50 Brilliant Travel Tips from Expert Globetrotters

You know, I like to think I give pretty good advice. Readers frequently tell me that my travel tips helped them plan a trip, save money, and avoid trouble on the road. It’s nice to know that I’ve picked up some useful travel tips in my 12+ years of roaming the globe. But hey, I don’t know everything (if you’ve read some of my earlier blog posts, you might be convinced that I don’t know anything…) and there’s always more to learn.

With that in mind, I reached out to 50 expert globetrotters from around the world and asked them for their very best travel tips. They came through in spades, sharing with me their brilliant travel tips for trip planning, saving money on travel, packing smart, using technology for a better vacation, staying healthy on the road, and making the most of your trip.

Check out these 50 brilliant travel tips from expert globetrotters and you’ll be well on your way to being an expert traveler yourself:

Brilliant travel tips from expert globetrotters

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Brilliant Travel Tips for: Planning & Preparation

➤ There’s one very easy way to save money when you’re travelling, that not everyone thinks of – book accommodation where you can cook your own food! I know, you’re on vacation and probably want to skip having to cook (and wash dishes!) but, even if you only cook one meal per day, it can save you so much money! Going to restaurants is overall a very enjoyable experience, I especially like to eat out when I’m abroad to try new food, but if you need to travel on a budget – remember this tip for your next trip! – Amanda, My Backpacker Life

Brilliant travel tip: book accommodation with a kitchen so you can prepare some meals in your room

➤ As frequent travelers who spent one year traveling the world, we’ve learned a ton of simple ways to make getting from point A to B as easy and efficient as possible. One of our top tips is to take the time to research how to get from your point of entry (eg, airport or train station) to your local destination (eg, your hotel) before you arrive. This is especially important if you’re traveling overseas or crossing borders since you might not have service/data immediately upon arrival.

It’s easy and quick to look into your transportation options before you leave. We recommend checking tourism boards and airport websites for the most up to date information, but often find great information on Wikitravel.  And having that knowledge of what to do and where to go right when you arrive will make you more confident, save you time, and make you look less like a tourist (who scammers love!). Even though we’ve traveled a lot, we still have to remind ourselves to do this, and have definitely forgotten more than a few times and suffered the consequences. Most memorably, we arrived in Bratislava, Slovakia without a clue as to how to get to our hotel, and without wifi or cell service to figure it out. After taking the wrong bus, we ended up having to grab a taxi from a random hotel – a costly mistake! – Sarah & Justin, Travel Breathe Repeat

This is such an important tip! I shared similar advice in 25 Ways to Overcome Travel Anxiety. Knowing where to go when you land makes all the difference in the world, especially if you’re a new or nervous traveler.

➤ If you need to pack light, book accommodations near a laundromat. Booking accommodations near a laundromat has saved me a ton of money in my travels. I’ve been able to fly much cheaper flights by bringing only a carry-on bag and sparing the checked luggage. You don’t want to find yourself mailing clothes back via UPS to make room for souvenirs! (True story). Next time you’re trying to decide between two hotels, go with the one closest to the laundromat. You can pack all of your essentials and easily rewash items you have already worn. Also, be sure to check the laundromat rates ahead of time! – Crystalyn, Trip Gazer

Travel tip: do laundry on the road so you won't have to pack as much
Image by Pexels from Pixabay

➤ I am a family travel writer, who has crossed the US and many parts of the globe with two kids in tow, and my #1 travel tip is to stay at a location that has laundry facilities. Doing laundry half-way through your trip enables you to pack about half as much and eliminates the costly fees for checked luggage. I’ve found washers and dryers in hotels and rentals all over the world, and when I don’t, I’ve even hand washed clothes in a sink using Dr. Bronner’s soap and used a clothesline for them to dry. Using this trick my family of four was able to pack for a 10-day trip to Europe last summer with only carry on bags (four backpacks).  A mom to 8- and 11-year old boys, I write for Maps Memories and Motherhood, Kidtripster and other travel publications. My husband and I are indoctrinating our boys into the wonder and awe of travel. So far, we have visited 29 states and 11 countries and counting.  –Lori LeRoy, Maps Memories and Motherhood

➤ I might be biased, but I recommend travelers use GetYourGuide to discover and book tours and activities around the world.  The experiences you have on vacation or what you remember most, right? Then why wait until you arrive to think about what you’ll do and where you’ll go.  You’ll end up paying more for tickets and waste hours in line. Travelers should book tours and activities right after their flight! That way you’ll save money, have a wider selection of options for days and times AND you won’t risk getting to your bucket list attraction only to find it SOLD OUT! GetYourGuide was recently named to Fast Company’s most Innovative Companies of 2019 (#3 in Travel).  The site offers more than 34,000 things to do in 7,600 destinations worldwide–from skip-the-line tickets to the world’s most iconic attractions, walking tours by top local experts, immersive food and beverage tours, cooking and craft classes, bucket-list experiences and niche offerings you won’t find anywhere else. –Angela Drab, GetYourGuide Regional Manager, US East, Mexico & The Caribbean

Always purchase travel insurance. We all want to think that bad things will never happen to us. However, that isn’t always the most reliable and responsible mentality. What happens if you are traveling abroad and something unexpectedly goes wrong? Often times the solution comes with a hefty price tag. Say you become sick while traveling internationally. The average healthcare company will not cover your medical fees for an illness abroad. In fact, it can be up to 12 times more expensive to spend the night in a hospital abroad than a five-star luxury hotel according to Finder.com. Travel medical insurance is great “bang for your buck” purchase to have alongside trip protection.

For instance, 18-year-old Alysan’s life was, quite literally, saved all thanks to her $35 travel medical insurance policy. The amount of money she saved due to having travel insurance was thousands, but keeping her life after a terrifying battle with malaria was priceless. Or, you land from a long flight only to discover your luggage did not arrive with you. With around six bags for every 1,000 passengers misplaced in 2017 according to information technology company SITA, it is a smart, money saving tactic to purchase trip protection that includes coverage for lost, stolen or damaged baggage. And if something comes up last minute that requires you to cancel your trip all together? One of the best ways for anyone to protect their future travel and financial plans is to add a ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ (CFAR) policy to their travel insurance package. The CFAR benefit allows travelers to cancel their trip for any reason they wish. That way, should an unavoidable circumstance occur prior to the departure date, travelers can cancel their trip and receive at least 75 percent of their nonrefundable trip cost back. – Justin Tysdal, 25-year travel industry veteran, co-founder and CEO of Seven Corners

I couldn’t agree more with Justin’s travel tips! No matter how tight your budget, never travel without insurance. I use and recommend World Nomads. Without them, I would have been out thousands of dollars on a trip to Brazil when Hurricane Irma caused me to have to cancel at the last minute. Pop your info into the box below for a quick, free quote.

➤ Always, always, always bring a printed paper of the hotel names and address translated into different languages. This will help you with having to deal with a headache by trying to navigate a unknown country all by your self or with friends. Often, hotels offer their business card at the check in counter; grab a few and save them all over your clothes. I use this tip even when am going home to Puerto Rico, it makes my life easier. Finally, this tip will also help you in case you have to deal with local police for any reason. –Cristhian Gonzalez, CGM Travels

Do your own travel planning & booking! Yes, this takes time, and can be very time consuming, but for me, trip planning is truly half the fun of a vacation! I love emailing people around the world and getting emails from China and Vietnam at 3 a.m.! If that’s the kind of thing that floats your boat, and you have the time to do it, you can save a TON of money AND get to do “off-the-beaten-path” things that you won’t get to do on a guided tour. My chef husband and I recently spent a month in China, traveling the country by train, and taking cooking classes, foodie tours, etc., and I arranged it all online and by email- with no problems- for 1/3 of what that trip would have cost us booked through a travel agent. I have booked everything for our vacations in Vietnam, Israel, Italy, Chile, Korea, Japan, and a number of islands in the Caribbean, online and via email, with no problems. Almost everyone in the travel business around the world is going to be able to email you in some sort of okay English- the 2 times they haven’t been able to do it in Perfect English- one place in Chile and once place in Japan- it worked out fine, too! 🙂 I do “Google” to see reviews before I make reservations… Viator was great for booking many truly excellent private tours in China, but many (cooking classes & foodie tours all over the world, truffle hunting in Italy, train tickets, cruises, apartment rentals & hotel stays, a Ryokan stay in Japan, etc.) were booked directly with the companies or guides via email.  – Elisse & Chef Dan Clark, Elkhorn Inn & Theatre

I agree, the planning of a trip is almost as much fun as actually going. And it can save you boatloads of money, as I showed in my two week Sri Lanka itinerary, where I recreated a $10,000 luxury tour for just over $2,000. Don’t be afraid to do it yourself!


Brilliant Travel Tips for: Packing

➤ My favorite travel tip is simple, empowering, and saves money, time, and stress. It is to pack as light as possible. By limiting the stuff you bring, you save money by avoiding baggage fees on flights. You save time not waiting for checked in bags. You eliminate the stress of keeping track of extra bags. With less stuff, you can more easily traverse airports, rail stations, cobblestone streets in Europe. In addition to physically limiting stuff, packing less emotionally will also benefit your travels. –Charles McCool, Travel Happiness Advocate, McCool Travel

My friend Charles gives the best travel tips! It’s common for new travelers especially to over pack, thinking they need to bring everything they own. I’m telling you, you don’t need half that stuff and you’ll never use it.

➤ I’m a frequent traveler, and like a lot of people, my main stress when I’m traveling is going through security. Especially because I travel with my five year old daughter, often alone, and when you’re traveling in Europe (I live in Spain), anything electronic that is cell phone size or larger has to be taken out of your carry on and placed separately on the belt. With a five year old, we have multiple tablets, and cell phones, and laptops, and Kindles, plus liquids, and it can be a nightmare! So what I do is pack all of the stuff that has to be taken out in one bag, and then I only need to unpack one thing. So instead of grabbing my cell phone and liquids from my purse, and then laptop and tablet from my main carry on, plus my daughter’s stuff in her bag, I pack everything that has to be taken out together in one bag. After I’m through security, I can re-pack so my cell phone and liquids go back in my purse, and the Kindle goes into my daughter’s bag, and it saves me having to remember where each electronic is, and unpack that bag individually while in the security line. It’s made going through security so much easier for me! And it’s made the people in line behind me much happier, too! –Heather Teysko, Writer, Storyteller & Adventurer, The Renaissance English History Podcast

➤ I think that one of the best tips that I can ever offer a person who travels is to take a travel board game along with them. It is an odd tip and it has been over three years since someone suggested I try it. Over the years, I have begun to realize that it is rather invaluable for a number of reasons. Travel is fluid and you never know what is going to happen. Flights, trains, buses etc get delayed and instead of moaning and groaning about it, a good travel board game helps keep your mind occupied and happy. It also helps keep kids entertained!

Aside from that, they are great for days when it rains or when you get back to your accommodation and are just too tired to move. We have also found that board games provide a great social icebreaker! So if you find yourself in a hostel or even in the common area of a hotel, you can invite other travelers to join the fun! If picked wisely, they are both portable, re-playable and fun! –Penny, Globe Trove

I love travel tips like this! This is something I’ve never thought of, probably because I usually travel solo, but I’m 100% doing this the next time I travel with someone else.

Always pack binoculars! Even an inexpensive set of binoculars can open up a whole new world of very familiar destinations.  They’re great for spotting the intricacies on cathedral and temple ceilings, or displaying the details of an altarpiece that is behind a gate.  The colors of mosaics and paintings seem to pop with light when you can get a closer look. I’ve taken a set with me to Egypt, where the hieroglyphics in the temples and on the massive pillars stretch more than 30 ft. high.  They double as theater glasses for plays and concerts. And, they can also be used as intended to bring far away castles and birds and other wildlife into focus. –Debra Ruzbasan, Regional Sales Manager, Ed-Ventures, Inc

➤I carry a handheld digital luggage scale when I fly. The reason is that it’s easy to reach carry-on and checked luggage weight restrictions simply by filling your suitcase with clothes, shoes and toiletries, especially when domestic maximum weight is only 50 lbs. You’ll never have to worry about your luggage being too heavy at check-in. Knowing the weight in advance will allow you to redistribute your items in the hotel or at home versus at the airport. These little easy-to-use scales cost around $10 on Amazon which is much less than an excess baggage charge. – Katie Dillon, La Jolla Mom

Katie speaks the truth! If I had $1.00 for every person I’ve seen frantically stuffing dirty underwear into their purse on the airport floor, desperately trying to get their bag under weight, I could buy a whole case of luggage scales. Also we won’t discuss how often that person has been me.

➤ A great travel tip that I have come to exercise regularly is to always keep a good quality foldable reusable bag in my pocket or in my carry on when traveling. This bag comes in handy when you are checking in baggage and your checked bag is overweight. You can simply remove a few items and place them in the reusable bag carrying them with you as opposed to checking them in your luggage.  This tip has saved me overweight baggage fees many times. The reusable bag also comes in handy when you buy too many things from the duty-free shop that you are unable to squeeze into your carry on bag. You have your handy bag available to keep all your purchases together which makes them easier to carry and less likely to be left on board the plane when you deplane. –Shanita Moore, Tour This World

Absolutely, Shanita. There’s a reason I have these bags on my printable packing list! They also come in handy while shopping at your destination. Lots of places have done away with plastic bags, and even if they haven’t, you can do your part for the environment by using your own bag instead of taking more plastic.

➤ My best travel tip for new travelers is to bring your own reusable water bottle. It’ll save you money and it’s better for the environment. Most recently, I packed water bottles for each member of my family when we went to California. They were handy for the flight, but also once we were there and doing a bit of hiking, we each had one to stay hydrated. A key thing to keep in mind when flying, though, is you must keep your water bottle empty when you go through the security checkpoint. Once you’re through security, fill it in a water fountain and you’re good to go!- Kim, Founder and owner of Oh My! Omaha – Exploring Omaha & Beyond

Always carry plastic zip-lock bags in three different sizes – snack, sandwich and gallon. Gallon size can be used to store dirty clothes, especially the wet ones, including shoes. There are many uses. The sandwich size can be used to carry extra food off the breakfast buffet for a lunch or to save a half eaten pastry for later, or to store documents in purse so they you can easily get to them. The snack size can be used for snacks, jewelry, extra change or for separating different currencies or to hold a toothbrush and paste. –Susan Carlisle May, Author

I’ve been carrying Ziploc bags with me for years and you’d be amazed at the things you find to put in them that you wouldn’t have thought about beforehand. Collect seashells on the beach without getting sand all over the inside of your suitcase, have an emergency barf bag for sudden travel sickness, stuff your folding travel umbrella inside so you don’t get water all over the inside of your purse… the list goes on and on!

➤ I seriously don’t know what I would do without packing cubes. They are affordable, convenient, and have become a total essential for my travel lifestyle. In fact, my only packing cube-adjacent complaint is that they didn’t enter my life sooner! They help you quickly and easily categorize your belongings, and organize them within your backpack. When I forgot to grab my favorite cardigan right before checking my backpack at security, it was ridiculously easy to slip out the right cube and find it. Before packing cubes, I would’ve been rifling through my whole backpack, the pile of clothes on the airport floor slowly growing… if you want to up your travel game, get some packing cubes! Just know, once you’ve tried traveling with ‘em, there’s no going back. –Kaisa, Glam Granola Travel

Totally agreed on all counts, Kaisa! I held off on getting my first set of packing cubes for years because I just didn’t get what all the hype was about. But after my first trip with them, I was a total convert. If you have ever rummaged around in the bottomless depths of a suitcase while breaking out in a cold sweat because you could have sworn you had at least one more pair of clean underwear in there, you will love the feeling of total organization packing cubes bring to your travels!


Brilliant Travel Tips for: Saving Money

➤ My favorite airfare hack is what I call across the pond hack. This technique is pretty simple. When flying across the ocean to Europe, Asia, or South America you will often, if not always, have a stop at a major airport such as ORD, NYC, MIA, IAH, SFO, or LAX.  If I am helping someone with traveling overseas I will first look at round trip prices to see what the average on tickets is. Then I will check a round trip to the city where the layover is and another round trip ticket to the final destination. The price difference is often significant and it is always worth the extra time to me.  

An example of this is if you wanted to fly to let’s say Finland from St. Louis, your layover most likely will be Chicago or New York. Check the price of a round trip to either ORD or NYC, then the price of a second round trip to Finland. One thing to bring attention to is checked baggage. If you are traveling with checked baggage make sure your layover between the two round trips gives you enough time to claim your baggage and check back into your new flights on both sides of your trip. –John Renken, Adventurer, Leadership Coach, Entrepreneur

Genius. Absolute genius. I just tested out John’s theory by checking the price of flights from my home airport of Portland, Oregon to Tokyo. The cheapest flight I found was $688 and required a stop in Honolulu. If I use John’s system and search Portland to Honolulu ($183) and Honolulu to Tokyo ($380), the same flight would only cost me $563, a savings of $125. John, if we ever have a layover in the same airport, I’m buying you a beer.

➤ We love to save money on our travels, because the more money we save, the more places we can go! That’s why we’ve learned that being flexible with your travel dates can save you loads of money. It can be as simple as flying on a weekday instead of a weekend, or changing the season when you’re traveling. If you travel in the slow or “shoulder” seasons, your flights, activities, and accommodations can be much cheaper than in peak season. Our next trip was actually planned for the day after Easter this year, and we realized the trip flight would cost  four times less the week after! So we changed our dates, and are using that money for another trip. Be flexible and you can save! –Sara, Our Kind of Crazy

Can confirm! I recently extended a trip to Cuba by one day and cut the airfare in half because I originally wanted to come home during a holiday weekend. I love Momondo for being able to see exactly how prices fluctuate day by day around the time I’m searching.

➤ My best travel tip to help you save money in your next destination is to plan an itinerary full of completely free attractions and activities. During my first trip to Las Vegas, I couldn’t afford to travel and certainly didn’t have any spending money for a vacation, but staying home just wasn’t an option. I’d promised to attend a family wedding in Vegas, and everyone expected me to be there. After an initial panic, I began researching the city in depth to try to find some way to have a good time in a notoriously expensive city without actually spending a single penny while visiting for a full week. It took hours and hours of careful planning, but I now have an extensive list of 100 Free Things to do in Las Vegas.

This technique can be applied to any city though, so I encourage you to use this trick anytime you’re longing to visit a city that you fear you cannot afford. Research it in advance, and plan an itinerary full of 100% free things to do. Search for free tours. Search for free activities. Search for free meals. Many big cities have free museum entries, and some have free parks and gardens. You’ll be surprised what you can find once you start looking. I especially love checking each city to see if it has any pretty waterfalls nearby that are free to visit. Checking for Instagram-worthy buildings and beautifully painted street-art murals is another great option. Compiling a free-itinerary will save you so much money on your next trip, and through this method of planning, you can find so many unique attractions and hidden gems that you’d never find listed on top tourist sites! – Jillian Michelle, Adventure Dragon

I love this tip because I feel like I shout myself hoarse on a daily basis trying to convince people that travel doesn’t have to be as expensive as they think. If you’re looking for more ways to make travel affordable, check out my massive list of travel tips on 90+ ways to travel for free or really, really cheap.

➤ I’d like to suggest one of my frequently used travel tips that help me to save a lot of money around the world. It’s about finding accommodation in neighboring cities next to popular destinations. For example, you’d like to visit Amsterdam or Barcelona in May. Prices are automatically higher due to a high season. Many options are already booked. The money-saving tip is to find accommodation in a smaller city nearby that has a good transport connection. Instead of running over budget in Barcelona, ​​you can choose the neighboring city of Sitges or Gavà. Instead of staying in the over-priced heart of Amsterdam, there is Zandvoort nearby. This tip is also a great way to avoid consequences of ‘overtourism’ and discover more places. While staying in Sitges this January, we found out that this city is one of the LGBT capitals of Europe. Well, the beaches were also better over there and food was cheaper. – Alina, Travel Blogger, Alina on Tour

➤ Many places which typically cost money are free sometimes or for some people. It varies – maybe it’s the first Thursday of every month or for students and people who are employed as artists but it’s worth checking out! If it’s a day of the week or month and you happen to be there over that time, schedule that activity for that day. If there are other requirements, make sure you bring proof (like your student ID). We’ve done this for some museums and save money. – Brianna and Kyle,  Married with Maps

And if you can’t find a free admission day, check out sites like Groupon to see if you can at least score a really good deal on your tickets! And if you use some of the travel tips on my Groupon Travel Deals post, you might be able to get them for free anyway.

➤ I spend most of the year covering festivals across Europe. My one tip is an easy one: Make sure your credit card charges 0% foreign transaction fees before you leave on your trip! Also, when using an ATM, only take out money in the local currency. The ATM may “helpfully” ask to convert currency for you, but this is always a worse exchange rate than your bank will give you. – Vito
Valentinetti, Co-Founder/Editor in Chief,
Music Festival Wizard

➤ I have been keeping an eye on prices over the last 14 months.  To me it seems that the best time to book flights is when they are released (that’s around 11 months in advance for most airlines) or really last minute, say a month or less before travel.  The issue with the latter is availability so you can’t always choose where on when you want to go or if there are a few of you travelling together it might be an issue. Airline flight sales are also pretty good, if you sign up to a travel agency newsletter you will get notifications of all flight sales rather than having to sign up for 10 different airlines flight sale alerts. –Andrea Crome, Head of Marketing, SN Travel

Booking directly with a hotel is always better than booking through third-party websites.  The reason for this is because the third-party sites, which can offer great deals, many times don’t have guest-friendly cancellation policies.  By booking your hotel stay via the hotel’s website or on the phone with the hotel’s sales office, you’ll usually have at least a 24 to 48 hour buffer before your check-in in the event that you need to cancel for whatever reason.

Also, when booking directly, you’ll have access to valuable money-saving specials that the hotel may be running during the time period when you’re looking to visit, so be sure to ask what’s available. Once you’re booked and checked in, ask the hotel if it has any discount partnerships with, or coupons for area restaurants and attractions.  At The Commander, for instance, we have a mobile app that entitles our guests to exclusive savings at mini golf courses, bike rental shops, and freebies at local restaurants (such as a free appetizer or drink with an entrée purchase).

Another secret perk is that guests can always request room upgrades if a hotel isn’t fully booked, which can be easily arranged based on availability. While hotels should offer this without being prompted, many don’t – so it’s definitely worth it for guests to inquire about it!- Jim Douglas, General Manager, The Commander Hotel, Ocean City, MD

Harness the money-saving power of travel credit cards. Even basic travel credit cards provide plenty of opportunities to save. Most let you earn points or miles per dollar spent, and these can generally be redeemed for flights, hotel rooms, or other travel expenses, depending on which card you prefer. Travel credit cards with higher annual fees might be pricier up front, but they tend to provide impressive benefits that can prove particularly valuable for the passionate explorer. Benefits to look out for include airport lounge access, complimentary hotel loyalty status, travel statement credits, and complimentary travel insurance. – Sean Messier, Credit Industry Analyst, Credit Card Insider

I’ve also seen credit cards that pay for your Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check fee, which is worth its weight in gold!

Microstays are a new travel trend defined by Wikipedia as ‘residency in a hotel room for less than 24 hours, choosing check in time and length of stay.’ They are another lifestyle upgrade that has come about largely due to smartphone GPS technology which allows us to cram more into our days and spontaneously access useful services where we are and at any given moment. Inherently practical, booking a hotel room for a few hours is a clever modern hack for a huge number of scenarios, from a pitstop for business trippers in between a day of meetings, to a comfortable port in the storm for those travelers with an early, delayed, cancelled or red-eye flight to enjoy hotel room facilities as a bed, shower or secure wifi connection for 3, 6 or 12 hours.

Now, this microstays trend, who is implementing it? BYHOURS is the first online platform & APP that allows booking hotel rooms for a few hours. You can book a room in one of our 3,000 Hotels for 3, 6 or 12 hours, choosing the check-in time, and paying only for the time you use. And these “microstays”, have proved to be a big innovation in the business industry transforming our productivity wherever we go. That’s right, the first pay-per-use system in the hotel sector. We work with over 3000 big chains and indenpendent hotel partners in 600 cities worldwide.

Just to highlight one of the use cases, the one related to airport booking reservation, I would showcase four hotels that are subject to be booked on a microstay through our platform:

-Rosa González, PR & Communications Manager, BYHOURS

I really love this concept. When you fly to some of the most far-flung corners of the world like I do, it’s super common to have to leave or arrive in the middle of the night. This always prompts the question of whether to pay for a hotel room that I’ll only get to use for a few hours or to suck it up and hang out in the airport for longer than I need to, forgoing a shower and a comfortable bed for even a few hours. When I was younger, I would try to tough it out in the airport as often as possible, but y’all- I am too old for trying to sleep in an uncomfortable chair anymore. If there was a nearby hotel that I could book for a few hours without having to pay full price, I would be all over it.


Brilliant Travel Tips for: Using Technology

➤ As you are walking around a new town and visiting different attractions, take pictures of the signs. In fact, if you are dining at a new restaurant, take a photo of the restaurant’s sign before you leave. As you are sorting through your photos days later, the signs will be good reminders of what you saw or where you went. Especially if you happened to stumble upon a site, the picture of the sign will help you look up more information later! On one of my most recent trips, I completely forgot the name of a restaurant I was recommending, but at least I took a picture of it! – Michelle Maraj, Travel After Five

I do this *all the time*. I wouldn’t be much of a travel blogger if I couldn’t remember the names of any of the places I wanted to recommend to you guys, would I? But I think it would be a good practice for everyday travelers, too- have you ever wanted to recommend a place to a friend but it’s been a while since you visited and you can’t remember the name? Ugh.

That’s also why I save every place I ever go on Google maps- you could ask me 10 years from now what was the name of the hotel I stayed at in Scotland, and I’ll be able to search for Edinburgh and immediately see that it was the Fraser Suites (which I highly recommend, incidentally.)

Conquer your fear of flying with the SOAR in-flight app. It is like having a pilot sitting next to you, explaining every sound, every turn, and every sensation. If you enter your flight into the app, A server will research your route of flight and set up the app to tell you when you are approaching an area of possible turbulence and when you are past it. –Captain Tom Bunn, MSW, LCSW, retired airline captain, President & founder of SOAR

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

➤ I wanted to suggest a no-brainer travel gadget that your readers probably already have in their homes – a standard plug-in power strip.  Here’s why it’s great… When you’re on the road and you have multiple devices that you need to charge, it’s much easier to plug them all into a power strip rather than having to search out multiple outlets in a hotel room.  

Also, when it’s time to pack up and leave, you’re far less likely to forget a device (or your charger) and leave it in your hotel room if everything is plugged into one centralized location. Finally – and this is particularly convenient – when you’re traveling internationally, you only need to bring along one plug adapter.  You simply use that one adapter to plug in your power strip, and then everything else plugs into the power strip using their conventional, two-prong, U.S.-style plugs.  No additional adapters needed!


FYI, credit for this travel hack goes to my colleague Brian Stacey here at Tauck.  Perhaps you’re familiar with us?  We’re a 94-year-old leader in guided high-end tours and cruises, and Brian travels the world for us designing new itineraries.  Brian has been to 76 different countries, visited all 50 states, and he averages 120 days on the road each year, so he’s an experienced traveler. – Tom Armstrong, Corporate Communications Manager, Tauck

This is one of those travel tips that just made me stare off into space for a few minutes, questioning my entire existence. I have literally left dozens of phone chargers in hotel rooms all over the world. I wonder how many I would have saved if I had been traveling with a power strip? We’re about to find out because I’m never going anywhere without one again.

Download Google Translate to your phone and download the language of your country you’re visiting so it can be accessed offline. This has saved me on numerous occasions when I’ve been somewhere and needed to communicate with a local and neither of us knows each other’s language. Google Translate allows you to access languages offline which means you or the interlocutor can type in what you what to say and understand each other quickly. This is great for learning vocabulary and translating short phrases. The first time I used this method was in a small town in Czech. I couldn’t understand the train station staff and needed to get a train to the airport. I was flustered and he was confused about what I was asking. Finally, I took out my phone, typed in my question in Google Translate and showed him. He smiled and typed back his answer. It worked like a charm. –Michelle Frolla, Author, The Intrepid Guide

Image by Oli Lynch from Pixabay

➤ An app not many people seem to use is maps.me You’re able to download a country’s map and then use it offline anywhere. You’re able to see accommodation, restaurants, etc. etc. and find your way around anywhere. You can bookmark where you’ve been and track your travel – leaving notes about each place. It’s 100% free and far better than google’s offline maps. –Charlie, Bookmundi

I totally agree, Charlie! I love Maps.me. I used this app extensively in Cuba where I had no Internet access whatsoever, and it was amazing.

➤ I suggest every traveler, whether near or far, invest in a VPN service. They’re not terribly expensive and the peace of mind while using public WiFi that your information is safe is worth the small cost. –Annick, The Common Traveler

Yes, yes, yes! This is one of those little things that no one ever thinks about that can totally revolutionize your travel. Have you ever wanted to connect to a public WiFi while traveling but you weren’t sure if it was secure? Using a service like PureVPN takes the worry out of connecting to random WiFi around the world. In addition, if you like to use streaming media while you travel (and who doesn’t anymore?) you might find some of your favorite shows or movies blocked in certain parts of the world. I found that out the hard way when I added a bunch of movies to my Amazon Prime video watch list and couldn’t access any of them in Sri Lanka. With VPN, that’s no longer an issue. And for about $3.00 a month, why wouldn’t you get it?

➤ My best travel tip is to save important travel information online (using Google Drive, for example). When checking out of an apartment in Rome, I was told to leave the keys inside. After locking and closing the door, I realized I’d left my train tickets on the kitchen table. There was a brief moment of terror when I realized what I had done, but I had all the information stored online. With the train, car, and seat numbers, I knew where to go, and I had the reference number saved online also, which was all the conductor needed. Storing the information online saved the day! Pro tip – Google drive will let you save your files for offline use, too. – Donna Wilson, Some Bold Adventure

➤ There are tons of apps that make travel more comfortable. The first app I check while planning a trip is Hopper. It tracks flights, the best time to fly, and finds the perfect deal. Hopper analyzes flights to help you find the best times to fly and buy. Next goes Tripcast. Sharing photos is always a headache, right? Tripcast is an app where you can create trips, invite friends and family to collaborate to the trip album and download all the photos. Isn’t it a great instrument to share photos in high quality without posting pictures to social media? Another sharing tool. This time on how to share expenses. There is an app that lets you split expenses, track bills with friends, called Splitwise.  Splitwise is a free tool available on the web, iPhone, and Android that makes sure that everyone gets paid back. –Maria Pohetina, Call It Adventure

➤ My number one travel tip is Google’s offline maps. Navigating a foreign country is hard—you don’t understand the language, you are trying to see as much as you can within a limited time, you don’t have cell service or an international plan, and struggle to carry around and read physical maps. Thankfully, Google offline maps makes traveling easier no matter where you are in the world. By simply searching for your city or country on google maps, clicking the toggle bar on the left hand side, and selecting offline maps, you are able to instantly download a google map of the area you are traveling in. Whether you have service or not, the GPS will always know your location on the google map and you can search for hotels, restaurants, and POIs all without having to have service. This especially comes in handy when you are driving or walking in areas that don’t have cell service. Google’s Offline Maps helps make sure you get to your destination without wasting time and without getting lost.- Sveva Marcangeli, Founder & Writer, SVADORE


Brilliant Travel Tips for: Staying Healthy

➤ When you’re going for street food, no matter what country you’re in, always go for hot foods from the busiest stalls. This is because places that are really busy will necessarily have fresher food thanks to the high customer turnover, making it much less likely that the food gets contaminated. This rule of thumb goes for both food & drink stalls. Though in the case of drinks made with ice, I’d avoid at all costs anyway since bacteria thrive in water and you don’t know where the ice came from. I know I’ve taken many trips wherein I needed to last on street food for weeks at a time, even when I first moved to South Korea and was munching on everything I could find in Seoul. Feeling confident going for street food helps you connect with new cultures so much faster, and takes a bit of strain off your pocketbook at the same time. – Max Gandy, Dame Cacao

Street Food- 50 brilliant travel tips from expert globetrotters

Photo by Agathe Marty on Unsplash

➤ I used to get sick after every flight.  Now, when flying I always carry a pack of disinfectant wipes (lysol, target, clorox, etc.) and when I board the plane I wipe down the armrests, the tray table, and the seat in front of me (behind the tray table). Since I started this practice ~1 year ago, I have not gotten sick while flying. – Catherine, Traveling with the Littles

You and me both, Catherine! You’d like to think that people on airplanes behave like civilized humans, but I’ve seen everything from bare feet to dirty diapers on those tray tables and there is exactly zero chance I’m going to eat anything off of them without disinfecting them first. I always have a travel pack of disinfectant wipes in my bag to de-germ my space.

➤ I’m frequently traveling because of the nature of my work, I’m always in hotels. I very rarely see this accommodated for, but having a portable water bottle humidifier is perfect for a hotel room. They tend to be smaller so you don’t need a huge one, and they help offset hotel rooms generally being very dry because the AC is always running. – Evan Chen, CEO, Akia

I didn’t know these things even existed until Evan gave me this tip and now I’m thinking back over literally hundreds of trips where I ended up with a sore throat and sinus issues due to the pervasive dry air in hotel rooms and airplanes. I’m picking one of these gadgets up for my next trip!

Pack Pedialyte powder no matter where you travel. I am so grateful that I had it with me during a recent conference when I developed food poisoning.  When you are sick, you may not be able to locate it and do you want to wait? These travel packs are fantastic. Just pour the powder into a bottle of water. –Janice S. Lintz, consumer education/travel writer and a non-practicing attorney.

Mind. Blown. This is another one of those travel tips that makes me sit up straighter in my chair and go, “Why have I never thought of this??” I have been sick in So. Many. Places. around the world and there’s literally never a convenient 7-11 nearby where I can grab a soothing bottle of Gatorade. This idea is literally genius and I’m adding Pedialyte powder to my travel first aid kit forever.

➤ When I travel, my only “must have” are my Psi Bands. They are the only relief I find from motion sickness. I don’t like taking drugs, so these effective acupressure bands are a perfect choice. Bonus: I love the colorful designs. They are also waterproof so I can keep them clean and wear them in the water without waterlogged bands. I always keep a set in my car, too!  –Denise Lucarelli


Brilliant Travel Tips for: Making the Most of Your Trip

➤ At the start of your travels, take a cooking class.  It’s a great way to meet a local, learn the region’s native dishes, and get tips on what and where to eat.  Not only do you have to eat during your trip, making it enjoyable and finding great local spots that serve up tasty dishes will help you learn more about the region and appreciate your travels all the more.  –Jenn Nicken, Founder, The Chef & The Dish

I love this idea! I took a cooking class in Cuba on my tour with Intrepid Travel and it was a great way to experience some real local culture and get to know some of the dishes that kept appearing on restaurant menus. Some good places to look for local cooking classes are Get Your Guide, Airbnb Experiences, and Groupon.

➤ The best travel tip for women travelers is to begin every trip well rested. Plan your departure allowing time to relax prior to leaving. Avoid running around in a last minute flurry of activity. Upon arrival reserve a spa treatment for yourself to unwind after a long haul flight and ease into vacation mode. –Peggy Coonley, President, Serendipity Traveler

I wholeheartedly agree with this advice, Peggy! I’ve been known to book a hotel near my departure airport for the night before my flight so I can relax in a cozy hotel room and then roll out of bed ready to go- no frantic night-before-the-trip panicking at home and no long, stressful drive to the airport in the morning. And I think this advice is just as applicable to male travelers- you guys deserve a nice relaxing spa treatment, too!

➤ Since I frequently travel internationally (and have problems mastering foreign languages), I’ve found the perfect solution in decks of playing cards from LINGO. They’re an innovative way to learn the kind of key phrases in many foreign languages (Spanish, German, French, Italian, Mandarin, Japanese, even British and Aussie slang) to get you through the day. And playing cards is also another way to make new friends! –Barry M. Schwartz, President, Schwartz Public Relations

➤ After visiting 27 states with my dog, my non-obvious travel tip for new travelers is to make sure to build in downtime to your schedule! It is hard, because sometimes you want to do ALL THE COOL THINGS, but vacations are supposed to be relaxing! This goes double for business travel; if you or your company are spending a ton of money for you to go somewhere, it’s no use if you can’t function while you’re there. –Beth Gordon, spacewhippet

This is so important, and such a tough lesson to learn. I mention this in 12 Tips for Traveling with a Chronic Illness, too. If you don’t slow down and take a breather during your travels, sometimes your body will force you to do just that.

➤ Last year I traveled to a new country each month. I would have DIED without Priority Pass. The lounge lifestyle is a must for a frequent traveler. The best part is that if you’re in the airport for a long time you can jump from one lounge to another. Each lounge offers food, drinks, and even showers. Arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and happy! – John Stenstrom, Cast & Spear

Amen to this! And if you follow my tips in Groupon Travel Deals, you can snag that Priority Pass for $7.00 (or even free if you combine deals!)

➤ This is something we do in most cities:  some of the best meals we have had in major European cities have been in department stores.  Don’t hesitate to take a break from shopping or just make a point of visiting the cafeterias and/or restaurants of department stores as they are often a great and inexpensive way to have an authentic meal of local cuisine.  For example, after arriving on an overnight flight from NY to Paris we wandered into Au Printemps to their gorgeous stained glass dome restaurant for a delicious lunch of veal stew, the daily special (and it was only 19 euros!).  It was great food and wonderful people watching as it was primarily filled with shoppers and business people who already know this secret. The same can be said of Amsterdam’s Bijenkorf where you can take your gourmet cafeteria food and sit on a sun-filled roof deck where no one will bother you for hours! –Alise Kreditor, KMC

Let me co-sign this travel tip, Alise! When I’m in London, I love to have lunch at Harrods and people-watch for hours.

➤ -One tip I would give to LGBTQ travelers specifically would be to check out all the resources at GayTravel.com. For more than 20 years, we’ve been a  comprehensive resource for gay travelers, providing info on the best gay-friendly hotels, destinations, tours, and events. We work with travel partners around the world who have shown themselves to be gay-friendly and welcoming to the LGBTQ community and who constantly improve their amenities and service levels for all travelers. We decline advertising from companies and organizations that have shown discriminatory behavior toward any minority community. If travelers are looking for gay-friendly hotels, they can check out our list of options here. We’ve got lots of gay-friendly destinations highlighted in our “Destinations” tab. – Theresa Boehl, Editor, GayTravel.com

➤ When going to a new place, find someone (a tour guide or friend of friend) who is a local.. Have them meet you first thing when arriving to the place you are visiting, at the Paris train station for example. I find a two to three hour introductory tour of how the city works, metros, customs and highlights really helps people feel more comfortable and gives them tips. Myself and guides I work with also are often in contact with the clients before they arrive, offering important tips like which tickets to book in advance and when to go. Now that you know the area and can feel less stressed trying to figure out what to see and how to get there…leave a day unplanned. If you are there for a few days, don’t book every day. Let yourself get lost. Sit and watch people pass in a local café or restaurant. These are some of the best memories people have from trips, not standing in line for the sites that every other tourist wants to see. Be a local for a day and let yourself relax.- Anne Jordan, Aquitaine Travel Guide

I really love this advice, Anne. When I’m traveling, I try to blend in with the locals as much as possible and definitely leave some unstructured time to just wander and people watch and check out the non-touristy parts of town.

Travel money cards are debit cards which you can use at any ATM across the world – the great thing about travel money cards is that they can be loaded using an app, so you don’t need to store any money on the card and you can load it up only when you want to withdraw cash. This means even if you lose the card, you have nothing to worry about. Most travel money cards can be used around the world which is extra useful – a few years ago I was in Morocco (I took a day trip from Gibraltar) and I suddenly realized that they used a different currency and I needed some dirham pretty quickly, so I just loaded up my travel money card using my app and I was absolutely fine! –Max Robinson, WeSwap Euros

➤ The best travel tip I have ever received and live by is to pack your sense of humor and sense of adventure. No trip goes perfectly as planned and if you can hang onto your sense of humor you will have great stories to tell when you return and you will have much less stress on the trip. Be adventuresome and try new things. Put on a vacation persona and step out of your comfort zone. Do the zip line. Eat at the restaurant where all the locals are lined up outside. Venture off the Interstate and take the back roads. When I was in Chile traveling with my best friend and her 18 month old baby, we dropped her husband off to go fishing and we went to explore on our own. We took a wrong turn and ended up on this tiny dirt road heading into the forest with no way to turn around. All of the sudden the road turned into this canopy of Fuchsia bushes surrounding our dirt road with beautiful red, white and purple flowers. It was as if we drove into a magical forest. As we drove through this wonder it led us to a hunting and fishing lodge where we were able to get directions and turn around. It was the most magical moment of our trip. We still laugh and delight at unplanned moment. It could have been scary and stressful to be lost in the forest in a foreign country but we took it as an adventure. Pack your spirit of adventure and your sense of humor.- Anna Ransom, Travel Agent, Destination Yours Travel, Small Group Learning and Chile and South America Travel Specialist

Love, love, love this story. It reminds me of some of my own magical travel moments I wrote about for Intrepid Travel: Why the Magic of Travel is in the Unexpected Moments.

What’s your best travel tip? Share it with me in the comments!

★ If you’re looking for more expert travel tips, check out Luxury Travel Savings You Won’t Believe and World Travel Trends 2019.

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Cover photo credit: Travel photo created by jannoon028 – www.freepik.com

FREE Travel Checklist Set: 10 Awesome Printables You Need

You like free stuff, right? Of course you do. People always ask me how I manage to stay organized when I travel as much as I do. Over the last 12+ years I’ve been traveling constantly, usually solo and sometimes full time without a home base, while checking off over 100 items from my massive bucket list. My answer? Lists. Lists for EVERYTHING. I’ve learned what I’m most likely to forget if it’s not written down and I’ve put everything together on this travel checklist set that I use myself. Sharing is caring, so I thought I would publish them for anyone who needs to get a little more organized.

Top tip: Get a nice durable document folder and some page protectors to keep all of your printable travel checklist set neat and organized. You can put the whole folder in your carry-on bag and it makes a nice place to collect any other important paper you pick up on your trip: receipts, ticket stubs, etc.

Woman relaxing in a pool because she used this travel checklist set to organize her trip
This is how relaxed you’re going to be on your trip after using all of these cool printables & tips to get yourself organized.

My Adventure Bucket uses affiliate links in some posts. I only share products I trust and believe in. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission when you click through these links and make a purchase. I appreciate your support!

Not ready to start packing yet because you’re still trying to figure out how to afford your dream trip? Check out my ultimate resource guide for making travel extremely cheap or even free!

Travel Checklist: Packing Lists

Probably the first type of travel checklist that comes to mind is the packing list. What can ruin a trip faster than realizing you forgot something really important at home? True story, I once went to France and forgot to pack pants.

via GIPHY

Anyway, packing lists are important if you don’t want to end up desperately trying to find a cheap pair of pants in a Paris boutique two hours before an important dinner.

Some of the things on the list are obvious (like pants, for example) and some are not, but they’re things I’ve found helpful over the years. Also, I’ve divided the list into two parts because there are things you’re going to want to keep in your carry-on that should not go in your checked bag. If you’re traveling with only a carry-on, the carry-on packing list will be things to keep in your purse or personal item so you have them close at hand.

A few more packing tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years:

  • Pick a color scheme and stick with it- everything you bring will coordinate with everything else and you can mix and match everything, therefore bringing less stuff.
  • Not sure what color scheme to go with? Choose your most wrinkle-resistant garments and build from there.
  • Will you have laundry facilities available where you’re going? Many Airbnbs and hotels have washers and dryers. If so, and you’ll have time to do a load of laundry in the middle of your trip, you can get away with only bringing half as much stuff. Even if there’s no laundry facilities, you can always wash things in your hotel room sink and hang them up to dry. A travel clothesline and a packet of laundry powder will take up very little room in your bag, especially if bringing them means you only need half the clothes you were going to pack.

Check out the Airbnb listings for your destination and see how inexpensive it can be to rent a place with a washer and dryer– and take up to $55 off your next trip with this link!

  • Pack your oldest, rattiest underwear, socks, undershirts and toss them as you go instead of bringing them home to wash. You’ll free up space and not have to cart around a bag full of dirty underwear all week.
  • Use packing cubes! No more jumbled mess in your suitcase. Seriously, they’ll completely revolutionize the way you pack.
  • Roll lightweight fabrics, fold heavy jeans and sweaters. If you have to pack something that’s prone to wrinkling, turn it inside out first to minimize the wrinkles.
  • If you’ll be arriving late, consider packing one cube with everything you’ll need for the first night- sleepwear, makeup remover wipes, toothbrush & toothpaste, etc- so you can just grab that cube and be ready to collapse ASAP.
  • Bathing suits & cover ups- I like to take at least two swimsuits if I’m going to a beach/pool destination. They don’t always dry completely overnight, especially in humid locations, and this way you can alternate and let them dry between beach days.
  • If they do end up getting funky, that’s where the spray bottle of rubbing alcohol and the dryer sheets come in.
  • If you’re bringing multiple pairs of shoes, toss a few shower caps into your bag to use as shoe covers so you don’t get dirt all over everything else.
  • Throw in a few Ziploc bags. They don’t weigh anything and can come in handy for transporting wet bathing suits, messy toiletry cases after a spill, leftover food, etc.
  • Birth control & menstrual hygiene products- depending on where you’re traveling, you may not be able to get the stuff you’re used to. Better to bring enough of what you need.
  • Panty liners are a godsend for women traveling in super humid countries or on very long flights or train/bus rides where you’ll be festering in the same sweaty clothes for way too long.
  • Stuff a handful of dryer sheets into all the nooks and crannies inside your bag to help de-funkify your stuff so you don’t smell like a dirty suitcase all week.
  • A small spray bottle of rubbing alcohol is a tiny miracle worker when you travel. Alcohol kills germs, especially smelly ones. Spray it on your sweaty shoes or sandals after a day of hiking or on a bathing suit that didn’t quite dry all the way before you repacked it and now it reeks of mildew.
  • A small first aid kit. You might be tempted to leave this out to save space, but trust me on this- you’re going to want it at least once. Your new hiking boots are going to give you blisters or you’re going to get traveler’s diarrhea or a killer headache from too many fruity umbrella drinks in the sun. You might assume you’ll be able to find whatever you need wherever you go, but my experience has shown me otherwise. If I added up all the time I’ve spent in foreign countries, wandering around while sick and trying to find the medicine I needed, I could take another trip.
  • Throw some Pedialyte Powder into your kit- you’ll thank me if you get a case of traveler’s diarrhea or food poisoning.
  • If you paint your nails and think you might need to remove or redo your polish during your trip, make a travel nail polish remover kit by shoving some cotton balls in an old medicine bottle and then filling it with polish remover.
  • Cosmetics, if you wear them- try to save space by putting liquid makeup like foundation into a smaller container (think a contact lens case or a tiny screw top jar they give you for samples at high end skincare boutiques) and cushion your pressed powder makeup by putting a flattened cotton ball or cotton pad inside the case so it doesn’t break while being jostled around in your bag. Don’t forget the makeup remover! I like to use makeup remover wipes when I travel because there’s no chance of a bottle leaking all over my stuff.
  • Travel towels are not just for hostel-dwelling backpackers. I always pack one because they’ve come in handy in so many places that I didn’t expect. In Cuba, where I decided to take an impromptu swim under a waterfall during a hike, and in Sri Lanka, where my guesthouse owners decided I was a witch and refused to come in to bring me towels or clean my room. (My life is weird.)
  • Hanging toiletry bag– perfect to hang on the back of the bathroom door at the hotel & you won’t forget anything when you leave if you keep everything in it.
  • Baby wipes. Traveling somewhere hot? Pop them into your hotel room mini fridge when you arrive so they’ll be nice and chilled when you return from sightseeing and need to wipe off your sweaty face. Keep some in your day pack while out adventuring in case nature calls in an inconvenient spot or you find yourself in a public bathroom with no toilet paper. Also handy for cleaning up after impromptu picnics.
  • Travel picnic utensil set– if you plan to get a lot of takeout or have a lot of picnics, you can’t always find silverware on the road. I broke down and bought one of these after trying to eat an UberEats lasagna with my hands when they forgot to include silverware and the hotel didn’t have a single fork anywhere on the premises. Good times.
  • Fold up tote bag– don’t take more plastic bags than you need when shopping (and some places don’t offer plastic bags at all).
  • Binoculars– for scenery, checking out cool frescoes in ancient buildings, etc
  • Blank spaces for destination-specific items. I think it’s always a good idea to look at a few destination-specific packing lists (like my Ultimate Sri Lanka packing list)before you travel if you’re going somewhere new- add anything you wouldn’t usually take on these lines. Think cold weather gear, special equipment for athletic endeavors, camping equipment, etc.
Luggage on luggage trolley travel checklist set
Who packed all this? This is too much stuff. Put some of this back.

Things You Probably DON’T Need to Pack:

  • Travel alarm clock (use your phone).
  • Heavy guidebooks (use your phone or Kindle). This is a tough guideline for me to follow because I love having physical guidebooks with me, but I’m working on it!
  • Huge bottles of shampoo, conditioner, etc (get travel sizes or pour into travel containers).
  • Flashlight unless you’re going camping (use the one on your phone). If you’re staying somewhere that you’ll have to leave your cabin at night to head to a communal bathroom, consider a small headlamp.
  • GPS (use your phone).
  • Valuable jewelry (there are so many nice-looking fakes available, why risk leaving Grandma’s engagement ring in your suitcase while you’re at the beach?).

➤ General Packing List

Download your copy of the packing list here:

➤ Carry-On Packing List

If you want to make sure you stay organized throughout your trip, consider laminating this list or putting it in a page protector to keep it in your carry-on for re-packing. A few notes:

  • Lysol wipes: The first thing I do when I get on a plane is to wipe down my seat and tray table. I’m not a germaphobe, but y’all- planes are *gross*. Especially those tray tables. Food and drink spills when there’s turbulence, people put their feet on them, people change baby diapers on them… I’m going to clean mine before I put my wine and pretzels on it.
  • Wrap, pashmina, or scarf: In addition to being gross, planes are also cold. And if you’re in economy, the blankets suck (if you even get a blanket). I have a big black pashmina that I use as a blanket on planes and it also doubles as a nice elegant wrap and a cover-up if I visit any temples and need to wear something over my shoulders.
  • Prescription medications: never ever put these in your checked luggage- if your bag gets lost, it’ll be a catastrophe.
  • Motion sickness medication: Dramamine Ginger changed my life, no joke whatsoever. I used to get so sick while flying that I had to travel with a completely empty stomach. I couldn’t eat before a flight, I couldn’t eat on the plane, and I couldn’t eat for half a day after I landed because I was so queasy. That becomes a really dicey situation when you’re taking a 36 hour flight to Timbuktu. I could never take regular Dramamine because it knocked me out cold and I’m not willing to be that vulnerable while I’m traveling solo, you know? But this stuff is amazing- it’s just pure ginger, so no sleepy side effects, and it knocks out my travel sickness completely so I can eat before a flight, I can eat on the plane- I can just be a normal person without yarking my guts out in public, which is nice.
  • Baby wipes and panty liners– I don’t travel on long flights without either one. It’s not uncommon for me to spend 24-36 hours getting to some exotic destination without being able to take a shower. Travel makes you feel gross, so you may as well plan for it.
  • One change of clothes: even if you’re checking a bag, make sure you have one lightweight change of clothes in your carry-on in case of lost or delayed luggage. One time I spent 30+ hours getting to Uganda and the only thing I could think of when I landed was taking a hot shower and getting out of my nasty clothes. Unfortunately, my suitcase decided to go to Kenya without me and I was stuck without anything clean to change into, or even a way to take my dry, nasty contact lenses out.
  • On that note, if you wear contacts, keep your glasses, contact case & solution in your carry-on, too.
  • An empty water bottle: You can’t bring a full one through security and buying water in the airport will cost about as much as a Ryanair flight. Flight attendants will give you teeny plastic cups of water, but they won’t go very far to combat the dryness in the cabin. They also can’t be shoved into the mesh pocket while you use your tray table for writing or your laptop. And you’ll want a water bottle while you’re out adventuring at your destination anyway.
  • Warm fluffy socks: I like to kick off my shoes while I’m on a long flight, but since I’m usually wearing sandals that would mean I’m going to be barefoot on the plane. Oh no. I always stick a pair of warm fluffy socks in my bag so I can be comfortable.
  • Guidebook- if you must. But you’ll save a lot of room if you put it on your phone or Kindle instead. As a bonus, you won’t stand out as a tourist quite as much if you take a quick peek at your Lonely Planet on your phone in public as opposed to yanking a big paper guidebook out of your bag. I like to take screen shots of the relevant pages I’ll need while I’m out adventuring that day and then just refer to them on my phone while I’m out and about.
  • House & car keys- definitely don’t check these! If your luggage gets lost, you’ll be in a bind. When I travel, I take off any extra keys and keychains on the ring to cut down on the extra weight and then just tuck my house and car keys into an inner pocket of my carry-on.

Download your printable copy of the carry-on packing list here:

➤ Hotel Room Re-Packing List

Raise your hand if you’ve ever checked out of a hotel and left something important behind.

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I literally used to buy phone chargers in bulk and travel with three or four at a time because I knew I was guaranteed to forget one somewhere. I eventually started to leave myself love notes stuck to the back of the door: “Don’t forget your *^$^%%$ charger, Dumbass” and that evolved into this hotel-room repacking list.

The last straw was when I checked out of a hotel and forgot a 6 pack of expensive craft beer in the mini fridge. Still kind of salty about that, to be honest.

Save yourself- print this hotel room re-packing checklist, laminate it or put it in a page protector, and keep it in your carry on at all times.

Travel Checklist: Flight, Hotel, and Rental Car Information

Pretty self-explanatory, right? I know you’ve got all of this information in multiple different email confirmations, but I like to have everything in one place. I also like to have important confirmation details in paper because you never know when your electronics are going to fail you.

Travel Checklist: Itineraries

Where are my super organized travelers at??

I made my first Day Planner when I was five, so you might say I’m a little bit planning obsessed.

For me, planning is at least half the fun of travel. The rush I get from creating the perfect itinerary is *almost* as good as actually getting to my destination to see it all- but with no jet lag.

To that end, I’ve created these two printable itineraries, one overview and one for daily planning.

➤ Overview

I like the overview itinerary for seeing the whole trip at a glance and jotting notes about what I want to schedule each day. If I’ve got a tour booked or a dinner or spa reservation, those things get jotted down on the appropriate day so I can build the rest of my itinerary around them.

Download your travel itinerary here:

➤ Daily Schedule

I know not everyone is going to plan out every single day of their trip the way I do, and that’s totally cool. But for my super planners who want to make sure they know ahead of time what they’re going to be doing and where they’re going to be eating every day, this daily schedule will keep you on track. I especially like the place to make note of what you need to bring with you that day. Jet lag can make you forgetful, so jot down any tickets, confirmations, special clothing or equipment, etc., that you need to carry with you for that day’s adventuring.

Download your printable daily schedule here:

Travel Checklist: List of Attractions

I get it, not everyone wants to plan things down to the minute like I do, but if you don’t want to risk missing out on some of your top attractions on your trip, you should at least make a list of what you want to see and take note of the operating hours.

Tourist with Camera Travel Checklist Set

How awful would it be to miss out on something you really want to see because you didn’t realize it would be closed on the day you planned to visit? Many museums and restaurants close on Mondays and events like the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace don’t happen every day year round. If you’ve at least made a list of the days and times you can see everything you want, you can go off and be spontaneous and still well-informed.

Download your attractions list here:

Travel Checklist: Emergency Contacts

Yes, I still think this is necessary in the age of everyone having smartphones! I know you’ve got every phone number you need stored in your phone, but what if you lose it or it gets stolen or you forget your charger in the hotel room because you didn’t use my hotel room re-packing list and the battery dies?

Hopefully you never find yourself in any kind of emergency situation while traveling, but if you do, you’ll be happy to have all of the relevant emergency numbers you need close at hand.

Download the emergency contact sheet here:

Travel Checklist: Pre-Trip Checklist

Have you ever left on a trip and then realized there was something really important you forgot to do? Or worse, had a trip ruined because you didn’t do something important far enough in advance of your travel? I think we’ve all been there- I’ve definitely been in some random foreign country when I suddenly stopped and realized I hadn’t had my mail held so it was probably piling up in the mailbox outside my front door.

You, however, are going to be a travel genius and use this pre-trip checklist so that definitely won’t happen to you.

Download the pre-trip checklist here:

Travel Checklist: Souvenir List

Can I bring you anything back from my trip??

You know you ask people every time you travel and if your friends are as, um, unique as mine, they frequently have special requests. (A goat skull, Jesse? Really?) I actually love to bring special gifts back for people when I travel, but sometimes I do so much shopping I actually forget what I’ve picked up for people and what I still need to find. I made this list so I can stop tearing apart my suitcase at 2 a.m. and unwrapping Buddha statues and carved wooden elephants on my hotel bed while trying to figure out what I’m missing.

Also if you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy researching the best souvenirs from a destination before you go and this will help you remember what to look for while you’re prowling the local markets.

Matryoshka Russian nesting dolls souvenirs travel checklist set

Don’t forget a thank-you gift for your house sitter/pet sitter/plant sitter and any co-workers who you know have been working extra hard to pick up the slack during your absence.

Download the souvenir list here:

So there you go- my free travel checklist set of 10 printables you definitely need to organize your next trip!

What do you think? Did I miss anything important that you think should be on one of the lists? How about a great packing tip I haven’t included? Let me know in the comments so I can keep this resource updated.

Note: to create the printable travel checklists on this page, I used graphics from Freepic. Watercolor vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

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Expert Advice: The Most Amazing Sri Lanka Travel Tips Ever

First things first- where do I get off calling these the most amazing Sri Lanka travel tips EVER?

I’ve been telling you guys my own personal Sri Lanka travel tips for ages (and I think they’re pretty good! I mean, I did spend three months exploring the island from top to bottom, after all.)

Disclosure: My Adventure Bucket uses affiliate links in some posts. I only share products I trust and believe in. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission when you click through these links and make a purchase. I appreciate your support!

But just in case you want more than my humble opinion, I went out and picked the brains of some super awesome travel experts and got their best Sri Lanka travel tips to share with you.

Spoiler alert: Sri Lanka is amazing and you’re going to want to pack your bags and go as soon as you finish reading this.

But first, on to the expert advice!

Sri Lanka Travel Tips from: Anwesha Guha, Going Places with Anwesha

Anwesha is a travel blogger living in my very favorite Indian city, Bangalore. (So jealous, Anwesha!) Here’s what she has to say about travel in Sri Lanka:

“Once you are in Sri Lanka, you should head out to the Southern coastal towns of Koggala, Kathaluwa and Ahangama to view an interesting fishing technique called Stilt Fishing. Stilt fishing became popular around the time of World War II primarily due to food shortages and overcrowded fishing spots. Fishermen sit on a cross bar called a petta tied to a vertical pole set into the sand a little away from the shores.

Sitting on a precarious position helps the fishermen to bring in a decent catch of spotted herrings and small mackerels from the shallow waters of the sea or the river. They collect the catch in a bag tied to their waist or to the lower part of the pole. Although the practice looks easy and comfortable, it requires much skill and balance.

The tsunami that devastated much of the Indian Ocean coastline forever in 2004 altered the Sri Lankan shoreline and reduced access to fishes using this technique. By each passing day, the catches are dwindling for these fishermen making this practice hard to survive for long other than as a tourist attraction.”

Check out her 7 day Sri Lanka travel itinerary for more great tips.

Sri Lanka travel tips stilt fishermen
Photo by Anwesha Guha, Going Places with Anwesha

Sri Lanka Travel Tips from: Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, The Healthy Voyager

Carolyn, AKA The Healthy Voyager, is a TV host and media personality, healthy/adventure/luxury/sustainable travel expert,  holistic nutritionist, plant based foods chef, and best-selling cookbook author. So basically I think she’s an expert in everything. Here’s her Sri Lanka can’t-miss top five:

  • Sigiriya – the Lion Rock
  • Passikudah Beach – not touristy, yet
  • Kandy – Last royal city with an incredible temple
  • Hatton – Beautiful tea country
  • Polonnaruwa  – Ancient city ruins

For the record, I agree with all of her choices! If you’re heading to Kandy, make sure you check out Highlights of Kandy before you go!

Also, if one of the reasons you love traveling so much is because you love sampling cuisine from around the world, check out Carolyn’s cookbook of plant-based recipes from around the world.

Sri Lanka Travel Tips from: Alina, The Happy Kid

Alina and her husband are traveling the world with their young son, on a mission to make sure he has a happy (and well traveled!) childhood. How cool is that? Also, Alina, please adopt me.

Here’s what Alina has to say about travel in Sri Lanka:

“You can’t visit Sri Lanka without taking a safari in a national park.  There’s plenty of options to choose from, as the island hosts 26 national parks, which represent more than 8% of its total surface. One of the best places to see elephants in Sri Lanka is Udawalawe  National Park. Just 165 km away from Colombo, this is the third most  visited park in the country. Around 250 Sri Lankan elephants permanently live in the area, attracted by the Udawalawe reservoir.  

Since the park is quite small, it is almost a guarantee to see the large mammals during a safari here. The best option is to spend the night in the area and go in the park early morning. You will avoid the heat and see the animals during their most active time frame. Apart from the elephants, the park hosts several other mammal and birds endemic to Sri Lanka.”

Check out The Happy Kid for more tips, especially if you’re traveling with children.

Sri Lanka travel tips elephants
Photo by Alina, The Happy Kid

Sri Lanka Travel Tips from: Julie Leventhal, Director of Public Relations, JG Black Book

JG Black Book is a curated portfolio of the world’s most inspired travel experiences. Julie sent me this great suggestion from the team of travel experts at PELORUS for secluded surfing in Sri Lanka:

“A lesser known surf destination, Sri Lanka is an excellent destination for surfers wanting to catch a wave and improve their skills. Experiential travel specialist, PELORUS, creates a custom week-long itinerary and connects you with an expert surf partner who will take you to the most secret and secluded spots to implement an intense personalized coaching program.

During your trip, which consists of at least five days of surfing, you’ll focus on individual skills and work on developing all facets of your technique. You will also experience a helicopter flight to Udawalawe National Park, home to over 500 elephants; a dinner within the grand fort walls in Galle, taking part in turtle conservation and tracking blue whales on a speed boat from Mirissa. This itinerary is aimed at intermediate to advanced surfers.”

Sri Lanka Travel Tips from: Lotte Eschbach, Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog

Lotte is the creator of Phenomenal Globe, and I absolutely love her Sri Lanka travel tip:

“The one thing in Sri Lanka everybody must do is rent a scooter in Jaffna and explore the beautiful islands Velanai and Karainagar. They are connected by bridges and ferries. You will pass through now sleepy villages still bearing the scars of the civil war.”

I couldn’t agree more. Hardly anyone makes it as far north as Jaffna and they’re really missing out. I spent weeks in Jaffna and never saw another Western tourist at all.

Jaffna islands northern Sri Lanka
Photo by Lotte, Phenomenal Globe

If you’re keen to read more about Jaffna and the undiscovered north, check out this article I wrote for Intrepid Travel: Why Northern Sri Lanka Should Be on Your Travel Radar

Sri Lanka Travel Tips from: Ellis Veen, Backpack Adventures

Ellis is a cultural anthropologist and travel blogger from the Netherlands who has visited over 50 countries in the last 20 years. Here’s why she thinks you really need to go cycling in Polonnaruwa while you’re in Sri Lanka:

“Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle is full of history and the main reason why every traveller in Sri Lanka must visit this beautiful area. One of the highlights of Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle is the ancient city of Polonnaruwa where ancient buddhist statues are scattered throughout tick forests and jungle teeming with wildlife. The ruins continue even in the middle of the current town.

Because of the distances between the ancient statues and temples they are best explored on a bicycle. The main section lies in the forest where it is easy to spot monkeys, deers and squirrels as well. It’s an interesting combination of historical sightseeing with wildlife spotting. The place is full of ruins and some of the statues are very impressive.

More statues can be found in the village itself where you will have a change of scenery. It’s a pleasure to cycle around Polonnaruwa with its scenic rice paddies. It provides an insight into the history of Sri Lanka and today’s daily life in the countryside. Therefore it is among the top things to do in Sri Lanka.”

Sri Lanka travel tips for cultural triangle
Photo by Ellis Veen, Backpack Adventures

Check out her excellent article on backpacking Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle here.

Sri Lanka Travel Tips from: Matt, Founder, Hostelgeeks

Not your average booking site, Hostelgeeks is an independent travel brand awarding 5 Star Hostels. Here’s what Matt had to say about traveling in Sri Lanka:

“I spent 4 weeks in Sri Lanka. My best experience off the beaten path was diving with huge turtles near Nilaveli and Trincomalee. There’s several dive schools, and I went only with 2 more divers. We saw many very big turtles, corrals and more. Amazing experience.”

Check out Matt’s guide to the best hostels in Sri Lanka here.

Sri Lanka Travel Tips from: STA Travel

STA Travel is the world’s largest student and youth travel company, successfully enabling young adults to explore the world since 1979 by creating experiences filled with adventure, discovery and personal growth.

Here’s what two of STA Travel’s experts had to say about Sri Lanka:

“Sri Lanka was an experience all on its own. From the stunning waters to the sun-soaked smiles of its people, it captivates its adventurer. My most memorable experience was taking the train through the Kaudulla National Park. I hung on to the open doorway as I watched this enriched countryside pass around me. I was also lucky enough to visit the Temple of Tooth, with its gilded walls and ornate frescos. It situated in the center of Kandy next to a lake and houses a sacred tooth relic. There something so peaceful with wandering through the halls and watching men and woman silently praying to their god.”

-Amanda Leyvas, Groups Travel Expert

“Finding a cold beer while visiting Sigiriya Rock can be a challenge, but if you find the right local they will provide loose directions to what can only be described as a prison-yard bottle shop. An iron barred counter secures the server safely from the patron at this local boozer, to which workers flock in the late afternoon when the day is done. It took two hours of riding scooters down random, unmarked roads to unearth its location but the crisp cold refreshment of that first sip, shared with good local people, made the adventure all the worthwhile!”

-Max Markey, Land Product Manager

Oh, Max. I, too, can relate to the pleasure of that first sip of an ice cold Lion Beer after an arduous search in the Sri Lankan sun. It really is a treat.

9 arch bridge
Photo by STA Travel

Sri Lanka Travel Tips from: Varini de Silva, Owner & Operator, Ceylon Express International

Ceylon Express International is a tour company that specializes in the Asia-Pacific region and Sri Lanka in particular. Here’s what Varini had to say about visiting Sri Lanka:

“Sri Lanka is a small universe endowed with a myriad variations of history, culture, nature, wild life and climate as compared to some of the much larger countries in the world. My favorite place to visit is Sigiriya Rock Fortress, to view the sunset!  Sigiriya dates back to the 5th Century AD and it is a 600 foot monolith. It was the vision of a patricidal king name Kasyapa who built his palace on the top of the rock so he could observe advancing enemies. I start the climb in the late afternoon, to view the frescoes of celestial maidens which are located about half way up.

These frescoes are similar to the paintings found in the Ajanta caves in India.  The colors are still vibrant as natural vegetable paint was used to create these ethereal figures.

Then proceed to climb the many steps to the summit accompanied by the curious monkeys that inhabit the rock fortress. Do not engage the monkeys as they are fierce and bold.  Reach the top in time for the sunset that comes up like a ball of fire over the horizon and observe the setting sun as it fades away leaving a glow of orange in the sky…………… An experience of a life time!”

Sri Lanka Travel Tips from: Maya and Sari, Chasing Lenscapes

Chasing Lenscapes is a blog/travel magazine collaboration between two globetrotting sisters with a passion for local culture and photography.

Maya and Sari think that Sri Lanka’s tea plantations are the number one thing you need to add to your itinerary:

“Sri Lanka has so much to offer from history and culture to gorgeous landscapes and wild animals but if you want our advice, then Sri Lanka’s tea plantations should be your number one item on your bucket list. Tea was first brought to Sri Lanka by James Tailor, a  British citizen. Who knew that this would have such a great influence on the local culture and contribute considerably to the local economy, turning this little island to one of the biggest tea producers and exporters in the world.

When we visited Nuwara Eliya we were mesmerized by the endless rows of  tea plantations in the area. Rows and Rows of leafy bushes and endless hues of greens. Hiking through the fields, we got to interact with the local tea pickers and learned more about their daily routines and then  we visited a local tea factory where we learned more about the process of producing tea. We also gained a new appreciation for the hard work that is involved in producing one little tea bag. It was one of our favorite parts of our trip since we love nature and culture, and a visit to Sri Lanka’s tea plantations combines them both, so don’t forget to add it to your itinerary!”

Tamil tea plantation worker
Photo by Chasing Lenscapes

Need some more gorgeous photo inspiration? Check out this Chasing Lenscapes article and then immediately put Sri Lanka on your bucket list if it’s not there already.

Sri Lanka Travel Tips from: Kindle and Kompass

Kindle and Kompass is a travel and literary blog with a heavy emphasis on Asian travel. Here’s what they recommend for your Sri Lanka trip:

“If Sigiriya, Dambulla and Kandy reflects the beauty of culture and religion in Srilanka, the Yala National Park is a treasure trove for nature lovers.

Yala is the go-to place for Leopard spotting. The national park is divided in 5 zones and zone 1 is populated with around 25 leopards. This is the most explored and the dense jungles end in pristine beaches.

The zone 1 was devastated during the 2004 Tsunami and killed over a few 100 animals and park staff. However, it is now recovered and fully functional with tourists activities round the year. Yala national park is diversified with a vast spread of  dense forest,  thorny bushes, grasslands, wet marshlands , water-bodies, sandy beaches, rocky mountains. Apart from leopards, deer and elephants, herons, pelicans, ibises and vultures make up the living creatures in the park. Precisely, a bird -watcher’s paradise.

Book your safari through trusted operators. Most of the resorts offer Safari tours.  A 4-wheel drive vehicle with good ground clearance is a must for entering the national park. Entrance tickets are to be purchased at the counter and the earlier you reach the park, the earlier you enter. Advisable time to reach the park is 5 in the morning. Visitors are not permitted to walk. However, a few sections of the Yala national park beach are safe to explore by walk. Carry your packed breakfast as the safari will extend from 4-6 hours and carry ample amount of water to keep yourself hydrated. Get your binoculars and those zoom lenses to capture the once-in-a lifetime moment. The best seasons to visit are from February- August. June-August are the dry months and more chances to spot the elusive beast.”

Photo by Kindle and Kompass

Check out their guide for planning your trip to Sri Lanka here!

My Own Tips

My own Sri Lanka travel tips could fill an entire guidebook, but if you read nothing else, keep these top tips in mind:

  • Get off the well-trodden tourist circuit for at least a day or two. It’s a pretty small island but most tourists only see a tiny percentage of it while going where all the other tourists go.
  • Take the monsoon seasons into account when planning your trip. Sri Lanka conveniently has two monsoon seasons, so when it’s stormy on the south coast, the north is sunny and dry, and vice versa.
  • Ride the trains, they’re magical. Hang out the open doors with the wind in your hair at least once.
  • If you happen to stumble upon a local celebration like the monthly poya full moon day, join in. Sri Lankans love sharing their culture with respectful visitors.

For more of my very best Sri Lanka travel tips, check out 60+ Things to Eat, See, and Do in Sri Lanka.

Additional Reading

Sri Lanka is one of the most affordable travel destinations I’ve ever visited. To prove it, I put together this list of over 200 things you can buy/see/experience in the country for under $5 US. Over half of them are completely free!

Looking for luxury without breaking the bank? Check out this two week Sri Lanka itinerary that shows you how to replicate a $10,000 luxury trip for $2,200.

Do you know why you need to bring rubbing alcohol, dryer sheets, and safety pins to Sri Lanka? Don’t pack your bags until you read my Ultimate Sri Lanka Packing List for the lowdown on all the things you won’t think to bring with you but you’ll wish you had.

Think 30 days won’t be enough time to enjoy Sri Lanka? (You’re totally right.) You can extend your Sri Lanka tourist visa up to 90 days, but there are a few hoops to jump through. Check out my step-by-step guide here to make it smooth sailing.

Don’t Forget

Sri Lankans are some of the nicest people you’ll meet anywhere in the world and most of them will never correct you if you inadvertently say or do something offensive. Read up on my list of what NOT to do in Sri Lanka before you go so you can have an amazing trip without horrifying the locals.

Do you have your own Sri Lanka travel tips to share? Let me know in the comments!

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GIVEAWAY- The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World

You Adventurers know I would give you the world if I could, right?

I mean, why else would I spend so much time encouraging you to travel and showing you how you can do it as cheaply as possible?

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Disclosure: My Adventure Bucket uses affiliate links in some posts. I only share products I trust and believe in. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission when you click through these links and make a purchase. I appreciate your support!

But just in case I haven’t convinced you yet that there is beauty and wonder and magic in every corner of the world, I’m giving away a paperback copy of one of the most gorgeous travel books I’ve read recently: The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World by Lonely Planet.

Yes, every country. Yes, even that one. If you don’t already believe that there’s something (usually a bazillion somethings, actually) worth seeing in every single country in the world, I think you will by the time you finish this book.

Go check it out at Amazon before you enter and see how awesome it is!

Note: this giveaway is only open to US residents. Sorry, friends in other parts of the world! I’ll try to have a worldwide giveaway soon. But in the meantime, if you have an American friend who has a serious case of wanderlust, please send this giveaway their way!

Can’t wait until the giveaway is over to see if you win? Right now you can read a digital copy for FREE with your Kindle Unlimited Subscription. If you don’t have Kindle Unlimited yet, your first month is free, too!

There’s 10 ways to enter and you can come back every day for bonus entries so don’t forget to bookmark this page!

The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World giveaway

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Now that you’ve entered and told all of your friends (you DID tell all of your friends, right?) don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list below so you can be notified of all future giveaways, travel hacks, and destination guides.

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60+ (Super Amazing) Practical Gifts for Travelers

Are you shopping for a traveler in your life? You might have noticed that there are about a billion guides out there already, so why did I feel the need to add another one? Well, as much as I love flamingo-print passport covers and scratch-off world map posters, I also feel like the best gift for a frequent traveler is one that will actually help them travel more and make the most of their trips. To that end, I put together this list of 60+ (super amazing!) practical gifts for travelers.

Looking for the best way to give gifts that don’t end up stuffed in the back of the recipient’s closet? Check out They Don’t Need More Stuff- Give Adventure Instead

Before you start shopping for your practical gifts for travelers, make sure you’ve got your MyPoints and Swagbucks browser extensions installed so you can get coupon codes and earn points and cash back everywhere you make purchases!

Practical Gifts for Trip Planning

Disclosure: My Adventure Bucket uses affiliate links in some posts. I only share products I trust and believe in. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission when you click through these links and make a purchase. I appreciate your support!

Cover Photo credit: Background photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Most people who love to travel would travel even more if their budget allowed, right? With that in mind, I think some of the best and most practical gifts for travelers are those that help them get on the way to their next trip.

CheapOair Gift Card– most of the time, the flight is the most expensive part of the trip. A gift card to go toward booking their airfare is sure to be appreciated by your favorite frequent flyer.

Southwest Airlines gift cardSouthwest doesn’t do third party booking like most airlines, so if your gift recipient is a Southwest fan, you’ll want to get them a Southwest gift card to use toward their next flight.

Frequent flyer milesIf you know your recipient earns points on a particular airline, a gift of frequent flyer miles would be a godsend for helping them book or upgrade their next flight.

Hotels.com Gift CardAfter flights, accommodations are usually the second most expensive part of a trip. I love Hotels.com because they give you a free night for every 10 you book through them and you’re not limited to just one hotel chain. I’ve gotten some really good deals through them!

Airbnb gift cardsSome people prefer Airbnb to hotels, so an Airbnb gift card might be an even better option. They’re really flexible, also, as they can be used to book Airbnb Experiences in the place your traveler is visiting.

Groupon Gift CardLike I mentioned in Groupon Travel Deals- 20+ Ways to Book Your Next Vacation for Next to Nothing, Groupon offers some of the best travel secrets on the planet, like 10 day trips to China with airfare and hotels for $549 and Vegas hotel suites for $32/night. If your gift recipient loves to score travel deals, they’ll love a Groupon gift card to get them a step closer to that crazy good vacation deal.

Scott’s Cheap Flights Premium subscriptionI’ve tried every free and paid deal alert service out there, and Scott’s stands head and shoulders above the rest. At $39/year, the Premium subscription is worth its weight in gold because it offers more deals faster and with the ability to filter by airport. I used a Scott’s deal to book a round trip flight from the US to Australia for $525, so suffice to say I’ll never be without my Scott’s Premium subscription.

Eurail Pass, Amtrak gift card, or Viarail gift cardIf you know your recipient is planning to get around Europe, the US, or Canada by train, a pass or gift card is a great way to help them with their trip.

Practical Gifts for Travelers While They’re Packing

Cash in the currency of the country they’re visiting– One of the worst things about travel is scrambling to get local currency as soon as you arrive at the airport. You hope it’ll be a straightforward deal where you just rock up to the ATM in the terminal and take out what you need with your debit card from home, but it doesn’t always work so smoothly. Sometimes your card doesn’t work at the first ATM you find or it’s out of cash or there’s some other issue and it’s late and you’re jetlagged and it’s just a huge bummer. (Go on, ask me how I know.) It’s a super comforting feeling to arrive with a stack of local currency in your pocket and know that you’ll be able to pay for the taxi to your hotel and your breakfast in the morning before needing to find an ATM. Any bank can order you foreign currency with just a few days’ notice! I use Bank of America and they let you order foreign currency online.  

Solid toiletries, shampoo bars, etc.These make great stocking stuffers for travelers since they won’t count against the amount of liquids they can take in their carry-on.

Travel towelI travel light, but I always make sure I have my travel towel with me. It has come in handy so many times while traveling- for drying off after an impromptu swim in a Cuban waterfall, after showering in a Sri Lankan guesthouse that didn’t provide towels, etc. This will come in especially handy if your traveler enjoys camping, staying in hostels, or any other type of travel where you might need your own towel.

Universal adapterIndispensable for anyone who travels outside of their home country! I have amassed kind of a large collection of universal adapters over the years, so I can attest that a traveler can never have too many of these. The more electronics I get, the more adapters I need- it’s not unusual for me to have my phone, kindle, camera battery charger and laptop all plugged into a different universal adapter in my hotel room.

Travel scarf with hidden pocketThis is a really great idea for traveling women, especially women who travel solo and don’t have anyone else to help them keep their eyes open for pickpockets. I always wear a scarf while traveling anyway (to keep my camera hidden so I don’t stand out as a tourist) but this is even more practical.

Packing cubesI never travel without packing cubes anymore. They’re so good at keeping your stuff organized so you can travel light and not have to dig through a huge mess in your suitcase every day.

KindleIt took me a long time to embrace traveling with a Kindle– I like holding a physical book, okay? But once I did, I had to admit that it was a lot more convenient. Not only do I not pack my carry on full of heavy paperbacks anymore, but it’s a lot nicer for watching videos than my tiny phone screen.

Before They Leave

Pre-trip spa dayGetting ready for a long-awaited trip can be extremely stressful. You have so much stuff you have to finish up at work so your coworkers aren’t bothering you for the next two weeks. You have to do laundry, pack, clean the house, board the pets, hold the mail… no wonder you need a vacation. A spa day your favorite globetrotter can use before their trip would be a very welcome way to get them relaxed and in vacation mode. Also, what woman doesn’t like having her nails done right before going on vacation?

Pay for their open water PADI course before a beach vacation- Know someone heading to a tropical destination who would love to SCUBA dive there but isn’t certified? Consider signing them up for a course before their trip. Google “open water PADI course = [your traveler’s location]” to find the most convenient spot.

Pay for their pet boarding- For pet owners, boarding their animals can be a very costly part of vacationing that many people don’t factor in. Many boarding facilities now offer gift certificates so you can help make this part of travel more affordable for your animal-loving adventurer. Find out where your traveler usually boards their animals and give them a call to see if they offer gift certificates.

Pay for their uber/lyft to and from the airportAre they planning to pay for a ride to the airport when they leave and come home? An Uber or Lyft gift card is a really thoughtful way of saying, “Hey, I’d drive you myself, but your flight leaves at 4 a.m., sooo…”

Pay for their airport parkingDo they prefer to drive themselves to the airport? Airport parking can be expensive. Consider a gift card or airport parking Groupon to relieve the burden of this part of their trip.

Practical Gifts for Travelers at the Airport

Priority Pass for Airport Lounge AccessIf your recipient is a budget traveler who only dreams about relaxing in the first class lounge while waiting for their flight, you can make their dreams come true with a Priority Pass and let them feel like a traveling rock star.

Airport XpresSpa gift cardKnow they’re always bored in the airport during layovers? Hook them up with an XpresSpa gift card and let them go get a quick chair  massage or express pedicure to unwind between flights. This is one of my favorite practical gifts for travelers because everyone needs to relax more while they’re traveling but most people don’t want to pay the higher airport prices for a spa treatment.

Practical Gifts for Travelers in the Air

Anyone going on a long flight knows you need to plan ahead for your comfort and entertainment or you’re bound to be miserable the whole time. Here are some practical gifts that will help make your favorite traveler’s flight time more enjoyable.

Audible Gift SubscriptionI love listening to audiobooks on flights. My mind doesn’t wander as much as it does when I’m driving and I’m much less likely to fall asleep than when I’m listening to them while relaxing at home. On a plane I can just zone out for a while and enjoy the story. Give your frequent flyer the gift of entertainment to make their flight go by that much faster.

iTunes Gift CardThink they’d prefer music or movies? An iTunes gift card for your favorite iPhone-owning traveler is a great way to give them entertainment for their trip.

Spotify Premium gift cardGive the gift of unlimited music and podcasts no matter what type of phone they have. I’ve been making Spotify playlists for my trips for years.  

Noise canceling headphonesAll the music, videos, audiobooks, and podcasts in the world won’t do them any good if they can still hear that one screaming kid from three rows back. Noise canceling headphones are a godsend for anyone flying anywhere.

Inflight Wi-FiKnow they hate being disconnected even for a few hours? Give the gift of inflight wi-fi and they’ll be able to tweet real-time updates about that screaming kid and how they wish they had noise canceling headphones.

In-flight goodie bag: Warm fuzzy socks, makeup remover wipes, snacks, magazines, mintsAnything that adds a little extra comfort to the flight is a good thing, especially if your traveler is flying a budget airline that doesn’t go all out with the onboard amenities.

At Their Destination

Pure VPN frequent travelers know the frustration of not being able to stream their favorite Amazon Prime shows or connect to certain websites because of Internet restrictions in the country they’re visiting. Pure VPN encrypts and anonymizes their Internet access *and* adds a layer of security so they can use public wi-fi without compromising their device. Before I went to Asia for four months, I spent some time going through the Amazon Prime video offerings and adding a bunch of movies to my watch list- only to find out they were all blocked once I got there. If I had had Pure VPN, I could have watched all of those nature documentaries on rainy afternoons in Sri Lanka.

Upgrade a trip they’ve already got planned by paying for a tour, experience, or restaurant meal in the place they’re visiting. This is an especially fun gift to give to anyone you know is traveling on a tight budget because they may not splurge on an organized tour or fancy meal for themselves. Check my Groupon deals post for a ton of really low cost experiences that any traveler would be thrilled to receive. Things you could add to their upcoming trip: a cooking class, Airbnb Experiences, Xperience Days outings, Viator day tours, wine tastings, distillery tours.

Some location-based ideas:

In most cases you can give the tours as gift certificates so the recipient can choose the day and time that works best for their schedule.

Flytographer gift cardDoes your favorite traveler usually adventure solo and bemoan how awful it is to try to get photos of themselves at their destination? The struggle, I know it. Or maybe they travel as a couple or family but want to make sure everyone is in the most iconic shots. Flytographer is an awesome service that connects travelers with photographers in the destination they’re visiting for a photo shoot. This is a fantastic gift for anyone traveling for a special occasion (and I consider Tuesday to be a special occasion, so I use that pretty liberally). Anniversary trips, proposals, honeymoons, major bucket list checking-off, graduation trips- anywhere they want to load up their Instagram feed without the help of random passersby or a selfie stick.

Behind the scenes tour for an attraction they’re planning to visit. This is a fun gift because you already know they’re interested in the attraction but you’re totally upgrading the experience. Tons of places offer behind the scenes experiences, from amusement parks to zoos to museums. Check out the Magic Kingdom Keys to the Kingdom Tour, the Behind the Lines Tour at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, or the Behind the Scenes Tour at the St. Louis Zoo.

ClassPass.com access to fitness classes and gyms all over the country. Perfect for frequent travelers who want more than the hotel gym. If your home gym isn’t a chain with locations all over the country, it can be such a drag paying drop-in rates for classes or searching out local gyms with free trial periods.

Portable power banksA good friend gave me one of these before a trip and it was such a game changer. I honestly don’t know how I traveled without one. Well, I do- I just had a dead phone a lot when I was out exploring and taking pictures all day.

City Card– Another great gift idea is a city card for your traveler’s upcoming destination. These give admission to a large number of museums and attractions in a specific city and can really be a big money saver, not to mention give them access to places they might have skipped if they were traveling on a budget. Check out the Go Boston Card, The Go San Francisco Card, or the Go Dubai Card.

Pre-loaded subway card to the city they’re visiting- This is a great gift for anyone traveling to a city where they’ll be getting around by public transportation. Many places (like London) will allow you to order a subway card online ahead of time, which will allow your favorite traveler to get off the plane and then head out on their adventure without having to line up at the ticket machines and try to figure out which card they need.

Amazon Prime for photo storage on the go plus streaming music, movies, and TVDid you think Amazon Prime was just for shipping? That’s a great feature to have, but it’s just as useful on the road. All of the photos I take with my phone are automatically uploaded to my Amazon Prime photos so I won’t lose anything if something happens to my phone while I’m traveling. Not to mention the benefit of streaming music, movies, and TV for entertainment on the road.

Interesting travel journal or guided travel diaryeven though they’ll probably post about their trip all over social media when they get home, it’s still nice to have some memories in writing for a keepsake that will be far more meaningful than another shot glass or cheap tee shirt.

Ticket stub diaryDoes your favorite traveler have a drawer full of ticket stubs that they just can’t part with? Since the average vacation produces approximately 11 billion ticket stubs, I’m not surprised. Give them a way to display those little paper memories so they might actually look at them again.

Tep Wireless rentalWant to make sure your traveler can keep in touch while they’re on the road? A personal wifi device is a must for anyone traveling outside of their phone carrier’s network area. Sending messages, uploading photos, navigating with online maps- the uses for wifi on the road are limitless. Let Tep know their travel dates and their Teppy will be delivered to their home a few days before departure and will include a postage paid envelope for them to send it back after they return.

Practical Gifts for Different Types of Travelers

For cruisers: give shipboard credit or a cruise line gift certificate, or prepay the gratuities on their upcoming cruise.

For hostel travelers: give a gift card to a hostel chain like Hostelling Scotland or a silk travel sheet.

For campers: give an America the Beautiful Pass for National Parks,  a campsite gift card, a LifeStraw, or an Escape Campervans Gift Card.

For someone looking to travel long term or be a digital nomad: give a TrustedHousesitters membership to help them find free long-term (and sometimes very luxurious!) accommodations

For someone planning a road trip: give gas station gift cards, a AAA Membership, or an XM Radio subscription.

There you have it, lovely and thoughtful gift givers- my 60+ best (and super amazing) practical gifts for travelers. Hopefully I’ve helped you brainstorm the perfect gift for your favorite globetrotter. Got any other suggestions for practical gifts for travelers or want to share the best practical gift you’ve ever gotten that’s made your travels easier? Let me know in the comments!

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50+ Inspirational Travel Quotes

…to give you serious wanderlust.

Warning: Viewing of inspirational travel quotes while at work may lead to excessive bouts of wanderlust, a nagging desire to head to the airport with nothing but your passport and a toothbrush, and a stronger than normal desire to tell your boss to take this job and shove it.

via GIPHY

Disclosure: My Adventure Bucket uses affiliate links in some posts. I only share products I trust and believe in. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission when you click through these links and make a purchase. I appreciate your support!

Actually I did tell my boss to take this job and shove it right before heading to Asia with little more than a passport and a toothbrush, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you need a nudge in that direction, or just some motivation to start planning your summer vacation, read through this list of my personal favorite inspirational travel quotes.

And don’t forget to share your favorites so your friends and family can fuel their wanderlust, too.

Want even more inspiration? Check out these travel stories that will renew your faith in humanity.

Inspirational Travel Quotes for Solo Female Travelers

One travels more usefully when alone, because he reflects more. – Thomas Jefferson

Or she does. I know I certainly do. When you travel with other people, you tend to insulate yourselves together and focus on each other more than the world and the people around you. Personally, I feel far more engaged with a destination when I’m there alone, traveling at my own pace with only my own thoughts in my head.

One travels more usefully when alone, because he reflects more. - Thomas Jefferson  Inspirational Travel Quotes

Society tells you that you’re supposed to constantly crave the company of others. Don’t be afraid to admit that you love your own company, that you revel in it, that it brings you peace. – Leslie Price

There’s this weird phenomenon I’ve experienced where I’ll return from a glorious solo trip somewhere exotic and people will come out of the woodwork to say, “You went there ALONE? I would have gone with you! Girl, call me next time and I’ll go with you!”

Not to be rude, but who the **** asked you?

Sorry, this makes me cranky.

I don’t travel alone because I can’t find anyone to go with me- I travel alone because I love it. It’s my preference. It’s great. You should try it sometime.

Society tells you that you’re supposed to constantly crave the company of others. Don’t be afraid to admit that you love your own company, that you revel in it, that it brings you peace. - Leslie Price

I wondered why it was that places are so much lovelier when one is alone. – Daphne Du Maurier

Aren’t they, though?? When solo travel is in your blood, I think you just experience a much deeper connection with a place when you visit it by yourself. I’ve had some great experiences traveling places with certain other people, but I just don’t find myself falling in love with the destination the way I do when I’m solo.

I wondered why it was that places are so much lovelier when one is alone. - Daphne Du Maurier  Inspirational Travel Quotes

As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world. – Virginia Woolf

As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is the whole world. - Virginia Woolf

I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others. -Amelia Earhart

I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others. -Amelia Earhart  Inspirational Travel Quotes

I love to see a young girl go out and grab life by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass. – Maya Angelou

Doesn’t Maya Angelou have the best inspirational travel quotes? Or just life quotes, for that matter.

I love to see a young girl go out and grab life by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass. - Maya Angelou

Uncategorized Travel Quotes

How much of your life will be lost forever by the time you decide to start living it? – Leslie Price

Is it weird to put your own entries in a roundup of inspirational travel quotes? I hope not, because I’m doing it. I first made this graphic years ago after a particularly frustrating bout of jealous sniping from acquaintances who claim to want to travel more than anything but say they just can’t afford it. Meanwhile, they spend the equivalent of a round trip plane ticket every month on streaming television services.

Do you want to live your life or sit on your couch and stare at a screen while watching other people live?

How much of your life will be lost forever by the time you decide to start living it? - Leslie Price  Inspirational Travel Quotes

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. – Albert Camus

Some people might not consider this a travel quote at all, but it is to me. Another lifetime ago I was a teenage runaway, trying to survive while working the night shift at a Books-a-Million and living in my car. I desperately wanted to become a writer and travel the world, but how was I ever going to do that when I couldn’t even sort out a place to live?

One day at work I found a magnet in the bookstore cafe with this quote on it, and it was like a lightning bolt- I *had* to have it. It was $4.00 with my employee discount and to this day I consider it one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

The magnet disappeared in a move at some point, but I kept the message. And 20+ years later, I’m a writer, traveling the world.

 In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. - Albert Camus Inspirational Travel Quotes

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. – Amelia Earhart

Amelia was my first childhood hero- I imagined some pretty elaborate adventure scenarios while I was filling my bedroom with model planes and daydreaming about becoming a pilot. The pilot thing never happened, but I still get to spend plenty of time in the air. And she’s right- I spent years working up the nerve to go on my first big bucket list adventure. Once I booked that first flight, I was determined to fight through my anxieties and make it happen.

The rest, as they say, is history.

 The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. - Amelia Earhart Inspirational Travel Quotes

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao Tzu

And that step is usually a lot less obvious than you think. If you want to save up money to take a year off work and travel the world, your first step isn’t to the airport when you decide to leave. Your first step is canceling cable TV and staring to pack your own lunch for work every day so you don’t waste money by eating out all the time. What single step could you be taking today to get you that much closer to your dream life?

 The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. - Lao Tzu

Not all those who wander are lost. – J. R. R. Tolkien

Wandering is my favorite pastime. Wandering through foreign cities especially. Is there anything more delightful than wandering around a neighborhood where everything is new and unfamiliar and exciting, especially early in the morning when the light is all soft and the world is waking up and everything is magical? No. No, there is not. Spend more time wandering.

Not all those who wander are lost. - J. R. R. Tolkien  Inspirational Travel Quotes

The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion. – Thomas Paine

Borders are arbitrary, we’re all family, and everyone deserves health and happiness no matter where they’re born. It’s not complicated.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. – Saint Augustine

Possibly one of the most clichéd inspirational travel quotes ever? Maybe, but it’s true. The world is so big and I just don’t understand people who don’t have the desire to see more of it and experience all of the amazing things that it holds.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - Saint Augustine

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.  – Martin Buber

One of my favorite things about travel is that no matter how diligently (some might say obsessively) I research the destination and plan out my itinerary, there will always be something that takes me by surprise and ends up being one of the highlights of the trip.

In Athens, it was looking up at the floodlit Acropolis from Mars Hill when the clock struck midnight on my birthday and every church bell in the city started to chime in the darkness.

In Cuba, it was swimming under a waterfall to float in a cave full of bats like some kind of mermaid Indiana Jones.

In Myanmar, it was meeting an elderly monk so desperate for news from the outside world that he persuaded me to sit and talk with him for hours and then took me on a wild adventure through the city that ended with us being followed by government spies and then scandalizing the locals by fleeing in a taxi together.

Travel is wild, y’all.

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.  - Martin Buber  Inspirational Travel Quotes

Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit. – Frank Borman

Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit. - Frank Borman

The best education I have ever received was through travel. -Lisa Ling

The best education I have ever received was through travel. -Lisa Ling  Inspirational Travel Quotes

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. – Leonardo da Vinci (attributed)

There’s some discussion about whether or not Leo actually said this, but I like it, so I’m keeping it in my collection.

I hated flying for years- not because I was afraid, but because I got horrible motion sickness on every single flight. But even then, when I was stuck at home between travels, I would find myself drawn to passing airplanes, giving them the same look my dog gives my car when I have to go somewhere without here. “But… I want to go!”

 For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. - Leonardo da Vinci (attributed)  Inspirational Travel Quotes

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list. – Susan Sontag

Same, girl. Same.

There is at least one entry on my bucket list from every single country in the world. I’ve checked over 100 things off the list so far and I have over 500 left to go- stick around to see if I make it.

 I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list. - Susan Sontag

Paris is always a good idea. – Audrey Hepburn

Trivia alert! “Paris” was my first word.

As a small child I taped pictures of the Eiffel Tower to my bedroom wall until I was old enough to buy a large framed poster print of it to replace them. My first ever trip out of the country was to France, and it was everything I ever dreamed of, and then some.

It has become super hip to hate on Paris in the last few years- the French are rude, Paris sucks, yada yada. Heck off with that negativity here- Paris will always be magical to me.

 Paris is always a good idea. - Audrey Hepburn  Inspirational Travel Quotes

The ability to adapt is more important than the ability to plan. -Gary Arndt

I love planning trips almost as much as I love taking them, but despite my obsession with making sure everything goes smoothly, I’m a total disaster magnet. Sometimes my luggage randomly goes to Nairobi without me, an angry mama hippo charges my boat while sailing down the Nile, or I show up to a hotel in a tiny Greek village that actually closed a year before they accepted my reservation.

Shit happens.

If you want to travel the world, you have to be prepared for the most ridiculous problems to arise at the most inopportune times. It’s all part of the adventure.

 The ability to adapt is more important than the ability to plan. -Gary Arndt  Inspirational Travel Quotes

See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. – Ray Bradbury

Right, remember what I said about deciding whether you want to live your life or sit around watching other people live theirs on TV? I know you get the National Geographic channel, but I promise you, nothing compares to seeing (and smelling and hearing and feeling and experiencing) the real thing.

See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. - Ray Bradbury  Inspirational Travel Quotes

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. – Helen Keller

A long time ago I decided I wanted my life to be a daring adventure- so I made it that way.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. - Helen Keller  Inspirational Travel Quotes

Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac

Now that I’m pushing 40, I’m doing that thing that people my age do where I tell younger people about all the things I would go back and change if I could do it all over again.

In case you’re one of those younger people and you’re wondering what you should do with your life, I’ll tell you. I would spend exactly zero money and zero time on television, recreational shopping, fast food, getting married, and paying retail for anything. I would pour every single penny I could into traveling the world from the youngest age possible and I would figure out how to make money without a soul-destroying corporate job at the youngest age possible, and I would start climbing the goddamn mountains at least a decade earlier than I did.

Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” - Jack Kerouac  Inspirational Travel Quotes

Jobs fill your pocket, adventures fill your soul. – Jaime Lyn Beatty

And between the two, which is more important to you? Is that the one you spend the most time and energy on? Shouldn’t it be?

Jobs fill your pocket, adventures fill your soul. - Jaime Lyn Beatty  Inspirational Travel Quotes

I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world. – Mary Anne Radmacher

I’m not, either. Extensive travel has a way of making you outgrow things- relationships, viewpoints, prejudices- the way nothing else does. It’s a bit like creating a marble sculpture of yourself, where each adventure chips away a little bit more at what shouldn’t be there.

You don’t have to be rich to travel well. – Eugene Fodor

I might want this put on my headstone one day. Despite the constant snarky “oh, look who won the lottery” comments every time I post another travel photo on Facebook, I’ve never been wealthy. I’ve been hardworking and determined and creative, but never wealthy.

If you’re one of those “I want to travel but I’m not rich” people, I’d urge you to go check out You are NOT Too Broke to Travel, Groupon Travel Deals, and Luxury Travel Savings You Won’t Believe and see if you can’t change that perspective.

Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life. -Robin Sharma

The first time I read this quote, I nearly fell out of my chair.

I grew up in a very poor, very unambitious family. When small baby Leslie told her family how she was going to travel the world one day, she was met with scorn and derision. Even anger. Ambition was for rich people. My wanting a life full of adventure and excitement and new experiences was seen as a betrayal. In their eyes, I should graduate high school, get a dead end job next to my mother and follow in her footsteps, slaving away in misery every day and going home to complain about my life every night while numbing the pain with one addiction after another.

No thanks.

Growing up, everyone I knew was living the same year 75 times and calling it a life. Day in and day out, they watched the same reruns on TV, ate the same five dinners every week, had the same arguments, made the same mundane comments about the same awful weather, wore the same clothes, and plodded along in comfortable misery.

There’s plenty of that life out there to go around if that’s what you’re looking for, but I knew I wasn’t having any of it. I knew from early childhood that I wanted something different. It’s in my DNA (and I was adopted, so clearly it wasn’t in theirs!)

I haven’t lived the same year twice in my entire adult life, and that fact fills me with so much gratitude.

As I write this, I’m looking out my living room windows at snow-covered mountains in the Pacific Northwest, where spring is finally starting to dig itself out of a long, snowy winter. Last year at this time, I was traveling across the country in a luxury RV, staying at a gorgeous resort in the Arizona desert where wild horses roamed around outside every morning at sunrise. Two years ago today I was in Nashville, listening to live music and drinking moonshine with my dog, my best adventure buddy, asleep at my feet. Four years ago I was in New Orleans. Five years ago, doing a 20 mile hike in Florida on a perfect spring day. Six years ago, watching the sun rise from the front of my beach house every morning. Seven years ago, eating my way through London’s Brick Lane. Ten years ago, flying in a hot air balloon over thousands of Burmese temples.

This is a life.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. – Mark Twain

Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before- Dalai Lama

Or, you know, more than once a year. Maybe just sell everything you own and hit the road and go new places constantly. Whatever works for you.

In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take. – Lewis Carroll

If you can’t live longer, live deeper. – Italian proverb

I’m pretty confident that I’ve packed more life into my almost-40 years than most people would in a hundred, and I’m not done yet.

Don’t listen to what they say. Go see. – Chinese proverb

I like to travel to fairly exotic places. My first ever solo trip was to Myanmar when Aung San Suu Kyi was still under house arrest and the US State Department was warning American citizens not to travel there because of the political situation. Everyone I knew lost their minds telling me I was going to be kidnapped and murdered and they’d never see me again unless it was a beheading video on CNN.

Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen.

It was the most magical, life-changing trip imaginable and I came home with such a deep appreciation for the country and its people and culture.

“They” said similar things when I went to Uganda. And Rwanda. And Singapore. And Cuba. And Indonesia. And Greece. Every time you do something amazing, the naysayers come out of the woodwork with horrifying stories about things they saw on the news and grim predictions about how you’ll be coming home in a box.

Pessimists never accomplish anything. Ignore those people, practice common sense safety habits, and go see for yourself.

I didn’t know where I was going until I got there. – Cheryl Strayed

Adventure can be an end in itself. Self-discovery is the secret ingredient. – Grace Lichtenstein

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends. – Maya Angelou

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. – Gustave Flaubert

You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream. – C. S. Lewis

If you spend any amount of time on Instagram, you might think that everyone who quits their job to travel the world is a 22 year old goddess with a large collection of floppy hats. When you’re old enough to be the mother of one of those extremely photogenic darlings, it’s easy to feel like you’re past your prime and that you missed your chance.

Except that’s utter bullshit.

I do wish I had started traveling at a younger age, but I’m far from past my prime. Who cares how old you are? If you want to do a thing, go do it. I might be 80 by the time I finish checking the next 100 things off my bucket list, but so what? I’ll be 80 anyway- I might as well do a lot of dope shit in the meantime.

Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living. – Jonathan Safran Foer

When you’re the kind of person who was born knowing they need to travel the world, it’s exhausting to try to live a “normal” life. Getting up at the crack of dawn every day, putting on a suit- and pantyhose, too, what a nightmare- and going to a job where people treated me like shit all the time and I was expected to work limitless hours of unpaid overtime when I knew I should be trekking through the jungle and learning how to order a beer in Swahili? Absolutely exhausting. Like, the kind of exhausting you feel down in your bones.

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. – Aldous Huxley

Cuba is not a desolate communist shithole. The roads in Rwanda are better than many places in the US. A lot of countries do a lot of things better than we do in the United States and we’d be a lot better off if we learned from them instead of just constantly boasting about our superiority.

Inspirational Travel Quotes by Anthony Bourdain

Yes, he gets his own section. As a foul-mouthed traveling foodie myself, Anthony was god-like to me. If I had a dollar for every detailed and convoluted daydream I’ve ever had about running into Anthony at an Asian street market and then sitting down to swap travel stories over a beer… well, I could probably pay for some of the psychiatric help I obviously need. But all jokes aside, his death hit me like a ton of bricks and it still hurts to think about. It hurts a lot.

Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown. – Anthony Bourdain

Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life- and travel- leaves marks on you. -Anthony Bourdain

If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook, learn from them- wherever you go.” – Anthony Bourdain

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. – Anthony Bourdain

Inspirational Travel Quotes for Couples

Never go on trips with anyone you do not love. – Ernest Hemingway

The quickest way for me to end a relationship is to go on a trip with someone and find out they’re not a good travel match for me. I might have thought I loved you until you started whining about having to walk everywhere and tried to get us to go to McDonald’s instead of eating the local cuisine.

Anyway there’s probably a reason the vast majority of my travel over the past 10+ years has been solo…

Anonymous Inspirational Travel Quotes

Inspirational travel quotes that don’t belong anywhere else, aren’t attributed to anyone in particular, and are hardly even quotes at all but I like them and this is my website so I do what I want.

Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you.

When in doubt, travel.

Just go.

Adventure awaits.

Let the adventure begin.

Wander.

So there you go- my personal favorite list of inspirational travel quotes. Do you have a serious case of wanderlust yet? I know, me too.

What are your favorite inspirational travel quotes? Let me know in the comments!

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Sri Lanka Travel- 200+ Things Under $5

Would you travel more if it wasn’t so expensive? I have a hunch that most people would say yes. But what if I told you that it’s already pretty affordable if you know where to look? Lately I’ve made it my personal mission to show people how inexpensive it can be to travel the world so more people can get out there and make their dreams come true.  Sri Lanka travel in particular is extremely affordable.

How affordable? Check out this list of over 200 things you can buy, see, and do in Sri Lanka for under $5.

Even better: half of them are completely free of charge!

Sri Lanka travel stilt fisherman southern coast

Disclosure: My Adventure Bucket uses affiliate links in some posts. I only share products I trust and believe in. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission when you click through these links and make a purchase. I appreciate your support!

FYI- all Sri Lanka travel prices listed here are in US dollars, are approximate, and were accurate at the time of writing. I use XE for currency conversion, which gives you real time exchange rates. Keep in mind that prices of some things will fluctuate with the seasons- traveling in the off season or shoulder season will always give you the best rates.

Sri Lanka Travel: Countrywide

Almost every beach in Sri Lanka is free and open to the public, so I’m not going to list all of them in this guide or we’d be here all day. I’ll make note of some of the highlights.

Almost every church, mosque, and temple in the country is also free and open to the public, so again I’m just going to list some of the highlights.

Reclining Buddha statue Dambulla Cave Temples Sri Lanka

Most Airbnb rentals in Sri Lanka offer weekly and monthly discounts that can be substantial. When you’re looking for a place to stay, make sure you input your full dates to see the discounted price. Use this link to take up to $40 off your booking, which could very well bring your total cost down to under $5/night in some places.

Sri Lanka has an active Couchsurfing community where you can score free accommodations if you’re the adventurous sort.

There are over 200 opportunities in Sri Lanka available on Workaway for you to receive free room and board in exchange for a little bit of work, if you’re looking to travel long term.

Bus and train travel throughout the country is laughably cheap, and Sri Lanka’s train routes are some of the most scenic in the world. They’re one of the best bargains in the country. In many cases, the train fare I’ve quoted here isn’t even for the least expensive class, so you can tighten your budget even further if necessary.

Food and drink prices listed here are representative of what’s available in the area, so don’t feel like the places listed are the only spots you can get a good deal- delicious meals in Sri Lanka are cheap *and* abundant.

I found my Lonely Planet Sri Lanka travel guide indispensable during my three month trip and highly recommend it for more information about many of the Sri Lanka travel ideas listed here. Bonus: right now it’s free to read if you have an Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Sri Lanka Travel: Colombo

Buddha statues Colombo Sri Lanka

Accommodation

Food & Drink

  • An order of wok-fried vegetable dumplings (one of the best meals I had in three months of Sri Lanka travel, FYI), $2.46 at Momo’s by Ruvi.
  • Lunch packets of rice and vegetarian curry sold by street vendors all over Colombo, .80-$1.00.
  • Vegetarian buffet lunch at Green Cabin, Colombo. $1.56.
  • Curry or tea and cake at New Palm Leaf Hotel, Colombo. $1-2.
  • A banana split at Carnival, $1.12. Everyone in Colombo comes to Carnival eventually, so the people watching can be great at peak times.
  • A candlelit prawn dinner on the beach at Bu Ba, $5.
  • A smoked salmon appetizer at the rooftop Cloud Cafe bar while listening to live jazz music on a Friday night, $4.76
  • A raspberry mojito at Taphouse by RnR in the Old Dutch Hospital shopping district, Colombo. $1.96
  • Cheese kotthu at Pilawoos or any of a hundred other no-name roadside dives, $1.40. Sri Lanka is rightly famous for its million splendid variations on curry, but if you ask me, cheese kotthu is the real national treasure. Watching the chef make it with a machete and a sizzling hot griddle is half the fun.
  • Curries and pastries at Pagoda Tea Room, Colombo. $1-2.
  • Three peeled black tiger prawns at Colombo’s famed Ministry of Crab restaurant, $4.80. One of their famous crab dinners will set you back a bit more, but if you’re traveling with friends who have a bigger budget, you can still find something tasty on the menu for under $5.
Momo fried dumpling Colombo Sri Lanka
This is a momo, and they’re exactly as delicious as they look.

Activities & Attractions

  • Viharamahadevi Park, Colombo. FREE. See if you can find the tree full of massive flying foxes near the center.
  • National Museum, Colombo. $1.40. There will be a small extra charge for a camera fee if you want to take photos. Make sure you have a safety pin on you to keep the camera fee receipt pinned to your clothes (and see my Ultimate Sri Lanka Packing List for more things you don’t know you’re going to need.)
  • National Art Gallery, Colombo. FREE
  • Watch the sunset from the Old Galle Buck Lighthouse, Colombo. FREE
  • Dutch Period Museum, Colombo. $2.80
  • Wolvendaal Church, Colombo. FREE  Built in 1749 and apparently the most important Dutch building in Sri Lanka (and there are a lot of them, so that’s saying something). If you’re a lover of old cemeteries like I am, you can’t miss this church or the Dutch Period Church in Galle Fort.
  • Gangaramaya Temple, Colombo. .56 donation. If you happen to be visiting during the month of May, this is where you’ll come for the most lavish Vesak celebrations in the country. It’s a huge (free!) birthday party for the Buddha, and the entire country gets involved. Locals love to welcome visitors into their celebrations, so don’t be shy. Smaller celebrations will take place on the full moon poya day other months.
  • Seema Malakaya Temple & Meditation Center, Colombo. FREE with entrance ticket to Gangaramaya. One of the most popular photo spots in the city.
  • People watch on Sunday afternoons at Galle Face Green, Colombo. FREE
  • Sambodhi Chaitiya, the massive white stupa near the Old Galle Buck Lighthouse, Colombo. FREE  
  • St. Peter’s Church, Colombo. FREE
  • St. Anthony’s Church, Colombo. FREE Home to a supposedly miraculous statue, this church gets throngs of visitors from every religion- miracles are miracles, after all.
  • St. Lucia’s Cathedral, Colombo. FREE The largest church in Sri Lanka.
  • Traditional Puppet Art Museum, Colombo. $2.80
  • Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, Buddhist temple, Colombo. FREE
  • One ticket to a Sri Lanka Cricket match, starting at $1.68
Muslim girls sitting by the water, Galle Face Green, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Sunday afternoons on Galle Face Green

Shopping

  • Pettah Market, Colombo. FREE  (Obviously it won’t be free if you buy something, but prices in Sri Lanka’s markets are cheap, cheap, cheap. Think bags of apples and oranges for .84, a pair of pants for $1.15, and three avocados for .56.  If you’re staying in an Airbnb with a kitchen, this is the place to come and pick up some dinner staples. Keep in mind that Pettah Market can get very crowded and kind of sketchy at times. Be on your guard.
  • Laksala craft & souvenir shops. All of the carved wooden elephants and Buddhas you could ever want, and then some. Lots of really inexpensive options perfect for if you need to bring home a lot of souvenirs for friends.
  • Lakpahana arts & crafts shop. Another good choice for inexpensive souvenirs. You’re going to have *so many* wooden elephants.
  • Arpico Supercenter, Colombo. One of the only modern supermarkets you’ll find in Sri Lanka, this is where you’ll want to stock up on snacks, toiletries you forgot to pack, feminine hygiene supplies, drinks for your hotel room, and anything else you can think of. Prices are reasonable on almost everything

Transportation

  • Tuk-tuks are the most convenient way to get around town and they’re almost always under $5. Most Sri Lankan tuk tuk drivers are honest, but always agree to the cost before you get in. Most tuk-tuks in Colombo now have meters, but this won’t be the case in most of the country.
  • The bus is almost always going to be the cheapest way to get anywhere in Sri Lanka; from Fort train station to the center of town won’t cost you more than .25.
  • The train is just about as cheap as the bus but way more atmospheric, especially when you hang out of the open doorways and feel the breeze (and the cool ocean spray, if you’re on the Colombo to Galle route, which runs literally right along the water for much of the trip). The entire three and a half hour trip from Fort station to Galle on the southern coast will cost you a whopping .56.

Sri Lanka Travel: The West

Sunset on Kalpitiya Beach Sri Lanka
Sunset on Kalpitiya Beach, and not a single other human in sight. Bliss.

Accommodation

Food & Drink

  • A fantastic rice and curry spread at Home Grown Rice & Curry Restaurant, Hikkaduwa, $1.96.
  • Marinara pizza at Spaghetti & Co., Hikkaduwa, $4.93. (This was the best pizza I found in the whole country and I came back here at least four times during the three weeks I was in Hikkaduwa!)
  • Sweet and savory roti at No 1 Roti Restaurant, Hikkaduwa, .84.
  • Almost anything on the menu, including an ice cold Lion beer, at Tree Top, Hikkaduwa. This was my other favorite spot in Hikka- it feels like you’re in a grown up tree house, and the people watching from the balcony tables is great.
Lion beer and glass
Also, Lion Beer is great and I miss it.

Activities & Attractions

  • Negombo Beach Park, FREE
  • St. Mary’s Church, Negombo. FREE
  • A rented bicycle to ride along the canals in Negombo, FREE from most local hotels.
  • Kalpitiya Beach & Alankuda Beach on the Kalpitiya Peninsula, FREE. I love, love, love, love the Kalpitiya Peninsula- it’s one of my favorite spots in all of Sri Lanka.
  • Releasing rescued baby sea turtles into the ocean at sunset with Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery, $2.80.
  • Galapota Temple, FREE
  • Renting snorkeling gear ($2.80) at Hikkaduwa National Park (.16 admission).
  • Renting a surfboard for an hour from almost any guesthouse along Hikkaduwa Beach, $2.24.
  • Tsunami Photo Museum, Hikkaduwa, FREE. You’re going to want to spring for some Kleenex before you come, though. This unassuming little museum might be the most heartbreaking thing you see in Sri Lanka. It’s full of photos and memorabilia from the devastating 2004 tsunami, and the sweet family that owns it will tell you their own horrifying story of how they survived the destruction.
  • Turtle Hatchery, Hikkaduwa, $2.80
  • Watch the fishermen unloading their boats at the Main Fish Market, Negombo. FREE
Baby sea turtle at Hikkaduwa Sri Lanka hatchery
One of the sweet baby sea turtles you can meet at the hatchery in Hikkaduwa.

Shopping

  • Diana Souvenirs, Negombo. Although she specializes in paintings and larger objets d’art, Diana has quite a few small statues and other really affordable souvenirs.

Transportation

  • Bus from Negombo to Colombo, .56
  • Bus from Negombo to Kandy, .85
  • Bus from Negombo to Kalpitiya, $1.00
  • Bus from Colombo to Hikkaduwa, $1.06
  • Train from Colombo to Hikkaduwa, .89
  • Train from Hikkaduwa to Galle, .22
  • Tuk-tuk from Negombo to Bandaranaike International Airport, $2.80

Sri Lanka Travel: The South

Collage of Galle Fort Sri Lanka
Stunning Galle Fort. Why don’t I live here yet? I don’t know, either.

Accommodation

Food & Drink

  • Vegetable curry with rice at Spoon’s Cafe, Galle Fort, $2.52.
  • A scoop of the best gelato in the country at Pedlar’s Inn Gelato, Galle Fort, $1.68
  • A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice at AVM Cream House, Weligama, .11.
  • A fantastic kotthu dinner at No1 Dewmini Roti shop, Mirissa. $1.68

Activities & Attractions

  • Walk along the Galle Fort ramparts at sunset, FREE. Not only free, but the loveliest place in the entire country, in my opinion. Don’t be surprised if you read in a future update that I’ve moved here permanently.
  • Lighthouse Beach, Galle. FREE.
  • Dutch Reformed Church, Galle Fort. FREE and spectacular. The original church on this site was built in 1640 and the whole structure just oozes history. If you’re a cemetery lover like I am, the floor tiled with ornate old Dutch headstones will make you swoon.
  • Marine Archaeological Museum, Galle Fort. $3.64
  • National Maritime Museum, Galle Fort. $3
  • National Museum, Galle Fort. $1.68
  • Rumassala Peace Pagoda, Galle. FREE
  • Jungle Beach, Galle. FREE
  • Kottawa Conservation Forest. FREE
  • Yatagala Raja Maha Viharaya rock temple, Unawatuna. .56
  • Renting snorkel gear from Sea Horse Diving Centre, Unawatuna. $4.48
  • An hour-long plantation tour followed by tea and cake at Handungoda Tea Estate, FREE
  • Martin Wickramasinghe Folk Art Museum, $1.12
  • Kataluwa Purwarama Temple (built in the 13th century!), FREE
  • Mirissa Beach. FREE
  • Dutch ramparts, Matara. FREE
  • Star Fort, Matara. FREE
  • Mulkirigala rock temples, $1.12
  • Dondra Head Lighthouse, $3.37
  • Talalla Beach, FREE
  • Wewurukannala Vihara (the largest seated Buddha figure in Sri Lanka), Dikwella, .56
  • Ho-o-maniya Blowhole, Dikwella, $1.40
  • Goyambokka Beach, FREE
  • Tissa Wewa and the Yatala Wehera temple, Tissamaharama, FREE
  • Wirawila Wewa Bird Sanctuary, FREE
  • Kirinda Temple, FREE
  • Kataragama, FREE This entire town is considered a holy place and there’s a huge pilgrimage here that takes place in July. The spectacle is definitely worth watching if you’re in the area.
Sunset from Galle Fort Sri Lanka
Sunset from the Galle Fort ramparts. How could you ever get sick of this?

Shopping

  • Embark, Galle Fort. Lots of accessories and small items that will come in under the $5 mark. And the best part, they donate proceeds to help care for the country’s homeless animals. Win-win.

Transportation

  • Train from Galle to Kandy, $1.79
  • Train from Matara to Colombo, $1.29
  • Tuk-tuk from Galle to Unawatuna, $2.80
  • Tuk-tuk from Tangalla to Goyambokka, $2.24

Sri Lanka Travel: The Hill Country

Sunset in Kandy Sri Lanka
Sunsets in Kandy aren’t exactly hideous, either.

Accommodation

Food & Drink

  • The excellent curries and kotthu at Kandy Muslim Hotel, $1.68
  • Tuna sashimi at the always-happening Slightly Chilled Lounge Bar, Kandy, $4.21
  • Afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel, Nuwara Eliya, $4.49
  • Tandoori chicken salad at the extremely popular Grand Indian, Nuwara Eliya, $1.23
  • A slice of decadent passion fruit cheesecake at the ubiquitous backpacker haunt, Cafe Chill, Ella, $2.52.
  • An ice cold Lion beer at the Dream Cafe, Ella, $2.24

Activities & Attractions

  • Climbing Adam’s Peak (Sri Pada), FREE
  • Ceylon Tea Museum, Kandy, $2.80
  • National Museum, Kandy, $2.80
  • Degal Doruwa Raja Maha Vihara cave temple, Kandy, donation at your discretion
  • Embekka Devale Hindu temple, Kandy, $1.68
  • Lankatilake Temple, Kandy. Half Buddhist, Half Hindu temple. $1.68
  • Gadaladeniya Temple, Kandy. Another half Buddhist, half Hindu temple. $1.12
  • St. Paul’s Church, Kandy, donation at your discretion.
  • Kandy Garrison Cemetery, FREE
  • Kandy War Cemetery, donation at your discretion.
  • Film festivals and other community events, free or very nominal cost, Alliance Francaise, Kandy. Check their Facebook page for upcoming events.
  • Traditional dance performances by Kandy Lake Club, Kandyan Art Association & Cultural Centre, or Mahanuwara YMBA,  $2.80
  • Victoria Park, Nuwara Eliya, $1.68
  • Guided tour of Pedro Tea Estate, Nuwara Eliya, $1.12
  • Paddleboat tour of Gregory Lake, Nuwara Eliya, $2.80 plus $1.12 admission
  • Walk to Lovers Leap waterfall, Nuwara Eliya, FREE
  • Seetha Amman Temple, Nuwara Eliya, FREE
  • An hour of tennis at the Nuwara Eliya Hill Club, $2.80
  • A guided tour of Dambatenne, Sri Thomas Lipton’s tea factory, Haputale, $1.40
  • The best views in the area from Lipton’s Seat, Haputale, FREE
  • Adisham Monastery, Haputale, .56
  • Dowa cave temple, Bandarawela, .56
  • Newburgh Green Tea Factory, Ella, $1.68
  • Hike to Little Adam’s Peak or Ella Rock, FREE
  • St. Mark’s Church, Badulla, FREE
  • Dunhinda Falls, Badulla, $1.12
  • Rakkhiththakananda Len Viharaya Cave Temple, donation
  • Diyaluma Falls, Koslanda, FREE
  • Buduruwagala Buddhas, Wellawaya, $1.12
  • Archaeological Museum, Wellawaya, FREE
  • Elephant Transit Home, Uda Walawe, $2.80. This care home for injured and orphaned elephants is a great place to see these gorgeous animals outside of the pricier national park safaris. It’s an ethical operation, which means you won’t be able to get too close to the elephants and you certainly can’t ride them or bathe them.
  • Kotapola rock temple, FREE
  • Kiruwananaganga Falls, FREE
  • Kolawenigama Temple, FREE
Elephants Uda Walawe Sri Lanka

Shopping

  • Kandy City Center- a pretty compact little shopping mall conveniently located next to Kandy Lake. There’s a grocery store that’s a perfect spot to stock up on snacks for the road and a Baskin-Robbins where you can try a scoop of rose petal ice cream. (Spoiler alert: it makes your breath smell like Valentine’s Day.) Lunch at the food court is also affordable with several choices under $3.00.

Transportation

  • Train from Kandy to Hatton, .61 (Not only is this super cheap, but it’s one of the best Sri Lanka travel experiences you can have. Prepare for jaw dropping views throughout the hill country!)
  • Train from Kandy to Colombo, $1.06
  • Train from Haputale to Ella, .28
  • Bus from Wellawaya to Ella, .37

Sri Lanka Travel: The Ancient Cities

In my experience, the Ancient Cities are the most expensive part of Sri Lanka to visit. With the steep ticket prices at most of the major sights and very few ultra cheap accommodation options, this may be the one spot in the country that you have no choice but to splurge a little bit if you want to see all the best stuff.

Buddha statues Dambulla Sri Lanka

Accommodation

  • Basic private room at Charm Inn Tourist Rest B&B from $5.18 (I know this is technically over budget, but it’s the cheapest option in town at the moment!)

Food & Drink

  • Lunch buffet at Surathura Spice Garden, Matale, $2.52
  • A deluxe curry dinner at Little Paradise Anuradhapura, $5.00
  • A freshly baked loaf of bread at Salgado Hotel & Bakery, Anuradhapura, .33

Activities & Attractions

  • Aluvihara monastery & caves, Matale, $1.40
  • Matale Heritage Centre, FREE
  • Tour of Euphoria Spice and Herbal spice garden, FREE
  • Sri Muthumariamman Thevasthanam Hindu temple, $1.12
  • Nalanda Gedige Hindu temple, FREE
  • Golden Temple, Dambulla, FREE
  • Dambulla Museum, $1.40
  • Aukana Buddha, $2.80
  • Mihintale village and temple complex, $4.00
  • Yapahuwa Rock Fortress, $2.80
  • Panduwasnuwara ruins, FREE
  • Padeniya Raja Mahavihara temple, FREE, donations accepted
  • Ridi Vahara temple, $1.12

Shopping

  • Weekend Market, new town Anuradhapura. The cheapest place in town to stock up on fresh produce for self catering.

Transportation

  • Train from Habarana to Colombo, $3.48
  • Train from Anuradhapura to Colombo, $3.37

Sri Lanka Travel: The North

Hindu temple Jaffna Sri Lanka

Accommodation

Food & Drink

  • A scoop of ice cream at local Jaffna institution Rio, .33
  • A bottle of wine from the Rosarian Convent, Jaffna, $1.68
  • A sweet mango lassi from Juice Land, Jaffna, .89
  • Huge & delicious masala dosa from Mangos, Jaffna, $1.12

Activities & Attractions

  • Archaeological Museum, Vavuniya, FREE
  • Star Fortress, Mannar Island, FREE
  • 700 year old Baobab tree, Mannar Island, FREE
  • Thirukketeeswaram Kovil temple, Mannar, FREE
  • Our Lady of Madhu Church, Mannar, FREE
  • Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil, Jaffna, FREE If you can manage to visit during one of the daily puja ceremonies, you’re in for a treat. It was one of the highlights of my visit to Jaffna and all of my Sri Lanka travel.
  • Jaffna Fort, FREE
  • Jaffna Public Library, FREE
  • Royal Palace & Minister’s House ruins, Jaffna, FREE
  • Jaffna Archaeological Museum, FREE, donations accepted
  • St. Mary’s Cathedral, Jaffna, FREE
  • Roman Catholic Cemetery, Jaffna, FREE  If you’re into spookily overgrown old cemeteries, this is your spot.
  • Some of the loveliest ruins you’ll see in all of Sri Lanka, Old Park, Jaffna, FREE (If you’re a fan of flying foxes, seek out the tree in the back corner of the playground that’s absolutely full of them. You can sit on a park bench and watch them swooping around overhead.)
Ruins of beautiful building Jaffna Sri Lanka
Bonus activity: imagining how stunning Jaffna was before decades of war took its toll on the city’s most gorgeous architecture.

Shopping

  • Jaffna market is a great place to buy fresh produce and see cows randomly wandering into shops. Unlike the rest of the island, Jaffna and the surrounding north is primarily Hindu, so the vibe is a lot more India than Sri Lanka.
  • Custom made clothing from seamstress Ruby Sorupan, Jaffna, starting at $1.12

Transportation

  • Train from Jaffna to Colombo, $4.49

Sri Lanka Travel: The East

Aerial view of boats on Arugam Bay Sri Lanka
Photo by Tomáš Malík on Unsplash

Accommodation

  • A rustic beach cabana at Beach Hut in Arugam Bay just steps from the ocean, $3.36

Food & Drink

  • Lunch buffet at RN Buffet & Take Away, Batticaloa, $3.36
  • Rice and curry at Ajmeer Hotel, Trincomalee, $1.12

Activities & Attractions

  • Yudaganawa ruins, .56
  • Pathma Vihara temple ruins, FREE
  • Mudu Maha Vihara ruins, FREE
  • Whiskey Point Beach, FREE
  • Lighthouse Point Beach, FREE
  • Rent a surfboard or bodyboard for the day from A-Bay Surf Shop, Arugam Bay, $3.36
  • Kudimbigala Forest Hermitage, FREE
  • Japanese Peace Pagoda, Ampara, FREE
  • Sri Manika Pillaiyar Hindu temple, FREE
  • Buddhangala Rock Hermitage, FREE, donations accepted
  • Deegawapi ruins, FREE
  • Deegawapi archaeological museum, FREE
  • Batticaloa Dutch Fort, FREE
  • St. Mary’s Cathedral, Batticaloa, FREE
  • St. Anthony’s Church, Batticaloa, FREE
  • Haircut and head massage at the Imperial Saloon, Batticaloa, $2.24
  • Boat trip to Batticaloa Lighthouse, from $2.24
  • Passekudah Beach, FREE
  • Kalkudah Beach, FREE
  • Coconut Cultural Park, $1.40
  • Fort Frederick, Trincomalee, FREE
  • Kandasamy Kovil, Trincomalee, FREE
  • Whale watching from Swami Rock, Trincomalee, supposedly the best place in the entire world for watching blue whales. FREE
  • Commonwealth War Cemetery, Uppuveli, FREE
  • Salli Muthumariamunam Kovil Hindu temple, FREE
Stand up paddleboard Trincomalee Sri Lanka

Shopping

  • Ecowave Outlet, Arugam Bay. Local crafts, spices, honey, and locally made beauty products at really good prices make excellent souvenirs.

Transportation

  • Bus from Ampara to Colombo, $2.16
  • Train from Batticaloa to Colombo, $2.80
  • Sleeper train from Trincomalee to Colombo, $4.20

So there you go- 200+ things you can buy, see and do for under $5 in Sri Lanka. Did I miss anything major? Let me know your favorite Sri Lanka travel deals under $5 in the comments!

Want to save even MORE money on travel? Check out You are NOT too Broke to Travel and make sure you sign up for the following programs to easily and painlessly earn points that you can turn into gift cards and cash to fund your Sri Lanka travel:

MyPoints

Swagbucks

YouGov

To make the most of your Sri Lanka travel, check out my Ultimate Sri Lanka Packing List and 60+ Best Things to Eat, See, and Do in Sri Lanka posts as well as the rest of my Sri Lanka content.

Have questions about your Sri Lanka travel and making the most of your trip on a budget? Let me know in the comments!

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Groupon Travel Deals- 20+ Ways to Book Your Next Vacation- For Next to Nothing

I’m all about spilling my deal-finding secrets lately, so I’ll let you in on another one- Groupon travel deals are some of the best vacation secrets on the planet.

If you combine several of the tips in this article, you can even use Groupon to travel for free.

via GIPHY

My Adventure Bucket uses affiliate links in some posts. I only share products I trust and believe in. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission when you click through these links and make a purchase. I appreciate your support!

Some people have a weird mental block about getting discounts on travel. Maybe they just really enjoy spending more money than they have to or maybe they actually believe that old adage, “You get what you pay for.” If that were true, you’d never have a bad experience with anything that you paid a lot of money for. And we all know *that* isn’t true!

Maybe it’s my New England upbringing or my Irish DNA, but it physically pains me to pay full price for anything. And 10+ years of traveling the world like a rock star while paying next to nothing has taught me, among other things, that it’s possible to get a lot more than you pay for, if you know how.

Luckily I do, and I love to share my tips with my readers.

via GIPHY

If you want even more awesome ways to travel for free or extremely cheap, check out my mega list of tips here.

So What Kind of Groupon Travel Deals Can You Get, Anyway?

I know, you’ve probably used Groupon to get a discount on an oil change or maybe to get your carpets shampooed. They’re great for things like that, too. But don’t stop there, and definitely don’t overlook Groupon when you’re planning a trip. Whether it’s a local weekend getaway or an international bucket list adventure, there are Groupon travel deals for it.

Consider this Tip #1- Know what Groupon offers for your trip.

Check out some examples below of current Groupon travel deals I found while writing this. (Deals can end at any time, so these exact deals may not be available when you read this.)

Travel Groupon Deals- Entire vacation packages

Great Wall of China Groupon Travel Deals MyAdventureBucket

Travel Groupon Deals- Flights

  • Little known fact: Groupon keeps track of all the current coupon codes for CheapOair, a discount flight booking service. Right now they have one for $100 off your next booking.
  • Some of the Groupon travel packages that include airfare are so ridiculously cheap, you’re better off paying for one of those even if you don’t want to do all of the activities that might be included.

Travel Groupon Deals- Hotels

After flights, hotels are usually the second most expensive part of a trip. Sure, you can usually find an ultra cheap option, but how much do you enjoy your vacation if you have to sleep in a dirty fleabag motel? If you’re anything like me, not very much. Luckily, Groupon hotel deals are here to salvage your trip. There are great deals on Groupon hotels in every city I checked, including some really high end offerings. Some of the current ones:

Travel Groupon Deals- Restaurants

You’re not going to pay full price for all of the meals on your trip, are you? You don’t have to squirrel away blueberry muffins from the hotel’s continental breakfast to stretch your food budget on vacation. Check out some Groupon restaurant deals instead:

Restaurant meal Groupon Travel Deals MyAdventureBucket

Travel Groupon Deals- Activities & Fun Experiences

Whether you’re looking for city tours, escape rooms, bowling, horseback riding, amusement parks, or any other vacation activity, don’t you dare pay full price before you check Groupon for a deal. Like…

Travel Groupon Deals- Airport & city parking

Travel Groupon Deals- Airport lounges

How about a Priority Pass for $7? Say farewell to mingling with the unwashed masses on your next layover. This is one of my all time favorite Groupon travel deals!

Airport Lounge Groupon Travel Deals MyAdventureBucket

So those are some of the things you can get on Groupon for your trip, and they’re all really good deals, but is that where the savings ends? Of course not, dear Adventurer. That’s just the beginning!

Get Free Groupon Bucks to Spend on Your Trip

What’s better than scoring a great deal on your vacation? Scoring a great deal on your vacation that costs you nothing out of pocket because you had a free gift card or Groupon Bucks to pay for your Groupon travel specials. Luckily, there are tons of ways to get your hands on some of those.

Earn Groupon gift cards with points and survey programs.

MyPoints– I’ve been a member of MyPoints since 1997. (Holy cow.) In that time, I’ve painlessly earned enough points to get myself over $1,200 in Groupon gift certificates. As I pointed out above, that would pay for a couple of pretty amazing vacations, hotels and airfare included.

Considering the amount of time I’ve been a member, you’d think I would have amassed more points than that, but way back in the dark ages when MyPoints first started, there weren’t nearly as many opportunities to earn points as there are today. Back then you were lucky to get a few newsletters a week that you could click on for points and you’d earn a few points here and there when you shopped online.

Today there are approximately ten zillion ways you can earn MyPoints, and earn them fast. Taking surveys, playing games, watching videos, printing coupons, shopping, following them on social media- the possibilities are endless. They recently gave me 1000 points for placing my first Instacart order, and that’s nearly a $10 Groupon gift card right there.

Swagbucks– Just like MyPoints, Swagbucks gives you points for shopping (make sure you have both the MyPoints and Swagbucks browser extensions installed so you don’t have to remember to go to the shopping portal before you start- they’ll pop up and give you your points automatically), taking surveys, and clicking through offers that they email to you.

Swagbucks has a lot of easy ways to get points fast- like 3000 points for signing up for a $5.99 Hulu subscription. That’s about $35 in Groupon gift cards right there. See how easy this is? You’ll be on your way to Italy in no time.

Refer your friends.

You’ll get $10 in Groupon Bucks for every friend who joins and makes a purchase. I’ve heard that some unscrupulous people will “refer” their own second email address, but obviously you wouldn’t do something like that. Besides, your friends deserve to get super cheap travel deals, too!

Ask for Groupon gift certificates for holidays, birthdays, and gift giving occasions.

As I mention in They Don’t Need More Stuff, unique experience gifts are a much better holiday tradition than gift wrapping a bunch of stuff that the recipient has to dust. Your friends and family would love for you to tell them what you really want for Christmas, and if what you really want is to take a selfie on the Great Wall of China, let them contribute in the form of Groupon gift cards.

Person holding wrapped gift box in hands. Groupon travel deals. MyAdventureBucket.com

Get the app.

Use the Snap by Groupon app to get rewards from the other places you shop that you can trade for Groupon Bucks.

If you have T-Mobile, check their T-Mobile Tuesdays app every week- they’ve had Groupon gift codes in the past.

Just like Snap, Ibotta gives you rewards every time you shop and scan your receipt. You can get those rewards in the form of cash or Groupon gift cards.

Shop through Groupon.

Shop through the Groupon “Get Groupon Bucks” link to get cash back on purchases in the form of Groupon Bucks. They’ll be automatically deposited into your account. I just shopped Petco through Groupon and got 35% off my order plus 4% back in Groupon Bucks.

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Imagine, people are out there paying full price for things and not even getting free travel out of the deal. Yikes.

Get Discounted Groupon Bucks to Spend on Your Trip.

Sometimes, you just can’t get a freebie. I know, heartbreaking. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get a deal. Even if you haven’t managed to score any free Groupon Bucks, you can still get some at a discount.

Buy discounted gift cards.

Raise.com– Groupon Gift Certificates don’t tend to be heavily discounted on Raise, but they have a $10 off promotion for new customers, so your $100 Groupon gift certificate will only be $90. (Don’t forget to shop through MyPoints or Swagbucks when you buy your gift certificate to keep racking up those points! As long as you have the browser extensions installed, they’ll pop up to let you know you can get points and if there are any current coupon codes you can use.) Subscribe to the Raise weekly newsletter to get an extra 3-7% off.

Sign up through this link and get your first $5 free.

GiftCardGranny– Similar to Raise, but Granny doesn’t seem to have Groupon gift cards available as often. But, you can set an alert to find out when one is available so you don’t have to keep checking back. Granny has a rewards program so you’ll earn points every time you make a purchase or refer a friend.

Miscellaneous Groupon Travel Deals Tips

Join Groupon Select for $4.99 a month and get an additional 10% off travel and 25% off local deals. When you pay for a 6 month membership, you’ll get a month free.

Check the Groupon Getaways tab before you book travel anywhere else.

Subscribe to Groupon deal alerts for the city you’re visiting as soon as you start planning your trip. Get deals in your inbox that you can jump on before you travel. To do this, just go into your Groupon profile and click on Subscriptions, then Add Another City.

Groupon isn’t just for US travel! Always check foreign Groupon sites when you’re leaving the country. I just snagged myself a super cheap Paris spa deal for my upcoming trip. To find the other Groupon sites, scroll down to the very bottom of the Groupon home page and you’ll see a box with all the global Groupon sites listed.

Check the “Sitewide Sale” section for the deepest, most rock-bottom discounts.

Follow Groupon on Twitter– they frequently tweet out coupon codes so you can save even more money. Never check out before you check to see if there is a coupon code- check Retailmenot or watch for a pop up from your MyPoints or Swagbucks extension. MyPoints just notified me that there was a 20% off deal available. Score!

Follow Groupon on Facebook to have personalized Facebook-only deals pop up in your feed.

Add the Groupon mobile app to your phone before your trip- it uses your phone’s location to show you local deals, so you can still score fresh savings on restaurants and activities while you’re at your destination.

Keep in Mind

READ THE FINE PRINT!

I think Groupon does an excellent job of laying out the fine print on all of their deals in clear and easy to understand terms, but that doesn’t help if you don’t read it. Don’t get so wrapped up in the thrill of a fantastic bargain that you get all click-happy and buy a deal that you can’t use because you didn’t check for date restrictions, first-time-customer-only verbiage, or extra charges you didn’t budget for.

If you do end up having an issue with a Groupon that you’ve purchased, they typically have great customer service, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for a refund or credit.

Before you head out on your trip, make sure you check out the rest of my money saving tips in You are NOT Too Broke to Travel so you can maximize your vacation budget. Happy adventuring!

Traveler wearing backpack and holding guide book looking at historic building. MyAdventureBucket.com

Have you scored any great Groupon travel deals? Let me know about it in the comments and inspire other readers to do the same.

Looking for more ways to travel like a rock star without breaking the bank? Check out Luxury Travel Savings You Won’t Believe.

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World Travel Trends 2019- Where Should I Go For Vacation?

World Travel Trends 2019- Where Should I Go For Vacation?

No time to take the quiz right now? Pin for later!

It has to be the most-asked question in every travel group on Facebook. Where should I go on my next  vacation?

I’m actually kind of amazed at how many people want to travel but have no idea where they want to go. And then I remember that not everyone leaves their travel plans up to the whim of a random computer algorithm the way I do.

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My Adventure Bucket uses affiliate links in some posts. I only share products I trust and believe in. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission when you click through these links and make a purchase. I appreciate your support!

If you’re one of the hordes of would-be adventurers ready to pack your bags just as soon as you figure out where to go, fret not. I have taken 9 of the top trending 2019 travel destinations according to the folks at Smarter Travel and magicked them into this fun little quiz to help you get your vacation planning started.

I also reached out to some travel experts for so planning advice to help you make the most of your trip. Keep reading after the quiz for their awesome advice! (Or, if you want to be a huge spoilsport, you can just scroll down and read all the travel tips and make up your own mind where to go- but honestly, what fun is THAT?)

And as an extra special bonus, I promise not to mine your data and sell it to the Russians like *some* quiz websites.

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Okay, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

World Travel Trends 2019: Peru

World Travel Trends 2019- Where Should I Go For Vacation?
It has to be the most-asked question in every travel group on Facebook. Where should I go on my next  vacation? If you’re one of the hordes of would-be adventurers ready to pack your bags just as soon as you figure out where to go, fret not. I have taken 9 of the top trending 2019 travel destinations according to the folks at Smarter Travel and magicked them into this fun little quiz to help you get your vacation planning started. 

I also reached out to some travel experts for so planning advice to help you make the most of your trip.

I know Machu Picchu is on your bucket list. It’s on my bucket list, too. It’s on everyone’s bucket list. But don’t think that’s all there is to do in Peru. Some people visit this mecca in the Andes Mountains on what amounts to little more than a weekend trip- fly in, hike the trail, take a few llama selfies, fly out- and they’re missing at least 10 billion amazing things about the rest of the country.

Check out this amazing 21 day trip from my friends at Intrepid Travel: Peru Encompassed. Covering all of Peru’s biggest showstoppers, from Machu Picchu to the Amazon, as well as lesser-visited but no less amazing sights like the Chauchilla desert graveyard and Colca Canyon, this is a trip that leaves no stone unturned.

Don’t forget, I mentioned in my post 2019 Travel Predictions From the Experts that flight and hotel prices to Latin America, including Peru, would be dropping this year. Who doesn’t love a travel bargain?

World Travel Trends 2019: Germany

World Travel Trends 2019- Where Should I Go For Vacation?
It has to be the most-asked question in every travel group on Facebook. Where should I go on my next  vacation? If you’re one of the hordes of would-be adventurers ready to pack your bags just as soon as you figure out where to go, fret not. I have taken 9 of the top trending 2019 travel destinations according to the folks at Smarter Travel and magicked them into this fun little quiz to help you get your vacation planning started. 

I also reached out to some travel experts for so planning advice to help you make the most of your trip.

Pack your lederhosen, you’re going to Germany! I talked to Daisy at Beyond My Border to get you the inside scoop on how to make your trip the best adventure ever. Here’s what she had to say:

Germany is an extremely charming country. Be it the stunning landscape or the grand architecture, its beauty is comparable to many of its neighboring counterparts. However, don’t forget that Germany is also very dynamic. Take Berlin for example, its hipster vibes and underground culture makes it stand out among other European cities. Do visit West Berlin, but don’t forget to visit the Zombie Hospital or indulge in the East Berlin’s unique ambiance. Of course, make sure you grab some cheap beers, a few pieces of bratwurst, and stay for Oktoberfest, a two-week celebration attracting millions a year. 

Check out Daisy’s Instagram if you want a serious case of wanderlust.

World Travel Trends 2019: Egypt

World Travel Trends 2019- Where Should I Go For Vacation?
It has to be the most-asked question in every travel group on Facebook. Where should I go on my next  vacation? If you’re one of the hordes of would-be adventurers ready to pack your bags just as soon as you figure out where to go, fret not. I have taken 9 of the top trending 2019 travel destinations according to the folks at Smarter Travel and magicked them into this fun little quiz to help you get your vacation planning started. 

I also reached out to some travel experts for so planning advice to help you make the most of your trip.

To help you make the best of your pyramid-gazing, I talked to Monica, globetrotting Cairo resident and writer at Ahlan Monica. Here’s what she had to say about your visit to Egypt:

Egypt is a country on most people’s bucket lists and for good reason, the people are incredibly hospitable, there’s so much landscape diversity to discover and of course, the history! Having travelled there many times, here are a few tips to share! If you’re travelling to Egypt don’t just spend your whole trip in a seaside resort like Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada, explore the country further! One of the best ways to see some of the gems that Egypt has to offer, is to take a Nile Cruise from Aswan to Luxor. You’ll visit the cities themselves that have so much to see and experience as well as stop by Ancient Egyptian temples in between. Second tip would be to travel there during the spring or fall, that’s when the weather is best (not too hot!). Lastly would be, do try to be respectful of local customs and culture, for women that may mean dressing a bit more conservatively and for men that could mean not shaking hands with a local woman unless she initiates. There’s so much to take in, Egypt is truly an amazing country everyone should visit at least once!

Photo by Monica- check out her Instagram for more!

World Travel Trends 2019: Slovenia

World Travel Trends 2019- Where Should I Go For Vacation?
It has to be the most-asked question in every travel group on Facebook. Where should I go on my next  vacation? If you’re one of the hordes of would-be adventurers ready to pack your bags just as soon as you figure out where to go, fret not. I have taken 9 of the top trending 2019 travel destinations according to the folks at Smarter Travel and magicked them into this fun little quiz to help you get your vacation planning started. 

I also reached out to some travel experts for so planning advice to help you make the most of your trip.

I talked to well-traveled foodie Laura of The Travelling Stomach to get you the inside scoop on your trip to Slovenia. Here’s what she had to say:

Somewhat overshadowed by its neighbours, Austria and Croatia, the nation of Slovenia brings an old worldly charm for a travellers destination. The capital, Ljubljana is famed for its old town centre with a snaking river running through it dotted with intricate and beautiful bridges. During the warmer months you can even explore the array of bridges by paddleboard – perhaps the water would be a touch chilly for winter! Outside the city, visitors will be drawn to the natural beauty of Lake Bled, which you can explore by taking a bus from the capital. Get there early to enjoy the soft morning light and, if you’re feeling adventurous, take a row boat out to the picturesque island in its centre.

Isn’t this the most perfect photo ever?? Photo by Laura, The Travelling Stomach. Check out more of her work on her Facebook page!

World Travel Trends 2019: Israel

World Travel Trends 2019- Where Should I Go For Vacation?
It has to be the most-asked question in every travel group on Facebook. Where should I go on my next  vacation? If you’re one of the hordes of would-be adventurers ready to pack your bags just as soon as you figure out where to go, fret not. I have taken 9 of the top trending 2019 travel destinations according to the folks at Smarter Travel and magicked them into this fun little quiz to help you get your vacation planning started. 

I also reached out to some travel experts for so planning advice to help you make the most of your trip.

Woo hoo, you’re going to Israel! I got you some tips from Or at My Path In The World to help you make the most of your trip. Here’s her advice:

Instead of just visiting cities, explore northern Israel’s green scenery and southern Israel’s desert landcapes. Visit in spring or autumn to enjoy the best weather.For the best falafel in Tel Aviv (and maybe the entire country), head to ‘Hakosem’ (‘The Magician’) on King Solomon Street.

Thanks, Or! Check out her Instagram for even more travel inspo.

World Travel Trends 2019: Turkey

World Travel Trends 2019- Where Should I Go For Vacation?
It has to be the most-asked question in every travel group on Facebook. Where should I go on my next  vacation? If you’re one of the hordes of would-be adventurers ready to pack your bags just as soon as you figure out where to go, fret not. I have taken 9 of the top trending 2019 travel destinations according to the folks at Smarter Travel and magicked them into this fun little quiz to help you get your vacation planning started. 

I also reached out to some travel experts for so planning advice to help you make the most of your trip.

Kaisa from Glam Granola Travel gave me some tips to help you make the most of your trip to Turkey:

Turkey is a beautiful country, rich with fascinating history and culture. I’m happy to see its growing popularity with world travelers! My advice to those travelers? First, always carry a cute shawl (if you’re starting in Istanbul, you can pick one up at the Grand Bazaar) for conservative areas and mosques. Try to travel in the off season—spots like the Hagia Sofia will be less crowded, but you’ll still be able to ride a balloon in Cappadocia. It’s a win-win. And whatever you do, don’t leave without eating menemen for breakfast and çiğ köfte for at least a few snacks!

Thanks, Kaisa! Check out her Instagram for even more wanderlust fuel.

Psst- remember what I said in 2019 Travel Predictions From the Experts about how Turkish Airlines is stepping up its game and giving a boost to tourism in Turkey? If this is the trip you want to take, now’s the perfect time to book it!

World Travel Trends 2019: Ecuador

World Travel Trends 2019- Where Should I Go For Vacation?
It has to be the most-asked question in every travel group on Facebook. Where should I go on my next  vacation? If you’re one of the hordes of would-be adventurers ready to pack your bags just as soon as you figure out where to go, fret not. I have taken 9 of the top trending 2019 travel destinations according to the folks at Smarter Travel and magicked them into this fun little quiz to help you get your vacation planning started. 

I also reached out to some travel experts for so planning advice to help you make the most of your trip.

If you want to climb a volcano, you can do that here. If you’re keen to visit ancient Inca temples, you can do that here. If you want to chill out on the beach with a cold beer in your hand and watch the surfers, you can do that here. Whale watching? Lava tube exploration? Taking selfies with a 100+ year old tortoise? Check, check, check. For a country only slightly larger than the US state of Oregon, Ecuador sure is jam packed with awesomeness.

Infrastructure is decent and the country uses the US dollar as its official currency, so it’s easy for travelers, even solo travelers, to get around. Lia & Jeremy from Practical Wanderlust have put together the most thorough guide to Ecuador I’ve seen- check it out here to help you with your itinerary.

World Travel Trends 2019: Ethiopia

World Travel Trends 2019- Where Should I Go For Vacation?
It has to be the most-asked question in every travel group on Facebook. Where should I go on my next  vacation? If you’re one of the hordes of would-be adventurers ready to pack your bags just as soon as you figure out where to go, fret not. I have taken 9 of the top trending 2019 travel destinations according to the folks at Smarter Travel and magicked them into this fun little quiz to help you get your vacation planning started. 

I also reached out to some travel experts for so planning advice to help you make the most of your trip.

Excited about your trip to Ethiopia? I guarantee, you won’t have to worry about everyone you know heading to the same place for their next vacation- at least until they see your photos. To help you make the most of your trip, I got the inside scoop from Selam at SWTliving about her ancestral homeland:

If you’re looking to experience local culture and traditions, the best times to visit Ethiopia are during the Orthodox religious holidays. Consider a visit during Gena (Christmas), Timket (Epiphany), or Fasika (Easter). These holidays mark the end of fasting, so be prepared to feast on local delicacies such as doro wet (chicken stew), tej (homemade honey wine), and tella (local beer).

Be mindful of dates! Ethiopians don’t use the traditional Gregorian calendar. Gena and Timket occur in January, and the Ethiopian New Year is in September.

When visiting Ethiopia, I recommend getting out of Addis Ababa to experience Ethiopia’s diverse landscape: hike the Simien Mountains; trek through the 11 rock hewn churches of Lalibela; camp in the hottest place on Earth, the Danakil Depression, home to multi-colored sulfuric springs, a volcano, and salt flats!

Photo by Selam, SWTliving. Check out more of her photography on her Instagram!

World Travel Trends 2019: Vietnam

World Travel Trends 2019- Where Should I Go For Vacation?
It has to be the most-asked question in every travel group on Facebook. Where should I go on my next  vacation? If you’re one of the hordes of would-be adventurers ready to pack your bags just as soon as you figure out where to go, fret not. I have taken 9 of the top trending 2019 travel destinations according to the folks at Smarter Travel and magicked them into this fun little quiz to help you get your vacation planning started. 

I also reached out to some travel experts for so planning advice to help you make the most of your trip.

A few years ago I was toying with the idea of moving to Vietnam to teach English, live on the beach, and drink a lot of fruity umbrella cocktails while enjoying the fantastic US dollar exchange rate. I’m kind of annoyed that I didn’t do it. Don’t let your own Vietnam travel dream slip through your fingers- take these travel tips from Clazz at An Orcadian Abroad and go adventuring!

Straddling an entire piece of coastline, from the magical limestone stacks of Halong Bay in the north to incredible beaches in the south, Vietnam is one of the best countries in Southeast Asia. If you find yourself in historic Hoi An (and I highly recommend that you do!), lots of visitors end up taking a cycle to the popular An Bang beach – but if you head a little further out, you’ll find the aptly named Hidden Beach, which is much quieter and nicer! It’s also well worth visiting the country during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, usually celebrated around the beginning of February.

Photo by Clazz, An Orcadian Abroad. See more of her photos on her Instagram.

Don’t forget to share your quiz results on Facebook and Twitter so all of your friends can figure out their next trip, too!

Need help boosting your travel savings to make one of these awesome trips happen? Check out some of my best tips in You are NOT Too Broke to Travel and Luxury Travel Savings You Won’t Believe. You’ll be on your way to one of these fab destinations before you know it.

What do you think about your results? Was it a place that’s already on your bucket list or do you have a new destination to think about? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t Forget to Pin!

Luxury Travel Savings You Won’t Believe

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying?

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Disclosure: My Adventure Bucket uses affiliate links in some posts. I only share products I trust and believe in. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission when you click through these links and make a purchase. I appreciate your support!

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Adventurers. I kind of hate budget travel.

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At least, I hate the traditional expectation of budget travel. Hostel dorms that smell like sweat socks, eating nothing but ramen noodles and hauling a backpack around the world? I mean this with all the love in the world, but no… no thank you.

I’m too old and cranky to face a hostel bed, much less someone else’s sweat socks. I love fine dining and my back would never forgive me if I tried to haul one of those giant packs around. I love nice hotels. I adore room service and fluffy robes and I love having priceless experiences all over the world.  But here’s the thing- I don’t want to pay more than those hostel-loving backpackers.

Many people think it has to be one or the other- take a budget trip with zero splurges or go all out with a luxury vacation that breaks the bank. Impossible? Not at all. Let me show you how to live the Ritz Carlton life on the Motel 6 budget.

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
I scored such a killer deal on this weekend at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island- a $500+ a night room for under $100!

Not only will I spill my secrets on scoring huge luxury travel savings, I’ll also show you how I plan a luxury travel itinerary and link to an example you can follow (or just go ahead and steal, if you’re headed that way!)

Luxury Travel Savings Secret #1- Let Someone Else Do the Planning

I once read that Burger King spends $0 researching where to open new restaurants. They let McDonald’s spend millions on market research and then just build in the same vicinity.

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Likewise, you don’t have to spend hundreds of hours researching how to put together a trip. Somewhere, a luxury travel company like Abercrombie & Kent has already done all the hard work for you.

When I’m planning a trip, one of the first things I do is look at all of the luxury tour companies and check out their itineraries for the location. I mean, these are the luxury travel experts and their trips have to satisfy an extremely well-heeled clientele. I assume they’ve done a ton of research and know all the best things to see, places to stay, etc.

All you have to do is take their carefully curated itinerary and tweak it to suit your needs and budget.

Having spent three months in Sri Lanka, that was the first destination I looked up on Abercrombie & Kent’s website to see what they recommend for an itinerary. They have this incredible looking 14 day tour called Tailor Made Sri Lanka: Leopards and Tea Country for an equally incredible $10,595.

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Listen, if you have $11,000 lying around that you can spend on a two week vacation, this is where to spend it. A&K are the undisputed masters of luxury travel experiences and I know you’d get your money’s worth if you traveled with them.

But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that you *don’t* have that kind of pocket change to spare.

Does that mean you can’t have an amazing trip and you need to just stay home and cry over travel shows on Hulu? No. No, it does not.

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
Even my dog laughs at the idea of staying home instead of going adventuring.

Check out the super swanky A&K itinerary here

…and my $2000 remake here: 2 Weeks in Sri Lanka- How to Have a $10,000 Vacation for $2,200

Luxury Travel Savings Secret #2- Points, Points, Points

Just like Burger King doesn’t pay to replicate research McDonald’s has already done, I don’t feel the need to create a huge guide on using credit card points to pay for travel when the definitive guide already exists.

You’re probably already familiar with The Points Guy, but if not, you should be. If you have any interest at all in maximizing rewards points for travel, he has written the book on it.

Check out his beginners guide here.

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
This Indonesian cabana with private pool was free with points. In case you were wondering, luxury hotel beds *are* more comfortable when they’re free.

Luxury Travel Savings Secret #3- Get Paid to Travel

I mentioned this method in my post You are NOT Too Broke to Travel! but I feel like it bears repeating here.

Mystery shopping companies desperately need people who can travel to hotels and resorts and spas all over the world and pose as a normal guest in exchange for writing a detailed report and sharing surreptitiously taken photos after their stay.

Scrolling through some of my regular mystery shopping websites just now, I saw schedulers looking for people willing to have dinner at the Capital Grille, spend the night at the Hilton in Costa Mesa, California, and spend several nights at a luxury hotel chain in Boston, New York City, Washington DC, Maui, and San Francisco.

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
Someone literally wants to pay you to do this right now. Why are you still sitting there?

Other companies specialize in international luxury travel and will pay you to fly to Fiji and stay in an overwater bungalow, order room service, and drink fruity umbrella cocktails every day.

It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

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If you have an eye for detail, a good memory, and can express yourself well in writing, you probably have what it takes to be a good mystery shopper. Check out the list of mystery shopping companies in this post as well as my method for planning an entire trip where I get paid to stay in nice resorts, eat in upscale restaurants, and shop in high end stores.

The caveat, of course, is that you have to be able to book and pay for these places ahead of time and wait 30-60 days to be reimbursed, but many of the super high end mystery shops pay enough for you to reward yourself with a non-working vacation.

Getting paid to travel the world in style and stay in some of the nicest hotels and resorts on the planet? Now that takes luxury travel savings to a whole new level.

Luxury Travel Savings Secret #4- Upgrade

I never book the most expensive option right out of the gate, whether we’re talking about rental cars, flights, or cruise ship cabins.

I’ve found that it’s much easier to get a killer deal when you pay for a basic option at first and then upgrade. Most companies make their best deals available to people who are already customers!

For example, I rented a car to take a road trip from Florida to New Mexico. As much as I wanted something comfortable for the ride, even the mid-range cars were crazy expensive for the week I was traveling. So I  booked a basic econobox and crossed my fingers when I showed up at the rental counter, hoping they’d have something nicer for me to upgrade to.

An additional $10 a day later, I was cruising to Carlsbad Caverns in style in a brand new Cadillac Escalade.

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
Also, Carlsbad Caverns is super dope and you should go, no matter what kind of ride you take to get there.

I use the same technique when it comes to flights. I’m a cheapskate at heart, so I never look at anything beyond economy when I’m booking a flight. Many airlines will email you an offer to upgrade your seat before the flight, and these upgrades are always way less than it would have cost to choose the better seat from the beginning.

Currently my best score has been upgrading to Emirates Business Class (with lie flat seats and champagne!) for $200 after I booked a killer economy class flight to Dubai. Booking Business Class from the start would have cost thousands more than I paid.

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
A super cheap upgrade to Emirates Business Class and then checking right into a cushy hotel room with a lovely breakfast that was free with points. Y’all, there are worse ways to travel.

I’m always on the lookout for the cheapest travel deals, so I subscribe to loads of newsletters and deal alert services. Scott’s Cheap Flights is the best, hands down, but you can also find gems with Travelzoo and Secret Flying. Secret Flying, as the name suggests, is mostly flight deals, but they occasionally have a ridiculously rock bottom hotel deal, like 14 Euros a night at a brand new Greek island resort.

When you scored a round trip flight for $200, it’s a lot less painful to fork out another couple hundred to upgrade to business class, right? Much easier to swallow than paying thousands for that business class seat up front.

Luxury Travel Savings Secret #5- Borrow a Mansion

What do you think it would cost to spend a month as the sole occupants of a 16th Century English manor house nestled among acres of exotic gardens?

What if you wanted to spend six months drinking wine and basking in the sun at a sprawling chateau estate in the French countryside without any other guests around to spoil the mood?

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel

How about a few weeks in a London brick mansion a stone’s throw from the royal family?

What if I said you could do all of those things for free?

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If you have a membership to TrustedHousesitters.com and a compelling profile, you’re well on your way to scoring free accommodation around the world in exchange for looking after the homeowner’s residence and pets.

If you could spend six months in an oceanfront mansion in the Caribbean free of charge in exchange for feeding some goldfish and walking a spoiled dog twice a day, how hard would you have to think about that?

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There is a charge to register with TrustedHousesitters. It’s currently $119 for a year-long membership, but that won’t even get you a halfway decent budget hotel room in a large American city most of the time. If you’re planning to travel at least a few days a year and have the flexibility to plan your travel around the needs of the homeowners, you can be staying in lavish surrounds for next to nothing.  Luxury travel savings don’t get much better than that!

Luxury Travel Savings Secret #6- Work(away) Smarter, Not Harder

Looking to travel long term but don’t want to sleep in sketchy hostel dorms and constantly fret about how long your money is going to last before you have to go home and get a job again?

Wouldn’t you rather sail around Malaysia on a 50’ yacht or spend your days in a luxury boutique hotel on the Aegean?

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
This could be you.

For the uninitiated, Workaway is a website that matches up people and businesses looking for workers with long term travelers looking for a place to work part time in exchange for room and board.

Many people think it’s all backpacker hostels and organic farms looking for labor. There are plenty of those listings, but there are hundreds of luxury boutique hotels looking for front desk help and yachts looking for sailors and other really very cushy gigs that can be yours for the asking.

My favorite listing I’ve seen so far is a Greek island family in need of a house sitter and cat sitter for a few months a year- apparently they even stock the pantry for you before they leave.

Luxury Travel Savings Secret #7- Groupon is Not Just For Oil Changes

If you aren’t familiar with Groupon Getaways yet, you’re missing a huge piece of the luxury travel savings puzzle. If you didn’t manage to score a mansion to house sit on your vacation, don’t think that the next option is paying full price for a hotel.

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Gah, just typing that makes me queasy.

I just glanced at Groupon Getaways to see what’s trending, and I spotted a 4.5 star Cabo resort for $53/night, a 12 day tour of China with airfare for $599, and tons of Vegas hotels for $20/night.

Once you’ve got your flight and hotels sorted, hop over to the main Groupon page to score deals on fancy restaurants and concerts and all the other activities you want to do on your trip.

The best part is, since it’s Groupon, you can earn Groupon gift certificates through all the points programs like MyPoints and Swagbucks and YouGov. If you do enough surveys and click through enough email offers, your whole trip could be free.

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
Did you hear me? F-R-E-E.

In my experience, lots of people use Groupon at home for getting cheap oil changes and dog grooming, but never think to use it when they travel. I’m glad my DuoLingo French lessons are paying off, since I just scooped up some 50% off Paris spa Groupons and I’m eyeing a half price wine dinner at a fancy bistro on the French language site.

Now think about all the dinners and activities you’ve paid full price for on vacation because you didn’t check Groupon first.

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Finally, you know what else you can score on Groupon that you’ll be kicking yourself for not knowing about earlier? Airport lounge access. I just spotted a priority pass for $7, which has to be the travel deal of the week, y’all. Grab one before they’re gone!

I wrote an entire article on how to rock Groupon Travel Deals to get the cheapest travel ever- check it out here!

Luxury Travel Savings Secret #8- Get on the List

The email list, that is. As soon as you know where your next trip is going to be, or if you like to travel to the same places on a regular basis, sign up for every email list that the local destination marketing organizations offer.

If you like planning “staycations” around your home state, sign up for all of the local ones as well. I’m on every Oregon visitor bureau email list I can find.

Every month my inbox is filled with giveaways from at least 10 DMOs from around the state for bed and breakfast weekends, Oregon coast getaways, ski trips, fancy restaurant gift certificates, and other luxury travel prizes. For the most part, these trips don’t include transportation so they’re geared toward locals, but if you’re already planning a trip somewhere, why not try to win part of your trip as a prize?

Unlike the huge national giveaways sponsored by airlines and other mega corporations, these little local giveaways don’t have nearly as much competition so you have a much better chance of winning.

Visitor Bureau newsletters are also great sources of local coupons and specials.

Luxury Travel Savings Secret #9- Be in the Right Place at the Right Time

If you’re a veteran traveler, you’ve probably heard about repositioning cruises. For the uninitiated, that’s where a cruise line needs to move one of their ships from one part of the world to another between seasons. A cruise ship might sail in the Caribbean for half of the year and then move to the Mediterranean for the other half. Obviously the ship is going to sail from one part of the world to another, but it wouldn’t make sense to sail an empty ship.

That’s where repositioning cruises come in. Cruise lines offer them at rock bottom prices just to get bodies on the boat. You get the same amenities as a normal cruise- great food, service, entertainment- without stopping at a bunch of ports along the way. You could pay around $400 for a 12 night cruise from Spain to the Caribbean on a luxury cruise liner- that’s $33 a night, y’all.

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
A luxury cruise or a night at the cheapest fleabag motel in town for the same price? Tough choice.

Check out RepositioningCruise.com and see what kind of deals you can come up with for the dates you want to travel.

That being said, cruise ships aren’t the only modes of transportation that need repositioning. Car rental and RV rental companies also need their stock shifted with the seasons. Companies in the northern US need their RVs and vehicles moved to Florida and Arizona in the winter for the snowbirds, but you’ll find vehicles needing to be repositioned all over the world.

What will it cost you?

Are you sitting down?

Rates for repositioning cars and RVs start at $1.00 a night.

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I know. I KNOW.

Planning a campervan excursion across New Zealand? You can move an RV from Auckland to Christchurch for $1.00 a day and they’ll give you $100 worth of free fuel to boot.

Check out imoova.com to see what other deals you can find.

(If you don’t get a deal that gives you free gas, hit the surveys page on MyPoints.com before your trip and you can earn free gas cards!)

Luxury Travel Savings Secret #10- Figure Out What You Really Want

Everyone dreams about staying in an overwater bungalow in the Maldives, right?

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
I mean, *I guess* this would be okay.

Is that because you want the luxury experience of the accommodation or because you’re really interested in the culture of the Maldives and want to experience it firsthand? If I was a betting woman, I’d say the former.

So would you be just as happy staying in the same overwater bungalow if it was on a Caribbean island and cost about 80% less than the one in the Maldives? Only you can answer that, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a great many people would say yes.

If you want a luxury ski vacation, does it have to be Vail?

If you want to see the Northern Lights, does it have to be in Iceland?

If you want that Instagram photo of you gazing over the edge of your infinity pool into the crystal blue sea, does it have to be in Fiji?

Case in point: a friend of mine has been talking for ages about wanting to go to Tahiti to lounge on the beach with a cocktail in her hand, but between the flights being so long and the resorts being so expensive, it just wasn’t happening. I showed her a flight deal to Puerto Rico from her home airport and said, “I know it’s not Tahiti, but the flight is only 6 hours and tickets are only $300.”

She just about fell out of her chair. She had never considered anything closer than the South Pacific because, in her mind, that’s what she pictured when she envisioned vacationing in a tropical paradise. Once she gave it some thought, she realized that, while Tahiti would be dope, it wasn’t the only place she could find the sunny tropical getaway she was after.

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
…Tahiti, tho.

Luxury Travel Savings Secret #11- Aim for the Shoulder

You’ve probably heard that traveling on the off-season is the best way to save money, and you’re not wrong. But what if you’re traveling somewhere that off-season means monsoon rains or freezing temperatures or other really sub-optimal weather conditions?

Aim for the shoulder.

The shoulder season is the brief period on either side of the high season where prices have dropped to at or near low season rates, the high season traffic has dropped off, but the weather conditions are probably still perfect for your trip.

Case in point: the end of May begins monsoon season on the southern Sri Lanka coast. The heavy tourist numbers from winter and early spring dry up and many businesses board up until fall when the torrential rains have passed.

All I heard was “fewer tourists” so I jumped on that. What’s a little rain, anyway?

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Several of the hotels and resorts I visited in the south were about to close for the season. In at least one place, I was the only guest on the property. Imagine staying in a gorgeous luxury resort on the beach, lounging in the tropical pool, and enjoying all of the other amenities without a single other guest in sight.

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
I had the beaches all to myself because of the terrible weather. Doesn’t it look dreadful?

All of that luxurious solitude *and* the prices are almost half of what it would cost in the high season when that same blissful pool would be filled with screaming children? Sign. Me. Up.

Also, I was on the south coast for the entire month of May, and there were only a few days of really heavy rain. Afternoon showers happened here and there, but what better excuse to go take a nice long nap? On heavy rain days I would stay curled up on my balcony with a book or my laptop and relax or work while watching the stormy ocean.

It didn’t suck.

To find out when your travel destination’s shoulder season is, check out some of the hotels and resorts in the area and look for a rate sheet. The first week you see prices drop from the high season rates, that’s the time to aim for. You’re saving a ton of money, the tourist hordes are probably gone, and it’s doubtful that the weather is going to be tremendously different than the week before when it was still considered the high season.

Luxury Travel Savings Secret #12- Ask (Nicely) for More

Some of the best luxury travel savings I’ve ever gotten while traveling have been because I asked (nicely, of course).

Working in the travel and hospitality industries has to be tough. I get the impression that people are rude and demanding and unreasonable a lot. Flight attendants constantly get blamed for delays beyond their control, hotel clerks have abuse heaped on them left and right, and we won’t even talk about what restaurant employees have to deal with.

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
Did she seriously say please and thank you instead of treating me like her servant? Oh, she is so getting an upgrade.

So when a customer is kind and patient and polite and appreciative, most people in the service industry have no problem hooking that wonderful ray of sunshine up with a little something something.

Not that you should only be nice in order to get your way, of course. You should be nice because you’re a nice person and no one likes dealing with a jerk. But still. It doesn’t hurt.

While booking a last minute cruise, I was prepared to settle for a less luxurious cabin than I really wanted just to keep the trip in my budget, but then I thought, “Why not ask?” I called up the cruise line reservation number, made some pleasant small talk with the nice lady on the other end of the phone, and asked if there was anything better she could do.

20 minutes later I had myself a balcony cabin, premium drink package, and onboard credit to use toward a shore excursion for quite a bit less than what that same cabin was selling for online.

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Another time, I mentioned to an agent at check in that I was flying for a special occasion and found myself in an upgraded seat with a glass of champagne in my hand before take-off.

Never hesitate to let a hotel, airline, or cruise line know that you’re celebrating a special occasion and/or ask if there’s anything they can do to make your experience more memorable. People typically enter the hospitality industry because they enjoy making people happy and helping them create positive memories, so most of the time they’re happy to go out of their way for you if it’s within their control to do so.

Before you ask for a room upgrade or another perk, make sure you’re signed up with the hotel’s loyalty program or the airline’s frequent flier mile program (which you should be anyway because, hello, points!)

What would you say if I told you that you could score luxury travel savings so huge that you could take a swanky vacation for pennies on the dollar compared to what other people are paying? #luxurytravel #travelhacks #travel
Okay, what are you waiting for? Go book some super cheap luxury travel and have an adventure!

So there you go- my 12 best luxury travel savings secrets to help you travel the world in luxury without breaking the bank. If you’ve found these tips helpful, leave me a note below in the comments and let me know about your best bargain luxury travel deal!

Do you have a luxury travel savings secret I didn’t mention? Share the love and tell the rest of us in the comments!

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