Before You Go: The Basics

3 Travel Tips

Planning a trip can become very intimidating. All of a sudden your to-do list becomes a daunting task list as it continues to grow. However, fear no more! There’s only 3 things you need to do before you start your journey.


I suggest you always buy all transport tickets in advance. This will help cut down on costs because it will allow you to purchase your airline tickets at a cheaper rate, or if you are traveling by other means (train/boat/bus) it will help you budget better and not stress about incurring all your expenses at once.

Booking transportation in advance also gives you an exact time frame for how long you will be in your travel spot. This is necessary for arranging where you will be staying, and how many activities you will be able to accomplish in your new destination.

For traveling by air, I suggest using Google Flights. This website will find the cheapest options for which days you want to travel by comparing all airlines simultaneously.

For traveling by bus, I recommend Student Agency. They travel via large busses which are very similar to Greyhound busses here in the U.S. I always felt very safe through this company and their prices are also very low if not the lowest I could find in many countries.

What are the main attractions?

Sometimes people pick a destination by blindly pointing at a map and don’t really have a plan or any points of interest to see. While I fully support this spontaneity, I also think it’s a good idea to pick at least a few points of interest or places you would like to go.

It is a good idea to pick your top 5 places to see/activities to do. This helps ensure you have a bit of a focused plan, but not an overwhelming list. Having prepared a small agenda allows you to enjoy your time there and be realistic. By not packing your schedule full, you now have extra time to sit and soak up the culture. In addition, a less full schedule lets you account for unexpected travel plans such as walking by a restaurant you want to try, missing busses from one activity to the next, and travel fatigue. Do yourself a favor and plan for this extra time ahead!   Personally, I really like TripAdvisor. I suggest using this site for big cities because it can show you in ranking order what are the most visited/need to see places in your area.

In figuring these out ahead of time, you may be able to save some costs by buying special tickets in advance or making reservations online.

Living Arrangements

Whether you’re staying in a hostel, hotel, or couch surfing, its best to have these accommodations locked down ahead of time. Like transportation and sight-seeing activities, it will also help you budget in advance and possibly save you money.

When booking, take note of:

* Location. Is it within walking distance of the places you want to go? If not, if it near public transportation that is easily accessible?

* Customer reviews. I have never taken anything so seriously in my life (only being slightly over dramatic about this). This is an absolute must! Make sure you read the good and the bad reviews, and take note of the date of those reviews. Has it been awhile since the hosts received a good review, or even any review in general? Are customers reporting the same issues with the host or room? Be cautious, but also be aware people who post reviews generally either had a wonderful experience or a horrible one.

* Amenities included. For me, I don’t need a whole lot of extra perks; however, I would recommend looking into a few “necessities” :

o WiFi or Internet connection. This is helpful to let your loved ones back home you have arrived safely as well as provides communication between you and other travel partners. In addition, it helps you to connect with your host more conveniently if issues arise.

o Baggage Holding. Most of the time hosts and hotels want you to check out in the morning so that they can prepare the room for the guest coming in the afternoon. What happens when your flight/train/bus out of the city doesn’t leave until later that day or during the night? It is good to know ahead of time if they will be able to keep your baggage for you (you might have to pay a little extra) or if you should pack extra light/in backpack form so that you can carry your belongings with you throughout the day.

o Use of kitchen? In many hostels, there will be a common area with a kitchen. Hosts encourage travels to use the kitchen because it helps promote community within the travelers, and it’s a great way to help you save money! Furthermore, some hosts will provide breakfast to their guests which is such a blessing! On top of helping you save on extra costs, they will introduce you to their favorite foods or bring you foods from their favorite bakeries.

* Coed rooming? Single Rooms? First, you need to establish your own comfort level. This is very important for you to enjoy your time in your new destination, because the last thing you need to worry about in a new place is your own personal security when you’re sleeping at night. Are you okay with sleeping next to 20 other random strangers? You might be sharing a 2-3 person bunk bed or you might be sleeping in a small cot within an arm’s reach of the person next to you.  Most hostels are very community orientated and very safe. When I traveled to Dublin, Ireland with a group of girls, we stayed in a 16 person room and had a great time! If this is out of your comfort zone, that’s totally okay! Just look into places which have options of single rooms, or 2-4 person rooms that are easily split between you and your travel group. These smaller rooms are quicker to fill up, which is another reason to book in advance!

For hostel arrangements, I suggest using Hostelworld or for renting out apartments/homes, I suggest using Airbnb.


Well friends, now it’s time to explore! Once you have your transportation, main attractions, and living accommodations all set, you have so much more time to adventure when you arrive in your new travel spot!

Have other “need to know” travel tips? Comment below or shoot me an email at For more travel tips, stay tuned for more blog posts and follow @mcconnellanna