May good luck be with you wherever you go, and your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow. – Irish Blessing

If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research – Einstein
Even if you have already traveled to your destination spot, conduct fresh research on the area before your trip. Read recent traveler reviews, get info on up-to-date leisure and cultural activities, and get informed about the safest spots and those to avoid with government travel advisories, prior to take-off.

Look for Experiences – Not Just Accommodations
Read reviews and explore your options well in advance. Consider and compare advantages versus costs, and location versus interests. Choose lodgings not only according to budget, but also your particular needs, expectations, and limitations. While a hostel might be easy on the wallet and work well for a more hands-on collective experience, it will be hard work for those who prefer pampering and more posh possibilities. Thoroughly scan sites for hotels, cabins, apartment rentals, or Airbnb availabilities before making a final choice. Ask yourself whether you are willing to cook and clean, looking to lap up some luxury, or sit somewhere between the two.

Take Only Memories, Leave Only Footprints
And, we would add, leave your travel info with family and friends. Provide details of your itinerary to loved ones with a photo and the complete address and phone number of your accommodations before leaving. Check in regularly during your trip to share highlights and your whereabouts.

Travel Light to Spread Your Light 
Whether you are backpacking across several countries or staying put at a luxury hotel, lugging extra bags can cause a lag in travel spirits. Don’t make a drudgery of your destination with excess baggage to weigh you down. While you should pack the essentials – comfortable walking shoes, universal adapter for charging electronics, first-aid kit, bathroom items, and basic medications – take only half of the clothes you think you need. When in doubt, leave it out and plan for a little shopping spree as a light and happy traveller instead.

Local Currency: To Buy, or Not to Buy, Beforehand? 
While some experts counsel that converting cash to your destination currency before leaving will help to avoid steep exchange rates abroad; other pundits propose minimizing cash conversions altogether and using only plastic. By the same token, if you take an excursion to a more remote or rural area during your trip you may be stuck searching for an ATM. Ultimately, cash is king, particularly in US dollars which may come in handy in an emergency. Keep it safe in a fanny pack or money belt for easy access during your adventures.

A Fool and His Valuables Are Soon Parted
Take heed and make copies of all important documents before you travel. Keep a photo or copy of your passport and driver’s license, travel tickets, and credit cards just in case your originals are lost or stolen. Make a note of your home country’s embassy address at your travel destination for emergency assistance if required.

Be Safe, Not Sorry
No one believes that they can be scammed but it happens to the best of us. Many international tourist spots have their particular swindling systems such as “broken” taxi meters, “special” fines, and currency exchange fraud to name but a few. Minimize your chances of being a victim by researching the area before leaving, remaining aware of your surroundings and interactions while there, and always keeping valuables with you or locked up and secure.

Always Have a Backup Plan
Losing your bank and credit cards would be stressful enough at home, but it can be catastrophic while traveling. Set up a second ATM card before you set off and keep it separate from your primary cards to ensure uninterrupted access to your funds. Notify your bank in advance that you will be traveling since your accounts may be flagged or frozen following your initial international money transactions.

Ensure That You Are Insured   
Purchasing travel insurance is worth the money in worry reduction alone. Select an international insurer that provides full health and medical coverage in case you get sick or injured or need to cancel your trip. Protection translates to peace of mind and is worth it at any price.

If you travel far enough – you will meet yourself – David Mitchell
Connect with the locals while traveling to discover authentic hidden gems and avoid any camouflaged cons. Don’t share too much but be open enough to learn about the best places to explore, eat, and be entertained. In the process, you will make new friends, learn about life in another land, and most importantly, come away concluding that we are much more alike than we are different.

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”Jack Kerouac, On the Road