 may seem obvious to most of you reading this article since you’re already interested in traveling and chances are, you have been on holiday at least once in your life. But many make the common mistake to forget to do proper research on the type of hostel they’ll be staying at. Because not all hostels are the same, in fact, you’ve got quite a variety of hostels to choose from, depending on the type of holiday you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a nice relaxing stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you could stay at a private room in a quiet area of town. Or perhaps you’d like to get absolutely smashed with your mates at a party hostel, where pub crawls and morning-after regrets are guaranteed. I tend to stay at hostels where there’s lots of activities involved, even if it ends up in me losing one of my contact lenses and thinking I’ve lost my phone somewhere in the snow in Tallin, Estonia. There’s also family-friendly, pet-friendly, and even drug-friendly hostels, it all depends on what you’re looking for, as I mentioned earlier.
The tricky thing about hostels is that the highest price doesn’t always equal the highest quality. And neither does reputation. I remember staying at a well-known party hostel in Copenhagen in the middle of summer. Granted, it was going to be busy. But dodging drunk tourists is never fun. Especially when you’re dragging a massive suitcase around on your way to check in. You really need to check other people’s reviews on websites such as hostelworld.com or hostelbookers.com. Or even on tripadvisor.com but never rely on the hostel’s own website alone. Lastly, I’d definitely recommend spending a few pounds/dollars/euros extras a night for a more central location. There’s usually better transport around and more facilities available.
2. Join free walking tours and stop at supermarkets.
One of the best ways of discovering the most interesting landmarks and history of a city is through a walking tour. What’s even better? It’s free! So you don’t have to pay for it, but if you did like the tour guide, then it’s expected for you to donate some cash. Although if you don’t like it, that’s ok too! Simply smile and leave the group, no questions asked. What I’ve learnt in some of these walking tours, I will be sure to cherish forever. Not to mention all the people I befriended on these tours!
My second advice is to eat most of your food from markets and supermarkets. Not only will you eat typical food (eaten by the locals) but you will also save a lot of money. That you could then use to go to a traditional restaurant and feast like royalty, indulging in a gastronomical experience.
3. Don’t look like a tourist!
This is certainly a tip you should follow if you want to avoid pickpocketing and other scams. I mean, everyone knows not to wear any flashy jewelry or clothing in touristy areas or get too drunk in an unknown area. But I’m talking about taking out your map in the middle of the road whilst there’s a big camera hanging from your neck. Or shouting loudly and causing a scene at anyone that so much comes up close to you, simply because you’re scared of being mugged (off). If you want to avoid a tricky situation, simply remember to smile and leave, preferably with no eye contact.
4. Be respectful of your surroundings.
I think this one is the most crucial of points, yet it is an incredibly common mistake. This is what separates tourists from travellers. Respecting the culture you’re visiting and its people and their way of life should be a given, more so when you’re a guest in their country and you have to adapt to their ways. Unfortunately, sometimes we let our ignorance and prejudices get in the way. Just look at YouTube sensation Logan Paul and his recent controversy regarding the Suicide Forest in Japan: an incredibly disrespectful gesture that shamed and devalued his credibility. And should serve us as a reminder. Because we’ve all been a disrespectful tourist at some point; perhaps not to the extent of Logan Paul but still. We must always do our research and remain flexible and open minded. Check dress codes and dietary practices. And most importantly, have fun!