Do get travel insurance.

Traveling is all about the unknown. If you get hurt, lose your luggage, or a disaster strikes, you’ll be thankful you covered yourself.

Don’t only look at American-based search engines.

If you limit yourself to the mainstream sites, you could miss out on great deals. Dig a little deeper.

Do learn the language.

Teach yourself a few words. Knowing the basics will prove very useful when you need directions to find a bathroom or go to a restaurant.

Don’t rule out hostels.

They can be a great, inexpensive alternative to hotels and lead to a much richer cultural experience. Don’t let the old stereotypes and horror stories cloud your judgment—most modern hostels are actually cleaner and nicer than many hotels!

Do take pictures of important documents.

If you lose your passport or your credit card, having pictures of them will make the process of recovering your information much easier.

Don’t over pack.

Pack your bags once, and then remove the excess. Keep doing this until you’re left with just the necessities. You’d be surprised at how little you’ll really need.

Do dress appropriately.

Research local weather, conventions, and customs and try to plan your clothes accordingly.

Don’t exchange money at the airport.

Doing this guarantees you the worst exchange rates. Use an ATM or a credit card to get the best rates.

Do visit the local tourist office.

They have advice and suggestions about what to do and where to go that you won’t find in any guidebook. It’s their job to help, and they know all the local secrets.

Don’t eat or shop near major tourist sites.

Everything will be overpriced and low quality.

Do buy local.

Immerse yourself in the culture. Choose local restaurants, lodging, and markets. Attend local events. It’s all part of the experience., which translates into better deals and better quality merchandise.

Don’t take cabs.

They are overpriced and a poor use of your travel dollars. Use public transportation whenever possible. Bonus: it will help you get better accustomed to your surroundings.

Do be respectful.

Remember that you’re a guest. Respect privacy, boundaries, and customs. Behave appropriately in all types of situations.