101 Tips for Safe and Smooth Travel

Some really good ideas in here! 101 Travel Tips| NotesFromTheShire.com

I love travelling and I have been lucky enough to have ventured to some really diverse corners of our world. I’ve travelled for business, with family, with friends and alone, I’ve therefore learned by experience some real travel do’s and don’ts and this is my list of how to travel safely and smoothly. The list read in a oner may make travelling sound a bit scary/dodgy but this is just tips from years of different travel experiences from luxury travel to backpacking on a shoestring, you’re unlikely to need to adhere to all of these tips on each and every trip you take, so don’t be put off it’s not meant to be scary just helpful! Go pack a bag! (there’s tips for that too…) 

Before you go:

For starters! Buy good travel insurance – focus on emergency medical cover including evacuation. Read the small print before you buy and know what you’re getting!

  1. Take (multiple) printouts/photocopies – passport, visas, boarding passes, itineraries, insurance, hire car info, hotel confirmations – anything you might need/want.
  2. Keep your printouts in a file and put them in the order you will need them in. Super easy to find. Pack a pen in this folder too.
  3. Take a note of all your credit card/bank card numbers and the emergency phone number of your bank in case of loss/theft.
  4. Research visas – Do you need them before hand? Where are they available? NB not all border crossings are created equal and I have seen travellers stranded due to poor research. In my opinion – where possible get your visas before travelling.
  5. Know your nearest embassy – If you’re going to be in the country a while consider registering.
  6. Research the local customs – dress/behave accordingly.
  7. Research your vaccinations (and get them) before you go, paying through the nose for them may be annoying but getting Typhoid will be worse…
  8. Have some local currency or USD before travelling – Try not to arrive empty handed! You can’t rely on there being cash machines when you need them and in some situations the phrase money talks is far too true…
  9. Research the best anti-malarial tablets for you – some have horrendous side effects.
  10. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to take your anti malarial tablets.
    100+ Travel Tips from NotesFromTheShire.com
  11. Fill in the emergency contact section of your passport.
  12. Research currency card options and save a bundle on bank charges. There are many providers for USD and Euros. I like Caxton FX. Make sure you read the small print.
  13. Let your bank know you will be away so they don’t block your card (sometimes it works).
  14. Know if your bank charges and then consider either a currency card or getting an account that doesn’t charge for using your card abroad.
  15. Apply for (well in advance) and take a credit card, some activities (like hiring a car) require it and some situations just need you to throw money at them.
  16. If taking a smart phone or tablet download Skype, Viber, WhatsApp etc to keep in touch with people back home.
  17. Shellac/Gelish your nails if you like to be ‘put together’ this will stop your nails chipping so quickly.
  18. Budget and then add 10-15%, that’s probably more like it!
  19. Leave a rough itinerary with somebody at home.
  20. Secure your home, maybe set multiple timers for lights, radio etc.
  21. Leave a key with friends, family or a neighbour.
  22. If going on holiday in winter keep your heating on low – most insurance companies require it.
  23. If leaving your car parked outside, don’t leave the keys visible/in an obvious place in your home.
  24. If you have expensive/irreplaceable possessions hide them somewhere in your home (not drawers), maybe make a note on your phone though!!
  25. If you hire cars regularly consider taking out annual rental car insurance, it can save you a big headache (and a lot of cash).

Packing Tips:

  1. If backpacking never take irreplaceable possessions.
  2. Never pack jewelry or cash in your hold luggage, it can get lost/people can rifle through it on the baggage belt. Bad idea.
  3. Carry a change of clothes and mini toiletries in your carry on luggage – for long haul especially.
  4. Always pack your phone/essential chargers in your carry on.
  5. When packing underwear (either in hold or carry on) put it in dust bags – you don’t want it on display to security or it free-styling it around the luggage carousel if your luggage bursts!  100+ Travel Tips from NotesFromTheShire.com
  6. Invest in your luggage. I’ve had a Dakine Split Roller Bag for over ten years, it’s sturdy and has compartments so it’s easy to pack. If you’re skiing, however, they are pretty common on the carousel so follow tip 33!
  7. Tie down and secure your luggage’s handles, if they get tugged by baggage handlers it could rip open your bag and see number 12!
  8. Identify your luggage! Ever seen Meet The Parents? That’s why. Tie a ribbon/luggage tag/add tape to your bag so it is easier to both pick out on the carousel and describe if it gets lost. Also leave your contact details inside your bag/on a luggage tag.
  9. Invest in solid combi-lock padlocks to deter thieves.  Preferably the TSA approved ones so they don’t get cut off by security.
  10. If you’re backpacking pack an extra padlock for lockers in hostels and a flexi bike chain so you can secure your bag to a bed/your friends bag when leaving it unattended.
  11. Travel with duct tape. Wrap duct tape around an old gym card or similar (less bulky than the roll). Duct tape can fix or patch anything! A slamming cupboard on a sleeper train, a mosquito net to a wall, a flip flop!
  12. If backpacking take a travel towel/Turkish towel. Not only do they dry quickly for packing but the latter can double as a blanket/sarong/curtain, very handy.
  13. Take a Swiss Army knife (in your hold luggage) useful for picnics and so much more!
  14. Pack ‘emergency’ food. Not only is it awful to be hungry but sometimes when you’re travelling you just want a taste of home.
  15. Take an old (e.g Nokia) handset that is unlocked so you can buy a local sim.  100+ Travel Tips from NotesFromTheShire.com
  16. If going to a third world country consider travelling with your own needles, if you need emergency medical assistance you may not want to rely on their needles (ask your GP for these).
  17. Have a comprehensive first aid kit with antiseptics, antibiotics and re-hydration sachets.
  18. Always pack a torch. They’re particularly useful on sleeper trains and in parts of the world where power outages are normal.
  19. A place for everything and everything in its place. If you’re backpacking keep things in the same pockets, this cuts down on panicked searching.

On The Plane:

  1. I prefer aisle seats – in case of an emergency I don’t want to rely on someone else moving…
  2. Know your exit and count the seat backs to it. Have a back up ready too.
  3. Pay attention to how to open the doors.
  4. Don’t cross your legs during take off and landing, keep your feet flat on the floor and keep hand luggage away.
  5. Practice undoing your seat-belt – it has been shown that during plane emergencies people revert to trying to undo a car seat-belt.
  6. Just because you can use headphones during take off/landing (on some airlines) doesn’t mean that you should. 100+ Travel Tips from NotesFromTheShire.com
  7. On long haul flights pack a change of clothes (tracksuit bottoms and t shirt) for the plane into your carry on, then  you can get changed and be comfortable rather than sitting/sleeping in jeans etc. When you are 30mins-1hour away from landing get changed back and you will feel refreshed.
  8. On long haul flights drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.  Take an empty bottle and asked to have it filled or buy water after security. you can also buy small aerosol cans of water for misting your face and combating dry cabin air!
  9. Always pack a biro for filling out landing cards etc – you already have your hotel confirmation and address because you printed that in tip 2.
  10. Keep your seat-belt fastened during the flight just in case of turbulence.

On sleeper trains:

  1. Take top bunks where possible.
  2. Put valuables by your head away from the door.
  3. Take a mummy cotton sleeping bag, they pack down small and are totally worth it.
  4. Take valuables with you if you leave your berth or leave them with a friend.


  1. Research taxis before you go, know which cab companies are official. Some countries have mafia run cabs which will rip you off.
  2. Don’t be pressured and hassled by touts shouting at you in arrivals. Find the official stand.
  3. If in doubt, go to the arrivals hall and get a taxi dropping somebody off.
  4. Always ask the driver to switch the meter on.
  5. Know roughly how much you should be paying (research) and take the assumptive approach “that should be $x, yes?”
  6. If a driver is reluctant to use the meter or is shifty, get out.
  7. Don’t be separated from your hand luggage especially your passport and cash. They do not go in the boot/trunk.
  8. “Call” somebody when you leave, “yes we just left I am in a X company cab, see you soon”.
  9. If in a more dangerous country and a car has been arranged for you, get sent a picture of your driver and their mobile (cell) number. When you see a sign with your name on it, ignore it, go to a distance and call the number, if the person with the sign answers then you’re sorted. 100+ Travel Tips from NotesFromTheShire.com
  10. If you ever don’t feel safe with a driver then ask them to slow down/get off the phone/whatever. I’ve done both.
  11. Sometimes with cabs you just have to suck it up, if it’s a choice between being stranded and being ripped off, take getting ripped off.

In your hotel:

  1. If you’re female and travelling alone don’t take a ground floor room – too many entrance points to your room.
  2. Some hotels in some countries try to insist that they keep your passport at the front desk – NO! Don’t back down, if you must then leave a photo ID but never be separated from your passport longer than the time it takes them to make a photocopy (which is often a legal requirement).
  3. If alone always check your room before locking yourself in.
  4. Know where the fire escapes are and what your route out is.
  5. Keep shoes and a robe/cover up by your bed and room key/valuables at hand in case of emergency (depends on the country what you want to take in an emergency).
  6. If a female travelling alone you could consider buying an alarmed door wedge.
  7. Always use the chain/double lock where available.
  8. Use the spy hole to check who is at your door.
  9. If with friends in different rooms have “a knock” so you know who it is, especially if there’s no spy hole.
  10. Safes aren’t always safe – I’ve known people robbed from a safe in a top name hotel in a Western country… split your cash.     100 Travel Tips from NotesFromTheShire.com

Out and about:

  1. If travelling alone be alert for unwanted attention.
  2. If necessary, when travelling alone, stay close to your hotel.
  3. If you’re lost never look obviously lost, go into a cafe and either look at a map or ask for directions there.
  4. If asked by a stranger (especially if female) if you’re alone, invent friends/a husband.
  5. If travelling in more conservative countries (either alone or with a partner) wear a wedding ring, it buys you some respect.
  6. Always trust your gut feeling, if something feels off then it is.
  7. If travelling alone don’t get drunk/take drugs, it’s a bad idea – kind of obvious!
  8. When you’re making travel plans and booking transport try to avoid arriving somewhere unfamiliar at night/in the dark.
  9. When leaving accommodation to go out exploring look back towards your hotel at junctions, familiarise yourself with landmarks etc to make it easier to find your way back.
  10. Have some language basics of the country you are in or at least carry a phrase book so you can point.
  11. Don’t flash the cash! Before getting taxis etc separate out any cash you’re carrying into smaller bundles. This also comes in handy when haggling/bargaining. 100 Travel Tips from NotesFromTheShire.com
  12. When arriving at accommodation find a source of bottled water ASAP, dehydration is nobody’s friend.
  13. Keep gadgets and cameras hidden when not in use, don’t make yourself a target.
  14. Beware of pickpockets. In crowds keep your possessions/bags in front of you and zipped.
  15. Beware of getting distracted – for example Barcelona is notorious for scams like somebody dropping coins in front of you which distracts you whilst somebody else robs you.  Bummer.
  16. Never leave a handbag/travel bag on the back of a chair or by your feet. Goodbye bag.
  17. Do as the locals do e.g. in Vietnam crossing roads is a nightmare, watch and learn.
  18. Keep track of your spending unless you want to eat instant noodles for your last two weeks.
  19. Keep a travel journal, even if it is just where you’ve been and key activities. It’s great to look back on.
  20. If you’re hiring a car always check it meticulously for dents, dings and scrapes before you leave the rental point. Report any that you weren’t told about and get them signed off and photograph them.
  21. If driving somewhere new Google map it before, print instructions and look at Google Earth view for landmarks. Do not rely on Sat Nav!
  22. When checking out of your hotel/packing, always flick the duvet/sheets and pull them up this means if you’re using the bed to pack things don’t get lost in the sheets. Likewise, always check under pillows, under the bed, on the back of doors, in drawers/cupboards and check bathroom surfaces for toiletries.

100 Travel Tips from NotesFromTheShire.com

I hope some of these tips are helpful for planning your next trip! Have I missed something? Do you have your own favourite travel tip? Did you find one of the tips particularly helpful? Where are you travelling to next? I have my own travel wish list. Share in the comments below!

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Some really good ideas in here! 101 Travel Tips| NotesFromTheShire.com

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