Travel Smarter: Top Travel Tips for Beginners or first time flyers

Travel Smarter! These are my ultimate top travel tips for beginners or first-time flyers. Some of these tips and tricks, however, may not even be known by more advanced travelers too! I am sharing my best secrets when it comes to travel including how to book the cheapest flight to useful apps that will make your travel experience much easier. I have been traveling like a pro for several years now and have a lot of experience traveling solo too. Over the years, I have learned these travel hacks that have saved me so much money and allowed me to travel like crazy. I also share how I find the best places and things to do as well as how I plan my trips!

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Travel tips for beginners
Top tips for travelers from first time flyers to moderately advanced travelers

Top Travel Tips for Beginners!

These are my top travel tips for beginners and the hacks I use as a now pro traveler.

Tips & Tricks for booking CHEAP flights

This is literally one of my best tips for travel because it can save you so much money. After I left my job at Delta, I was sad to miss out on all the free flights (but with a catch – standby! I often got stuck and was limited on where I could go because the flights were always full). Since I discovered Thrifty Traveler,  (Get $5 off by signing up with my referral link) my travel life has changed. I am now able to fly all over for cheap and it’s confirmed so I can plan my trips! Please, never pay more than $600 for an international flight again. I flew to Greece from Atlanta for $300 on Delta Airlines through deals I found from this AMAZING newsletter. But now that I live in Europe, I also look at Secretflying.com for Europe to Europe deals. 

To book the cheapest flights, always use Google Flights Explore page. If you are flexible in where you want to go you can use the map and book a trip to the cheapest place! Even if you have a specific destination in mind, Google flights is the best hack to discover when the cheapest days to book your travel is. You can use the calendar view and it lists the price per day.

On the map below you can see that from London, I can book a £16 flight to Frankfurt and many other destinations in fact!

how to book cheap flights using google flights explore. Travel tips for beginners

What is the best credit card for travelers?

I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve and it has the most amazing perks. You can sign up and get 60k bonus points towards your first trip which is quite a lot for a sign up incentive! With the card, I am able to get into many airport lounges for free using Priority Pass which comes with the membership. Some airports even have multiple lounges and you will get free drinks and snacks. The other great thing is the car insurance offered with the card. I always decline the insurance at the rental company and use my Chase Sapphire Reserve to reserve the rental so I can use this benefit. You can learn more about how to sign up here!

Best sim card for traveling abroad

Giffgaff is a UK sim card you can use ALL OVER Europe. For only 5-10 pounds you can have access to a lot of data and can text/ make phone calls freely. Just replace your sim with this one til you get back home. It makes your phone number a UK one but you can use whatsapp to message friends as much as you want and have a ton of data to use all your fav travel apps! Here’s a link to save £10. They can mail you a free sim well before your next trip. 

Read my full guide on the best eSIMs for travel

Download an offline map and save locations you want to visit

I use City Maps 2 Go to do this!

This is my favorite travel app ever. It’s a complete lifesaver especially if you are traveling abroad and don’t have wifi. It works offline, you just have to download the country’s map ahead of time. Then you can use your phone on airplane mode and the blue location dot (if you have GPS enabled) will still appear and you can follow the map to wherever you want to go. You will often see me rotating in the direction of the blue gps dot/arrow trying to get to my next destination. I am typically directionally lost most of this time but NOT with this app! 

My favorite feature is saving different things I want to do with EMOJIS

Here’s a sampling of what my London map looks like. Don’t be afraid by how much I have pinned! I moved to London recently and have marked literally everything I want to do here. I am still a tourist!:

tips for flying best apps for travel
Tips for travel: best travel apps to use!

All the restaurants I want to go to are marked with 🍽️
all the brunch spots with
🍳
drinks🍸
coffee ☕
pretty buildings or streets I want to visit 🏠
parks 🌿
shopping 🛍️
and so on! 

Often times, it’s handy when I am walking around wondering what to do next. I just open the app and see that I have marked a cute cocktail bar nearby or a coffee shop. So, I notice I’m close to it and stop by. I would never be able to keep track of where I am without this! You can also add notes or an image inside each item you pin so you remember why you wanted to visit that specific landmark.

Plan where you want to travel using Instagram & Pinterest

I also use Instagram & Pinterest to plan a lot of my travels. I will search for the best things to do from Pinterest and then mark all the things I find on my City Maps 2 go app mentioned above. For Instagram, I follow a lot of bloggers and travelers and I use the bookmark feature to save places I want to visit. This gives me ideas of where to travel and also helps me plan where I want to go when I do travel. 

Favorite Instagram accounts:

@prettycitylondon (I also bought the amazing book she published on exploring London’s pretty streets)
@theprettycities
@wearetravelgirls
@dametraveler

@culturetrip
@kings_villages

You can also find IG accounts for the country you want to travel to and find inspo there. For example, if I was flying to Italy, I would look up @beautiful_italy__ and similar to find out the best spots to visit in Italy.

Good trip planning websites/Blogs:

Culture Trip
Time Out
The Every Girl
We Are Travel Girls
Conde Nast Traveler
Adventurous Kate

The best app for editing travel photos

Lightroom is how I edit all my photos!

best photo editing app for travel pictures

This is the app I use to edit all my lovely travel photos. It has some great features & filters you can use to transform your pictures to the next level. If you want to edit the way I do on my instagram page @joujoutravels you can actually buy my presets which are full compatible with Lightroom. A lightroom preset is basically a filter you can apply in one click that will make a huge difference in the way your pictures look. It is pretty simple to use and I have a tutorial to get you started when you purchase. Also, the best thing about this is that Lightroom is a free app! You only have to pay if you want to access premium features.

Don’t get scammed at ATMS

When exchanging money via ATM be careful of these scams making you lose money. 

First the atms try to trick you to take out more money than you need by giving you options to withdraw the largest amount of money in the local currency. 

Second, always DECLINE conversion as the atm will offer you to agree to their conversion which ends up meaning you will pay a whopping 13% mark up to the exchange rate! 

Tips for travel decline conversion

Always pay in the currency of the country you’re visiting

When making any purchase at a restaurant or store, always pay in the currency of the country you are visiting and decline conversions. If you pay in your local currency you will lose 3% for the currency conversion fee.

Make sure you stay alert for any flight delays

One of my top tips for travel is using the app Flight Aware to get notifications of any flight delays or cancellations.

flight aware delayed flight notification

I have had many delayed flights in my traveling sprees. This app alerts me of any delays or status updates when traveling. It also tells me which gate I need to be at which can be handy especially in London when they don’t post the gate info til an hour or so before.

The best way to get through the airport and customs FAST!

TSA pre-check is best for getting through customs fast. You just need to sign up for it and be approved first. After you can take a shorter line to get out of the airport and you also don’t have to take out your lap top or take off your shoes in security which can save time.

Another option is downloading an app Mobile Passport, which many people don’t know about!

tips for travel use mobile passport for customs

I haven’t actually tried this one yet but it sounds amazing. You basically enter your passport info in and instead of filling out those annoying landing cards you can go to a kiosk, have a receipt printed, and skip the line at the airport when entering the US. Here’s a review of how it works from the Thrifty Traveler.

I hope you enjoyed these tips for flying and that it saves you time and you are equipped with the best knowledge for your next trip of a lifetime.

Get Travel Insurance

As a traveler, you may encounter unexpected events such as flight cancellations, medical emergencies, or lost luggage. Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind during your trip. SafetyWing is a popular option for solo travelers as it offers affordable, flexible insurance plans that cover a range of issues including COVID-19 medical expenses and travel delays. They also offer 24/7 customer support and the ability to purchase coverage while already on the road.

I recommend SafetyWing which will cover you in case of trip cancellations or any accidents during your travels.

Tips for flying Alone

As a solo female traveler, I have so many tips to make you feel confident in seeing this beautiful world. If you want to grab my solo travel e-book you can do so in the form below. It is a 14 page guide to traveling alone from how to take that solo picture to traveling safely.

FREE Solo Travel E-Book!

For more reading, you may also like:
💎Best Hidden Gems In Europe
🤎 Solo Travel Tips & FREE solo travel e-book!
  Best Places for Solo Female Travel

Travel tips for beginners. money saving tips for travel
Travel tips for beginners: travel hacks

♥ Jackie

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