We knew it was coming, and it’s not easy to deal with, but this is the final installment of Sidekick’s Summer Travel Guide! Together we’ve helped you identify your travel personality type, decide which apps to use, narrow down your packing list, and earn credit card points. We even had an expert to answer all your pressing travel questions. But no fear! There’s still a lot of summer left.
So for our grand finale, we have some pointers to make every trip feel like the best ever, no matter what the world sends you. And here to help us Help she are three travel experts — Nicole Hu, Eli Solidum, and Dasha Kofman — armed with tips on how to get the most out of your travel destination, whether you’re on a budget, in a group, or living the digital nomad life.
Make the most of your destination…
Recently backpacking Latin America, Nicole Hu has been to Mexico, Peru and Colombia for the past 10 months – all on a tight budget. To help you patch up your cash and enjoy the best of everything during your stay, Hu shared these tips:
- Reduce accommodation and transportation costs. “The dollar can go pretty far depending on where you travel,” she said. “In Latin America, my daily living expenses averaged probably $30 to $40.” On her recent trip to Mexico, she stayed in hostels instead of hotels to save even more. She also took night buses from place to place when backpacking around Latin America instead of flying.
- Ask locals for good food tips. Hu avoids tourist spots and encounters small businesses in the area. This way you support the local economy and are more likely to stick to your budget.
- Travel slowly. Hu schedules plenty of time so she never feels pressured to go through an expensive itinerary. “I had some friends from the US who wanted to go to Peru, but they only had about nine days, so they were in such a hurry. They flew the next day for everything, which I totally understood though [it was more expensive].” If you have leeway, give yourself more time. This allows you to explore the culture and save money.
- Book excursions personally. “When you book a big tour, always book in person because then you have more room to negotiate — and you always get a better price,” Hu said.
In general, the budget traveler should only nail down the flight there and the first two to three nights, Hu says. After that, go with the flow and manage your expectations.
Hu has visited places that she realized were grossly overrated and overpriced. “Well, if you don’t have any preconceived expectations [being in] Paradise,” she said, “you’ll enjoy something a lot more.”
Eli Solidum, a Group tour operator and author of a popular blog the partying traveler has backpacked through places like Mexico, Peru, Pakistan and South Africa for the past six years. Last June, Solidum hosted a group backpacking trip through the most remote parts of Peru and shared his thoughts on smooth sailing with a group. So after forcing everyone on your journey to take Sidekick’s Travel Personality Quiz, you should also make sure you’re all on the same page about what you want to do along the way.
- Where to sleep: If you want to meet like-minded travelers who are also passionate about seeing the world, Solidum strongly recommends staying in hostels. Hostels are even better if you’re on a budget, as some allow guests to work in exchange for their stay.
- What to do: At Solidum, the ultimate itinerary for group travelers is not usually found in guidebooks but through word of mouth. “When you arrive at a destination, plan your trip by talking to locals. And talk to the receptionist at your hostel or someone in a bar, because often you won’t get as much from the internet as you would from someone local. And that goes for pretty much everything… My friend has this great saying: “Don’t ask the locals where to Meal. ask her where you eat,” he said.
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- Stay Safe: “There’s a saying in Colombia: ‘No dar papaya,’ which basically means, ‘Don’t ask for it.’ A lot of people say to be more cautious when traveling… Don’t leave all your valuables on crowded public transport and use your best judgement,” Solidum said.
Dasha Kofman, a traveling teleworker who traveled across Europe, South America and Mexico during her 9am to 5am work hours, shared her tips for getting the most out of your PTO. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who can (literally) work from anywhere, according to Kofman, “You should take advantage of the days off you have… I think there’s a misconception that you need to take a week or two off weeks.” , [but] There are so many places that are closer than you think.” This includes adding a day or two to an existing company vacation weekend, or traveling to places that are less than five hours away by plane.
- Where to sleep: Since she works while away, Kofman prefers to stay in an Airbnb to make sure she has good WiFi and Rest and peace. Her biggest pro tip for longer stays: negotiate the total price. “I usually text them and say, ‘I love your place, but it’s a bit out of my price range. Is there flexibility?’ Five out of 10 people say no, but the other half do [of the time] They say yes, so it’s worth a try.”
- What to do: “Something I’ve done in pretty much every place is a walking tour. The best company I have used is Sandemans who mainly do tours in Europe. I noticed that many countries in South America have taken this concept and made it their own… Walking tours really help you understand where everything is and what [help] You’ll get the perspective of the city from a local. It’s a great place to ask questions and get recommendations.”