Traveling is the best. But unless you’re an experienced traveler, you may experience some anxiety before going on a trip. Don’t worry, it’s normal to be anxious, even if you’re super excited. Before I left on a 6-month trip to Australia, I was beyond stoked and simultaneously incredibly nervous. I even cried my eyes out at the airport! (Check out my vlog, where I share the whole story). In the moment, I was super stressed, but now I find the event humorous. Now, with over five years of travel experience, I am a travel pro and I’m here to calm your nerves and help you have the best vacation ever. Check out these 15 life-changing travel tips:

1. Always have water with you. This is my number one travel (and life) tip. I bring my Nalgene water bottle everywhere I go. Trust me, nothing is worse than being dehydrated and sad while exploring this beautiful planet. Buy a reusable bottle and take it with you wherever you go. Whether you are tanning on the beaches of Costa Rica, taking the Harry Potter tour in London or trekking through the Himalayas, water should be your travel bestie.

2. Pack small toiletries in your carry-on. On numerous occasions, my checked bags ended up on the wrong flights and arrived hours after I did. Once I had to wait 48 hours before getting my checked bag. That wasn’t a big deal and I got my bag in the end, but I had to wear my contacts for 48 hours because I didn’t have toiletries in my carry on . That was not fun for my eyes. I suggest that you always at least have lip balm, a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and hand cream in your carry on. If you wear contacts, have solution, a lens case and your glasses as well. Some other products to consider would be a hair brush, dry shampoo, and wipes. These products will help in the event your bags are lost and will also be useful if you have a layover.

3. Live in the moment. I am a huge fan of social media. I take photo’s of all my meals and take 15 selfies a day (on average). I’m a travel blogger, so I spend a huge chunk of my day documenting my life and sharing it online. Obviously, I think you should take photos and videos share them with your family and friends while traveling. Just make sure you aren’t missing the beautiful moments that are unfolding around you. Don’t feel like you have to capture every moment with a photo. Be selfish with your memories, keep some memories just for yourself. I learned this lesson from being a photographer. Sometimes you need to put your camera down and take in the moment with only your beautiful eyes.

4. Make copies of your documents. Always have an extra copy of your passport, visas and other travel documents. Print out the copies and them email to yourself just to be safe

5. Be flexible. One of the best things you can do while traveling is be flexible. If you are a type of person who needs to make a detailed schedule before your trip, that’s awesome! Do it! But be sure to leave room for spontaneous activities. You may have every day planned out with great activities, but after mingling with locals and other tourists, you might learn about an awesome concert or festival going on in the city. Don’t be afraid to change your plans. Each day you’re traveling is an adventure. Don’t get stressed about keeping to a schedule, just go with the flow.

6. Be friendly, make new friends and hang with the locals. While traveling you should be cautious and shouldn’t put yourself in a bad situation. But don’t let that stop you from making friends. Be nice to everyone. Say good morning to the hotel staff, smile at people on the streets and hold the door for strangers. Make friends! One of my goals is to make friends with everyone on the planet. Follow in my footsteps and make new friends everywhere you go. The planet is filled with cool, inspiring people. Be social and get to know them!  No matter where you are in the world, challenge yourself to meet at least one local person each day. Get to know them and see how they live. The people are the heart of a country. Get to know the people and you will get to know the country.

7. Don’t stress about lines at the airport. Fact: you will have to wait in line at the airport. It is going to happen and there is no way around it. It’s not the end of the world. Do not let it be a bigger issue than it is and don’t let it ruin your trip. You create your happiness, so even if you have to wait in line for two hours try to remain positive and excited for your trip

8. Learn at least “hello”, “goodbye” and “thank-you” in the native language of the country you are visiting. Even if you only learn these three phases, it will help you communicate with the locals. If you are staying in a country longer than two-weeks, you should definitely try to pick up more phrases like “how are you?”, “how much does that cost?”, “where is the restroom?”, “what time is it?” etc. Picking up new languages can be hard, but all you can do is try your best.

9. Leave the location better than you found it. Do your part in making our planet a nicer place. This could be as simple as cleaning up your hotel room, or picking up garbage on the streets while you explore. If you are looking for more of a challenge, volunteer or work with a nonprofit abroad. Giving back while exploring new places is a double adventure.

10. Eat street foods. Don’t be afraid to try some street food. The world is filled with some delicious street vendors and they are usually a lot cheaper than tourist filled restaurants. Street food will save you money and give you a cultural experience to Instagram about. Ask locals or your hotel staff where some of the best street vendors are and they will lead you in the right direction. Even if the cuisine looks a little odd, give it a try. Trying new things is good for your health and will make your trip even more memorable. 

11. Explore the city you are in. Explore, explore and explore some more. Rent a car, take the subway or use your feet and take in as much of the city as you can. One of my favourite things to do is to just walk around, take the bus and/or subway and explore. You get to see the city and make your own opinions on it without having a tour guide or other tourist influence your thoughts. Even if you are staying at a resort for a week, take at least one day to leave the resort and check out the nearest town.

12. Do things that scare you. You shouldn’t let fear hold you back in life. While you are on a trip exploring a new culture, break the chains of fear by doing something that scares you (within reason, of course.) Don’t get into a creepy van with a stranger or anything like that – safety first, people. But do something that pushes your limits.  If you are afraid of heights, go skydiving or bungy jumping or take a tour of the tallest building in that city. If you are afraid of the ocean, take a guided snorkeling tour. No matter what you are afraid of, conquering any fear is going to improve your mental health and help you love life. Traveling usually puts people out of their comfort zones, so tackling a fear while traveling will be a double victory, no matter what fear you tackle. Even if you conquer a small fear, like trying a local coffee shop instead of choosing Starbucks, you should be proud of yourself.

13. Ask questions: Whether you want to see if you can get a free upgrade on your flight, or you don’t know how to get to the other side of the airport, just ask someone. People are usually really nice and will help you out. Even if you think the question is super silly, don’t worry what people think and ask.

14. Learn the history of the city and country. Before you arrive to a new city or country, do some research. Look up the restaurants and attractions you want to visit but also look up some facts and a brief history about the country. Researching the places you visit will help you understand some of the cultural practices and you will develop a healthy respect for the country. The last thing you want to do is be like Alan in the Hangover when they arrive at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and he asks the hotel receptionist “Did Caesar live here?”  Although this scene is absolutely hilarious, you don’t want to be that guy. Trust me.

15. Don’t leave the city with regrets. The worst thing you can do in life is have regrets. Make sure you end your trip completing everything you wanted to do in the city. You never know when you are going to be back there, so when you leave you should be completely satisfied with your trip.

These tips will help you have the greatest time traveling. Have some great travel tips that I missed? Awesome! Write your tips in the comments below.

If you have any great travel tips share them on social media and use hashtag #DITravelTips between May 15th -19th, 2017 for a chance to win a free night’s stay at the Days Inn Canada location of your choice. Full contest details, including rules and regulations, click here. Get sharing and good luck!