20 World Travel Tips and Life Lessons

We have been living the life of a frequent traveller for over a decade and now travel the world full time. We love our nomadic life, we have seen so many unforgettable places and we have learnt so much, not only about the destinations we have visited but about ourselves.

So, we thought we would put together a list of life lessons and world travel tips in hope that they inspire you to look at travel in a different light.

World Travel Tips

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World travels quotes

One of my favourite world travel quotes would have to be…

I was thinking of this quote recently when I was looking through my old passport. A decade of memories from places such as China, Chile, Finland, India, USA and of course my most treasured stamp from Machu Picchu in Peru.

So many stamps, it was sad to see it go but my new passport is a blank canvas just waiting to be filled with exciting new adventures from the wonderful world of travel.

Life Lessons from World Travel

(1) – Have Patience

Outside the western world, life moves at a different pace and can come as a shock to those used to instant gratification. Getting angry doesn’t guarantee a quick fix, in fact in some countries negotiation will cease the moment an angry word is spoken.

As world travellers we have learnt to take a deep breath, smile and treat people the way you want to be treated and along the way we have discovered that no matter where we are people are kind, helpful and welcoming.

(2) – Don’t Let Age Stop You

Many people think that once you get to a certain age you can’t travel. I believe that you can travel at any age, I’m on the cusp of turning 60 and I have met many people in their 70’s and 80’s still travelling, I even know a gentleman who is travelling in his 90’s!

All these travellers have one thing in common, their youthful spirit and enquiring minds make them appear far younger than they actually are.

(3) – Expect the Unexpected

When you travel things don’t always go according to plan, it can be frustrating, but it can also be liberating, we have enjoyed many disasters that have turned into incredible experiences.

Always have backup plan and look for the silver lining in every experience.

(4) – Eat, Drink and Try New Things

Discover a country through its cuisine, don’t be shy, eat with the locals, it’s a great way to observe daily life and I guarantee it will put a smile on your face.

When you travel you come across situations that will take you out of your comfort zone, we use this to our advantage and make it the perfect opportunity to try new things.

Travel has taught us that anything is possible, and you are braver than you think.

(5) – Don’t Say It Can’t Be Done

I often hear people say, “I want to travel the world but can’t afford it”, I say if you have wanderlust dreams make them happen.

When we started our frequent traveller lifestyle 10 years ago we had three teenage children and a mortgage to support but we also had a strong desire to travel.

We saved money by making a home packed lunches, making do with last seasons clothes and cutting costs where ever possible and we made our goal happen.

Here are just a few of the ways we have saved money to achieve our dream of world travel.

Travelling around the world
Alan overlooking Machu Picchu

How much does it cost to travel the world?

We are often asked this question. There are many ways to save on world travel, here are some examples what we use to reduce costs.

(6) – Airline Rewards Programs

We can’t speak highly enough about airline rewards programs, after all we have travelled around the world twice on reward points in economy and business class.

There are many airline loyalty programs and our advice is to sign up with your favourite program and stay LOYAL to that airline and its partner airlines.

Of course, this only works if you are loyal, many people get distracted and enticed by cheap airfares from discount or other airlines. Although these fares are a great way to save on an individual trip they don’t contribute to the bigger picture. If you have long term travel plans collecting airline rewards points is a good strategy.

The more points you can accumulate with an airline rewards program the further you can travel for free. For example, we calculated the cost of around the world travel in business class and it came to $60,000, our trip was fully funded by rewards points.

Over the last 10 years we have used airline rewards points on many occasions and they have contributed to large portion of our world travel budget.

Escorted Tours vs Independent Travel

Everyone has their own take on these modes of travel and we have experienced both in our 40 years of travel. I decided to put it to the test and planned a trip to Switzerland for two people.

(7) – Do I need Escorted Tours?

I found a typical 9-day tour of Switzerland which cost $8040 per couple (all costs are in Australian Dollars as of time of writing). I divided the total by nine and came up with a daily cost of $893 per couple. This price included 4 dinners and 7 breakfasts.

I then did some research into the cost of spending 1 day in Geneva as an independent traveller and compared it with the daily cost of the escorted tour which was also visiting the city of Geneva. These are the results I came up with.

(8) – What about Independent Travel!

Booking.com priced the 4-star Geneva Novotel Centre at $245 per night.

For transport I chose the 4-day Swiss Travel Pass at $106 per couple per day. The Swiss Travel Pass gives 4 days travel throughout Switzerland by train, bus and boat, free public transport, discounted tours and museum entrances.

Get Your Guide had a tour of sights of Geneva for $120 per couple.

Au Petit Chalet was the restaurant chosen by the Escorted Tour during their stay in Geneva, I looked up trip advisor and found that a fondue dinner for two would cost around $82.

All these travel costs added up to a grand total of $553 per day compared to the $893 per day with the escorted tour.

The streets of Valencia. One of the best places to travel in the world

Who wins Escorted Tours or Independent travel?

Well there is no winner, both modes of travel are a personal choice but when you weigh the $340 saving it may just be the difference between making your travel dream become a travel reality.

Especially when you consider that independent travel costs can be further discounted by booking cheaper hotels, individual train journeys, exploring the sights on your own and buying food from the supermarket or cheaper restaurants.

Escorted Tours Pros and Cons

The pros of escorted tours are that you get to experience some of the top travel destinations in the world in a short time frame which is an ideal for those with limited vacation time. They take the worry out of planning a trip. You get to socialise and make friends with your fellow travellers. You have backup if something goes wrong.

The cons of escorted tours are that they are rushed, and you only get glimpse of the destination. With early morning starts they can be tiring. Additional costs such as optional tours add to the cost of the tour.

Independent Travel Pros and Cons

Independent travel allows you to get off the beaten track and experience some of the best places in the world to travel from a more realistic point of view. You discover firsthand the delights of the destination as a traveller rather than a tourist.

You learn to rely on yourself and get satisfaction from getting out of your comfort zone. You have the freedom of not being tied down to a time frame giving you more time to explore the destination. Independent travel is much cheaper than an escorted tour.

The cons of independent travel are no backup if anything goes wrong. It takes longer to plan, and you don’t have instant friends to socialise with.

Of course, independent travel doesn’t mean you can’t take tours, there are a wide range half, full day and multi day tours that give you the flexibility of learning more about your destination while enjoying the freedom of exploring on your own.

Streets of Copenhagen - Dream world travels
Walking the Streets of Copenhagen

How to plan to travel the world

The key to world travel is in the planning and we use many great tools when we plan round the world travel. Here are just some of our favourite tools for planning our world wide travels…

(9) – Best Hotel Booking Websites

We have been using booking.com for years and we have been happy with all the hotels and apartments we have stayed in. They give accurate hotel descriptions and area information which makes planning a trip easy.

(10) – Top Flight Booking Websites

We use expedia.com (expedia.com.au for Australian readers) to book flights. We like the format of Expedia and find it easier to use than other booking sites. We have been using Expedia for over 10 years and are more than happy with their service.

We also like mix it up and book through airline websites such as Emirates, Qantas and Finnair (any major airlines) and have found many great deals booking through them.

(11) – Favourite Tour Booking Website

We use Get Your Guide for booking tours. They have a fabulous range of half, full day and multi day tours in destinations across the world.

(12) – Check Travel Review Websites 

What can I say, is there anyone in the world who doesn’t use tripadvisor? As world travellers we would have to say that it is one of the best planning tools on the planet!

Tripadvisor reviews helped us decide which hotels, attractions and restaurants give the best experience for your money when planning trips.

(13) – Take advantage of Google Maps

Google maps is the greatest thing ever invented for anyone travelling around the world, they make our life so much easier.

Street view is a godsend, I remember planning a trip to Paris 10 years ago and only having satellite view, the introduction of street view was like a miracle.

Now I can walk the streets of the top travel destinations in the world and know where I am before I even leave home.

We became independent travellers to stretch our travel dollar further and soon travel planning became our favourite hobby.

Planning for travel around the world is fun, whether you are going to a single destination or multiple destinations across the world, using these tools will make your planning easier.

Travelling the world
Sitting on “Diana’s seat” in front of the Taj Mahal.

Simple steps for planning travel

(14) – Choose your destination

First things first, where do you want to go? Whether you want to travel to the other side of the world or to the other side of the country, choosing the best places to travel in the world is the most exciting step. (Always check the Visa requirements for the county you are visiting)

Don’t be afraid of dreaming big, research the costs and use those costs to set a goal for your world travel dreams.

(15) – Time to Book Flights

Research flights, take into consideration the length of the flight, time of flight (day or night) and time it arrives at your chosen destination.

There is nothing worse than disembarking from a long-haul flight exhausted, only to find you can’t get into your hotel for hours.

(16) – Research the Area and Transport Options

Look into the area you will be visiting, research attractions and work out how you are going to get to these attractions.

We use a combination of Google maps and local subway, bus or train network maps to work out the best transport options.

For example if you are visiting London use google maps to work out how to get to the nearest tube station from where you are staying, then use the London Tube Map to take the London underground to the attraction.

(17) – Book your Accommodation

What style of accommodation do you need, are you a family travelling together, a couple or are you traveling solo? Finding the right accommodation will depends on these factors.

We use booking.com to book accommodation, they have a great range of styles to choose from including apartments, hotels, hostels and guesthouses.

One thing that should be considered when booking accommodation is the proximity to attractions and public transport.

We usually like to stay in the city centre, so we can get a feel for the city. An example of this would have to be Paris where staying in the city centre allows you to wander the streets and boulevards to soak up the atmosphere of this glamorous city.

Top travel places in the world
Louvre Pyramid in Paris

Travelling Light

This has been one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, like most women travelling light didn’t come easy.

I remember the days when I would fill my suitcase to the brim, packing almost everything in my wardrobe with shoes and bags to match. Once at the destination I would get evil looks from my husband as he lugged my bag up two flights of stairs. Something had to change, so I decided to learn how to travel light.

The way to travel light is easy, I now stick to a small number of mix and match separates and only take 3 pairs of shoes, sandals that can go from day to evening, comfortable walking sandals and joggers.

I tend to stick to black as it doesn’t show the dirt and goes from day to night with ease. I use accessories such as scarves and necklaces to change the style of the outfit.

(18) – Choosing the right Luggage

Your style of travel will determine whether a backpack or suitcase is the right option. We have travelled with both forms of luggage and each has it pros and cons.

What about Suitcases

Suitcases often allow more space and the contents can, if packed correctly be compartmentalised into different segments.

We recommend the use of packing cubes, these greatly enhance the available space by segmenting different items into small compartments. Packing cubes also make it easier to find items without messing up your entire suitcase. Our favourite packing cubes are the Amazon Basics Packing Cubes and these fit nicely into most suitcases.

For bulky items we also use space saving bags, these bags compress bulky clothing into smaller packages making them easier to fit into your suitcase.

We have extensive reviews on top luggage brands, our personal favourite is the Samsonite Cruisair DLX Spinner secure zipperless suitcase. Check our recommendations for luggage here.

Suitcases can be a good choice for longer travel through different climates. They are the best choice if you need extra space for travel equipment and they are still the preferred travel option for many travellers.

Should I try a Backpack

Backpacks on the other hand allow freedom of movement and are the best option for the more adventurous traveller who enjoys walking and hiking. They are also perfect for those wanting to travel lighter.

We have tested a range travel backpacks and our favourite backpacks are the Osprey range of backpacks. They come in various sizes and styles and have packs specifically designed for different body types for both men and women.

To see our recommendation on travel backpacks for men click here and for our recommendation on packs for women check here.

You can also see our comprehensive guide to choosing the best travel backpack for more in-depth information on the many brands and styles available.

Whether you ultimately choose a backpack or suitcase will depend on your personal travel preferences and both have distinct advantages.

Carryon or hold baggage – What’s best!

Unfortunately, airline travel is no longer as enjoyable as it once was. Gone are the days when you didn’t have to plan your carryon luggage. These days it’s more like a military operation from the time you check in to the time you pass through the various airport screening points.

Some people can go on vacation with just a carry on and I admire those with the discipline to be able to pack lightly enough and with no prohibited onboard items.

If you can travel with carry on only your travel becomes much easier without having to check in and cart luggage.

Most us however don’t fit into this scenario especially those taking long duration travel. So, checked in baggage is still the preferred choice for many and in many instances the only option if you intend to take any equipment that is not allowed on board an aircraft.

Travel the world cheap

Do you need Travel Insurance?

The answer is of course you do! We spend part of the year living in Thailand and we hear so many horror stories about people who have had accidents and don’t have insurance.

You would have to be crazy to leave home without worldwide travel insurance. Considering the cost of travel, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.

(19) – Don’t forget Travel Insurance

World travel insurance policies are available to suit whatever trip you are planning. Individual or couples trip insurance plans for once off travel can be inexpensive with a large range of companies offering single trip insurance, and prices vary depending on your personal circumstances.

For those taking multiple trips within a 12-month period an annual worldwide travel insurance plan can be a good choice as they allow multiple trips with 12 months.

It does pay to check the length of stay covered for each trip as different durations are offered depending on the insurance company.

Many credit cards also include travel insurance which can be a cost-effective option but check the fine print before you travel as some credit card insurance coverage plans require all or most of the trip to be booked using the credit card.

What insurance company do we use?

As we travel extensively and often do not return to our home country, we have for the past few years used World Nomads travel insurance.

We find the rates and coverage good value and added bonus for us is that they are one of the very few companies that allow insurance policies to be initiated during travel or extended without returning to our country of residence.

As the name suggests World Nomad travel insurance suites travellers with fluid travel plans. Before we initially started using World Nomad travel insurance we researched many World Nomad Travel Insurance reviews and are satisfied they are the right choice for our travel lifestyle.

Money Matters

(20) – Money Options When Travelling

When travelling you really need to do your homework, while most countries willingly take credit and debit cards, there are some, particularly in Asia that prefer to deal only in cash. Do your research before travelling to make sure you don’t get caught out.

Where is that ATM?

It’s never been easier to access money while travelling as ATM’s can be found in almost any location.

Just be aware that it can be expensive, the exchange rates often favour the ATM provider rather than the customer and in many cases you also get charged a withdrawal fee.

Credit and Debit Cards

Travel relying on your normal credit or debit card can quickly add up with unnecessary fees and charges. Although you may not have fees and charges on your card in your home country in many cases these cards do not offer the same reduced fees when in other countries.

Fortunately, there are a range of cards that allow you to pre-load foreign currency and although the exchange rates are not ideal they are often better than standard bank card charges. It pays to plan well in advance and research before you leave to find the best card for your travel needs.

When travelling we suggest taking at least one backup card in case of emergency. We have experienced cards being declined for no apparent reason and it’s a wise move in case the unthinkable happens and your card is stolen.

Cash is king

If you really want to save on fees, then nothing beats cash. The obvious downside to travelling with large amounts of cash is the safety aspect. On the up side you will always find that money exchanges in foreign countries give you better exchange rate than cards.

Some countries work as cash societies and will not accept cards. You will either need to pre order local currency before you leave home or withdraw funds when you arrive at the airports ATM’s which usually have the worst rates available.

When travelling choose an option that gives you a comfortable balance. Our advice is to ensure whichever method you choose also take a backup of a few hundred dollars in US currency.

It is rare to find a situation where US Dollars won’t be accepted, and it could get you out of a sticky situation if the worst-case scenario happens.

Passport to world travel
Passport to world travel

World Travel Tips – Final Thoughts

We have learnt a lot during the last 10 years of frequent travel and hope that we have inspired you to follow your travel dreams with our 20 world travel tips and life lessons.

Do you have any travel tips and life lessons you want to share? We would love to hear your story.


20 World Travel Tips – Life Lessons learnt during full time travel, How to plan full time travel, World Travel Destinations, Bucket List Travel, How to save money traveling, How to pack for travel. #worldtravels #planningtravel #travelbucketlist
20 World Travel Tips and Life Lessons – How to plan travel, Tips for travel on a budget, World Travel Destinations, World Travel Bucket List, Full time travel. #worldtravel #travelplanning #traveldestinations

2 thoughts on “20 World Travel Tips and Life Lessons”

  1. I am at the stage of hoping the day of abroad travel for me and wifey will realise. Reading your blog makes me more determined to bring that happy day closer.

    We are also both just under 60, and haven’t had the privvie of travelling abroad from South African shores, more so Cape Town.

    I trust we’ll be able to save up some funds to realise our dream.

    Happy travels you guys…

  2. Rosalind Cuthbertson

    How lovely to hear from you :). We are so happy that we have inspired you and hope your travel plans come together in the near future. We haven’t been to South Africa yet but it is definitely on our list, it looks like such a beautiful place :).

    Thanks again for your lovely comment.

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