I'm sure this topic is the most nerve-numbing part of traveling. Honestly, it always will be. Yet like all things in life.
There's a loophole. With technology on the rise, you have more options and comforts for traveling.
Why does it have to be a stressful day? When, in fact, it should be the most exciting day (You're going on a trip smile?).
So if you don't know how to prepare for your vacation, you're in luck, because I have some tips and tricks to get you ready.
First things first download the SmartTraveler app on google play and the app store. Why do you ask?
This app is the official state department app for U.S. Travelers.
If you want accurate data about a specific country. You can't beat the U.S. government, and it's free why not use it?
I always use this app, it tells you information about Visa Requirements, Heath alerts, level of crime, and what kind of crime is prevalent.
The list goes on and on. It's also very easy to use.
You tap the app
You hit search
type the country you're interested in.
Click it, then a load of information will be there for you to assess.
After you click let's say Argentina.
A menu of Argentina's category will show up. Pick the one you're interested in. My advice, look at it all, it won't take you long.
Let's talk about being cautious. You're thinking about it before the trip. You're researching how safe a specific country is, then you look at tickets.
(I'm the same way.) Just remember when you get your information, make sure it's from a trusted source.
Don't write off a country just because your friend James got robbed or had a bad time.
You're both different people. If you're going to get information about a country there is no better source than the U.S. government.
Think about it they have the CIA the Embassy, and they have a specific branch of government for travel.
For example The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs so what is going to top that accuracy?
Plus, there are other good sites like Tripadvisor that have reviews on any destination.
Before I went to Peru and Costa Rica. Everyone was telling me I shouldn't go because a friend told them it was dangerous.
I got news for you Everywhere is dangerous. I am more likely to get shot in the U.S. than traveling. (Someone was shot dead on my street.) Do research.
Yet do not, and I mean it give up on a country, based on someone else's experience.
I know It's hard to Control Your Travel Fears it should be one of the things you work on first.
This makes your whole experience seamless and less stressful. You can be cautious and enjoy yourself at the same time.
If you have trouble with fear. Make it your top priority if not you will be miserable.
So how do you protect yourself? Good question, first start with your belongings.
It should be obvious the less stuff you bring, the less stress.
Well, that works in two ways. The less you bring, the less that can be stolen.
Here's another don't bring your most valuable possessions, for example why bring your $800 camera from Nikon when you can bring a $200 go pro?
They both take almost the same quality pictures and videos.
The difference is less valuable. Here's another tip, buy locks for every bag, purse, or backpack you bring with you.
Forge has some insanely good locks of all types, my favorite, the wired locks, they're very flexible.
Another company that I like is Masterlock. If you haven't heard of them, you have never owned a lock.
There are many brands you can go to. Sentry, Design even the cheap Chinese locks on eBay. As long as you lock your belongings it's fine.
You can purchase locks anywhere I would recommend three places Target, eBay, and Amazon. Don't buy the name brands on their site it's more expensive.
Going back to the Smart Traveler app, the information changes soon as a change happens in a specific country.
Think about it for a moment, when U.S. citizens could finally go to Cuba. Travelers jumped at the chance.
(who wouldn't) Then Donald Trump came into power and restricted it again.
Some people by not keeping up with the changes.
Made plans only to find out after they took time off, bought clothes, and prepared financially, that they can't go ouch! So learn to stay informed.
Look at the app, and check the news, if you're willing. Look at how the economy of your destination country is doing.
I use this trick, where I always look at the currency of a country. I look at their cost of living.
Then compare it to the amount of money I will take. To see if what I have will be enough if not I adjust.
You would be amazed at the plans you can make with that information.
The time has come, no preparation is complete without understanding the danger. Here I go again, back to the SmartTraveler app.
Goes' to show you how important it is, Lol. You likely noticed the Level 1 title on the Argentina page up top.
Good, this is the most important part, any country with level 1 is generally safe. If you go to the U.S. or go to parts of Europe check the level.
If you see level 2 on your destination, it means it's more dangerous.
You want to be careful, but not frightened. Think about the Dominican Republic or parts of Jamaica or parts of South America.
Level 3 is don't go, it's places like Chad, Haiti, and Pakistan, high crime with political unrest at the time of this writing.
Level 4 you're crazy if you go here. Its war zone places, think Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.
I usually go to levels one and two but never above that at least so far. It's why I love this app it makes preparing for a trip easy.
Another place that is underrated that you should look at is South America.
If you Want a low cost Trip try South America This is a cheap and low-crime continent. You don't want to skip this region of the world.
Take only what you need or use. Be smart about your space if you can fit everything in a carry-on instead of a checked bag GREAT.
That automatically translates to money saved and less hassle on your Flight.
Next your thinking. "How do you save space?" well, first let's look at the deodorants below.
Can you see the difference? Just deodorant can save you almost 50% of space.
Now do this for your sunblock, your toothbrush, and your bug repellent.
Plus, if you bring anything too big. It will be confiscated by customs usually over 3oz.
So this doesn't happen remember to stay informed of changes. Well, here's how, if you're going to a country that has its rainy season.
It would make sense to bring a poncho, it's a Travel essential. Your Nintendo Switch that will be used for a few hours on a plane or none at all is non-essential.
Think hard about what you will bring if it pertains to that specific area or country. Now for those amazing ladies out there, this is going to hurt.
Don't bring 10 different pairs of shoes for a trip that will be 4 nights.
When I see that it tells me one of three things (1) she's a model (2) she's moving (3) this is the longest vacation in history.
Yet it's none of those things, just bring a mix of 50% cute and 50% normal clothes, and done. Mix and match no one will know.
Ahh yes, nothing is complete without this. In a future post, I will speak on how to save money in-depth.
For now, you can save money on your credit cards with my blog How to Avoid Hidden Travel fees.
Always make do with the fact that you will need to have enough.
For activities or emergencies, you will partake in your trip.
Don't just bring what you think you will need, bring what you think you won't need.
(I'm so poetic.) For example, I had a family member.
Who traveled to South America? She did not expect to get Kidney stones.
When she went to the doctors, they resolved the issue, but the bill was $545 American dollars.
She spent her last days on her trip with no money. The point is, you don't know what can happen.
So prepare yourself for as many scenarios as possible. In this case, if she had purchased Travel health insurance, it would have been covered.
Don't bring the bare minimum on vacation. Prices can change, or an activity can be canceled, so now you have to go with a more expensive competitor.
This has happened to me so prepare, prepare, prepare. Here's a tip for you, if this happens. Go to the competitor and try to negotiate.
This is a 50/50 but if the particular tour company.
Has slots available and they want to fill them, and there is no one else interested but you.
They will cut down the price a bit to meet that quota. Especially if it's close to the start of the activity or tour your taking.
What You Learned
Now you know several tricks that can help you prepare. Travel is more like a game of checkers.
You always want to predict what the next move will be but like all things in life. Nothing is certain until it happens.
Yet who says you can't take an educated guess from your personal experience?
Use the methods here on all your trips.
Every country is different, so the method will change slightly. Remember to use Smart Traveler it's a government-owned website and app.
It's free, and the most trusted source you will have for travel.
With that said, Remember to share this with friends and family on social media.
Author: Edwin Reyes
Edwin Reyes is an author and founder of Crazymyworld.com with a wealth of global experience. Read about his adventures traveling the world and get inspired to explore your own new horizons.