6 top tips for international travel

Having traveled internationally a fair amount for both work and pleasure, I’ve learnt some great travel lessons and so i would like to share my top international travel tips with you.

Do your research

One of the best lessons I’ve learnt is to properly research where I’m going, BEFORE I go. On our most recent trip in France, we had to get from Nice to the bay of St Tropez to meet up with some friends.

Before our trip, I went online to find the most affordable way to get there. I found a site that gave various recommendations for this route. Among them was to book a ferry from the port of St Raphael which would take us to the port of St Tropez. The price was reasonable, so I booked and paid for our tickets online.

When Reg and I arrived in Nice, we decided to take a walk to the port to check out where we would be catching our ferry. We couldn’t find the exact location but we weren’t particularly worried as we thought once we were there on the day, we’d find it.

When we got home that evening, I just wanted to check that I had the correct name of the ferry. I went onto the site and saw that the photograph they showed of the port of St Raphael didn’t look anything like the port we’d just been to!

So I did some more ‘googling’ only to find that the port of St Raphael wasn’t anywhere near Nice but 50km away! So I should have checked the name of the port in Nice and the distance between them. If I had, I wouldn’t have wasted the money I spent on tickets I couldn’t use.

Make tour reservations beforehand

This is a must, especially if you’re travelling in peak or just off-peak season. Most popular tourist sites have websites you can use to book a tour. This also gives you the opportunity to spend time at home deciding on the best tour and price. I was shocked in Rome to see the queue to buy tickets to get into the Vatican was well over a kilometer long. Luckily I had booked online and we went straight through. There’s also nothing worse than going to a destination to see something special, only to find that it’s fully booked or closed.

Stay as close as possible to where you’ll be sightseeing

This often means the accommodation will be more expensive as it’s in a more popular location. But once you consider the extra money you’ll spend on transport getting to where you want to be as well as the extra time it will take up of your precious holiday, I believe you’d have been better off spending that extra money on closer accommodation. By being closer, you’ll walk around more and be able to soak up the atmosphere of the place – which is a lot more fun than sitting on a bus or metro.

Airports are scary places

I always feel incredibly stressed going through airport security and customs. I don’t know what it is, but even though I know I’ve done nothing wrong, I still feel like they’re going to single me out for who knows what. So when I’m in an airport, I’m a lot more anxious than normal. To make things worse, my sense of direction goes for a complete loop when I’m flustered! I try to take deep breaths and take my time to read the signage, ensuring I know where I’m supposed to be going.

international travel tips

Airports are getting bigger and bigger which means that it takes a long time to get from point A to point B. Living in South Africa means that we often have to catch connections to get to our final destination so I make sure I have enough time between flights. One of the best international travel tips I’ve also learnt is that it’s best to get to the terminal I need to depart from as quickly as possible. Don’t get distracted by the duty-free areas on the way as there will be more in your departure terminal. I once nearly missed my connecting flight while stuck in a very long customs queue after I’d shopped and browsed in the wrong terminal. It’s not an experience I want to repeat, even for all the duty free goodies in the world!

Take your time, savour each place

I find moving around from place to place quite exhausting. Although I want to see as many places as possible there’s nothing worse than living out of a suitcase. I now prefer to spend a bit more time in each location. I feel more like a local and get a much better understanding of the place, its culture and its people.

Avoid the rush

I like travelling out of peak season. High season prices are exorbitant and everywhere is extremely busy, so you simply don’t get the best out of your destination. Restaurants are packed which invariably means the service won’t be as good and even the food might not be up to scratch. My favourite time is just off peak – it’s still busy but the long queues have gone, the locals are more relaxed and accommodation is cheaper.

I hope these international travel tips will help enhance your travel experiences. Please do share your travel stories with me, as I’d love to know about them.

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