7 Bits of Ad Hoc Travel Advice

Here are some little bits of advice for when you’re travelling….

  1. Learn a bit of the language.  People appreciate it if you attempt to speak to them in their language.  It doesn’t need to be a lot.  Simple words like “please” and “thanks” will go a long way.  Common phrases like “where are the washrooms?” and “2 beer please” are very helpful.

    Not all signs are in English
  2. Use the local currency.  When we travel, we usually have a small amount of US cash with us but make sure we also have some local currency.  Not everyone will accept the US dollars once you get outside the tourist areas.  Also, we’ve run into times our US dollars have been refused because they were marked or torn.  Try to have small denominations for those small purchases.
  3. Try something new.
    • If you’ve always done one style of travel, try another.  We’ve moved through different stages of travelling.  First, it was all-inclusive resorts where we booked a package that include our air, transfers, hotel and meals.  Then we moved on to cruises where we booked our cruise and airfare separately.  And now we are hooked on independent travel.
    • Try a new activity.  Zip-lining, snorkelling, sailing, skiing…and the list goes on and on.
    • Try some different foods.  Why eat what you would eat at home?  Try eating where the locals eat.  If there is a line-up of locals for a restaurant or food stand, chances are the food is good and cheap.

      Relleniot de Platano
  4. Protect your skin.  Whether you’re protecting it from the sun or the cold, protect your skin.  A sunburn can make your life miserable for several days just because you didn’t take the time to reapply that sunblock. And, don’t forget the insect repellent.
  5. Don’t plan every minute of your time.  Of course, there will be things that you want to plan; there are things that you may need to book in advance.  But leave yourself some time to just wander, take in some unexpected sight or just relax.

    Quiet day at the Melia Cozumel
  6. Buy local.  Support the economy of where you are.  If you’re buying souvenirs, buy from local artisans rather than mass-produced items.  If you’re buying fresh fruits and vegetables, buy from the local market rather than a big grocery store.

    Market on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
  7. Pack light (or as light as you can).  We fall into the “as light as you can” category but I’m always envious of those people who travel with just a backpack or carry-on.  You can always wash something out in a sink or find a local laundry service.  If you’re renting a house or condo, it might even come with laundry facilities.  The less you have to lug through airports and onto buses/shuttles, the better.

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