Our 20 Best Travel Tips After 25+ Years of Traveling

This post may contain affiliate links. We may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase. Read Disclosure.

Over the past 25+ years, Caz and I have been fortunate to have visited over 50 countries and lived in 5, and today we’re always asked what are our best travel tips – so, we’d like to offer them to you!

Over the years, our style of travel has evolved from solo travel to traveling as a couple and to traveling as a family of four – our kids grew up from babies to teenagers, all while traveling extensively throughout their lives.

family posing on the Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

There are some core travel habits and tips and tricks that have served us well, and we continue to follow them to this day, but we also made some mistakes along the way which we, and you, can learn from.

So without further adu, here they are…

Our Best Travel Tips Based On 25+ Years of Travel

We hope this list of our best travel tips will inspire and help you to travel, and travel more often!

1. Make Travel a Priority

family posing in front of vista of swirling white sands and turquoise water of whitehaven beach
The stunning Whitehaven Beach

If you want to travel more, you’ve got to make it a priority! Seriously, if you don’t have enough money for travel yet you have a wardrobe full of designer clothes that you never wear, or a garage full of expensive toys collecting dust, then you’re not clear on your priorities and purpose.

We’ve been able to travel overseas consistently over the past 25+ years because we made travel one of our top priorities.

We channeled most of our energy, focus, and finances towards travel.

Currently, we don’t own a lot of stuff, but we sure have a lot of memories.

2. Spend More Time in Fewer Places

two girls holding hands up in the air in water of Waikiki beach
We spent 2 weeks in Hawaii and didn’t want to leave

When you’re planning a trip, don’t try and go everywhere and do everything – that’s a recipe for burnout and blowing your budget!

Instead of racing from one end of a country to another, or tearing through 6 countries in 6 weeks, get to know a region well.

Constantly having to pack and unpack, spend time searching for cheap flights, deal with different time zones, currency changes, and even visa issues can lead to burn out.

And moving around to too many travel destinations can really eat into your finances.

Slow down and take more in. This way, you’ll get a better feel for a place.

Understand that you will never have time to see and do EVERYTHING. And be okay with that.

3. Don’t Expect Things to Be Like They Are at Home

kids building sandcastles
Communicating through sand in Boracay

If you want everything like it is at home, then what’s the point of going anywhere?

Keep an open mind to learning and experiencing new things when you travel abroad, that includes trying new foods which can tell you a lot about a culture – and don’t be scared to eat the street food!

We travel abroad to experience different cultures, environments, and ways of thinking. So don’t shut yourself off to experiencing all a country has to offer.

If you travel with an open mind you can have a much more enriching experience.

There will be moments when other cultures will shock you. Don’t judge them. When this happens, sit back and say, “Isn’t that interesting, tell me more!”

4. Travel Does Not Have to Stop Once You Have Kids

Family looking out at desert view in outback queensland
Enjoying the views in Winton, Outback Queensland

We often get emails or have conversations with people we meet on the road who express that once they have kids their travel days are over!

Take it from us, family travel is possible and need not be a hassle. In fact, it can be one of the best experiences you have as a family!

Sure, we don’t travel around the world like we used to or party as much as we did pre-kids, be we obviously still travel and so do MANY other families – the family travel niche is alive and growing.

Over the past 25+ years, our travel style has evolved from traveling solo, to traveling as a couple, to now traveling with our two daughters and many of our readers are inspired to follow in our footsteps.

Yes, family travel has its challenges and there are pros and cons of traveling with kids, but creating priceless memories is something to cherish!

There are valuable benefits of traveling with kids. They force you to evolve your style of travel, and in my opinion, usually for the better.

Top Tips for Traveling with kids

Punting on the Cherwell River, Oxford, England
Punting in Oxford

There are three key essentials to having a stress free family vacation. 99% of the time your child will be irritated, cranky or screaming because they are either:

Tired: Provide enough opportunities for them to rest and an environment for them to get a good nights sleep.

Bored: Choose a kid-friendly destination that has enough activities to keep them occupied, and bring along a few home comforts such as a stuffed toy, reading books, or activity packs which can be a lifesaver on flights and road trips.

Hungry: Pack enough healthy snacks to keep them satisfied, especially on flights, buses and road trips. Long road trips or flights can leave kids feeling cranky and hungry.

When eating out, go out for breakfast or lunch as we find it easier to handle than dinner as they tend to be cheaper and more casual affairs. Plus by dinner time our kids are tired and can get a little crazy!

A hungry or tired kid is a grumpy kid, much like me actually!

5. Plan A Trip Together

scratch maps gifts for kids
Plan your trip together

Sit down with all members of your family and talk about your trip beforehand and plan together. This is the best way to get your kids interested and excited is to have them involved in the travel planning process.

Talk about where they want to go, what they want to see, what kind of trip they want (relaxation or adventure?) and about time constraints.

Memorable trips are those where each member of your family gets to experience something they love.

caroline and kalyra smiling at camera on boat
Cinque Terre was Kalyra’s choice for our Italy trip

Grab a few brochures, Lonely Planet Guides, or travel magazines and flick through the colorful pages. Everyone gets to choose a destination and activity they’d like to see and do.

Go through the list as a family, discuss the pros and cons of each and vote.

Next, jump online or on the floor with a big paper map and plot out your basic route with a highlighter, leaving room for flexibility.

When you plan a trip it’s important you choose a destination and activities that suit the interests of all family members. If your kids (or you) are bored or dislike a place it’s not the recipe for a memorable vacation.

If you have lots of ideas, save them for your next trip! The planning doesn’t have to stop after narrowing down your final destination, have a place where you store all your inspiration and get it out regularly.

6. Talk to the Locals

best travel tips
Craig with the locals in Dali, China

One of the best ways to make the most of any trip is talk to the locals!

They usually have the best travel advice and insider knowledge on what to see, do and eat in their own town.

It’s truly amazing what you will learn by striking up a casual conversation.

We ask simple questions like:

  • Where can we get the best coffee?
  • Where is the best spot to see the sunrise?
  • What are the top three things you would show a friend from out of town?

You’ll find that the locals love sharing travel info and stories about their town and are more than happy to help you have a memorable visit!

Some of the best locals to talk to are those working behind the front desk in your hotel, or the bell boy. We always ask them for tips on where to eat, drink and explore.

Our video will outline a clear pathway to making travel a reality.

7. Learn the Basics of the Local Language

young girl laughing with thai lady and stuffed animal
Sharing happiness with our friend Jintina

Learning the basics of the local language is a great way to show respect and break down barriers. Plus a smile, a wave, and a friendly attitude can break down any barrier where language isn’t understood.

Do not shout at the locals, they are not deaf, they probably just can’t understand you!

And NEVER complain that the people of the country you are visiting do not speak fluent English.

Get a phrase book, or an app such as Google Translate, and make the effort to learn at least a few basic phrases.

It can make life easier for you, you’ll immerse yourself more in the culture, and the locals will respect you more.

8. Travel In Your Own Backyard

family walking the coogee to bondi coastal trail
Doing the Bondi Beach walk in Sydney

If you can’t afford to travel overseas or out of state, if you don’t have the time to go away for more than a few days or the thought of traveling makes you nervous, start off by traveling in your own backyard.

You don’t have to be rich to travel and it doesn’t have to involve long flights.

A great way to bring more travel into your life is simply by exploring new areas in your home city or state.

Start off by taking a day trip to a nearby town or a weekend getaway to the coast or mountains. Or simply explore your own town with new eyes.

  • Visit a new cafe or market
  • Go kayaking in a nearby river
  • Climb a new mountain
  • Visit a different park or beach.
  • Grab a drink at a different bar
  • Walk around a different neigborhood

After a while, you’ll be looking for bigger and longer adventures.

This strategy is one of the most overlooked and cheapest ways of bringing more travel into your life.

9. Do the FREE Stuff

woman standing on mountains
Taking a walk in Snowmass, Colorado

If saving money when you travel is a focus for you, then one of our best budget travel tips is to seek out all the free things to do.

Most of the time the best experiences in life are free, or extremely low cost.

There is absolute joy in the simplest of moments, such as swinging in a hammock while watching the sunset over the horizon.

Other free things to do:

  • Take a walk or bike ride
  • Swim at the beach or lake
  • Climb a mountain
  • Catch a magnificent sunrise
  • Attend museums or tourist sites on free days or when they are discounted
  • Play in the park
  • Visit a market
  • See a street fair or cultural event

We LOVE walking. It’s one of the best ways to get to know and appreciate wherever you are instead of racing around by car.

When you walk around you have time to stop and marvel at all the nooks and crannies.

You are better able to soak up the atmosphere and feel the energy.

And walking is FREE and good for your health!

10. Stay in Apartments or Airbnb (and Share The Costs)

man and child cooking bbq on deck
Grilling on the deck of our apartment in Tasmania

If you’re traveling as a group, this is one of our favorite vacation tips! Depending on the length of our trip and the destination, we try to look for vacation rentals, but we usually end up chopping and changing between accommodation styles depending on the budget.

If we are planning a trip that is longer than a weekend getaway, we prefer to stay in apartments for a variety of reasons:

  • Access to a full kitchen (saves money on eating out)
  • Separate bedrooms from the living room (easier to get the kids to sleep)
  • You have your own laundry.
  • You can book a 3 or 4-bed apartment and split the costs with another family or friends.

These extra facilities on a long stay can make your trip so much more enjoyable and comfortable.

Vacation rentals are also typically cheaper and more practical than a hotel for families or small groups, especially if you can split the cost.

If it’s only a short city stay, or we’re just traveling as a couple, we’re happy to stay in a hotel room.

11. Fly Where the Deals Are

young girl looking at plane
Cebu Pacific air – great budget airline

If you’re looking to travel but don’t have a big budget, or are not fussed about where you travel to, then you should look into how to find cheap flights and go where the deals are!

Skyscanner is one of the best travel websites on the web. It’s a flight search engine that lets you type in your departure city and search for a list of cheap flights to anywhere in the world.

Simply go to Skyscanner and click in the “To” box and a drop down menu will appear allowing you to search for flights to everywhere from your departure point. This is a fun tool to plan a vacation as it tells you what flights are leaving on your travel dates, and gives you an idea of budget.

Searching flights using Skyscanner

You can then book through Skyscanner which takes you to a third party website, but usually it’s better to check the actual airline website to see if it’s cheaper to book direct. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

The earlier you search, the cheaper the deals.

12. Blow Your Budget For Bucket List Moments

man holding up cairns sign under water while scuba diving
Craig diving in the Great Barrier Reef

Every now and then, don’t be afraid to blow your travel budget on those once-in-a-lifetime-experiences.

We go away to experience things and create lifelong memoriesDon’t limit yourself to just traveling for the sake of traveling.

Go splurge on a famous restaurant, see a big concert, attend a mega sporting event, go on a safari, learn to scuba dive, take that hot air balloon flight, do something incredible you’ve always wanted to do!

Even if you have to go under budget for a few days or a week to compensate for your splurge, it’s worth it.

We spent $650 for a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef, as well as $600 to trek and see the gorillas in Uganda. They were expensive at the time, but we now have lifelong memories!

13. Be Flexible

woman and child walking on boardwalk holding hands
Enjoying a walk at Lake Lure

One of our best family travel tips, especially if you travel with young kids, is to leave room for flexibility in your itinerary.

If you’re on an extended trip, don’t pre-book everything. You’ll meet people along the way who will recommend great places you’ve never heard of.

You’ll discover interesting cultural activities and tours, and activities you thought you only needed 2 hours at you’ll need all day! And places that sound great from your pre-trip research can turn out to be horrible!

If all your flights, tours and accommodation are pre-booked it can be costly to change. Go with the flow a little and don’t over plan.

Of course, if you are on a short trip with limited time and there are popular attractions you want to visit, it pays to book ahead.

14. Don’t Travel Without Travel Insurance

Probably our most important trip advice. I’ve said this over and over…“If you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel”.

It’s that simple. Especially if it’s an overseas trip!

No, I don’t like paying for it either, but buying travel insurance can be so cheap it’s a no-brainer and the peace of mind is priceless!

I would rather spend an extra $100 or so for our trip and most likely never use the insurance than wipe out my bank account if something did go wrong.

What happens if:

  • You need to cancel your trip unexpectedly
  • A hurricane damages your destination
  • There is a terrorist event
  • You get sick or injured on your trip
  • Your luggage is lost or stolen
  • You lose your passport

If you are an American, or someone visiting the USA, you should definitely NOT skimp on travel medical insurance. We all know health care costs in the U.S. are ridiculous, so large that people go bankrupt, so don’t take a chance on this.

Recent ways travel insurance has saved us… and a BIG mistake:

15. Working Holidays Are a Great Way to Experience the World And Save Money

caz with her students in Bangkok
Caz with her students in Bangkok

If you’re interested in long term travel, consider a working holiday. Caz and I have lived and worked in 5 different countries using the working holiday strategy.

Just three days after Caz graduated from University in Australia as a school teacher, she moved to London to teach for two years on a working holiday visa.

Since then, we have both lived in Dublin (Caz teaching, me working in construction), lived in Bangkok teaching English, and lived in the US on J1 and J2 visas (Caz teaching, me in construction).

In each of these countries, we arrived with little money and little contacts, but we made it work and they became some of our most cherished memories and a great way to immerse yourself in a culture and travel a region whilst earning the local currency!

If you desire to live in another country and travel abroad, we recommend making it a working holiday!

Most of us have to work for a living and we need money to travel. Why not combine the two?

Why we love the working holiday visa strategy

  • You don’t have to save up as much money before leaving home.
  • You’ll be earning local currency.
  • You experience a culture deeply by working, living, traveling within it.
  • Weekends and days off become adventures.
  • You’ll travel more like the locals, which usually makes it cheaper.
  • You form deeper friendships and connections with people.
  • You’ll learn new career skills and processes.
  • You may get perks such as free accommodation, meals or even flights.

The Easy Way to Work and Travel the World

 Global Work & Travel is the youth travel platform that connects travelers with opportunities to work & fund their travels abroad through cultural exchange experiences like working holiday, volunteering, au pair, study abroad, teaching and internships.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL: Just for our readers: $100 off your trip (whatever your currency) You must use the code: YTRAVEL

16. Pack Smart and Pack Light!

stack of packing cells
Pack smart with packing cells

Just thinking about packing can be stressful when you are planning a trip, but the best thing to do is create a packing list, and pack the bare minimum – you can always buy it once you’re there!

Take it from us, dragging heavy suitcases around airports and onto public transportation becomes stressful real quick!

As they say, “halve your clothes and double your budget”.

Our top packing tip is to select versatile, comfortable and loose fitting clothes and neutral colors that can be worn in multiple combinations, so if something gets dirty you only have to change part of the outfit.

If you travel with kids, encourage them to choose and pack their own clothes to minimize complaints and to teach them travel planning skills.

And with toddlers, pack a change of clothes for dinner, pyjamas, or what is needed during the day in case of accidents.

Packing cubes have been a life saver for us – in each cell we roll up each item and arrange clothes based on type and season. You can even stuff your underwear into your shoes to save space.

Worried about the weight of your suitcase? Wear your heaviest clothes on the flight, including your big hiking boots!

Want to travel carry on only to save money? Buy your shower gel and other toiletries when you get there!

And don’t forget to bring a sarong! A sarong doesn’t weigh anything and can be useful for so many things like covering yourself in holy places, a bed sheet, a towel, a picnic blanketa scarf, a sweater, wind protection, a privacy screen, shade – they are amazing!

Leave valuable jewelry at home, as these are an advert for thieves!

Be sure to take a first-aid kit and any medicine you need with you, as often you can’t find the medicine you need in the country you’re going to (and it might not always be legit, depending where you go).

If you’re staying in hostels, pack ear plugs and an eye mask – thank me later.

Top Travel Packing Tips

  1. Know the weather of the destination you are visiting, which helps reduce over-packing.
  2. When flying take a change of clothes in your carry-on just in case your checked-in luggage doesn’t arrive with you.
  3. Know the activities you will be doing so you can pack appropriately.
  4. Know the types of accommodation you will be staying at. If you are staying in hotels you won’t need to take things like towels, hair dryers or linen.
  5. Charge your electronics and load up all your tablets and portable devices with things to read, play, watch.
  6. Save room for souvenirs!
  7. Take an extra bag for dirty laundry.
  8. Pack valuables in a sock so they don’t break on the flight.
  9. Make a list of travel essentials and unessentials, and be ruthless when cutting it down.
  10. Only take essential camera gear – it’s heavy, and if you’re not going to use it, don’t lug it around with you.
  11. Don’t forget your drivers license, cell phone, passport, important documents, and boarding pass! Everything else is an accessory.

17. Have More Than One Way To Access Your Money

Makepeace family posing in front of james bond island phuket
That family trip to Thailand

We all want ease and convenience when traveling, especially when it comes to accessing our money.

One thing to know is should you have a checking or savings account when traveling? Well, it can depend on the country you’re visiting.

On a previous family trip to Thailand, we had an issue accessing our money using our ATM card because our card was a checking account. For it to work in Thailand it had to be a savings account.

We did not know this at the time, but fortunately we had back up bank cards with us.

When we travel, especially overseas, we use a combination of:

  • Debit Cards
  • Credit Cards
  • Cash
  • Travel Money Cards

If traveling with a partner, split up the locations of your credit cards and cash in case of theft.

Be sure to notify your bank and credit card company where you will be traveling to and the dates, this is to stop them putting a freeze on your card if they see unusual transactions from overseas.

Top tip: We discovered this amazing way to transfer money overseas. It gives us a fantastic exchange rate and no fees. It’s saved me about $1000 a month transferring money to the US.

18. Use Travel Credit Card Reward Points

people sitting in front of san francisco heart
Hearts in San Francisco

One of our favorite travel perks we’ve used in the past is accumulating reward points from our credit card that we can redeem for free flights or accommodation.

It’s important to get yourself a good, rewards-based travel credit card to make use of this. Then, use it to pay all your bills, groceries, fuel, eating out and earn reward points.

You have to pay your bills anyway, so why not use your rewards card.

This strategy is one of the fastest ways to gather points you can put towards travel, and they can add up fast.

Some credit cards may even give you a sign up bonus with points, which is a good way to get the ball rolling.

19. Get Up Early

Sunrise over the Tennessee River in Knoxville
Sunrise in Knoxville, Tennessee

I know, waking up early can be tough when you’re on vacation and especially if you have to drag kids out of bed, but it can be the best time of day for sightseeing.

Early in the morning you can take a peaceful walk and see a city come to life or catch a beautiful sunrise.

If you’re driving, you can beat the rush hour traffic, and you can avoid the heavy crowds at popular tourist destinations.

When you get out of bed early it’s amazing how much more you can get done in a day, and the light is nice and soft too making it a great time for taking photos.

20. Put Down Your Phone and Camera

Girl standing in shallow water at the beach looking out over islands
Breach time on Staniel Cay in the Exuma Islands

We are guilty of this as much as anyone, considering we are full-time family travel bloggers and spend a lot of our time taking photos, putting out updates on Facebook and Instagram, and creating YouTube videos.

But it’s important for us to remember to step away from behind the camera, and the internet, to put our phones down, and simply be present in the moment.

Sure, it’s nice to look back on your photos and videos, and social media is addictive, but the only time we have is right NOW in the present moment.

The past has past and the future never arrives – so take the time to just sit and be fully aware of where you are with all your senses!

If you spend your whole vacation looking at it through the confines of a lens, or keep jumping on Facebook every 5 minutes to see what everyone is up to at home, you are not fully present and can miss so much going on all around you!

You’ve spent valuable money and time to be there in the first place, don’t let the moment pass you by!

Our Travel Tips Podcast

Get inspired to make travel your lifestyle! Based on 22 years of experience, we show you HOW to make travel your priority no matter your lifestyle or budget.

We did it without loads of money and, often, with little savings.

  1. Episode 1: Solo Travel and Working Abroad before we met
  2. Episode 2: Our 5 year honeymoon living and traveling the world
  3. Episode 3: The Dark times and Birth of the girls and travel blog
  4. Episode 4: Embracing Family Travel and our 18 month Australian road trip
  5. Episode 5: Getting a green card and traveling the US (our dream realized)

Pin To Share On Pinterest

What are your best tips for traveling? If you have any more travel advice to share with us all, please leave a comment below!

4 Powerful Ways to Travel More & Create Better Memories
Want to know how we've made a lifetime of travel for 25 years? In
This is what gives us incredible memories to share around the campfire. Join our community for insider tips and updates!
Scroll to Top