Ever wonder what tips professional travel writers have for novice and experienced travelers alike? With the summer travel season underway, the Society of American Travel Writers, Travel’s Most Trusted Voices, presents its top 10 tips on how to be a smart traveler – in other words, how to get the most out of a trip, whether it’s a familiar or new tourism destination. From SATW’s collective membership of nearly 1,100 of the world’s top travel and tourism experts, here are the recommendations to enjoy the best of any adventure:
1. To get a feel for a destination, visit locations the locals go on a daily basis: supermarkets, salons, business districts, even libraries. These are the places to see how the residents live, and they’re great spots to interact with the locals. You’ll rarely see a better view of the true day-to-day culture outside the regular routines of your hosts.
2. Once you know where the markets and food locations are, no doubt you’ll start getting hungry. When you can’t get your favorite foods, be willing to try something new. Remember, you took the trip to experience how others live.
3. Do some research before you go. Learn the local customs and how to say the following in the language of your host country: “please … thank you … hello … goodbye … excuse me …” and use them frequently. A bonjour or hola, merci or gracias opens a lot of doors.
4. Speaking of speaking… pack your inside voice! While enthusiasm is admired, loud voices make travelers stand out – in restaurants, at tourist sites, and on group excursions. It can be annoying to others, so best to lower the decibel level.
5. Dress appropriately for the culture you’re visiting. If women customarily cover their legs and upper arms, follow suit. You’ll be much more welcome.
6. Ask permission before taking photos of the locals. You probably wouldn’t want a stranger to shove a camera in your face, so make sure to extend the same courtesy you’d expect from them.
7. Packing light is key overall, but definitely important for group travel. You shouldn’t expect fellow travelers to help you with your baggage. If you can’t carry or pull it yourself, don’t bring it.
8. Remember that packing light is also important for the trip back home, so don’t buy more than you can carry. If you do find that one-of-a-kind yet oversized item, ship it home for the convenience.
9. Probably one of the simplest ways to save money: If tipping isn’t expected in the culture, don’t do it, but if it is expected be as generous as you would be at home. Make sure to arrive with a small amount of local currency, just in case the US dollar isn’t used regularly.
10. Pace yourself. Better to savor a few special scenes than return with a blur of sites. Many cultures prefer a relaxed lifestyle. Join them! Watch the parade of life around you at a cafe, select one or two works in a museum and really see them, and remember the roses smell just as nice in every country!
SATW’s membership includes journalists, editors, photographers, filmmakers, bloggers, and communications professionals who specialize in the travel industry. SATW promotes responsible journalism, provides professional support and development for its members, and encourages the conservation and preservation of travel resources worldwide. To learn more visit www.satw.org and facebook.com/satwofficial.
Here is one important additional tip for all travelers but especially for Beach Maniacs: Use lots of sunscreen! It is important to protect your skin year-round but the summer sun can be very harmful. Enjoy the beach and the sun but do it with care! Related story: Prevent sun damage while enjoying the beach