Amiee Maxwell: Travel Gear Blog: "The best packing advice I've ever received is to lay out everything you think you are going to need on your trip and then take half. The first time I traveled internationally I had an enormous 80 liter pack and swear that I spent more time packing and unpacking that backpack than seeing Europe's famed sights. Now I can easily travel with just a 35-liter pack.

"Choose ultra-light and quick drying clothes that can easily be washed and dry over night like Ex Officio and Scottevest travel apparel. Make sure everything in your pack can serve multiple purposes like Dr. Bronner's 18-in-1 soap and a sarong that can be used as a blanket, head wrap, or skirt. Also consider packing a netbook or iPad to stay connected on the road rather than a full-sized laptop. Trust me, the lighter you go the happier you will be."

Darren Cronian: Travel Rants: "Being prepared and aware of these dangers can make your holiday much more pleasant and more importantly, safe."

"When putting your bag down on the floor to take a photo or sitting in a caf´┐Ż, remember to put your foot through the strap. Not only will it be impossible to snatch, you also won't forget it, criminals are always on the lookout for tourists who are distracted.

Beware of groups of people crowding around you, it could be that a group of criminals are trying to pock picket you or other tourists around you. Stay clear of crowds or make sure you are aware of the people around you."

Kirsty Wilson: Travel tips plus: "As a young women who'd just finished three years of University, my desire was to travel. In less than 12 months, I put a plan in place to get myself overseas. Here are 7 budget tips to do the same":

  • 1. Work a few extra hours wherever you can. That may mean taking a second part-time job and working after-hours or on weekends.
  • 2. Ensure you attract minimal fees with your banking institution.
  • 3. Excess savings should be in an account earning higher interest.
  • 4. Prior to purchasing items ask yourself "Do I really need this?". You'll be surprised how much you'll save by not spending on purchasing items you can do without.
  • 5. If you must purchase those 'I can't live without them' items, shop for the best value. This may not mean the 'cheapest'!
  • 6. Try to survive without a credit card and if you can't, pay off the debt when it's due and avoid heavy interest charges.
  • 7. The best and most obvious tip - don't spend more than what you earn! You will never get anywhere with your finances, let alone that life experience of travelling abroad!

Richard Jeong: Wonderfully Rich World: Pack light: Yes, you'll see it, hear it, and learn it in your own way, but what's in your luggage isn't what makes your trip. Your possessions own you as much as you own them. Take only what you can replace. Three things are likely to happen. Once you've stepped into another world, you'll forget about all the items you couldn't decide if you needed. Second, if you find you need it, more than likely it'll be a worthwhile experience trying to find it. Explore the markets of the world, as they aren't like the super-markets at home, but if they are then they likely have what you left behind and now need. Third, you will buy stuff to bring home, so the more space you have the more memorabilia you can take home.

Read about your destination beforehand: Wikipedia is a useful tool in this regard, but not for the reason you think. Learn about where you are going; when you get there and are sitting with the locals at a table, ask about what you read, and let yourself be amazed. I also have to say, guide books are just that: guide books. Just because it's in a guide doesn't mean that's all there is to a country, nor that it's actually stuff you want to see. Use it in a pinch, but learn to live outside the guide.

Don't spend all your time with people from your home country: It's very comforting to have something familiar when you are in a foreign place, but spending all of your time with people from home seriously deprives you of the depth of learning that travel offers with all its oddities, the wonder and the challenges. After all, travel is not always about being comfortable, it's about breaking your bubble and experiencing something new! Otherwise you would stay at home! So find ways to converse with the locals. Learn about where they like to go, what they did as children, what they think of the headlines in today's newspaper, Anything!

Leave your taboos behind: When you get there and are sitting at a table, you'll find out how much Wikipedia didn't tell you. Make observations and follow the questions of those around you to understand socially acceptable ways to interact. Don't expect people to behave as they do back home. Don't expect that it is okay for you to behave the same way that you do back home.

If the language is different, try it out: Nothing engenders more good will, more conversation and more food/drinks than learning the local language. You may be able to get around on English and many people may even want to practice their English with you, but a little bit of learning goes a long way. Don't be afraid to ask a total stranger how to say something or about a phrase you just heard them say, or a shop owner, or anyone. It takes at least 3 normal repetitions before you are likely to learn, so keep asking and keep trying.

Don't yell at the locals: Yelling doesn't help understanding. Americans (including neutral accented Middle Americans) actually do have an accent, so if English is limited, enunciate, speak simply (i.e. use vocab you learned in elementary school), and slow down. Let me repeat that: slow down! If that fails, think as if you are playing a board game in which description is key and find other ways to describe your point. If that doesn't work, switch to a gesture-based game! Don't let language be a barrier, think outside of the box, about how you get your cues and how you can communicate. The experience will build confidence and inevitably produce laughter.


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