Traveling is one of the best things I can recommend to anyone. It takes you out of your usual routine, it expands your mind by bringing you to new places and experiences, and it is the best history teacher.
It can also mean a few other things. Personally, my travel highlights are centered on food and shopping!
I’m often asked to share tips on how to be a smart and savvy world traveler. For one, I always choose to plan ahead, especially since our trips are usually itinerary-packed. Preparing way ahead of time and following some smart traveling practices allow us to enjoy the best family trips!
So here are my top 10 tips for all of you to use whenever the travel bug hits you. I hope you find them useful!
1. Pack way ahead of time.
I always pack 5 to 7 days in advance, so if I suddenly remember something I’ve forgotten, I still have time to pack them. I am not the type to cram everything down to the last minute… especially since I have to pack not just for myself, but for my whole brood as well!
2. Pack light, travel light.
This is a big must for all travelers. We must learn the art of packing light. In my case, there’s a lot to consider: my clothes, my kids’ clothes, our separate toiletries, even our pasalubong! The goal is NOT to end up with excess baggage. Although, let’s be honest here, I always end up buying an extra suitcase (or balikbayan box) just so I can fit everything when going home! Okay I admit, this is something I’m still trying to master—but I am trying and getting there!
So the trick is: pack only the essentials, learn to save on toiletries (use travel sizes; that’s why they were made), and don’t bring your whole makeup kit with you! Also—and this is the part I am not so comfortable about—if you must, then by all means, repeat clothes! Mix and match your outfits. This is the practical way to go!
3. Set up your mobile phone for travel.
Check with your service provider about roaming charges and the best international plan for your trip. Also, don’t forget your phone charger. I always bring extra chargers too; I put one in my checked in luggage and I put another one in my carry-on bag.
In terms of packing, it’s mobile phone and charger FIRST AND FOREMOST for me. As you know, we are all dependent on our mobile phones these days. Can’t live with it and yes, can’t live without it!
4. Secure the essential items in your carry-on bag.
Make sure you have your wallet, passport, IDs, and all important documents with you. Bring extra copies in case they get lost or there’s an emergency. Hopefully you won’t need them, but these are the ones that are always good to have on hand.
5. Get to the airport early.
Aim to be 2 hours ahead of time, or even more if you can. Common sense will tell you this, but the benefits are real! Give yourself allowance for traffic, security checks, baggage problems, and—especially when traveling with young kids—some tantrums, hunger pangs, and crying fits along the way!
6. Get travel insurance.
Before we get to the good stuff, we need to make sure that everything is covered. There are various ways to get travel insurance, but did you know you can do this via banking? For example, if you charge your travel fares to your BPI Credit Card, they give you complimentary protection from travel accidents, trip delays, trip cancellations, and other inconveniences. If your card is qualified for travel insurance, there is coverage from death and permanent disablement, medical reimbursement, lost or delayed baggage, cancelled or delayed flights, personal liability, and even lost passports. Now I say, this is the smartest way to travel!
7. Bring your reliable international credit card.
I believe that all you need is one credit card (and this has always been my trusted BPI card) and you’re good to go! I don’t really like bringing a lot of cash with me when I travel (but who does?) because it adds to the hundred other things you are bringing. This is also a major security risk especially if you know that you would be constantly moving around from place to place and you would be using different currencies. So a good international credit card is your best bet, and really, is all you need.
8. Spend smart.
Since you’re bringing just one reliable credit card, you might as well choose the one with the lowest foreign exchange conversion rate. With my constant research for all things travel, I found out that my BPI Express Credit Card actually has the lowest rate at 1.75%, while others are as much as 3.525%! The people at the bank have taught me that to automatically access this BPI rate, I just need to choose the currency of the foreign country I’m in when making a transaction. So this means, shopping just got cheaper and easier for me!
9. Shop like a pro.
Still, just because I save on forex doesn’t mean I will spend like crazy. I always canvas before buying. So my tip for you is : compare prices and get the best deal. Don’t buy on impulse—or when you’re confused, stressed, mad, or especially when you are hungry!
10. Lastly, always ask for a discount.
I say, bargain, bargain, bargain. Start with half off and work your way up. Slash it down right away to 50%, then 40%, then more, more, more, until the shop owner agrees. If your bargaining isn’t working, try walking away and see if the seller calls you back. (See above photo!) If he does, that means, you just made yourself a good deal! (And don’t forget to pat yourself on the back or better yet, reward yourself with more shopping after that!)
So be practical, be smart, be safe when travelling. Keep your eyes open to learning new things. But most importantly, don’t forget to simply enjoy the ride!
Disclosure : The Spoiled Mummy is in partnership with BPI Credit Cards for this post.