Traveling is a phenomenon. I’ve noticed a upward surge of travelers within my generation, which is a great thing to see. My generation wants to see the world–we want to ask questions, broaden our minds, and pop the bubble we’ve been living in. As someone who is fairly well-traveled due to luck, research, and the help of credit card points, I want to give my best tips and tricks for smart traveling.
- Don’t be tunnel-visioned. Use multiple websites and apps to research and find cheap rates. I used Hopper, All the Flight Deals, and Google Flights. Hopper is amazing; they’ll show you when are the best times to book. Also, be sure to delete your cookies with each search. I am paranoid and know that these websites track what you are looking at, therefore I have a theory they raise the prices sometimes when you express too much interest in one flight or etc.
- Spend less on things, spend more on experiences. So cliche of me to say this, as you’ve all heard this before, but things will always be things. They will always exist and you’ll always have the opportunity to buy them in the future. As a millennial, your resources are limited and time is scarce, so choosing to travel now is a better choice. Plus, you’re young and nimble. You can move quickly, eat things you won’t be able to in 10 years, and you have so much to learn. You can buy all the Gucci handbags when you’re 50 and filthy rich. Now is about exploration and opening of the mind.
- Be kind and chat with the locals. They always have the best insight on best deals, practices, and places you should go to. In Hawaii, I chatted with a bus driver for an hour as I was going up to Lanipo Hiking trail. He gave me great insight about Oahu and excitedly told me about all the places I should visit. Tourists are annoying; they crowd up places, they buy up all the things, and leave without truly understanding the culture. My worst fear is being on a Chinese tourbus, where you are herded from buffet to buffet, or even worse, being herded from shop to shop. NO! I want to truly embrace and learn about the place I’m visiting.
- Travel in herds. Some like to travel alone, but I like to travel in a group. Plus, it helps mitigate the spending costs if you travel in 4s or 5s. Trust me, if you are a people-person, traveling in a group is fun and exciting. You will learn a lot about your fellow travelers, as well as facing the culture shock and excitement of getting lost together.
- Utilize your credit card. Look into travel credit cards. Even at a young age, you can begin building your credit and eventually graduating onto credit cards with higher spending limit. I had first gotten the Chase Freedom and then graduated onto a Chase Sapphire Reserve card. I caught the promotion at a good time, where they were giving out 100,000 points and allowing you to get 3x the points for anything related to travel. They cut it down to 50,000 but it’s still a great credit card to use in terms of traveling. I religiously save up my points and strategically use them for flights instead of cash back. Southwest has been a great airline to use in terms of Chase points, but the points transfer varies from different credit cards.
- Bring a reusable water bottle. This might sound dumb, but I don’t think people realize how much money they spend on water, especially while traveling. At the San Francisco Airport, I always fill up my Nalgene water bottle to the brim for my next destination. If there is a water fountain or purified water, you can use your reusable water bottle instead of racking up water purchases as you’re traveling. This is only applicable if the water is safe to drink on tap.
- To me, TripAdvisor is outdated. They always promote the most tourist-y places to visit, which is a killjoy for me. Strangely enough, I would look on Yelp, Instagram, blogger websites, and try and find an online thread where you can ask questions. Reddit or even Quora would be useful platforms. People always have offered useful insight on places that regular tourists do not frequent or tour. I love finding the hole-in-the-walls, as well as the favorite local joint.
- Be adventurous, but be safe. If you are traveling alone somewhere, always have a plan B in case anything happens. That means knowing the local police number or having a number written down on paper if your phone is stolen. Traveling is one of my greatest joys, but as a traveler, you are often targeted for being naive or clueless. You’re just an easier target, so be safe, be aware, and enjoy yourself.