1. Carry about $100 in cash. While most places in the US and many abroad will accept debit and credit cards, it is always smart to carry cash to use for food and at places like street vendors. If you are traveling somewhere you need to exchange currency, be sure not to carry all of your money at once but enough to get you through each day.
2. Have a general itinerary, but don’t over plan. Of course while traveling you will have specific tourists spots you plan to visit, but don’t let your plans prevent you from exploring and discovering new places and things. Have a plan for each day, but leave enough time between each activity to relax, shop, walk around, and explore.
3. Do your research. Understand a bit about the history and culture of a place before arriving. Learn about historic landmark to visit, famous tourist locations, and good places to eat. Also be aware of the safety of different cities and towns.
4. If you’re abroad, understand the cultural customs of a situation. For example, the dining experience is different around the world. Before going to a restaurant, know how to greet the server, place an order, and how much tip to leave.
5. If you’re abroad, study the language to learn common greetings and questions. While you should not let a language barrier prevent you from traveling, it is wise to have an understanding of some common phrases to help you get around and be polite to others.
6. Be aware of your surroundings and belongings. Especially in unfamiliar territory, it is important to be cautious to ensure safety. Always be aware of your surroundings and follow gut feelings of uncertainty or danger. Also be sure to always keep luggage and purchases under close watch, and lock up jewelry and money that you leave behind in the hotel.
7. Don’t sleep through your trip. While you want your trip to be relaxing, don’t waste time be sleeping in. Of course you don’t want to exhaust yourself, but the early morning walk around a foreign city may be worth more than the extra hours of sleep.
8. Try something new. There are so many activities to try while traveling; taking advantage of the opportunity to be adventurous! Even if you are scared, try taking a risk.
9. Be open-minded. Traveling exposes you to so many different customs and worldviews. Though you may feel uncomfortable with the unfamiliar, learn to appreciate another way of life and learn as much as you can first-hand.
10. Take pictures. Of everything! And don’t forget to take some of yourself and fellow travelers. While you want to be sure to capture all of the beautiful sights, remember to also get photos of your friends and family that you will treasure forever.