It also helped us to understand what is important and what is real. While many people are traveling now as influencers and bloggers, it’s the time spent traveling for yourself alone that you really learn about travel.
And here’s what we learned from spending time in more than 100 countries on seven continents.
1. Put Down the Cell Phone
We have actually been blogging less time than we’ve been traveling. We remember the days when you couldn’t share a moment instantly with your online friends.
Now we watch groups of people spend so much time capturing the perfect selfie at a monument or lookout, that they forget to see what is in front of them.
A photo is wonderful, but it’s how you feel in the moment that you will remember forever. It’s a marvellous world that is full of noise right now.
Travel gives you the opportunity to block out the noise, so put down your smartphone and be present instead.
Takeaway: Travel was about being in the moment and it was those times that we truly had the life changing experiences.
2. Don’t Go Into Debt
Instead, enjoy getaways in your own backyard. When Dave and I were dreaming of traveling but we were stuck working, we explored a lot of our home province of Ontario, Canada.
We stayed out of debt by packing up our bikes and camping gear for cheap weekend getaways.
We lived frugally while we explored our own backyard.
Think about it.
If you have just finished up an amazing life changing experience traveling the world, you will be filled with ideas, inspiration and excitement.
If after that trip you have to go home to a pile of debt, that inspiration will immediately be squashed due to the stress of debt.
Takeaway: If you don’t have the cash to travel, don’t do it.
Read more travel tips at: How to Travel on a Budget
3. Hire Local Guides
To do an epic adventure you need skill and experience.
Dave and I have taken on a lot of epic adventures in our lives, but we worked our way up with baby steps. And more importantly, we hired professionals to help us out when we needed it.
We’ve trekked 100km in the dead of winter through the Canadian Arctic watershed, climbed to Everest Base Camp, gone white water kayaking through class III rapids.
We weren’t qualified to do any of these independently, but with expert guides, were learned new skills and accomplished these challenges safely.
Takeaway: Seeing a photograph on Instagram by someone, doesn’t mean you are qualified to do that thing.
Read about the incredible experience of Mount Everest Base Camp
As a travel couple, this is our number one piece of advice when traveling together.
It can’t be one person dictating where you are going and what you are doing.
Dave and I like spending time together but we don’t necessarily like the same things. Don’t be one of those couples that constantly take separate vacations or go their separate ways when they travel.
We’ve seen those couples throughout our lives, and most of them are not together anymore.
If you give and take and try things that you don’t not want to do, you may find out you like it. And you’ll make your partner really happy.
Sure, go separate ways sometimes and spend the odd afternoon apart, but don’t live separate lives. Find a common ground to make your travels work together.
Takeaway: You have to be willing to give and take.
Check out our couples best travel tips: How to Survive Traveling as a Couple
5. Invest in Travel Insurance
A lot of people say to us, “I only need travel insurance if I am going to somewhere remote.
Heck, my brother went to Florida and broke his arm. If he didn’t have insurance, he’d have been stuck with a hefty hospital bill. Accidents can happen anywhere.
Dave and I were on a luxury cruise two years ago and he slipped on a set of stairs and broke his back.
If we didn’t have insurance, we would have been stuck paying nearly $100,000 dollars for the air ambulance and hospital bills. We can say with certainty.
Get travel medical insurance.
One important thing to note is that most travel insurance policies and platinum card plans don’t include medical evacuation coverage, so you should definitely consider purchasing a protection supplement such as Medjet.
Takeaway: Trust me, one of my number one tips is…you need travel insurance everywhere you go!
Read about our Experience at: Airlifted from the Amazon, Our Worst Travel Fears Realized
6. Pack Light
Dave and I are the most irritable when we pack too much.
The hotel room becomes a disaster, we can’t find anything, and when we are stuck lugging heavy suitcases through train stations and bus stations. It’s unbearable.
We aren’t the lightest packers out there, but we pack very light for how much we travel.
Trust me, as someone who has packed heavy on more than one occasion, packing light makes travel much easier.
Takeaway: Carry just the essential clothing and mix and match.
Take a look at our Ultimate Packing List
7. Have an Open Mind
Many people have preconceived notions about a place before they go.
We often visit places where people at home are afraid of crime or safety and more often than not, we have felt perfectly safe.
The beauty of travel is that you learn and understand different cultures and religions. People are often the same as you and me. They laugh, they cry, they care about their families.
I know it’s difficult to believe in this world that is filled with so much uncertainty right now, but most people are good and will look out for you or help you when you need it.
You’ll find that you have more in common with people around the world than you thought.
Takeaway: Throw all your thoughts out the window and visit a new destination with an open mind. Most often a lot of what you’ve heard about it is false.
Enjoying our Travel Tips? Check out How To Start a Travel Blog of your Own!
8. Bring Portable Chargers
I can’t tell you how many times in the past we’ve been in the middle of a great day and our batteries go dead. There is no excuse anymore.
Most of our Sony products charge by USB and our portable charger has 4 USB charges in it.
Now we never miss a shot! If you make sure you have the right travel tech gear, your 21st century travels will be much more fun.
Don’t be cheap. Get a good one. We’ve been given cheap ones as gifts and they don’t charge all the way and soon give out.
Takeaway: We carry two portable chargers that have four complete charges in them, and we can charge two things at once.
The VPower 23000mAH power charger is a good choice.
9. Give Back
Be it through volunteering, raising money, or visiting a project. You can make a difference.
It can be as simple as staying at a local family run guest house, hiring a private local guide, or shopping locally.
You don’t have to stay at the huge corporate hotel chain owned by foreigners. With travel, you have the chance to have a direct impact on the local economy.
Takeaway: One of the best things you can do when traveling is to give back to the community you are visiting.
Read more on How to Make Your Travels Meaningful
10. Travel Responsibly
Some tours or excursions seem like a good idea at the time and then when out there you realize that the excursion you took has a negative impact on the environment, the wildlife or the culture.
Is the tour company you are traveling with responsible? When on a wildlife safari, is your guide harassing the animals, chasing the animals or interacting with the animals?
You are there to observe. If wildlife doesn’t want to be around, don’t chase it. If your guide does do something you don’t like, tell him so. T
hey often think they need to pick up the turtle or chase the dolphins to make the tourists happy or get a tip. Speak up and say no.
Those elephant rides you are taking may have started by abusing the elephant.
Don’t ride them. Instead, go to a sanctuary. Don’t support zoos, support conservation and sanctuaries.
The same goes for indigenous culture. Is a culture being exploited by tourists snapping photographs like it is a human zoo?
Are they stuck putting on a show rather than inviting you into their community?
Don’t take a tour that simply drives through a neighbourhood and keeps you behind the glass as you gawk at the people on the street.
Hire a local guide who will walk you through their home and let you meet and talk to the people.
Takeaway: It’s important to travel responsibly and ask questions, and be an informed traveller.
Read: The importance of Responsible Tourism
11. Splurge Every Once in a While
Even if you are on the tightest of budgets, it’s important to splurge on the finer things in life.
We’ve arrived at a city and booked a luxury hotel so that we could enjoy it in style. It gives you a break from the rigours of the road and gives you memories that you will talk about for years to come.
I’ll never forget splurging on a hotel in Kuala Lumpur when we were traveling as poor backpackers.
Those two days by the pool rejuvenated our excitement for travel and helped up the romance factor of our relationship. Travel can sometimes take its toll on a relationship, you have to make time for luxury and romance.
It’s great to see the world and do adventures, but you have to do a little pampering every once in a while as well.
Takeaway: Make sure you do not squeeze the budget so tight, you can’t enjoy anything.
Want to change your life? Read our tips on How to Live an Unconventional Life
12. Do an Idiot Check
Dave and I used this term with each other a lot when traveling.
Even if we thought we had everything packed up, we usually found something left behind. Before leaving a hotel, we always do a final sweep.
I always make the bed because inevitably things get lost in the covers. I check outlets, under chairs, and behind doors.
We rarely lose things when we travel but when we do, it’s only when we are in too much of a hurry and didn’t do that final sweep of the hotel room before leaving.
Takeaway: In the film industry, we used to do a final sweep of a set at the end of the day and called it an “idiot check”.
Going traveling? Enjoy our travel tips for Europe
13. Step out of your Comfort Zone
Even today Dave and I take on adventures that make us a bit nervous or that we don’t immediately want to do.
I don’t know why we are always surprised after each adventure that we loved it, but like clockwork we always say, “You know, I didn’t really want to do that, but after doing it, I loved it!”
Travel and vacations are your time to do something spontaneous that you’d never dream of doing at home.
It’s travel that can inspire you to take on new hobbies or adventures once you get home. So go for it!