Everyone loves to look for travel hacks - all those little ways to make travel a little lighter, a little easier, and a little simpler. Of course, back in the day, these weren’t called ‘hacks’, but just ‘advice’! Anyone going on vacation would still pick up a few, but probably not from a Buzzfeed list or a Pinterest board. Instead, it was all about getting the best tips and tricks from friends and family to make sure that your adventures would go as smoothly as possible.
Of course, it’s not just how we refer to travel advice that has changed in the past few decades. So much about the way we travel has changed entirely as technology has made life easier, the world has become more connected, and the things we pack shift. Some of the travel advice that would have been amazing in the ‘90s is now wildly outdated; some of it is just unnecessary, but some of it is so outdated that it would actually make your trip a whole lot worse!
Listen to your mom and pack a sweater (trust us, you’ll thank her later), but when it comes to some of these other older travel hacks, feel free to totally ignore them. After all, it’s nearly 2019!
25 15. Outdated: Buy Guide Books
So many guidebooks. If you were planning a trip, it was time to head to the bookstore and stock up on travel guides so that you could plan your adventures… and have some of those handy-dandy printed maps we’ve already talked about.
Now, however, carrying bulky and heavy travel books on vacation is a total waste of suitcase space. Do your research before you go online, and save notes and bookmarks in your phone for reference when you arrive. Easy! And cheaper than a guidebook, anyway, not to mention guaranteed up-to-date info.
24 14. Outdated: Send Film Home As You Go
While some old advice, like bringing guidebooks, would mean taking up extra space and weight in your luggage - this one was actually about lightening the load a little bit! Back when all cameras took film (or people bought disposable cameras for a trip), it was a smart move to mail your used film home to yourself on a long trip.
Not only did this clear a little space for souvenirs, but it meant that even if you lost your luggage, you would still have precious memories waiting on film when you got home. Now? Just use your phone or digital camera like everyone else.
23 13. Outdated: Send Postcards On Your First Day
Postcards are definitely a dying travel tradition - why bother seeking out and paying for a pre-printed photo, when you can instantly share your photos and adventures on social media? Why send a card to tell your loved ones what you are up to when great international phone options mean that you can just call them, or Skype them from your hotel room wifi?
Any postcard related advice is going to be a little outdated now, especially spending your first day worrying about finding, writing and sending them so that they get home before you.
22 12. Outdated: Take A Travel Journal
Paper travel journals still exist, of course, and it can certainly be fun to create travel scrapbooks out of ticket stubs and things you’ve picked up along the way… but you can do that at home, reflecting on the great time you had. The need to take a journal to record your thoughts and activities each day is totally outdated, though.
Keep a blog, or electronic notes (you can even use voice notes on your phone) - and then you can remember every minute without having to take a heavy book and pens with you in your suitcase.
21 24. Outdated: Take Traveler's Checks
Believe it or not, but there was a time when you wouldn’t be able to use credit and debit cards everywhere you went in the world, and to avoid carrying all your spending money in cash, it was common to go to the bank and pick up traveler's checks.
These could be used like cash, but needed signature and ID verification, making them useless to thieves. Now, however, almost nowhere will even accept traveler's checks - and finding a bank to issue them might prove a challenge as well. Just take your cards, and keep them in separate pockets.
20 23. Outdated: Don’t Take Your Tech
When people weren’t constantly online, it was common advice to leave electronics at home when traveling; no laptops, no phones. Of course, part of this was to do with weight and the likelihood of using them - why would anyone lug a heavy laptop around just to send one e-mail?
Why take a cell phone if it was going to cost hundreds to make a single call? However, now that laptops and tablets are super light and people use both computers and phones on a daily basis, there’s really no reason not to take them along.
19 22. Outdated: Print Out Your Maps And Directions
Getting lost in a strange country is, admittedly, a really good way to ruin your vacation. If you know that you are going to be renting a car and driving, or even if you are just going to be wandering a big city, it’s a good idea to know where you are (and where you are going). In the past, that meant printing out maps ahead of time - or having to rely on the kindness of strangers for good directions.
Now, however, you can still ask a local, or you can just use Google Maps to figure out where you are going, without having to carry around actual maps.
18 21. Outdated: Avoid Countries That Have Been In Conflict In Recent Years
Travel advice is sometimes focused on safety in a positive way, and sometimes it is just giving into fearmongering. An old piece of advice is to avoid traveling to any country that has recently been in conflict, however it's a little over-cautious in most cases. The Global Peace Index for 2016 showed only TEN countries as conflict-free... so following this advice is going to seriously limit your plans.
Many countries can be involved in a conflict without there being any real evidence of that in the major cities (or risk to tourists visiting there), and even if a place has suffered more visible damage, tourist money can be a big boon to the rebuilding effort, and to getting the economy going again.
Do a little research into how safe somewhere is now, rather than worrying about what happened ten years ago.
17 20. Outdated: Don’t Travel Alone As A Woman
Some more solid fearmongering, here, as women are routinely still advised not to travel on their own, but to make sure that they have a man with them. While there are, admittedly, a few spots in the world where this may still be reasonable advice, those are actually few and far between.
Safety when traveling has more to do with being intelligent about where you go and how you behave than with the gender of the person traveling. Women can certainly take extra measures to stay safe if they want to, but gender should never be a reason to stay stuck at home.
16 19. Outdated: Don’t Eat Street Food
It can be hard to believe that this is even advice, given the massive popularity of food trucks all over North America at this point, but it was definitely some common old-school advice. One of the best things about travel is tasting the local cuisine, and street food is often a cheap and delicious option - and certainly better than going to a fast food chain because you are afraid that a street cart won’t be clean!
It’s still a good idea to avoid ice cubes in some places where water may be contaminated, but street food is probably just as safe as it would be at home.
15 18. Outdated: Carry Your Passport Everywhere
This is the kind of advice that feels like it makes sense - you don’t want to lose your passport, or have it stolen from a hotel room, so you should carry it with you at all times.
However, in reality, it is far more likely that you will lose your passport (or have it stolen) if you are wandering around with it. If you are truly concerned about leaving it in a hotel or hostel, ask the front desk to keep it in their safe.
Unless you are traveling in one of the few countries where carrying a passport is actually required, you’ll be fine without it.
14 17. Outdated: Take A Travel Hairdryer
It may make more sense to take electronics like phones and computers these days, but a lot of the most popular ‘travel’ gadgets of the past are definitely outdated now. Chief among these is a travel hairdryer, but it definitely wasn’t the only thing that came in a slightly smaller (and crappier) version designed to take on holiday.
These days, leave the hairdryer at home entirely. Hotels will provide one, and if not, go for that air dried beachy look (or treat yourself to a blow out when you get there).
13 16. Outdated: Double Book Hotels/Transit
Back in the days of booking hotels and train tickets via the phone, from another country, and often in another language… it actually made some sense to try and double book things in case one went wrong. You didn’t want to show up somewhere and discover that the hotel has no record of your booking!
These days, however, booking everything online makes this totally pointless - and thanks to online credit card payments, insanely expensive. Just relax and trust the online booking, or the ability to Google the nearest hotel with availabilities if the worst should happen.
12 11. Outdated: Bring Your Own Food/Drinks To The Airport
It’s still a great idea to bring certain snacks to the airport to avoid overpaying for airport food (and to make sure that you don’t get hungry while traveling) but the rules on what you can take through security have definitely changed!
Instead of bringing full bottles of drinks, bring an empty water bottle to fill up at a fountain once you are past security, and check airport regulations to make sure that any foods you bring are going to be allowed through - packaged dried snacks are usually fine, whereas fruit or leftovers are going to be trickier.
11 25. Outdated: Carry Your Valuables In A Fanny Pack
At one time, this may have been a crafty way to avoid pickpockets while traveling… but now, it’s not only ugly, but actually more likely to attract thieves in popular tourist destinations. Packing all your valuables into an unflattering little pouch and wrapping it around your waist is like a neon sign to thieves, informing them that you are not from around here, that you have valuables, and that you are probably already feeling nervous about being pickpocketed.
There’s no way to hide that bulge under your clothes, so just use your pockets or a bag like you would at home, and maybe be a little more aware of your surroundings.
10 10. Awesome: Check In With The Embassy
This is something that a surprising number of people don’t bother to do, but it’s still a good idea. Make sure that when you are spending time in another country, you inform your country’s embassy there - so that if there was to be a natural disaster or emergency evacuation, they would know to look for you.
Of course, we hope that this never happens, but it’s always a possibility. You can even do this online for many places, so it only takes a moment, and may even save your life.
9 9. Awesome: Keep A Photocopy Of Your Passport
While most things that we used to be told to print out are no longer necessary, it’s still a good idea to take a photocopy of your passport and bring it along with you. Take several, in fact! This is something that could come in very handy if the worst happens and you lose your passport, or if you need it at a border or for anything else.
In most cases, we can ditch the paper these days, but this is still a smart one to carry.
8 8. Awesome: Print Out Your Hotel Info
One more piece of paper that it’s still a good idea to carry with you is a print out of the address where you are staying. Even if you have it on your phone, this acts as a backup - in case your battery dies when you need it to fill out a form at the border, or because you aren’t too keen on handing your smartphone over to a taxi driver after a night out to explain where you want to go.
You may not need the printed booking confirmation, but write down the address and keep it in your pocket or wallet, just in case.
7 7. Awesome: Learn A Few Phrases
It may seem outdated to actually bother to learn a little of the language when you are going somewhere new - what’s wrong with just using an app on your phone, or relying on the fact that in most places, the people you will deal with probably speak a little English? That may get you by, but it’s still good manners (and helpful) to try and learn the very basics.
Even when people speak some English, seeing you make an attempt to speak the local language is going to help you charm people that you talk to - and that can lead to some amazing experiences.
6 6. Awesome: Buy Travel Insurance
Traveler's checks may be completely outdated, but travel insurance definitely isn’t. There is definitely the possibility that during your travels, something will happen that might mean needing medical help - and that is definitely not a time that you want to be worrying about how to pay for it.
Travel insurance is cheap and extremely easy to purchase with a few clicks (you can often include it with tickets, too), so don’t think that this is just something that people just used to do before going on vacation.