25 Important Travel Safety Tips You Need To Know

Learn to How to Travel Safer

Travel Safety Tips to Keep You Safe

Travel Tips

After traveling the world for the past 7 years, I’ve learned a lot about staying safe – sometimes the hard way. Here are my best travel safety tips for avoiding trouble on your next trip.

Nothing ruins an adventure quicker than getting scammed or robbed!

In Panama, some women distracted me while my laptop was stolen from my backpack. I figured it was gone forever, until incredibly, this happened 3 months later. I got lucky.

In Mexico, a pickpocket grabbed my iPhone as I was walking. I managed to get that back too, chasing the thief down the road screaming like a maniac and brandishing a bottle of tequila!

You don’t even need to travel internationally to have bad stuff happen. In Miami, my camera was stolen from the beach when I wasn’t paying attention.

After seven years of almost constant travel around the world, I’ve grown accustomed to deceitful taxi drivers, two-faced tour guides, insincere offers of help, and the occasional robbery or scam.

For the most part, the world is a pretty safe place for travelers. I don’t want to scare you too much! However it’s wise to be prepared for the worst.

With that in mind, here are my best travel safety tips to help minimize your chances of something bad happening to you or your belongings during your travels.

Useful Travel Safety Tips

Avoid Common Scams to Be Safe

Research Local Scams

1. Learn Common Travel Scams

Wherever you go in the world, you’ll always find people ready to trick you out of your hard-earned cash. If you’re lucky, they’ll be kinda obvious – but there are plenty of craftier, professional con-artists out there too.

Everyone thinks they’re too smart to be scammed — but it happens.

Here are some of the most common travel scams I’ve come across. I recommend you learn them all – then fire up the Google and do even more in-depth research into the worst scams happening at your specific destination.

For example, the milk scam in Cuba. Broken taxi meters in Costa Rica. Or the ring scam in Paris. Every country has its own special ones to watch out for!

Forewarned is forearmed, and this research can help defend you from being tricked out of hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars (while suffering the kind of frustration and misery that ruins a dream trip).

2. Write Down Emergency Info

If disaster strikes, you might not have time to search for numbers for local police or ambulance services, or directions to the nearest embassy for your country. You may also be too stressed and panicky to think straight.

Don’t put yourself in that position. Instead, record that information in advance, and create an “Emergency Plan” for you to follow if things go badly. Save it on your phone somewhere (I use the Evernote App).

I also recommend you write it down on a small card or sheet of paper, get it laminated (easily done at your local office supply store) to protect it from moisture, and keep it in your wallet/purse.

That way, if something goes wrong out there, you’ll always know exactly who to call and where to go for help.

3. Check The State Department Website

The U.S. Department of State has a page for every country in the world, where it lists all known difficulties and current threats to the safety of visitors. You can find it here.

However, a big caveat for this one: it’s the State Department’s job to warn you about everything that could go wrong, which is sometimes different to what is likely to go wrong.

This means their advice is generally on the hyper-cautious side. Factor that in, while you dig up more on-the-ground information.

But researching travel warnings will give you a general idea of what’s going on in the country you’re visiting, and specific problem areas you may want to avoid.

For example, just because certain parts of Thailand or Mexico have problems, doesn’t mean you should completely avoid those countries.

Lock Up Your Travel Gear

Lock Up Expensive Stuff

4: Lock Up Your Valuables

Putting aside the fact that traveling with anything super valuable is usually a bad idea, there will always be something you absolutely cannot afford to have stolen. I travel with a lot of expensive camera gear for example.

Your job is to minimize the easy opportunities for theft.

Firstly, know that most bags aren’t very secure. It’s easy to feel that a zipped, even locked bag is a sufficient deterrent to any thief, and doze off next to it. Waking up to find someone’s slashed a hole in the side!

Unless it’s a slash-proof backpack (but I’m not really a fan of them), the material can be cut or torn by anyone determined enough. Many zippers can be forced open with sharp objects like a writing pen too.

Always be aware of your valuables, and try to keep an eye on them in such a way that it would be impossible for someone to steal without you knowing. I’ll use my backpack as a pillow on train/bus routes that have a reputation for theft, and will sometimes lock it to a seat using a thin cable like this.

Secondly, call your accommodation to ask about secure storage options like a room safe, lockers, or a locked storage area. Carry your own locker padlock when staying at backpacking hostels.

5: Get Travel Insurance

You never think you need it, until you do. If you’re really worried about the safety of yourself and your gear while you travel, you can almost completely relax if you have some good insurance.

People ask me all the time if I’m worried about traveling with an expensive computer and camera. I was, when I didn’t have insurance for them. Now that I do, I’m not worried. If stuff gets stolen, it will get replaced.

Everyone should carry some kind of health and property insurance when traveling. Why? Because shit happens. Whether you think it will or not. It doesn’t matter how careful you think you are.

My recommendation is World Nomads for short-term travel insurance (less than 6 months). They make it super easy to buy online. Just be aware that they have “per item” limits on coverage of $500. So it’s not going to cover a whole $3000 camera.

If you’re going to be traveling for a long time, there are good long-term options like a mixture of expat health insurance from IMG Global and photography/computer insurance from TCP Photography Insurance.

READ MORE: Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

Travel Safety Tips Asking Locals

Hanging Out in Palestine

6: Ask Locals For Advice

If you really want to know which neighborhoods are safe and which might be sketchy, ask a local resident of the area.

Most locals are friendly, and will warn you about straying into dangerous areas. On the other hand, if a stranger offers up advice, it’s also wise to get a second opinion – just in case they don’t really know what they’re talking about but simply wanted to help (or worse, are trying to scam you).

Taxi drivers can be hit or miss in this regard. Some can be excellent sources for good information, others are miserable assholes who might actually lead you into trouble.

I’ve found that hostel or hotel front desk workers are generally pretty good sources for local advice.

Don’t be afraid to ask them which parts of the city to avoid, how much taxi fares should cost, and where to find a great place to eat!

7: Register With Your Embassy

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, from the U.S. Department of State, is designed to make a destination’s local embassy aware of your arrival and keep you constantly updated with the latest safety information.

It’s free, it’s available for all U.S. citizens and nationals living abroad, and it’s a great way to get reliable, up to date safety information as you travel, along with an extra level of security in case of emergencies.

Canada has it’s own version, called Registration Of Canadians Abroad.

That way if an emergency happens, like a natural disaster or terrorist attack, the local embassy can get a hold of you quickly to share important information or help with evacuation.

Share Plans with Family

Mom, I’m Camping on a Volcano…

8: Email Your Itinerary To Friends/Family

Once you’ve worked out where you’re going and when, make sure someone else knows too.

The best way is to email the full itinerary to a few family members (and double-check with them that they received it – don’t just assume it landed in their Inbox, make sure it did). Then, if you can, check in from time to time.

Before I travel anywhere, I make sure my parents know where I’m going, what my general plans are, and when I should be back.

That way, if they don’t hear from me for a few days after I’m supposed to return, they can help notify the proper local authorities, the embassy, etc.

9: Don’t Share Too Much With Strangers

If you’re ever tempted to make your itinerary more public, say in a Facebook post, just remember it can be a roadmap of your movements – just the sort of thing someone with ill-intentions would love to know.

I also don’t recommend sharing too many details about your travel plans or accommodation details with people you’ve just met. For example, don’t tell a local shop owner or street tout where you’re staying when asked.

If someone does ask, rather than be rude, you can be vague about an area of town rather than the name of your hotel. Or lie and name a hotel you’re not actually staying at.

Sometimes people will ask if it’s your first time visiting their country or city. If you don’t trust them yet, you can pretend it isn’t your first trip. Because sharing that you’re new might also signal you’re a good target for scams.

When feeling vulnerable in a strange place, little white lies won’t hurt.

Conservative Clothing for Travel

Anna Trying the Traditional Omani Abaya

10: Be Aware Of Your Clothing

When it comes to travel, the wrong clothes scream “TOURIST” and make you a target for scammers, thieves and worse. The less obviously a visitor you look, the less attention you’ll get from the wrong kind of people.

Wearing the right clothes is a sign of respect. Many Islamic countries have specific dress code guidelines that are often strictly enforced – and other destinations have laws that may catch you out (for example, walking topless through the streets of Barcelona is illegal for both sexes).

However, it’s possible to stay within the law and still offend locals with what you’re wearing – generating a lot of hostility towards you in the process. Ignoring local customs can come across as both arrogant and ignorant.

In conservative countries, it’s just safer to dress more conservatively yourself. Obviously as a foreigner you’re still going to stand out a bit, but much less than those who ignore the local customs.

Start by checking out Wikipedia’s general advice on clothing laws by country – and then narrow down your research until you find someone giving advice you can trust, ideally a resident or expat turned local.

11: Splurge On Extra Safety

If you’re traveling as a budget backpacker, like I was, it can be tempting to save as much money as possible with the cheapest accommodation, the cheapest flights, the cheapest activities.

But it’s important to know that this isn’t always the safest way to travel.

Ultra cheap backpacker hostels aren’t always the safest places. I’ve stayed in some without locks on the doors, that felt like make-shift homeless shelters for drug addicts and other seedy people.

Budget flights can often arrive in the middle of the night — usually not the best time to be hailing down a cab in a dangerous city and hoping the driver doesn’t abduct you.

Sometimes it’s worth the extra few bucks to splurge on a slightly better hostel, a more convenient flight, a taxi home from the bar, or a tour operator with a strong safety record.

12: Stay “Tethered” To Your Bag

Most quick snatch-and-run type robberies happen because the thief can do it easily, and has time to get away. Therefore, anything that slows them down will help prevent it in the first place.

If you can keep your bag tethered to something immovable at all times, and do so in a really obvious way, thieves will consider it way too risky a job – and leave you alone.

A simple and effective method is to use a carabiner clip. Even a regular strap around your leg or chair.

It doesn’t need to be secured with a steel cable and padlock all the time, just attached to something that will make a snatch-and-run attempt too difficult.

Travel Safety Self Defense

Learning to Box in Johannesburg

13: Learn Basic Self-Defense

You don’t need black-belt skills, but joining a few self defense classes is a worthwhile investment in your personal safety. Some good street-effective styles to consider are Krav Maga or Muay Thai.

Next, learn WHEN to apply it. Just because you can kick someone’s ass, doesn’t mean you should in all situations. In the words of author Sam Harris:

“Do whatever you can to avoid a physical confrontation, but the moment avoidance fails, attack explosively for the purposes of escape.”

A great way to neutralize a threat is to get yourself as far away as physically possible. If someone with a gun or knife just wants your phone, give it to them, run away, and live another day.

Use force only when your life is threatened & there are absolutely no other options available.

If you want an extra level of personal security, pick up a tactical pen (and learn how to use it). I often carry one, and it doesn’t set off any alarms when going through customs.

14: Project Situational Awareness

Did you know that a majority of human communication is based on non-verbal body language? This projection of confidence can prevent you from becoming a target.

Keep your head up, stay alert, and aware of you’re surroundings. When you’re confident, potential attackers can sense it through your body language and eye contact.

Most will choose to move on and find an easier victim to attack.

In many places, making direct eye contact with potential threats can help ward off an attack, ensuring they notice you see them and what they may be planning. Yet in other parts of the world, too much eye contact might invite trouble…

Generally you should stay aware of who is around you, walk with a purpose, and don’t look worried, lost, or scared (even if you feel that way) — but I’d also avoid staring contests with sketchy looking strangers.

Travel Safety with Your Money

Protecting Your Money

15: Tell Your Bank Where You’re Going

Imagine the agony of doing absolutely everything right and keeping yourself perfectly safe and secure – only to have your trip ruined because your bank thinks you’re the thief, and locks down all your cards.

If this happens and you’re lucky, you’ll be asked security questions to determine your identity. The rest of the time, you’ll get a notification from the bank’s fraud detection team that irregular activity has been recorded on your card, and they’ve put a hold on all transactions until the situation is resolved – which might take days.

The solution is simple. Most online banking services have a facility for letting the bank or credit card provider know about your upcoming travels. Make sure you use it, shortly before leaving – and keep them in the loop if your travel plans change.

I also recommend using your debit card at the airport ATM machine as soon as you arrive in a new country, as this also helps let the bank know you’re traveling.

READ MORE: Travel Banking Tips & Advice

16: Hide Emergency Cash

While it’s good to do everything you can to prevent worst case scenarios – it’s equally smart to assume it’ll happen and plan ahead for it. This is the thinking behind having an emergency stash of funds, stored in a safe place.

Some of my favorite hiding places include:

  • Secret pocket sewn into your pants
  • Behind a patch on your backpack
  • Rolled into an empty chapstick container
  • Inside a hidden compartment (like this hair-brush or belt pouch)

How much emergency cash? This will be personal preference, but I usually prefer $200 spread out in 2 different places. Some hidden on me, some hidden in my bag. A hidden backup credit card is wise too.

Now if things got really dire, and everything’s gone, what then? You call up a friend or family member, and ask them to send you the emergency money you left with them before you went traveling, via a Western Union or Moneygram transfer.

Hopefully it will never come to that. But these things do happen occasionally, and it’s better to practice safe travel techniques than to remain ignorant about the possibility.

Food Travel Safety Tips

Staying Safe While You Eat

17: Food & Water Safety

After traveling extensively the last 7 years, to over 50 countries, eating all kinds of weird stuff, I’ve only had food poisoning a couple of times.

Don’t be scared of the food when you travel! In fact, eating strange new foods can be a highlight for many people on their adventures around the world.

My food-obsessed friend Jodi recommends the following tips:

  • Eat at popular places with long lines
  • Try to watch how your food is prepared
  • Pack translation cards to express your allergies
  • Fully cooked food is always the safest
  • Only eat peel-able fruit to avoid bacteria

I also recommend getting a filtered water bottle. In many modern cities around the world the water is safe to drink, but outside of those places it often isn’t.

Sure, you could keep buying bottled water everywhere you go, but that plastic waste is a huge environmental problem. Why not get one sturdy filtered bottle, and then re-use it?

It pays for itself and saves the environment at the same time!

18: Use ATMs Wisely

You may have been told to cover your hand when keying in your PIN number at an ATM. That’s good advice worth following, both for others looking over your shoulder, as well as hidden cameras trying to record your pin.

Always take a close look at ATM machines before you use them. Pull on the card reader a bit. Does it have any questionable signs of tampering? If so, go into the bank and get someone to come out and check it (and then use another machine, regardless of what happens).

If an ATM machine appears to have eaten your card, run a finger along the card slot to see if you feel anything protruding. The “Lebanese Loop” is a trick where a thin plastic sleeve captures your card (preventing the machine from reading it) – then as soon as you walk away, a thief yanks it out and runs off with your card.

Another overlooked factor is where other people are when you’re at the machine. Can someone peer over your shoulder? Are they close enough they could grab the cash and run off?

If so, use another ATM elsewhere. Better safe than sorry! Never let anyone “help” you with your transaction either.

19: Stop Using Your Back Pocket

It’s the first place any pickpocket will check – and short of putting a loaded mousetrap in there (not recommended if you forget and sit down), the best way to deal with the dangers of having a back pocket is to never use it…

And if putting money in the back pocket of your pants is a habit you can’t seem to break, grab some needle and thread and sew it shut!

Your front pockets are a lot harder to steal from without being noticed.

If you’re REALLY worried, or plan to travel to a city where pickpockets run rampant, you can wear a money belt. I’m not a fan, but I know many who use them for peace of mind.

20: Travel In Numbers

The more people around you, the more eyeballs are on your valuables – and the more legs are available for running after thieves.

A group is also a much more intimidating physical presence, which helps ward off predators of all kinds. It will help to keep you safer than trying to go it alone in a foreign country.

If you’re traveling solo, consider making some new friends and go exploring together.

Staying at backpacker hostels is an excellent way to make some new friends. Often you’ll find other solo travelers there, who may want to do some of the same activities you want to.

However, I’d also like to highlight the importance of not trusting new people TOO quickly. There are some professional scammers who use the backpacker trail to take advantage of other travelers looking for a friend.

Don’t leave your expensive or important stuff with someone you just met. No matter how friendly they seem.

21: Pack A First Aid Kit

Injuries can happen when you travel abroad, not matter how careful you are. That’s why traveling with a basic first aid kit is always a good idea.

You don’t need to go crazy and bring your own needles and scalpels, but stocking the basics to treat cuts, sprains, stomach issues, and burns can help if you or people around you may need them.

I prefer a basic waterproof adventure first aid kit with a few additions of my own:

  • Small tube of sunscreen
  • Re-hydration salts
  • Anti-histamine tablets
  • Small pair of scissors
  • Extra pain pills (Ibuprofen)
  • Emergency space blanket
  • Small tube of petroleum jelly (helps prevent blisters)
Stay Sober for Travel Safety

Drinking with Friends in Madrid!

22: Stay (Relatively) Sober

Getting too drunk or high when you travel is almost always unacceptably risky. If you’re wasted, you’re not present, and anything could be happening around you (or to you).

I’m not saying don’t enjoy yourself. Hell I have plenty over the years! Just do it responsibly, stay hyper-aware of how much you’re consuming, keep hydrated & fed, and make sure you don’t lose control of the situation.

Harder drugs are especially risky — it’s a good way to get in trouble with the police, who may not be as forgiving (or even law-abiding) as authorities back home. Not to mention having to deal with potentially nefarious people who are providing those drugs — and their own alternative motives.

On a similar note, if you’re partial to late nights out partying until pre-dawn hours, be careful assuming that unfamiliar destinations will be as forgiving as back home.

Many generally safe destinations (especially ones filled with tourists) become far less secure late at night – and if you’re stumbling around intoxicated, you’re far less aware of your surroundings – and a VERY easy target for all kinds of bad stuff.

23: Trust Your Instincts!

This one is easily overlooked – and incredibly important.

You are a walking surveillance network. Your body sees and hears more things than you could ever process into coherent thought. Let’s call it your “spidey sense” — the ability to sense danger.

Your body might be sensing signs of danger, before your brain is fully aware of it.

This is why gut feelings are always worth examining! If you’re feeling uneasy and you don’t know why, try not to write it off as irrational fear. Stop and pay closer attention to the situation. Can you figure out what the problem is?

It’s easy to dismiss your instincts as “silly”. Never treat them as such. Those gut feelings and intuition have kept humans safe for millions of years.

24: Travel Safety For Women vs. Men

All the travel safety tips above are equally important for both men and women. I don’t think the ability to travel safely should be focused on gender.

Unfortunately women are victims of violence everywhere, including here in the United States & Canada. Traveling doesn’t necessarily increase that threat, it simply changes the location.

Women worried about being assaulted or harassed might prefer to visit a local street bazaar or nightclub in a group rather than alone. Especially if it’s a common problem for the area.

I know some women who feel safer carrying a safety whistle and rubber door stop when they travel solo too.

However men also have specific safety concerns they need to watch out for, related to their egos. Like getting goaded into a physical fight that isn’t necessary. Or being scammed by a beautiful woman.

Travel safety is really about staying street smart, prepared for the unexpected, and minimizing your exposure to risky situations in a new and unfamiliar country.

Risk and Travel Safety

Trekking in Greenland

25: A Few Words About Risk…

If you want to travel, you cannot avoid risk. There is no way to be 100% safe from any threat, in any part of life, but this is especially true for adventure travel.

Risk is an integral part of adventure. One cannot exist without the other. This means that when you hit the road, you are bound to get scammed sooner or later, or find yourself in unexpectedly challenging circumstances. It happens to all of us, without exception.

Risk is unavoidable – but it can be managed, so you can stay safe and secure. That’s why I wrote this post.

How do most people hear about events in other countries? It’s usually through the news. This is a big problem, because the media is biased – but not the way politicians would like you to believe. It reports on unusual events (most often negative ones). Things get featured in the news because they rarely happen. That’s the definition of “newsworthy”.

If the news was truly representative of what’s happening in the world, 99.9% of each report would sound like: “Today in Namib-istan, absolutely nothing dangerous happened, and everyone had a perfectly normal day – yet again.”

The news media makes other countries feel a lot less safe than they really are. In fact, the world seems to be getting safer every decade, according to data collected by economist Max Roser and psychologist Steven Pinker.

This isn’t saying that bad things don’t happen. It’s saying they’re usually a misleading representation of what normally happens.

Don’t believe the hype. Generally speaking, it’s never been a safer time to travel! So get out there and go enjoy your trip. ★

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25 Travel Safety Tips You Need To Know. More at ExpertVagabond.com

READ MORE TRAVEL TIPS

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Best Travel Tips For Beginners
Ultimate Travel Vaccination Guide
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Have any questions about travel safety? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Merry Christmas! Here’s $30 Off Your Next Hotel On Booking.com

Free Booking.com Coupon Code

$30 Booking.com Coupon

Travel Tips

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! As 2017 winds down, I wanted to give everyone a gift this holiday season. Enjoy $30 off your next hotel stay on Booking.com!

This post is sponsored by Booking.com.

Happy holidays from the White Mountains of New Hampshire!

I’m celebrating Christmas with my family here, and the snow is falling, so it’s going to be a white one too!

Anna & I just returned from a trip to Africa, where we had breakfast with giraffes, danced with Maasai warriors, and watched leopards lounge in trees.

While we were over there, my friends at Booking.com reached out with a special holiday surprise…

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COUPON CODE! For a special $30 off your next Booking.com hotel stay over $60, make sure to use my special link.

My Favorite Hotel Search Engine

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that Booking.com is my favorite hotel search engine website.

I use it for booking 90% of my hotel, guesthouse, and hostel stays around the world.

One of the best ways to save money on travel is to find cheap accommodation. In fact I wrote a whole guide about that here.

Booking.com really helps you save money (and time!) when booking your travel accommodation. It’s super easy to compare different properties based on price, location, or ratings.

Their smartphone app is also slick. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to book a last-minute hotel on the app from a bus or rental car when my travel plans suddenly changed!

Trying to visit individual hotel websites (that often suck) or, even worse, actually stopping by each hotel or guesthouse in person until you find something good is a nightmare.

With Booking.com, I can scan reviews for the important qualities I’m looking for in a place to stay. Is the wifi fast? Is there a free airport shuttle? Is the neighborhood nice? Which place has the lowest price & best reviews?

Free Booking.com Coupon Code

Happy Holidays!

Get $30 Off Your Next Hotel Stay!

Planning a ski vacation this winter? Or maybe you want to escape the snow and hit the beach? What about an African safari? American road trip?

Click here to use my special link to book your next hotel, guesthouse, or hostel stay over $60 on Booking.com, and you’ll receive a $30 credit applied to your credit card after you complete your trip.

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You’ll need to sign into your Booking.com account (or create one) and link it to a credit card so they can send you your $30 credit.

Feel free to forward & share this with family and friends too!

Who doesn’t want to save some money on their next hotel stay? This is something everyone can use to help make travel a little cheaper next year.

I hope you enjoy this discount, and wishing you happy travels in 2018! ★

READ MORE TRAVEL TIPS

Ultimate Adventure Travel Gear Guide
Should You Get Travel Insurance?
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Where do you want to travel in 2018? How will you use your $30 credit? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Travel Vaccination Guide: Which Shots Do You Need?

Travel Shots

What Travel Vaccinations Do You Need?

Travel Tips

Planning to travel overseas in the next few months? You may want to think about travel vaccinations. Learn which shots you may need for which countries, and how to save money on them.

When I first began traveling on a regular basis 7 years ago, the topic of travel vaccinations and immunizations came up. Like many people, I was confused about which shots I needed. Where do I get them? How much do they cost?

Honestly, it doesn’t matter whether you’re staying at a fancy resort or a backpacker hostel – if you’re in a foreign country, you’re putting yourself at risk for the diseases and infections that reside there.

Why do we wear seat belts? Because they save more lives than they take.

The same is true with vaccinations. The diseases they prevent kill millions around the world (or used to before vaccinations).

Once you’ve taken the proper precautions, you’ll feel much better about being adventurous and saying yes to any opportunities that present themselves while traveling. It’s preventative insurance for your health.

Travel Vaccinations & Shots

I know, I know – no one likes getting shots or even going to the doctor. But a twenty-minute appointment could prevent you from contracting really bad diseases, and maybe even save your life.

A number of factors go into determining whether or not you need a vaccination – some of them personal (depending on your health, or where you are from) many of them are more general.

As a result, necessary vaccinations can vary depending on your planned destinations. Let’s take a look at these factors and which vaccinations are recommended (or required) for your next trip.

Things To Consider

There are a few things to consider regarding your own health and situation. First, how is your immune system? If you have a disease or condition that weakens the immune system, speak with a doctor before getting a vaccine.

It’s important to make sure you’ve got your body up to par for the trip!

Next, if you are pregnant or traveling with children, be sure that both you and they have any medical procedures and/or vaccines needed, and that the vaccines are safe for their age.

Check your personal vaccine history by talking to your doctor or health insurance provider (you may have had some of them when you were younger, like Hepatitis A). Just to avoid any confusion, this is often referred to in official medical circles as your Immunization Records.

Finally, I’ve shared some general guidelines below, but for more detailed information, please visit the official CDC Traveler’s Health Site to learn exactly which travel vaccinations are recommended for each country.

Bathrooms around the World

Bathroom in Afghanistan

Basic Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a liver disease spread through food and water contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Some sources include fruits & vegetables that were improperly handled, bad ice, and shellfish pulled from contaminated water. It can also be spread through sex. Symptoms are similar to the flu. There is no cure.

TYPE: 2 injections over 6 months
PROTECTION: Lifetime
COST: $75 – $100 (often covered by health insurance)
RECOMMENDED FOR: All Countries

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a liver disease spread through blood and bodily fluids of an infected person. Sources include unprotected sex, using contaminated needles, and sharing a razor/toothbrush with an infected person. Symptoms are often mild, so you may not realize you have it. Left untreated it can damage your liver.

TYPE: Multiple injections over a few months.
PROTECTION: Lifetime
COST: $60 – $90 (often covered by health insurance)
RECOMMENDED FOR: All Countries

TDaP (Tetanus, Diptheria, and Pertussis)

Tetanus is bacteria found in the soil and animal excrement. If it enters a wound, it creates a deadly toxin called tetanospasmin. Symptoms include nerve spasms and contractions that spread from the face to the arms and legs, and can affect the ability to breathe. Untreated, tetanus is often fatal. The vaccine is sometimes mixed with vaccines for Diptheria & Pertussis, two more bacterial diseases.

TYPE: Single injection
PROTECTION: 10 years
COST: $60 (often covered by health insurance)
RECOMMENDED FOR: All Countries

Flu Vaccine

The Influenza virus, aka “the flu” spreads from infected persons to the nose or throat of others. It often only lasts a few days, but can still ruin a trip. Symptoms include high fever, sore throat, chills, fatigue, headache, and coughing.

TYPE: Single injection
PROTECTION: 1 year
COST: $50 (often covered by health insurance)
RECOMMENDED FOR: All Countries

Recommended For Many Countries

Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever, or typhoid, is a bacterial infection that spreads through feces contaminated food or water. It affects 21.5 million people worldwide, with a 10% fatality rate. Most common symptoms include fever, anorexia, abdominal discomfort and headaches.

TYPE: Single injection or Pills
PROTECTION: 2 years (injection), 5 years (pills)
COST: $85 – $300
RECOMMENDED FOR: South America, Central America, Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands

Protecting Against Tropical Disease

Jungle Trekking in Panama

Recommended For Some Countries

Malaria

There are four different strains of Malaria. All are transmitted by the bite of an infected female mosquito. Malaria is characterized by fever and flu-like symptoms, including chills, headache, body aches and fatigue. Malaria can cause kidney failure, coma and death.

TYPE: Multiple types of medication: Atovone/Proguanil (Malarone), Mefloqine (Lariam), Chloroquine (Aralen), or Doxycycline.
PROTECTION: For as long as you’re on the medication
COST: $25 – $200 for 2 weeks of prevention depending on drug
RECOMMENDED FOR: Africa, South America, parts of Asia (see full map here)

Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease contracted by the bite of an animal, usually raccoons, bats, dogs, skunks, or foxes. It affects the central nervous system and brain, leading to death if untreated. It starts with flu-like symptoms, progressing to insomnia, confusion, partial paralysis, and hallucinations. The vaccine does not prevent contracting rabies, it just makes treating it far easier.

TYPE: 3 injections over 2 months
PROTECTION: 5-8 years (does not prevent, only helps with treatment)
COST: $500 – $1000
RECOMMENDED FOR: South America, Middle East, Africa

Cholera

Cholera is a diarrheal illness caused by infection of the intestine with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It kills over 100,000 people every year. Cholera is spread by consuming water or food contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Symptoms can be mild, but severe cases include watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps.

TYPE: Single injection
PROTECTION: 1-2 years
COST: $30 – $50
RECOMMENDED FOR: Some African countries like D.R. Congo, Egypt, and Morocco (see full map here)

Polio

Polio is a viral disease transmitted by fecal matter or saliva from an infected person. It can cause paralysis, respiratory failure, and death. Before a vaccine was available, infection was common worldwide. In the United States, most people receive the initial vaccine as children. However an additional booster shot is recommended for adult travelers going to certain countries.

TYPE: Single injection (booster)
PROTECTION: Lifetime
COST: $50
RECOMMENDED FOR: Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East (more details here)

Meningitis

There are a few different forms of Meningitis. Basically, it’s a bacterial infection that affects the brain and spinal cord. It spreads from person to person via coughing, kissing, or eating contaminated food. Symptoms include sudden fever, headache, and stiff neck. Some countries in Africa & the Middle East have regular outbreaks.

TYPE: Single injection
PROTECTION: 3-5 years
COST: $80 – $200
RECOMMENDED FOR: Africa & the Middle East

Japanese Encephalitis

Japanese Encephalitis disease is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It is most common in rural farming areas of Asia. Risk is generally low for most travelers, unless you are spending a lot of time in rural areas during the monsoon season. Some cases can lead to inflammation of the brain and other symptoms which can be fatal.

TYPE: 2 injections over one month
PROTECTION: 1-2 years
COST: $150 – $800
RECOMMENDED FOR: Asia & Southeast Asia

Required For Some Countries

Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease with a high mortality rate, which is why some countries require vaccination if you recently traveled to parts of South American or Africa. Symptoms of yellow fever include: fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, and abdominal pain. Severe cases include hepatitis, hemorrhagic fever, and possible death.

TYPE: Single injection
PROTECTION: Lifetime
COST: $150 – $300
RECOMMENDED FOR: South America & Africa (see full map here)

When Should You Get Vaccinated?

Obviously you need any shots that are REQUIRED for entry taken care of before you leave. That said, the earlier the better, especially if follow-up rounds may be needed.

Because some vaccines require a few shots spread out over a few months.

Some travel shots can take about a week to fully protect your system, so generally it’s recommended to have your travel vaccines completed a few weeks before your trip. Ask your doctor if you have any concerns on timing.

Your Yellow Immunization Card

Once you receive your travel vaccinations, ask the doctor for a yellow immunization card, which lists all your vaccination details.

Keep this with your passport, and update it with any new shots you get, because immigration officials in some countries will want to see it. Especially as proof of Yellow Fever vaccination.

Travel Shots and Vaccinations

Walgreens Provides Travel Vaccinations

Where To Get Travel Vaccinations

Before Leaving Home

The first step in figuring out where to go to get your vaccines is to contact your health insurance provider or doctor. They should be able to tell you exactly where you need to go, and maybe even help you make the appointment.

Many county health departments, hospitals, and private health clinics offer vaccines on site. In some cases, an appointment will be required, at others a walk-in will be fine too.

If you live in the United States, Walgreens Pharmacy also offers many travel vaccinations.

It’s best to call ahead to learn which travel shots they offer, and what you need as far as identification or additional paperwork.

If there isn’t one available, or if you are already on the road, check the International Society for Travel Medicine. There you’ll find a directory of travel vaccination providers, doctors, and other travel health resources based on location.

Save Money Overseas!

If you’re like me, the prices for some of these vaccines can be a bit intimidating. Of course depending on your insurance, or national health care system, some vaccinations might be covered.

In other cases, if an expensive travel shot is just recommended, it might be possible to have it performed in a foreign country after you arrive to save some money.

Here are some recommendations though:

  • Do your own research back home first.
  • Find a clean, preferably large hospital in a major urban area.
  • Double check that the doctors are certified.
  • Find out if you need an appointment.
  • Read up on what other travelers are saying.
  • Be prepared to pay with local currency.

The following foreign medical centers are frequented by travelers looking for cheap travel vaccinations:

Southeast Asia

Thailand: Queen Saovabha Memorial Institute
Malaysia: Twin Towers Medical Center
Vietnam: Family Medical Practice

South America

Argentina: Hospital Aleman
Brazil: Hospital das Clinicas

Africa

South Africa: Netcare Travel Clinic

Dengue Fever Blood Test

Getting a Blood Test for Dengue

What About Zika & Dengue Fever?

In addition to the diseases and infections above, there are a whole lot more that don’t get as much coverage called Neglected Tropical Diseases.

I want to talk briefly about two of the more common ones that people should be aware of when they travel overseas, Zika and Dengue Fever.

Both are caused by mosquitos, and neither has a vaccine, so you have to protect yourself in other ways.

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever is a disease caused by any one of four closely related viruses. They are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. According to the CDC, Dengue is a risk in many South & Central American countries. Symptoms are similar to severe flu, and can include a red rash on the hands and feet. Dengue can sometimes cause long-term health problems, and even result in death. I actually contracted Dengue Fever in Mexico a few years ago — it isn’t pleasant.

Zika Virus

Zika Virus is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitos. Many people won’t have symptoms or will only have mild symptoms. However Zika can cause horrible damage to unborn babies through a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly. According to the CDC, there is risk of the virus in all South and Central American countries except for Chile and Uruguay.

Use Mosquito Netting

Hammock Camping in Costa Rica

Mosquito Protection Tips

Try to avoid mosquito bites, particularly in remote, jungle, and rural areas. If you have one and begin to feel ill, see a doctor immediately. Protect yourself against mosquitos by taking the following precautions:

  • Cover up arms and legs – wear long loose fitting clothing.
  • Apply insect repellents containing DEET to exposed skins and re-apply frequently – always apply over sunscreen
  • Treat your clothing with permethrin – it will kill any mosquitoes that land on your clothes.
  • Use air conditioning, seal windows and mosquito coils to kill any mosquitoes that might get into your room.
  • Sleep under mosquito nets in basic accommodation or when requiring extra protection

More Travel Vaccination Tips

Ok, real-talk here. Despite all the diseases mentioned above, I don’t want to scare you into never traveling! The chance of you catching something is low.

It’s probably not the end of the world if you don’t have ALL the recommended travel vaccinations for EVERY country you visit.

I’ve been traveling for the last 7 years, visiting over 50 countries. In addition to the basic routine vaccinations recommended for all countries, I also have my Yellow Fever and Typhoid shots.

Personally I’m not too worried about Rabies, Cholera, or the others. Except maybe for Malaria in some very specific countries that I haven’t visited yet, because it can be pretty common.

I’m not a doctor, and can’t tell you which travel vaccinations you’ll need.

Check the CDC Travel Site, gather as much information as you can based on where you’re going, what you plan to be doing there, and then weigh the risks yourself.

For example, I know others who have come down with Malaria, Cholera, and who needed Rabies shots. Yet I still don’t have the Cholera vaccine, Rabies vaccine, and have never used Malaria medication. It’s a personal choice, and a risk you have to live with.

Many private travel clinics in the United States like to use “scare tactics” to convince you to get a shot for absolutely everything, while padding their profits with your ignorance and fear of the unknown.

Please do your own research, talk to your regular doctor, and then decide how much risk you’re willing to take. ★

Traveling Internationally Soon?

Don’t forget travel insurance! I’m a big fan of World Nomads for short-term trips. Protect yourself from possible injury & theft abroad. Read more about why you should always carry travel insurance here.

Pin This!

Ultimate Travel Vaccination Guide. More at ExpertVagabond.com

READ MORE TRAVEL TIPS

How To Forward Packages While Traveling
15 Common Travel Scams To Avoid
How To Start A Travel Blog: Step By Step

Have any questions about travel vaccinations? What’s your experience with them? Drop me a message in the comments below!

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

17 Best Travel Books To Fuel Your Wanderlust (Plus A Kindle Giveaway!)

Best Travel Books of All Time

What are the Best Travel Books?

Travel Inspiration

These are some of the best travel books ever (in my opinion). If you’re looking for travel inspiration, you can’t go wrong with this wonderful collection of travel stories & helpful guides.

I’ve been traveling the world for 7 years now, and it all started after I was inspired by reading some incredible travel books.

Some of my favorite travel books are based on other people’s travel adventures, while travel how-to guides taught me that international travel is accessible to everyone, not just wealthy & retired people.

So here is my personal list of the best travel books of all time.

I’ve split the list up into two sections. My favorite travel stories/novels, and the most useful books about how to travel the world.

Once I’ve finished reading any of these books, I feel the instant urge to pack my bag and head out to explore the world somewhere new!

Well written travel books like these have helped inspire my own personal travel goals over the years — and will continue to do so.

So if you’re looking for some motivation to head out on a travel adventure of your own, make yourself comfortable and read a couple of my favorites listed here. They are sure to inspire wanderlust in everyone who reads them…

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” ~ Saint Augustine

My Favorite Travel Books (2017)

Best Travel Stories & Novels

Best Travel Books: Travels With A Donkey

Travels With A Donkey In The Cévennes

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Travels With A Donkey In The Cévennes is one of the first travel books I ever read. It takes you on a walking journey with Robert and his donkey Mosestine across a mountainous region of France.

You get to feel what traveling through 1870’s Europe was like, including the landscape, religion, and the people. Robert & his donkey don’t get along at first, but through trial and error they learn to become travel companions.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Shantaram

Shantaram

By Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram is set in the underworld of contemporary India, where an escaped convict from Australia named Lin is hiding out. He searches for love while running a clinic in one of the city’s poorest slums and simultaneously working for the Bombay mafia.

It’s one of the best written novels I’ve read, and sucks you right into an amazing story full of love, beauty, betrayal, brutality, and compassion. The book has been criticized for being more fiction than fact, however I still highly recommend it as a great travel book. It’s incredibly entertaining and thought-provoking either way.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: World Walk

World Walk

By Steven Newman

World Walk is the story of newspaper writer Steven Newman who at the age of 28 packed his bag to start a 4 year long journey around the world on foot. He walked his way across 22 countries in 5 continents.

He shares heartfelt stories of the people he meets along the way, as well as wild adventures including arrests, wars, blizzards, wild animal attacks, wildfires, and more. A lesson of hope and love told through the exciting adventures of independent budget backpacking.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: On The Road

On The Road

By Jack Kerouac

On The Road is a classic American travel book. It’s the semi-autobiographical story of Sal Paradise (based on Kerouac himself) & Dean Moriarty’s cross-country hitchhiking and train-hopping journey across rural America in the 1940’s.

Written in a rambling diary style, and a bit hard to follow at times, Kerouac takes to the road looking for adventure, sex, drugs, and mischief. A great read for those who would like to escape the real world for a while and just go where the wind blows them.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: The Alchemist

The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is an international best-seller that tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of treasure. However on his adventurous quest, he finds himself instead.

This is a powerful book that inspires courage & chasing your dreams. It teaches important life lessons using entertaining stories. It helped me overcome my own fears about what to do with my life, as well as millions of other readers around the world.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: In A Sunburned Country

In A Sunburned Country

By Bill Bryson

In A Sunburned Country follows Bill’s hilarious journey through the sunbaked deserts and endless coastlines of Australia, trying not to get killed by the deadly wildlife. It’s full of fun & interesting facts about the country.

It’s not your typical guidebook to Australia, but a must-read if you plan on traveling there. He really gives you a sense of the place, its quirks, and the people using some very entertaining storytelling and history.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Marching Powder

Marching Powder

By Rusty Young

Marching Powder is the true story of a British drug dealer’s five years inside a very strange Bolivian prison, where whole families live with inmates in luxury apartments and cocaine is manufactured.

When you spend time backpacking around the world, you sometimes find yourself in ridiculous situations no one back home would believe. This is one of those crazy stories — and one of my favorite reasons to travel.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: The Cat Who Went To Paris

The Cat Who Went To Paris

By Peter Gethers

For the wary soul who needs a bit of extra convincing of the life-changing wonders that await abroad, there’s perhaps no better resource than The Cat Who Went To Paris. Peter Gethers’ global journeys with a cat named Norton puts a dose of adorable humor into many common travel situations.

Norton accompanies Gethers on filmmaking trips and helps convince the love of his life that he is the one. After years of adventuring the three settle in New York, Norton being one of the city’s most well-traveled felines.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Love With A Chance Of Drowning

Love With A Chance Of Drowning

By Torre DeRoche

Love With A Chance Of Drowning is the travel memoir of Torre, who reluctantly leaves her corporate lifestyle to live on a sailboat with a man she just met, and their adventure across the South Pacific together.

Along with all the challenges and wonder they experience on the trip, the book takes you on a beautiful, romantic and deeply personal journey of self discovery. It’s very entertaining and funny, I couldn’t put it down. Chasing dreams is always scary, but usually worth it.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Dark Star Safari

Dark Star Safari

By Paul Theroux

Theroux earned his reputation as one of the all-time great travelogue writers because he lives every word that he writes. Dark Star Safari takes readers through his voyage from the top of Africa to the bottom.

He often finds himself at the bottom of his own barrel and unsure of what will happen next. It’s an honest account by a writer that is as ‘working class’ as travel writers come. Overall, an honest if not always refreshing take on overland travel in Africa.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel How-To Guides

Ok now that we’ve got some of my favorite travel novels out of the way, I also wanted to include some more useful travel books in the list too. Books to help you travel cheaper, better, or show you how to travel more!

Best Travel Books: Vagabonding

Vagabonding

By Rolf Potts

Vagabonding is what encouraged me to put my real life on hold to backpack around the world for a bit. This book is essentially about the process behind taking time off from your regular life to discover and experience the world on your own terms.

It won’t tell you exactly how to do it, but gives you ideas and confidence to figure it out for yourself. Many long-term travelers have been inspired by what Rolf talks about, including Tim Ferriss. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to travel more, but thinks they don’t have enough money or time.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: How To Travel The World On $50 A Day

How To Travel The World On $50 A Day

By Matt Kepnes

Coming from a fellow travel blogger, I’ve got to give Kepnes (also known as Nomadic Matt) props for his New York Times bestselling book How To Travel The World On $50 A Day. Matt knows what he’s talking about, and it shows as much in this book as it does on his blog.

He goes into detail on how he’s stayed on the move for so long on a shoestring budget, with tips and tricks coming to life through relatable stories. Also seeping through the pages is a heavy dose of modesty, a necessity when venturing off the beaten path abroad.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Travel As Transportation

Travel As Transformation

By Gregory V. Diehl

Travel As Transformation takes you on Diehl’s journey from living in a van in San Diego, growing chocolate with indigenous tribes in Central America, teaching in the Middle East and volunteering in Africa.

Through these stories, it shows you how profoundly travel can influence your perception of yourself. Diehl has spent the best part of 10 years exploring the world in countries many Westerners couldn’t even place on a map. The journey helps him find who he really is and what freedom means.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Microadventures

Microadventures

By Alastair Humphreys

Microadventures is an uplifting and original concept evolved out of the travel blogosphere and into a catchy book. Instead of pushing his readers to drop everything and hit the road full-time, Humphreys champions the weekend warrior and after-work types with this one.

Among other things, Humphrey’s excursions in his native UK are featured prominently along with tricks of the trade for quick adventure travel. After all, some of the best explorations can happen on your own side of the planet. No need to travel far!

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: How NOT To Travel The World

How NOT To Travel The World

By Lauren Juliff

In How NOT To Travel The World Lauren expertly conveys the fears of a first-time solo traveler who, prior to hitting the road, as she lived a rather sheltered life. The overarching theme is conquering fear and living your dream.

She does a solid job of discussing the emotional steps involved in her process too. I don’t know how Lauren gets into so many crazy situations on her travels, but they make for a very entertaining read!

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Food Traveler's Handbook

Food Traveler’s Handbook

By Jodi Ettenberg

The Food Traveler’s Handbook is an extension of Jodi Ettenberg’s excellent travel blog Legal Nomads, a go-to for all things street food (and eating while traveling in general). So it’s no wonder she’s got a top book on the subject.

Any who are gluten sensitive or have other dietary restrictions can finally rest easy as she breaks down where to go and what to avoid if you want to eat well while traveling.

Other volumes of The Traveler’s Handbook series are equally as helpful:

  • The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook
  • The Adventure Traveler’s Handbook
  • The Career Break Traveler’s Handbook
  • The Solo Traveler’s Handbook

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: World's Cheapest Destinations

World’s Cheapest Destinations

By Tim Leffel

The thought that exotic travel has to break the bank is an assumption as sad as it is untrue, and Leffel proves it in The World’s Cheapest Destinations. Active storytelling and honest facts on not only where to go but how to travel once you get there are the driving factor here.

The key takeaway from this book is that proper research and planning, along with a willingness to see a culture for what it really is, can save you a fortune. Oh, and don’t hesitate to bargain – just be respectful when you do so.

Buy The Book Here

Free Kindle Giveaway!

If you don’t have an Amazon Kindle yet, but want one, here’s your chance to win a free Kindle to use on your next travel adventure!

I’m giving one lucky reader their very own Kindle Paperwhite.

I love my Kindle, and travel with it everywhere. My whole reading library fits on something that weighs less than a single book! It’s really pretty amazing technology.

I didn’t think I’d ever get used to reading on a digital device either.

But with incredibly long battery life, ease of use, one-click book buying, and the ability to read in bright sunlight, it’s become one of my favorite pieces of travel gear. Sooo handy on long airplane or bus rides!

OFFICIAL RULES

ELIGIBILITY: Ages 18+
Promotion is open and offered to residents of any country. However the winner will be responsible for their own country’s customs fees.

CHOOSING A WINNER:
A winner will be selected at random from the list of entries, and notified by email. If the winner does not respond within one week, an alternate winner will be chosen at random.

PRIZE:
The winner will receive (1) Amazon Kindle Paperwhite e-reader shipped to their chosen address. Local customs fees are not included in the prize.

How To Enter Contest

Log into the Gleam widget below with Facebook or your email address and follow the instructions. The first 2 steps are mandatory, but the others will give you extra contest entries (and more chances to win!).

Win A Free Amazon Kindle!

Good luck, and I look forward to congratulating the winner! ★

Pin This!

Best Travel Books. More at ExpertVagabond.com

READ MORE TRAVEL TIPS

25 Best Travel Movies Of All Time
Best Travel Tips After 7 Years Traveling
This Is How I Get Paid To Travel

What are some of your favorite travel books? Did I miss any good ones? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

17 Best Travel Books To Fuel Your Wanderlust

Best Travel Books of All Time

What are the Best Travel Books?

Travel Inspiration

These are some of the best travel books ever (in my opinion). If you’re looking for travel inspiration, you can’t go wrong with this wonderful collection of travel stories & helpful guides.

I’ve been traveling the world for 7 years now, and it all started after I was inspired by reading some incredible travel books.

Some of my favorite travel books are based on other people’s travel adventures, while travel how-to guides taught me that international travel is accessible to everyone, not just wealthy & retired people.

So here is my personal list of the best travel books of all time.

I’ve split the list up into two sections. My favorite travel stories/novels, and the most useful books about how to travel the world.

Once I’ve finished reading any of these books, I feel the instant urge to pack my bag and head out to explore the world somewhere new!

Well written travel books like these have helped inspire my own personal travel goals over the years — and will continue to do so.

So if you’re looking for some motivation to head out on a travel adventure of your own, make yourself comfortable and read a couple of my favorites listed here. They are sure to inspire wanderlust in everyone who reads them…

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” ~ Saint Augustine

My Favorite Travel Books (2017)

Best Travel Stories & Novels

Best Travel Books: Travels With A Donkey

Travels With A Donkey In The Cévennes

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Travels With A Donkey In The Cévennes is one of the first travel books I ever read. It takes you on a walking journey with Robert and his donkey Mosestine across a mountainous region of France.

You get to feel what traveling through 1870’s Europe was like, including the landscape, religion, and the people. Robert & his donkey don’t get along at first, but through trial and error they learn to become travel companions.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Shantaram

Shantaram

By Gregory David Roberts

Shantaram is set in the underworld of contemporary India, where an escaped convict from Australia named Lin is hiding out. He searches for love while running a clinic in one of the city’s poorest slums and simultaneously working for the Bombay mafia.

It’s one of the best written novels I’ve read, and sucks you right into an amazing story full of love, beauty, betrayal, brutality, and compassion. The book has been criticized for being more fiction than fact, however I still highly recommend it as a great travel book. It’s incredibly entertaining and thought-provoking either way.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: World Walk

World Walk

By Steven Newman

World Walk is the story of newspaper writer Steven Newman who at the age of 28 packed his bag to start a 4 year long journey around the world on foot. He walked his way across 22 countries in 5 continents.

He shares heartfelt stories of the people he meets along the way, as well as wild adventures including arrests, wars, blizzards, wild animal attacks, wildfires, and more. A lesson of hope and love told through the exciting adventures of independent budget backpacking.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: On The Road

On The Road

By Jack Kerouac

On The Road is a classic American travel book. It’s the semi-autobiographical story of Sal Paradise (based on Kerouac himself) & Dean Moriarty’s cross-country hitchhiking and train-hopping journey across rural America in the 1940’s.

Written in a rambling diary style, and a bit hard to follow at times, Kerouac takes to the road looking for adventure, sex, drugs, and mischief. A great read for those who would like to escape the real world for a while and just go where the wind blows them.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: The Alchemist

The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is an international best-seller that tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of treasure. However on his adventurous quest, he finds himself instead.

This is a powerful book that inspires courage & chasing your dreams. It teaches important life lessons using entertaining stories. It helped me overcome my own fears about what to do with my life, as well as millions of other readers around the world.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: In A Sunburned Country

In A Sunburned Country

By Bill Bryson

In A Sunburned Country follows Bill’s hilarious journey through the sunbaked deserts and endless coastlines of Australia, trying not to get killed by the deadly wildlife. It’s full of fun & interesting facts about the country.

It’s not your typical guidebook to Australia, but a must-read if you plan on traveling there. He really gives you a sense of the place, its quirks, and the people using some very entertaining storytelling and history.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Marching Powder

Marching Powder

By Rusty Young

Marching Powder is the true story of a British drug dealer’s five years inside a very strange Bolivian prison, where whole families live with inmates in luxury apartments and cocaine is manufactured.

When you spend time backpacking around the world, you sometimes find yourself in ridiculous situations no one back home would believe. This is one of those crazy stories — and one of my favorite reasons to travel.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: The Cat Who Went To Paris

The Cat Who Went To Paris

By Peter Gethers

For the wary soul who needs a bit of extra convincing of the life-changing wonders that await abroad, there’s perhaps no better resource than The Cat Who Went To Paris. Peter Gethers’ global journeys with a cat named Norton puts a dose of adorable humor into many common travel situations.

Norton accompanies Gethers on filmmaking trips and helps convince the love of his life that he is the one. After years of adventuring the three settle in New York, Norton being one of the city’s most well-traveled felines.

Buy The Book Here

Love With A Chance Of Drowning is the travel memoir of Torre, who reluctantly leaves her corporate lifestyle to live on a sailboat with a man she just met, and their adventure across the South Pacific together.

Along with all the challenges and wonder they experience on the trip, the book takes you on a beautiful, romantic and deeply personal journey of self discovery. It’s very entertaining and funny, I couldn’t put it down. Chasing dreams is always scary, but usually worth it.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Dark Star Safari

Dark Star Safari

By Paul Theroux

Theroux earned his reputation as one of the all-time great travelogue writers because he lives every word that he writes. Dark Star Safari takes readers through his voyage from the top of Africa to the bottom.

He often finds himself at the bottom of his own barrel and unsure of what will happen next. It’s an honest account by a writer that is as ‘working class’ as travel writers come. Overall, an honest if not always refreshing take on overland travel in Africa.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel How-To Guides

Ok now that we’ve got some of my favorite travel novels out of the way, I also wanted to include some more useful travel books in the list too. Books to help you travel cheaper, better, or show you how to travel more!

Best Travel Books: Vagabonding

Vagabonding

By Rolf Potts

Vagabonding is what encouraged me to put my real life on hold to backpack around the world for a bit. This book is essentially about the process behind taking time off from your regular life to discover and experience the world on your own terms.

It won’t tell you exactly how to do it, but gives you ideas and confidence to figure it out for yourself. Many long-term travelers have been inspired by what Rolf talks about, including Tim Ferriss. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to travel more, but thinks they don’t have enough money or time.

Buy The Book Here

Coming from a fellow travel blogger, I’ve got to give Kepnes (also known as Nomadic Matt) props for his New York Times bestselling book How To Travel The World On $50 A Day. Matt knows what he’s talking about, and it shows as much in this book as it does on his blog.

He goes into detail on how he’s stayed on the move for so long on a shoestring budget, with tips and tricks coming to life through relatable stories. Also seeping through the pages is a heavy dose of modesty, a necessity when venturing off the beaten path abroad.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Travel As Transportation

Travel As Transformation

By Gregory V. Diehl

Travel As Transformation takes you on Diehl’s journey from living in a van in San Diego, growing chocolate with indigenous tribes in Central America, teaching in the Middle East and volunteering in Africa.

Through these stories, it shows you how profoundly travel can influence your perception of yourself. Diehl has spent the best part of 10 years exploring the world in countries many Westerners couldn’t even place on a map. The journey helps him find who he really is and what freedom means.

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Microadventures

Microadventures

By Alastair Humphreys

Microadventures is an uplifting and original concept evolved out of the travel blogosphere and into a catchy book. Instead of pushing his readers to drop everything and hit the road full-time, Humphreys champions the weekend warrior and after-work types with this one.

Among other things, Humphrey’s excursions in his native UK are featured prominently along with tricks of the trade for quick adventure travel. After all, some of the best explorations can happen on your own side of the planet. No need to travel far!

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: How NOT To Travel The World

How NOT To Travel The World

By Lauren Juliff

In How NOT To Travel The World Lauren expertly conveys the fears of a first-time solo traveler who, prior to hitting the road, as she lived a rather sheltered life. The overarching theme is conquering fear and living your dream.

She does a solid job of discussing the emotional steps involved in her process too. I don’t know how Lauren gets into so many crazy situations on her travels, but they make for a very entertaining read!

Buy The Book Here

Best Travel Books: Food Traveler's Handbook

Food Traveler’s Handbook

By Jodi Ettenberg

The Food Traveler’s Handbook is an extension of Jodi Ettenberg’s excellent travel blog Legal Nomads, a go-to for all things street food (and eating while traveling in general). So it’s no wonder she’s got a top book on the subject.

Any who are gluten sensitive or have other dietary restrictions can finally rest easy as she breaks down where to go and what to avoid if you want to eat well while traveling.

Other volumes of The Traveler’s Handbook series are equally as helpful:

Buy The Book Here

The thought that exotic travel has to break the bank is an assumption as sad as it is untrue, and Leffel proves it in The World’s Cheapest Destinations. Active storytelling and honest facts on not only where to go but how to travel once you get there are the driving factor here.

The key takeaway from this book is that proper research and planning, along with a willingness to see a culture for what it really is, can save you a fortune. Oh, and don’t hesitate to bargain – just be respectful when you do so.

Buy The Book Here

Free Kindle Giveaway!

UPDATE: We Have A Winner!
Carla Alessandro has won a free Amazon Kindle.

If you don’t have an Amazon Kindle yet, but want one, here’s your chance to win a free Kindle to use on your next travel adventure!

I’m giving one lucky reader their very own Kindle Paperwhite.

I love my Kindle, and travel with it everywhere. My whole reading library fits on something that weighs less than a single book! It’s really pretty amazing technology.

I didn’t think I’d ever get used to reading on a digital device either.

But with incredibly long battery life, ease of use, one-click book buying, and the ability to read in bright sunlight, it’s become one of my favorite pieces of travel gear. Sooo handy on long airplane or bus rides!

OFFICIAL RULES

ELIGIBILITY: Ages 18+
Promotion is open and offered to residents of any country. However the winner will be responsible for their own country’s customs fees.

CHOOSING A WINNER:
A winner will be selected at random from the list of entries, and notified by email. If the winner does not respond within one week, an alternate winner will be chosen at random.

PRIZE:
The winner will receive (1) Amazon Kindle Paperwhite e-reader shipped to their chosen address. Local customs fees are not included in the prize.

How To Enter Contest

Log into the Gleam widget below with Facebook or your email address and follow the instructions. The first 2 steps are mandatory, but the others will give you extra contest entries (and more chances to win!).

Win A Free Amazon Kindle!

Good luck, and I look forward to congratulating the winner! ★

Pin This!

Best Travel Books. More at ExpertVagabond.com

What are some of your favorite travel books? Did I miss any good ones? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Why I Quit Being A Digital Nomad (And Moved Back To The US)

Travel Tips for Cuba

I’m No Longer A Digital Nomad

Personal Stories

Last week I spent all day packing up a small U-haul trailer with my belongings, preparing to move to Los Angeles, California. It felt a bit surreal after 7 years living as a digital nomad.

A bed. A couch. A TV. A desk. Cat toys. A cat (no, he’s not going in the U-haul). Pulling it all behind a new Jeep. I haven’t owned this much stuff in years!

What the hell happened? When did I stop being a full-time vagabond, traveling the world while living out of a backpack?

Well, it’s a long story. And it’s about time I shared it with you.

Backpacking in Mexico

2010: My First Backpacking Trip in Mexico

Becoming A Digital Nomad

So if you’ve been following my journey for a while, you’ll know that back in 2010 I decided to save some money, quit my job, sold most of my belongings, and started backpacking around the world, blogging about it as I went.

It was a super scary decision at the time, and I had no idea what the future would bring. My guess was that I’d travel for a year, run out of money, then move back to the US and get a “real” job again.

What actually happened? I managed to build a successful business from my travel blog, and continued to travel almost non-stop for the next 7 years.

Working as a digital nomad from my computer anywhere there was a wifi connection. It was a relatively new kind of lifestyle at the time, and everyone thought I was crazy for attempting it.

During those 7 years without a home, I visited over 50 countries. I lived for months at a time in places like Thailand, Mexico, Turkey, Spain, Nicaragua, and South Africa.

Everything I owned fit into a pair of backpacks — I was completely nomadic. Working for myself. An expert vagabond (hence the name).

I was living the digital nomad dream!

But then my dreams began to change. As they often do over time.

Digital Nomad Burnout

The Downsides of Nomadic Living

Digital Nomad Burnout

I started noticing a change after about 5 years into my fully nomadic lifestyle. Constantly moving from place to place came with it’s own set of problems that became increasingly annoying as the years went by.

Traveling around the world and making money online sounds incredible, I know. And it is in many ways! I’m not complaining. This lifestyle has been very good to me.

However there are also downsides to being a digital nomad.

THIS LIFESTYLE IS EXHAUSTING

Many digital nomads hang out in a country or city for a few weeks before moving on to the next. But you can’t earn money if you’re not working, so now you’re trying to cram work & vacation into a short period of time.

Just when you get into a comfortable routine, it’s time to move and start all over again. Packing up, navigating your way around a new city, a new culture, and all the challenges that go along with those things. It gets tiring!

THIS LIFESTYLE IS LONELY

Yes, you get to meet all kinds of cool people around the world when you’re constantly traveling. But because everyone is always coming or going, it’s tough to form a meaningful connection with anyone.

I missed having a regular group of friends to hang out with. I missed being so far away from family. And unless you plan to date fellow digital nomads, relationships are complicated when only one of you can travel freely.

THIS LIFESTYLE IS UNPRODUCTIVE

Well, I should say less productive than it could be. Sure I managed to build a business while traveling, but it wasn’t easy, and I think I could have grown faster if I worked from a home-base instead of hostels & coffee shops.

Trying to juggle a normal work routine when you’re also trying to figure out where to sleep next week just isn’t ideal. Often, I never wrote much about the places I was living because I was too busy catching up with work after months of traveling.

Nothing Is Perfect

Basically, there is no perfect way to live. By becoming a digital nomad, you simply trade one set of problems for a completely different kind.

“Instead of an addiction to status and possessions, we are addicted to experience and novelty. And the end result is the same. Our relationships, our connections to what’s real, sometimes suffer.” ~ Mark Manson

Maybe, like me, you won’t be bothered by these things for a few years — it was still far more exciting than my previous life in the rat race! But eventually the problems amplify over time… and you’ll have a choice to make.

Los Angeles Skyline

View of Los Angeles, California

Moving Back To America

As the negatives piled up, I began renting apartments for 3 months at a time. Eventually I signed a year-long lease in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. I was slowing down, taking trips that lasted 1-3 weeks, and enjoying them more.

It was nice having a base, a place to call “home” for a while.

However as much as I loved living in Mexico, I soon felt an urge to return to the United States. To spend more time with family & friends. To pursue more lucrative business opportunities there.

And, to participate more fully in my own country’s democratic process, no longer content watching from the sidelines as the United States seemed to spiral into a depressing (dangerous?) abyss of ignorance & hate.

But where to go? Moving from Mexico with my girlfriend Anna, we decided to try Boulder, Colorado for the summer. We’ve been living there with our new cat Poofy (yes, he’s on Instagram!) for the past 5 months.

Boulder was pretty, but not exactly what we were looking for. It was kinda small, very homogeneous, and full of families & students. With our unconventional lifestyles, we felt a bit out of place there.

So now we’re off to California to give Los Angeles a try.

Our Wedding Photo

Marriage: Our Next Adventure!

Plus We Got Married!

Surprise! It’s been a busy year. I first met Anna in 2015 at a travel blogging conference called TBEX in Florida, where travel personalities and companies come together to network.

She’s in the same line of work as I am, running a popular travel/fashion blog and Instagram account.

We hit it off right away, with a common love of travel, cats, and working online. The city girl and the adventure guy, both taking risks & working hard to pursue our dreams.

Anna is a remarkable woman. Originally from Poland, she’s been traveling the world for longer than I have. She holds degrees in International Law, Journalism, and Fashion Marketing from multiple universities (including Harvard). She’s fluent in 5 languages, and has lived in places like Mexico City, Cape Town, London, Miami, and LA.

Soon after we met in Florida, Anna came down to Mexico, where we began dating. Eventually we moved in together, using Mexico as a base to travel from. It was one of the happiest periods of my life, and I fell in love.

After a year and a half of dating, living, working, and traveling together, I proposed early one morning at a remote mountain cabin in Colorado. We eloped in Las Vegas a few weeks later at the famous Graceland Chapel!

It was spontaneous, non-traditional, and fun, just like our lives up to this point.

Vagabonding in Afghanistan

Hiking in Afghanistan

Are You Giving Up Vagabonding?

Yes and no. Yes, I’m giving up on the pipe-dream of constantly moving from place to place, living out of a bag for the rest of my life. What initially sounded romantic, adventurous, and free has become a burden over time.

My goal for this wild experiment has always been to experience as much of our large & diverse world as possible NOW, while I’m relatively young. Not stuck behind a desk working to make someone else rich.

Sharing my travel experiences to help and inspire others, while earning a living on my own terms.

The freedom to do as I please. No approval needed. No bosses to report to. Following my passion and making a living through adventure travel & photography.

Well, I’ve achieved these goals. I am completely location independent. I work for myself, setting my own hours, traveling when and where I want to. I’ve also been fortunate to make a great living doing what I love.

Am I just getting older and feeling a need to slow down? I’m 36 now. Have I simply become financially independent enough that I’m no longer forced to live in cheap backpacker destinations in order to get by?

I think these may have been factors in my decision too.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Chilling In Morocco

Choosing Location Independence

I wouldn’t trade the last 7 years of my life working as a traveling digital nomad for anything else. It’s been a wild ride, and the experience has taught me so much about myself and the world in general.

However I now realize that I prefer location independence over fully nomadic living. Because there’s a difference.

Location independence simply means you are free to choose where you live, not stuck living somewhere you hate because of a particular job. Being a digital nomad means you’re always traveling, with no real home.

We spent the summer in Colorado. We’re planning to spend 2018 in Los Angeles. Maybe after that, we’ll decide to move somewhere else. Italy? Spain? Iceland? Kansas?

With location independence, all our options are open!

The important part, is the freedom to choose my location, and the ability to update that choice at any time.

For those of you who are interested in becoming digital nomads, I don’t want to completely discourage you. The lifestyle does have plenty of benefits, and I’m not saying you shouldn’t give it a shot.

However after 7 years living as a homeless digital nomad, I personally no longer think it’s sustainable (or healthy) on a long-term basis.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way either — it seems to be a common choice for many after a few years on the road:

Valley of Fire Highway

Life Is A Highway, And I Wanna Ride It

What’s Next?

Honestly, not much is changing. I’m still planning to travel a ton, about 6 months every year. The only difference is now I have a wife, a home, and a cat to come back to once my trips are over!

Sometimes Anna & I will travel together, sometimes I’ll be on my own. I’ll continue sharing my wild travel adventures with you from around the world through blog posts, YouTube videos, and travel photography.

Having a home-base simply means I’ll be more productive, creating useful travel guides, sharing fun travel stories, and teaching tips & tricks I’ve learned after 7 years working as a professional travel blogger & photographer.

After moving to Los Angeles this week, Anna & I are researching the possibility of TV and media appearances while continuing to build our businesses here in the United States.

Having LAX airport as our travel hub will keep flight costs low, allowing us both to travel often. We have friends here, and more pass through all the time.

There is a wide variety of epic coastline, mountains, deserts, canyons, and forests within a day’s driving distance from the city if I want to get outside into nature for a while.

I know some of you may be disappointed in this change. Those who romanticize living on the road out of a backpack. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been putting off publishing this blog post for so long… I was scared.

Unfortunately there’s not much I can do about what other people think. I’ve lived as a vagabond for years, and don’t regret my choice, but my passion for constantly moving began to fade.

When you stop loving something, it’s time for a change.

I don’t spend my life trying to make everyone else happy with my choices, if I did that, I’d never be where I am now.

So onwards! To the next chapter of my life — I hope you’ll continue to follow along on my travel adventures, wherever they may lead. ★

Have any questions about the digital nomad lifestyle? Could you live this way? Drop me a message in the comments below!

How I Saved Money For Travel (You Don’t Need To Be Rich)

Save Money For A Trip

How to Save Money for Travel

Travel Tips

Want to travel the world for a while? Or just take an epic vacation? You don’t need to be rich, but you’ll need to get creative about saving money for travel. Here’s how I did it.

There’s a popular myth floating around that travel is an expensive hobby. Certainly people who travel a lot must have rich parents, lucrative lottery winnings, or work high paying jobs… right?

Normal people can’t afford to travel. It’s far too expensive for the rest of us…

Don’t worry, I understand where you’re coming from. I used to think that way too. As an American who didn’t even know what a hostel or GAP year was, I thought international travel was only for the rich and privileged.

But after traveling the world extensively for the past 6 years, I’m here to tell you world travel is possible for the rest of us too.

How To Save Money For Travel

After countless emails from readers asking about how I’m able to travel the world constantly, I wanted to share some useful tips about how I learned to save money for traveling.

Because in the beginning, before I was earning a living as a blogger, I had to save up on my own. It didn’t come naturally either. In fact I used to be horrible at saving money.

When I quit my job in 2010 to embark on a year long adventure in Central America, I wasn’t rich. I was living in South Florida earning $28,000 a year working as a photographer for used car dealerships and nightclubs in Miami.

Incredibly glamorous, I know…

Even with my very average (American) income, and living in a pretty expensive area of the country, I managed to save $7000 in 12 months by transforming my lifestyle and living below my means.

I learned how to spend less, save more, and earn extra cash on the side.

It wasn’t easy, and required plenty of hard work and sacrifice, but if I could do it, I’m confident you could too. It doesn’t matter if you want to travel for two weeks or two years, the process is the same.

Here’s my simple formula that will help you save money for your next trip.

Saving Money Advice

We All Want More Of This…

1: Become Financially Responsible

This isn’t intended to sound judgmental. We all start here. What did school really teach you about financial planning? For many of us, not much.

Money management is a learned skill – but most of us don’t master the basics until we’re adults — if ever. I was clueless for a long time.

If you want to save money for travel, now is a good time to revisit those basics, and maybe iron out a few of those bad financial habits we all acquire along the way.

Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

You are making a significant long-term commitment that’s sometimes going to be really hard to stick to. Saving up enough money for travel, or anything for that matter, is tough on the soul and demands sacrifice, which is why so few people succeed. The right mindset is everything!

How much do you want this? Because nobody else will do it for you. It’s your responsibility the whole way.

Equally importantly, how many times are you willing to try and fail until you’ve successfully learned all the habits and strategies that will put the required amount in the bank to get you traveling?

Good. I think you’re ready for this then! (Just don’t expect it to be easy.)

2: Track Your Spending

Money itself isn’t stressful. Neither is effective money management. Not knowing what your money is doing? Being afraid to check your bank balance? That’s where all the stress happens.

The solution to this is simple.

Put aside a day this weekend, buy your favorite bottle of wine (you’ll need it), and go through all your accounts to find out EXACTLY what your finances look like, down to the dollar.

Tracking expenses is an important part of learning where you can cut back, or even eliminate your spending.

I know, you’ve probably heard this before. But have you actually done it? On a regular basis? It’s a powerful way to identify how much money you piss away every month on random crap you don’t need.

Write it ALL down. How much do you spend on food each week? Don’t forget to include groceries, eating out, bottled water, and snacks. How much do you spend on entertainment? Movies, books, music, sports tickets, dates, etc.

What about vices like alcohol, cigarettes, and coffee?

What are your monthly bills? Rent, mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance, credit card interest, cell phone service, gym membership, student loans, etc. Don’t forget miscellaneous shopping either. Video games, clothes, pet toys, etc.

Now, grit your teeth and look it all in the face. You may be surprised at how much you’re spending. Little things tend to add up. This isn’t an easy thing to do, I know. That’s why you might need that wine.

But it becomes a lot easier if you approach saving with the right attitude. You’re not here to judge yourself or wallow in regret. Take your feelings out of the equation because they’re not needed.

This is simply about awareness. You’re looking your financial situation right in the eye and saying, “OK – this is where I am. This is where I need to be.”

If you’re like me, building this kind of awareness, and tracking everything, takes time. That’s the nature of habits – you don’t suddenly change your behavior overnight.

Budgeting For Travel

Stick To Your Budget

3: Budget Ruthlessly

There are two types of budgeting you need to do here. The first is budgeting your trip. The second is budgeting your life.

First, you need to work out how much your trip is going to cost you. If you know what you’re doing, your travel budget can be as low as $50 a day.

The amount is going to vary wildly depending on where you want to travel, and how thrifty you are. But for long-term budget travel, I usually recommend planning to spend at least $1500 per month.

So that means to backpack around the world for 6 months, you should have at least $9000 in your bank account before you leave.

If you choose wisely, your accommodation can cost next to nothing. Cheap flights can be easy to find if you follow these simple tips – and so on.

If you want all my best advice for ways to save money on travel, start here.

You’ve got 16 months before you leave? Great! Your monthly savings goal is 1/16th of that total – and you need to budget successfully to put that amount aside every month, more or less, until you hit your target.

Now the big question becomes – how are you going to hit that target?

First step: create a running budget, assigning strict numbers to recurring expenses – and stick to it religiously. Some expenses are fixed, for example, your rent (although, keep reading below for one way to lower it).

Other expenses are flexible, like the money you spend on food every month, or socializing. The trick with these is to make sure you always know how much of your budget is left, so you’re not a victim of “phantom expenses” that nibble away your hard-earned savings without you being aware of them.

Going shopping? Decide in advance how much you can afford to spend, and use the calculator on your phone to total everything up as you walk round the aisles. Going out with friends? Withdraw cash, and leave your cards at home so you can’t blow your budget.

Budgeting effectively isn’t scary. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. When you have complete control of your money (and not the other way round), your confidence will soar – and you’ll work even harder towards your goal.

4: Reduce Unnecessary Spending

Grab a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle of it. At the top left, write “NEEDS” – and at the top right, write “WANTS”.

Now place everything you spend money on into one of these two columns.

Be as brutally honest as possible. Do you need Netflix right now? Do you need that cappuccino you always have on your lunch break? What about those beers on Friday night? How about new clothes?

Consult your spending diary that you’ve hopefully been using. How many of those daily entries were things you actually needed? Will your life end without them?

Once you’re finished, look at the “WANTS” column – and write down how much they cost, next to each item. Now total them up. That’s how much you can instantly start saving every month if you cut all these out.

The final step here is simply to stop buying those things you don’t need. I know, it’s harder than it sounds.

Our extremely effective and profitable marketing industry will try its best to convince you to buy that Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino. Don’t let them win. It’s time to take control of your finances right now.

Cook Your Own Meals

I Cook A Mean Risotto…

5: Develop Habits That Save You Money

How about getting up a little earlier, skipping the bus and walking/riding a bike to work instead? Ever heard of ride-sharing? What other daily expenses can you replace with money-saving habits?

What skills can you learn that will cut your daily costs?

I’ll give an example. By cooking your meals instead of buying them prepared, you can save thousands of dollars every year. Which is exactly what I did when I was saving money for my own travel adventures.

You don’t have to give up excellent coffee and tasty avocado toast — just make them yourself and save money.

Cooking for yourself, especially lunch & dinner, can save somewhere between $6 and $11 per meal – so if you previously spent all your time eating out, you’d save between $125 and $230 every week just by cooking.

It’s a skill that puts decent money in your pocket. Plus, it’s fun too!

6: Cut Accommodation Costs

This is extreme – but also extremely effective. If the place you are renting (or own) costs a lot of money, how about taking on a roommate to share the rent and bills? What about two roommates?

If that’s not an option, and you’ve got a year or more before you hit the road – why not move into a smaller apartment, or a cheaper neighborhood? This is one way I was able to save money for my trip.

By moving into a cheaper neighborhood on the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale in Florida, sharing a small house with 2 other roommates, I was able to save hundreds of dollars on accommodation every month rather than living in the much more expensive city of Miami.

Other travelers I know moved in with their parents for a few months to save money. Or they rent out their homes and move somewhere cheaper. Obviously these aren’t ideal situations, and may not even be options for everyone, but I just want to open your eyes to the possibilities.

Sometimes you need to think outside the box to make your dreams come true. And drastic measures can be uncomfortable, but effective.

How to Save Money for Travel

Who Needs A Car?

7: Sell Your Crap

If it’s worth good money and you can’t travel with it, then is it really worth hanging onto? In my case, I took a long, hard look at my car one day, decided to sell it, and bought a used folding bicycle to replace it.

Instant injection of much-needed cash! Not only from the sale, but also from canceling my auto insurance and no longer needing to buy gas.

Instead, I purchased a public bus pass. Sure, my commute was longer. Riding my bike to the bus stop in the rain kinda sucked. But you know what? I was dedicated. I was determined. Wearing a poncho and riding in the rain isn’t the end of the world. Other people do it, why can’t I?

In addition to my car, I also sold my DJ turntables, sports equipment, and some furniture I really didn’t need. Everyone’s “crap” will be different. But we all collect it in one form or another.

Sites like Ebay & Craigslist can help you sell your stuff for extra cash to build up your travel fund.

8: Other Ways To Save

No, simply quitting avocado toast and frappuccinos isn’t going to pay for 6 months of travel. But, when combined with other money saving lifestyle changes, it all adds up to make a big difference.

Stop Going Out

Instead of spending too much money at a club or movie theater, invite friends over to your place for a movie night. Get outside and go on a hike.

Cook More

Now is a good time to learn the art of cooking. It’s entirely possible to buy low-cost, healthy ingredients, and cook your own tasty meals at home.

Shop Around

Did you compare prices while grocery shopping last week? Did you buy the cheapest toilet paper? Are you shopping at places like Costco & Amazon?

Cut Your Landline

I can’t remember the last time I used a landline. Cellphones work just fine. Switch to the cheapest provider, with the cheapest plan possible.

Ditch Your Cable

TV is a waste of time. Stop paying to live vicariously through shows, and make your own life more exciting. The internet is full of free entertainment!

Quit The Gym

No need for a gym membership when you can go running, hiking, or practice bodyweight exercise routines outside while enjoying nature!

Slash Your Shopping

No, you don’t need the latest smartphone. No, you don’t need new clothes every month. No, you don’t need 5 different shades of lipstick.

Reduce Utilities

Turn down your air conditioning and use a fan or wear a sweater. Unplug electronics when not in use. Take shorter showers.

Earn More Money

Do You Have Any Talents You Can Sell?

9: Make More Money

Everyone wants to earn more money, right? Well it doesn’t grow on trees, but there are opportunities, even if you already have a full-time job.

Find part time work on the side. Maybe as a waiter, bartender, supermarket cashier, etc. I worked as a nightclub photographer 4 nights a week, putting up with drunk entitled assholes…

It doesn’t need to be an amazing job! Just something to boost your income. Do some research, and figure out what kinds of part-time positions match your skillset & talents.

Selling arts & crafts on Etsy. Stalking garage sales & re-selling on eBay. Walking dogs. Tutoring students. Babysitting. Audio transcription. Playing music.

The only limit is your imagination!

10: Review Your Employment

Not earning enough money from your current job? Maybe it’s time to ask for a raise (as long as you can prove you actually deserve it). What makes you an important asset to the company?

Alternately, why not attempt to re-negotiate? Ask if there’s any way you can cut back your hours, or work from home a few days a week, so you can use that time you would normally spend commuting… on your side job.

If those aren’t options, you can start looking for another employer who pays more. Train in your spare time for something that pays better.

You’re not a slave to your job — if you don’t make enough, shop around and find a better place to work.

I know I’m making it sound easier than it is… but I never promised this would be easy. It’s not.

11: Earn As You Travel

This is a nice short-cut. If you can earn money as you travel, you won’t have to save quite as much. This is what I did. Before I began traveling, I’d built a small online business selling eBooks about topics I was knowledgeable on.

I managed to squeeze a money-making opportunity from my limited free time – which reduced the amount I needed to save for travel, as I could earn income on the road.

Because I was earning about $1500 per month from my online business, I left to backpack around Central America with only $7000 in the bank — confident I could continue working from my laptop.

Selling ebooks is no longer how I earn income. These days I make a good living from my travel blog. But that took a few years to accomplish.

How can you earn money online? Well there are all kinds of ways.

Affiliate marketing. Freelance writing. Graphic design. Computer programming. Becoming a virtual assistant. Language translation. I don’t know what skills & experience you have. But there are options.

For more details and ideas about how to earn money while traveling, make sure to check out my travel job guide.

Saving Money Won’t Be Easy!

Saving money doesn’t come naturally to most people. Nearly half of Americans don’t even have a $400 emergency fund.

The formula is simple. Live below your means, and save the rest.

Yet implementing this formula is not always easy. There are social pressures. We’re bombarded by marketing. Our willpower is lacking. We make excuses and lie to ourselves.

Others may have additional roadblocks — like obligations to support loved ones, student loans, debilitating injury, chronic disease, or a lack of job opportunities where they live.

If that’s the case, it may just take longer to reach your savings goal.

Following through is the difficult part. I know, I’ve been there. If this was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Resources To Get You There

To help you start saving money for travel, I’ve included some of my favorite resources below. These are useful tools for learning how to track your spending, budget your life, save money fast, or earn extra income.

YNAB – Excellent budgeting software & system to help you get out of debt and save money.

Mint – Popular free app for tracking your finances and managing your money.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich – My favorite book about becoming financially responsible & independent.

Remote Job Directory – Wonderful resource that lists websites for finding a location independent job.

The $100 Startup – Inspiring book that highlights 50 people who built their own businesses with minimum investment.

The 4-Hour Workweek – The book that convinced me to enter the world of online business and entrepreneurship.

One Last Piece Of Advice

As you’ll discover when you’re traveling, things rarely go exactly to plan.

The ability to think on your feet and adjust your trajectory on the fly is an important skill for travel, and life.

Expect many course corrections. Don’t be surprised when obstacles get in your way. Life is messy and the best-laid plans have a habit of fraying at the edges, or falling apart completely.

That shouldn’t matter though – you’re committed to this, right? You’ll find another way to get there. The specific plan you choose isn’t important… the destination is everything.

Best of luck – and I hope to see you out there! ★

Have any questions about saving money for travel? Drop me a message in the comments below!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

Win A Free Trip To Explore Your Family Heritage!

Travel To Learn About Your Ancestors

Travel To Learn About Your Ancestors

Travel Giveaway

Are you ready to shake the family tree and find out who you really are? This is your chance to trace your family’s heritage, and experience the culture of your ancestors.

My friends at World Nomads have partnered up with Ancestry.com to give one lucky winner (plus a guest) the adventure of a lifetime.

Basically, they want to send you on a genealogy mission to trace your roots, traveling to the country of your ancestors while researching your family’s heritage, wherever that may be.

Let me tell you from personal experience, a trip like this is super fascinating and definitely memorable!

A few years ago I traveled to Ireland with my own family to follow in the footsteps of my grandmother who immigrated from a small Irish town across the ocean to the United States when she was only 17.

It was a magical experience, seeing where she grew up, and learning about a side of the family we didn’t know much about. The kind of trip I think everyone should attempt once in their lifetime.

Genealogy in Ireland

My Family Genealogy Trip in Ireland

Distance Is Only Relative

Whether you want to track down the rural village in Spain where your great uncle started his booming butter business, delve deeper into family legend of royal ties in 19th century Thailand, or find out more about the Irish clan behind the dusty family crest on your grandmother’s desk, they want to help you connect to your story.

Click Here To Enter The Contest

What Does The Winner Receive?

Applications close May 29th, and the winner is chosen on June 20th.

World Nomads Travel Giveaway

What’s Your Family’s History?

What Are You Waiting For!

Like me, I’m sure your family has told you stories passed down from generation to generation. Stories about your heritage, culture, and ancestry.

The more we know about ourselves and our family’s past – the more our personal identity evolves.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the country of your ancestors, and dive deep into the history of how you became you.

You’ll learn things you never knew before, and will get a better feel for where you and your family came from.

The information can broaden the way you think about your identity, and will open your eyes to a whole new part of your personal story.

Click Here To Enter The Contest

I hope you learn something new about your ancestry like I did. Good luck! ★

Where are your ancestors from? If you win this, who would you invite as a guest? Drop me a message in the comments below!

5 Easy Ways To Save Money On Travel

How I Use Credit Cards to Save on Travel

How I Use Credit Cards to Save on Travel

Travel Tips

Not being smart with your money can have a big impact on your ability to travel. Below I lay out five easy ways to stay on top of your finances so that money can empower, not limit you.

Disclosure: Thank you Capital One® for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own, and were not directed by Capital One. To learn more about CreditWise® from Capital One®, visit: https://creditwise.capitalone.com.

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive, especially when you find creative ways to save money on trips. Having a good travel rewards credit card doesn’t hurt either (granted, those can be hard to get, so making sure your credit is in order is key).

Now, I’m not talking about using your credit card to pay for an expensive trip you can’t actually afford – that’s a horrible idea! Always live within your means and pay off your balance every month.

Instead, take advantage of the great travel benefits that having good credit can afford.

For example, for many years I was completely oblivious to the power of traveling smart, such as collecting points and rewards that are redeemable for travel.

I’ve only started getting into this hobby in the past year, and have already collected enough miles to book a free round-trip flight to New Zealand! Now I’m hooked. Who doesn’t want to save money on travel?

Here are my top five ways to use credit wisely and save money on travel.

Ways To Save Money On Travel

Money Saving Tips

Get Smart About Your Credit

To get approved for a credit card with travel rewards, you need to make sure your credit health is in good shape.

CreditWise by Capital One is a free and easy to use tool that allows you to track your TransUnion® VantageScore 3.0 credit score, learn more about the factors that impact that score, and find helpful ways to take action to improve and protect it.

My favorite feature is the credit simulator, which allows you to choose from any combination of 17 different credit-influencing actions to see how each scenario might affect your score, positively or negatively.

For example, you could see what might happen to your score if you canceled your oldest credit card (hint – that’s usually not suggested by credit experts). You could also see what might happen if your balance increases by $400 – perhaps after buying a plane ticket, or if you are thinking about opening another line of credit.

I’ve learned a lot about what kinds of actions will affect my credit score by playing with the simulator. It’s a great tool for travelers who are looking to build their credit in order to get approved for a card with travel benefits and features.

Give it a shot, and see what your score looks like here. The app is 100% free, and available to everyone, even if you don’t have a Capital One card!

Ways To Save Money On Travel

Travel More with a Rewards Card

Get A Travel Rewards Card

One of the best reasons to get a travel rewards credit card is to earn and redeem points/miles for free travel. What does this mean? With travel rewards cards, each purchase you make earns you points that are redeemable for airline tickets, hotels, or upgrades.

Remember, you can’t get a good travel rewards card without strong credit; that’s important to keep in mind as you look at your credit card options.

These special travel benefits can save you a LOT of money, as long as you pay off your balance each month to avoid incurring interest charges, and you use the card enough to offset the annual fee.

Flights are expensive. Paying for your next plane ticket or hotel stay with reward points you’ve earned using credit cards can save you hundreds of dollars.

Avoid Currency Exchange Fees

Having your credit score in a good place gives you a better chance to get approved for travel reward cards that can give you perks like travel accident insurance and no foreign transaction fees.

When traveling, exchanging currency at airport kiosks (like many tourists do) usually means you are going to get overcharged. Currency exchange businesses love to promote “Commission free!” exchanges, but what they really do is charge you a horrible exchange rate and often a “service charge” on top of that.

It’s usually cheaper to use your bank’s debit card at an airport ATM for cash, in combination with a good travel credit card for larger purchases like hotels, tours and car rentals (while collecting points for free travel).

Always know the exchange rate for the country you are traveling to. Check online before you go at travel resource sites like http://xe.com.

Car rental insurance tip

Get Some Free Car Rental Insurance

Make Sure You Have Travel Insurance

Another wonderful benefit of some travel rewards credit cards is the travel insurance that many of them provide for their customers, free of charge.

While it varies depending on the card, many companies offer free car rental insurance, flight delay insurance, lost luggage insurance, and more.

Make sure to read your credit card agreement for exact details on what is covered, what isn’t, and for how much.

Forget Foreign Transaction Fees

Foreign transaction fees are charged by credit card companies for using your card at a non-U.S. retailer. Some credit cards charge up to 3% for each purchase overseas.

Certain travel-friendly credit cards, like the Capital One Venture® Card that I use, have unlimited rewards no matter where I jet off to. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been traveling around the world as a Capital One customer for the past 6 years.

If you’re planning to spend time traveling in the future, download CreditWise now to get ahead of managing your credit health. It’s 100% free.

Now go save some money, and happy travels! ★

Learn More: CreditWise By Capital One

Disclosure: Thank you Capital One® for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own, and were not directed by Capital One. To learn more about CreditWise® from Capital One®, visit: https://creditwise.capitalone.com.

How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel (So You Don’t Get Kicked Off Your Flight!)

Proof Of Onward Travel Tips

How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel

Travel Tips

Planning to travel internationally on a one-way ticket? You might have a problem. Some airlines and countries require proof of onward travel. Here’s how you can get it.

“Before you can board this flight, I need to see your proof of onward travel.” What?! But I’m traveling on a one-way ticket!

I remember the first time it happened to me. I was checking in at Boston’s Logan Airport for an international flight to Bangkok, Thailand.

Excited to visit Southeast Asia for the first time, and planning to spend a few months living in Chiang Mai as a digital nomad. I was flying one-way because, you know, I wasn’t sure how long I’d stay.

One month? Three? Would I even go back to the United States? Maybe I’ll travel to a different country after Thailand… overland. I simply hadn’t planned that far ahead yet.

However due to my American privilege, and my inexperience with international travel, it never once crossed my mind that this would be a problem.

Can’t I just buy another ticket when I’m ready to leave? Nope.

Proof Of Onward Travel Tips

How To Provide Proof Of Onward Travel

What Is Proof Of Onward Travel?

Basically, some countries want to make sure you aren’t attempting to move there on a tourist visa and never leave. It happens all the time here in the United States, and other countries too.

They are trying to prevent illegal immigration.

Government officials need to see proof that you plan on flying out, respecting the rules of their tourist visa. They want proof of onward travel to another destination.

So while you can technically travel on a one-way ticket, they also need some kind of official return ticket confirmation showing that you are leaving the country eventually.

They won’t necessarily care where that ticket goes, just as long as it’s out of their country.

Ticket Confirmation

Example Ticket Confirmation from FlyOnward.com

Airline Requirements

Many countries actually pass this responsibility on to airlines, meaning that it’s the airline check-in desk who will ask to see proof of your onward travel before they let you board the flight.

Because if they don’t check, and allow you on the flight with a one-way ticket, but immigration officials refuse to let you in, the airline will be responsible for the costs of flying (deporting?) you back to your home country, along with possible fines.

Some airlines are very strict about the proof of onward travel rule.

If you can’t provide proof, you won’t be allowed to board your flight. Or they’ll ask you to buy a return ticket from them right then and there — which can often cost hundreds of dollars.

Onward Travel Rules Suck!

I feel your pain. Why can’t they just make it easy and allow me travel on a one-way ticket, trusting me when I tell them I plan to leave in two months?

Some of us prefer to travel spontaneously, without plans!

Most long-term travelers are on a tight budget, trying to make their money last as long as possible. Or they aren’t exactly sure which country they want to visit next. Or they want to travel overland by bus.

Buying round trip tickets just isn’t in the cards for everyone.

Don’t take it personally though. These are their rules, and we have to respect them. We have the same laws for foreigners attempting to visit our country.

Luckily there are a few easy (and legal) ways to get around this proof-of-onward-travel requirement, so you can travel on a one-way ticket, and not be forced to pre-plan your entire trip down to the last detail.

Proof Of Onward Travel

Rent A Ticket Confirmation!

How To Get Proof Of Onward Travel

If you think you may need proof of onward travel during your adventure, there are a few legal ways to get around the rules without having to buy round trip tickets everywhere you go.

Rent A Return Ticket

My favorite option these days is to use the online service FlyOnward.com. For about $10, this company will go ahead and purchase a refundable airline ticket in your name, on their dime.

The ticket will then be automatically canceled after 24 or 48 hours.

While it’s active, you’ll be able to view a REAL flight reservation under your name, and show it to the airline check-in agent or immigration officer, “proving” your onward travel. Simple, fast, and cheap.

You can see an example of what the confirmation looks like here.

Buy A Super Cheap Ticket

Extreme budget airlines around the world can have some amazing flight deals. While the airline itself might not be the best, if you don’t plan on actually using the ticket, who cares!

Find the cheapest one-way ticket to a major city in the country next door, and eat the cost. Maybe $50 or $100.

This works best in cheaper areas of the world, like Asia or Latin America. Some examples of budget airlines include EasyJet, AirAsia, Volaris, etc. Click here for a full list.

Buy A Refundable Ticket

If you don’t mind waiting (sometimes months) to receive your refund, then buying a fully refundable, second one-way ticket is possible too.

To make it work, you’ll need to buy that second ticket before you leave for your destination.

Once you’ve entered the country, cancel your exit ticket, and wait for the refund. Just make sure to read the fine print — because some airlines charge cancelation fees, or only refund tickets using flight vouchers instead of cash.

Use Your Airline Miles

If you are a travel-hacking whiz and have accumulated a ton of points or miles on your travel rewards credit cards, you can use those points to book a one-way return flight and cancel it later.

Most of the time you’ll find that points are refunded right away, making it a no-brainer.

Forge A Ticket Confirmation

First of all, I do not recommend this method. If you get caught, it could end up badly. Especially if you try to show a fake piece of paper to actual immigration officials rather than airline employees.

Lying to immigration officials is illegal, and could land you in jail.

But if you’re too cheap to rent a real ticket for $10, you can use ReturnFlights.net to create a fake onward travel confirmation. Remember, use this option at your own risk!

Which Countries Require Proof?

Many countries technically require proof of onward travel, however they don’t always enforce the rule. To reduce your chances of them asking, it’s wise to avoid dressing like a bum/hippie with no money.

Business casual works best at airports if you want to avoid questions.

A few countries definitely require documented proof of onward travel. They include New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Peru, and the Philippines.

However depending on the airline you use, you might also get asked for proof before visiting countries like Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama. Do your own research to be sure.

Don’t Get Caught Off Guard!

Even though this rule might seem ridiculous, if you are a long-term traveler who prefers to travel on one-way tickets, you will eventually get asked for proof of onward travel.

I’ve probably been asked at least 10 times over the past few years.

Luckily there are legal loopholes around it. You just need to remember to get everything sorted in advance, before you find yourself stuck arguing with the airline check-in agent, about to miss your flight. ★

Tips for how to provide proof of onward travel when flying on a one-way ticket.
Tips for how to provide proof of onward travel when flying on a one-way ticket.

READ NEXT: How To Find Cheap Flights

Have any questions about proof of onward travel? Have you ever been asked? Drop me a message in the comments below!