I love travelling. If I have time and money I always try to plan a city trip of some sorts. But when you're new to travelling it might seem a bit overwhelming just thinking about everything you gotta plan. So I've made a list of tips to make sure you'll have to worry a little less.
Booking a flight and hotel
When booking a flight and a hotel you're aiming for getting the best for the cheapest price. I've found that booking a flight through the website of the airline is cheaper than using a mediator site. This is because the site often includes a fee in the price for their services. Also, booking a couple months in advance will often get you cheaper tickets. And on top of that, certain days or periods of the year can be cheaper or more expensive than others. So when you book a couple months in advance you can easily compare the prices for each date and based on that you can book. If you have a job you'll then have plenty of time to request those days off.
When it comes to a hotel I usually search on booking.com. It's just easy to compare all the different hotels and their facilities. Keep in mind that you want the hotel to be somewhat in the city center, or at least near public transport. So check the location of the hotel first. Personally I've never used an airbnb, purely because I don't want to worry about whether or not the place I'm gonna stay is any good or not. I always book a hotel with the thought in mind that I'm there to sleep and to relax. So I don't need many facilities and fancy things. As long as I can rest there and shower I'll be happy (and of course I'd like it to be clean).
Preparations before travelling
A few things you should always check when travelling somewhere is whether or not you need a visa and if you need any vaccinations. And if you're like me and using medication, you should check if you need a special form for that too. Another thing you should do is look up some words and sentences in the language of the country you're going to. Before I went to China I downloaded an offline dictionary app. It proved very useful when I needed to ask things like "where's the toilet?" because I would just type in the word "toilet" and show the other person the translated word. I know that in a lot of European capitals people generally speak English quite well, but that's not always the case, so you should do some research on that.
Another thing that's worth researching is travel. How are you gonna get from the airport to the hotel? Often airports are quite far away from the city center, so you need to travel to the city. You could of course get a taxi, but as someone who travels alone a lot I prefer not to use a taxi because of the risks that it's a fraudulent one. Instead I research on how to get to the hotel by public transport. The Google Maps app is quite useful for this and I often take screenshots of multiple routes. I also always put the address and phone number of my hotel in my phone (if needed, in the language of the country and in English), that way you can show it to someone if you get lost.
And lastly, before I go on a city trip I make a list of things I wanna see and do. I look up the addresses of the places I wanna go and put those in my phone. It saves you the struggle of having to look things up with possible shitty wifi, wasting time you could be spending on actually doing fun things.
On the day you're travelling you should try and be as relaxed as possible. Because you've made all the preparations you know where to go and what to do. When your flight has landed and you're on your way to the hotel, you need to keep a few things in mind.
First of all, watch your stuff. I always act as if everyone around me is a thief, ready to steal my stuff. It sounds silly, but actual thieves will recognise that you're a tourist and will take advantage of that. So be wary of your surroundings.
Second, don't go with strangers. Ever. If someone offers to take you somewhere, just tell them to give you directions. You can ask a stranger for help, but just don't go with them. Who knows where they might take you. Also while travelling, keep your friends or family updated on where you are. When I travelled through London at night I updated my family on where I was going. I sent texts like "I'm now at Luton Airport Parkway waiting for the train to West Hampstead." "I'm now on the underground to Uxbridge." By doing this, people will know where you are at what time. I've recently read something that said that it's better to give these updates not in real time, in case someone has hacked your phone or following your social media (in case you're posting updates there). It's pretty good advice which I will definitely follow from now on. I also have "find my iphone" turned on and "send last location" (this sends the location of my phone to Apple when the battery is low). I believe there are similar settings on Android phones.
When at the destination
When you've safely arrived at the hotel you can relax a bit. Pick one of the things of your "must see" list, use Google Maps to figure out how to get there, and have fun. Usually I pick things from my list the evening before and map out a travel route: how to get from thing A to B to C by using public transport, involving multiple routes. This saves me a lot of time when I wanna go from A to B.
Keep in mind that while sightseeing you should keep your personal belongings close. I usually wear my backpack in front of me. My phone is never in my pocket unless my hands are in there as well, and I try to make sure my wallet is in the middle of my bag so people would have to dig if they tried to pickpocket me.
Try to act like a local, like you know the city. Don't stand somewhere looking around with a confused look on your face. Go sit down and look up the route on your phone, appearing to be texting. Try to stay in the crowd, especially at night. Watch your drinks when you go clubbing or to a bar, and once again: don't follow strangers.
I know this all may seem like a lot of things to keep in mind and it seems like it will spoil the fun. But once you've become more confident in travelling you'll notice that these things come naturally. You can enjoy a trip by yourself, or with friends, as long as you're aware of the risks. Once you're sure that you've got everything under control you can have a stress-free vacation.
Do you have any travel tips? Let me know in the comments!