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10 Travel Tips We Never Follow

We give travel advice all the time—and we hope you follow some of it. But there are plenty of recommendations that we hear all the time but often choose to ignore. Here are 10 tips we disregard when we’re on the road.

Wear a Fanny Pack

Girl with black leather waist bag.
Serov Aleksei/Shutterstock

Fanny-pack wearers will fervently defend their hands-free “fashion” choice, but we never listen to experts who tell us to wear the silly pouches on the road. Wear a normal cross-body purse or keep your wallet in your front pocket, and follow these safety tips instead. You’ll blend in and be better protected against pickpockets.

Don’t Overschedule

Travel gurus exalt the virtues of having a light schedule on vacation, leaving plenty of time for relaxation and spontaneity. We love this idea in theory, but when you’re short on vacation time and money, you quickly realize that this might be the only time you’re ever in this destination—and you want to pack in as much as possible. Just don’t overschedule so much that you’re seeing everything at a blur as you run past.

Roll, Don’t Fold

Some of us at SmarterTravel don’t roll with the idea that clothes should be rolled up for packing. We like folding everything neatly and putting it in compression bags instead. If worst comes to worst, hotels almost always have irons.

Don’t Talk to Strangers

It’s advice you’ve heard since you were a kid—strangers equal danger, so don’t talk to them. However, if you heed this warning on the road, be prepared to miss out on new friends, secret recommendations from locals, and the authentic experience of a new place. Just be smart about whom you talk to, and don’t go off alone down dark alleys with new friends.

Skip the Touristy Sites

Everyone’s always saying that you shouldn’t waste your time at the crowded, famous, touristy attractions while on vacation and, instead, you should head to the lesser-known, secret spots. But we can’t help it: Sometimes we are tourists while on the road, and while we like a little bit of balance, we can’t miss seeing the famous sights of a city while we’re there. We just try to follow up a trip to the Eiffel Tower with a coffee at a hidden cafe that’s not in any guidebook.

Confirm Reservations

In the days of confirmation emails and online check-ins, it seems redundant to call and double-check a reservation. SmarterTravel’s Senior Editor Christine Sarkis says, “I never confirm reservations. I still remember calling airlines, hotels, and hostels well into my twenties to verify a few days before travel, but now that pretty much everything is done online, it seems outdated and unnecessary. And since the last few days before travel are inevitably chaotic, I’m happy to trim out any superfluous busywork. I would make an exception when traveling to a hotel that can only be booked over the phone or by snail mail, but that’s a definite rarity these days.”

Bring a Blanket for the Plane

Yes, planes are cold, and we like to sleep on them, but you’ll never catch us wasting precious packing space with a travel blanket. A big scarf, pashmina, or sweatshirt works just as well as an in-flight blanket and does double duty off the plane.

Save Money by Staying Outside the City

Sure, you can oftentimes save money by staying in the suburbs of the city that you’re visiting, away from the main attractions. But time is money, and we don’t want to waste our precious vacation minutes commuting in and out of our actual destination. Plus, extra transportation costs usually negate the cost of staying further out anyway.

Don’t Eat Street Food

grilled seafood scallop and sea urchin eggs skewer with smoke, japanese street food at tsukiji fish market

Must you eat only at five-star restaurants if you want to avoid Delhi belly or Montezuma’s revenge? We say no. Just exercise caution when selecting a cart or food truck to dine at—look for vendors that are frequented by locals, avoid places that look unsanitary or have bug problems, and steer clear of anything made with or washed in unfiltered water, unless it’s cooked or boiled.

Don’t Book In Advance

Have an adventure! Be spontaneous! Spend the night on the street because there was a festival you didn’t know about, and everything’s booked! We like to be flexible, but we also like knowing that we have a room for the night—and we hate wasting time wandering around trying to find a suitable hotel. Plus, booking in advance lets you check out other people’s reviews, so you know what you’re getting into.

What travel advice do you eschew? Tell us in the comments!

More From Smartertravel:

Readers’ 10 Smartest Packing Tips

10 Safety Tips for Fearless Solo Female Travelers

9 Tips for Surviving the Middle Seat

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