I've been traveling the world for over 20 years (but I'm only 28 so how is that possible?) and I've learned a few things along the way. These 5 things are what I normally do every time I take a trip and I've found them useful and I hope they can help you in your travels, wherever they may take you.
1. Don't carry a designer purse
This may sound strange to you but there is a reason why. When you travel, especially if you are traveling to a foreign city, you may stand out. While I don't mind standing out when I travel, I don't want anyone to look at me as a target and when you carry around an expensive bag or a purse that is loaded down with labels that can make you a target. To some, the fact that you are carrying an expensive bag means that you are rich and your purse must have lots of money in it. I am in no way saying that you will always be a target for pick pockets but there is no reason to bring any unwanted attention to you if you don't have to.
2. Always let someone know where you are
This is extremely important and not one to be taken lightly. If you are traveling alone, you should let someone know what your plans are for each day. It is easy to keep people updated with a quick email. For instance, if you are in Paris you could write, "Hey there! Today I'm headed to The Louvre then afterwards going to walk down the Champs Elysees." Something like that just so someone has an idea of what you will be doing. (Before you go to Paris make sure to get my guidebook to help you navigate your trip!)
Why is this important? Because we are living in crazy times and as much as I love to travel and explore, I try to be as smart as I can while I'm doing it. If by some small chance something would happen, at least someone has some idea of where you last were as this can be very important. What if you are traveling with someone? Same rule applies. For instance, when I travel with friends, for the most part, we know where the other person is. No one wants to be mothered but if I am going to explore on my own I tend to let my friends know what my general plans are and we set a time to meet back up so we have some idea of when to expect the other person.
3. Always have at least one credit card you can charge unexpected fees
There are many people that only travel with a debit card and while there is nothing wrong with that per se, it is something I would never do. Debit cards are great but when you travel, the unexpected happens. No matter how much you plan and try to make sure everything goes the way it's supposed to, life happens and you have to adjust. Sometimes that adjustment means you have to spend more money than you thought. Unexpected baggage fees, getting sick overseas, not being able to access your cash in your account, running out of cash...these are just a few of the things that could happen (and all of these have happened to me and my friends while we were traveling).
If you have a credit card you don't have to get stressed when all of a sudden you need money that you don't have in your pocket. Mind you, I'm not saying that a purse or an outfit falls into this category. I am in no way saying that you should spend thousands of dollars on insignificant things that will rack up debt and stress you out when you get back home. I am talking about making sure you have enough credit on your card so that you have the freedom to handle a situation that may arise that you weren't expecting.
4. Use social media wisely
Everyone today is so connected, telling everyone exactly what they are doing at every given moment of the day. When you are traveling, do not do this. It may sound like it's in contradiction to #2 but it isn't. There is a difference between letting a few loved ones know your whereabouts and a totally different thing to blast on the internet that you have checked in somewhere, that you are enjoying a meal in a cute restaurant, or are in a certain shop. The only time I check-in somewhere is right when I am about to leave and that is only so my family can know where I have been.
Think about it: You are in a different city and visiting a museum. You have checked in and are walking around. Someone walks up to you and says, "I saw your check-in on (fill in blank here) and wanted to say hi. I think you're pretty." Yuck. To me, that's creepy. But it has happened to people I know so just be savvy about using social media and don't feel the need to let everyone know your exact move every minute of the day.
5. Always be prepared for Aunt Flo
If you're still getting visits from the aunt no one loves, always make sure to be prepared for her. She will often arrive at times that are not convenient for you and she doesn't care if you're traveling. Sometimes when you travel it causes her visit to speed up and you don't want to be caught off guard so take the necessary precautions and bring the things you need with you in order to make sure she doesn't disrupt your vacation. Remember, she may be family but she's evil so be prepared for her at all times.