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Five Tips for Smarter Travel

While traveling is supposed to be relaxing, there are inherent risks posed by stepping out of the zone of familiarity.

traveling in a van photo

Vacations are supposed to be fun and carefree. They serve as an escape from reality, and a chance to experience new cultures and locations. However, they also require a significant amount of planning to ensure that everything goes smoothly and the time off truly is as carefree as it’s intended to be. 

This is easier said than done. For every group vacation, there’s likely one person that spearheads planning all of the logistics – from the itinerary to transportation and everything in between. Their main goal is to please everyone, though this is a nearly impossible task. Instead, they should simply strive to keep everyone safe and have some fun of their own in the process. 

While traveling is supposed to be relaxing, there are inherent risks posed by stepping out of the zone of familiarity. Tourists who don’t know the area they’re visiting are subsequently vulnerable to increased crimes and mishaps. 

Travelers shouldn’t be paranoid and expecting the worst to happen to them at all times, but they should be aware that things happen. However, there are measures that can be taken to become a responsible traveler. With these precautionary methods, vacationers can rest easy knowing that their trip will be everything they hope it will be and more burden-free. 

Plan an Itinerary 

It probably goes without saying that an idea of what to see and where to go should be laid out before departure. However, the more detailed this itinerary is, the better. From how you’ll keep your gang entertained on the flight to what photo-opps you’ll visit on day two – the more specific this itinerary is, the better. 

It doesn’t need to be a ‘down-to-the-minute’ schedule, but it should lay out a general plan for each day of travel. Plans change, and the travel group should be ready to roll with the punches if inclement weather interrupts the perfect beach day, but it’s always good to outline what each day will look like in advance. 

Not only will this set clear expectations for your travel group, it will also encourage everyone to do some pre-travel research and start getting familiar with the area before you actually arrive. 

Know Before You Go 

Speaking of getting familiar with the area, print out maps, directions and anything else you may need for when the handy GPS falls through. Especially for the directionally challenged, it’s all too easy to get lost in a new and unfamiliar area. This can turn into a scary situation if a member is separated from the group in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

The internet is a great tool to combat this, but the internet is also not always available, especially in a foreign country. Whether it’s a dead phone from too much photo taking or poor international service, mobile devices seem to fail us only in the worst possible situations. Have a backup plan so that if this happens to anyone in the group, they can safely navigate back to the hotel. 

Be Aware of Pickpockets 

Every seasoned traveler knows that tourists can easily get taken advantage of, especially near large attractions. Some cities are synonymous with pickpocketing tourists – and it happens more often than the average person may believe. The first step to avoiding them is knowing they’re out there. 

The second step is outsmarting them. Pickpockets look for tourists that are naive and vulnerable, so don’t be one of them. Keep your belongings close your body (think minimal loose straps) and avoid stopping to ‘sign petitions’ or falling into other scams. 

Look Into Tourism Sites 

Most major vacation destinations have some form of tourism department full of people employed literally solely to help you – use this to your advantage. These are experts of their cities, so they can questions you didn’t even know you had. 

Start by simply exploring through their visitor webpages and getting familiar with popular excursions and outings. Note important phone numbers and addresses you can contact or visit if needed – police contacts, medical contacts, and so on. You likely won’t need these, but it’s better to have them than to be stuck scrambling in an emergency. 

Get First-Hand Advice 

The most realistic way to figure out which streets to avoid or where pickpocketing is most common is through tourists who’ve directly interacted with the location. If you personally know someone who’s been to your destination, set up a meeting to pick their brains about every part of their experience. 

If you don’t know anyone, the world wide web is your new best friend. From tourist blogs to Yelp reviews, there are tons of people waiting to share their experiences with someone. Take this opportunity to educate yourself and in the process, you will likely learn some helpful hacks on must-see restaurants and attractions. 

The takeaway from these is not to assume the worst in people. It’s simply a message of caution. That perfect dream vacation can take a steep turn to the South when travelers get taken advantage of. It’s always better to know the risks at hand and be safe rather than sorry.

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