Key travel tips you need to know — whether you’re a beginner or expert traveler

At The Points Guy, our staff of writers and industry experts travels the world in pursuit of news and trends, plus a bit of rest and relaxation while on vacation. Over the years, we’ve accumulated and shared many essential travel tips on how best to book and enjoy a trip, be it a cruise, flight, hotel stay or road trip.

Some of our tips are helpful for those who may be new to the world of cruising or international, business-class flights. Others are geared toward seasoned travelers.

To help you stay safe, and travel smart during the holidays and beyond, we compiled this comprehensive list of top travel tips. Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced traveler who’s been at it for years, these TPG-backed tips can help you avoid any unnecessary headaches as you spend time away from home.

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Beginner travel tips

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At TPG, we strive to provide expert advice on how to maximize miles and leverage hidden tips to get the best out of your travel planning. We also aim to help new travelers get a sense of what to expect so they can be prepared no matter what may come up during their travels.

Here are some key learnings for less-experienced travelers:

Expert travel tips

Use maps and other tools to help you plan your trip. JACOBS STOCK PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES

Do you have a mastery of the basics and want to vacation smarter as an expert traveler? Check out these expert-approved travel hacks from TPG:

Safety travel tips

A tourist arrives at a hotel room. BOY ANUPONG/GETTY IMAGES

Safety is a key concern for many travelers. From potentially getting robbed while on the road to experiencing bad weather or natural disasters while traveling, there are many scenarios that could arise when you’re away from home. How should you avoid or mitigate these risks?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Pay attention to The U.S. Department of State warnings about a destination you plan on visiting, and check local sources for the latest news from that country or region for additional context. Although the State Department tends to err on the side of caution with its warnings, it’s still best to be aware of what you may face during your trip.
  • Use your hotel’s travel safe to store your valuables in your room. “I always leave one credit card in the hotel safe just in case I lose the ones on me or they get stolen,” shares TPG newsletter editor Becky Blaine. Just be sure you remember to empty the safe before you leave the hotel. Becky recommends leaving another item you won’t forget, such as a single shoe, in the safe to serve as a backup hint to empty it.
  • Let people at home know your itinerary and stay in touch with them throughout your trip. If something goes amiss, at least someone will know where you’re supposed to be or the last place you visited.
  • “If you’re arriving at night, contact your hotel to ask about the best way to get there at the time you’re arriving and specifically ask about cheap versus safe (transportation options),” says TPG’s Ryan Smith. This will save you from getting stuck in potentially unsafe situations like being locked out of a hostel, which happened to his wife once when her flight was delayed and she arrived after hours.
  • Be strategic about how you check into a hotel. “When I travel alone, I always request two keycards so people think I’m traveling with someone,” says TPG’s Kristy Tolley. She also places a hand towel over the security swing bar of her room’s door to prevent anyone outside from being able to slip a credit card in to try dislodging it.

Holiday travel tips

Holiday stalls beneath the Christmas tree in New York City’s Bryant Park. JOHN HICKS/GETTY IMAGES

Traveling during the holidays can be one of the most challenging times for travelers. Travel costs are high, hotel and tour availability is low, weather events are more common and everyone is seemingly on edge as they’re racing to get home to see loved ones.

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make holiday travel more affordable and less stressful. Here are a few of them:

Bottom line

Whether you’re fresh to the world of traveling or a seasoned expert, there are always new tips you can learn to maximize your time away from home. TPG’s staff of frequent flyers, cruisers and road trippers always has some suggestions on how you can better book and enjoy your travels.

The more research and preparation you do before your trip, the better your experience will be — especially if things go wrong, as they often do.

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