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Nampa, ID.  By Ken Faught.  There is much you need to know to have the perfect vacation, and make no mistake, it takes a lot of planning. I have been a professional traveler for over 30 years and have logged well over a million miles flying to cool places all around the world.
My goal with this story is to show you how to save time, money, and maximize your experience abroad. A lot of it may seem like common knowledge, but it’s easy to forget to think about these things in advance, and therefore, you end up wasting doing them on your trip instead of having fun.  Fortunately, this article is here to help.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Vacation

Expert tips from a professional traveler.

Travel Tip 1 - Research as much as you can about your destination

The most-critical component to every travel plan is research. Vanessa Doleshal and I do most of our research on the internet and occasionally read books dedicated to certain regions of the world. We also search Instagram and Pinterest a lot, and love Google Images. We think you
should research from the very beginning of your vacation planning stages all the way through your entire adventure. Even when we are on our trip, we are always pulling up things to do, looking for best places to eat, and asking locals for simple travel advice.

Travel Tip 2 - Make an Itinerary

We always make an itinerary in the notes section of our iPhones so we can edit it quickly and easily. We try to list everything we want to accomplish and in what order. We want to plan, but we also want to be flexible and open to change. Here is an example of a trip to Oahu, Hawaii, and note that we list important times where we have reservations, and we exclude physical times when we do not.

Day 1

*5:00am Hit Starbucks for breakfast
*8:44am Depart Los Angeles International Airport to Honolulu
*Get rental car from Hertz
*Eat lunch at Duke’s
*Check into the Hilton Hawaiian Village
*Explore the resort and go standup paddle boarding in the lagoon
*Eat Dinner at Monkey Pod

Day 2

*8am Breakfast
*Relax on Waikiki beach
*Noon - Lunch at Moana Surfrider
*Walk around town

*6:30pm Dinner

Day 3

*Hike to the top of Diamond Head volcano (Take camera)
*2pm Parasailing

*Walk on the beach

Day 4

*6:30am Breakfast (need to be done by 7:15am to go snorkeling)
*8:00 am Snorkeling with Honolulu Snorkeling Tour

*Drive to see Na Mokulua islands
*6:45pm Dinner at Roy’s Beach House near Turtle Bay Resort
*Watch Sunset near Turtle Bay Resort and walk 2 miles on beach

Day 5

*6:30am Breakfast
*8:00am check out of hotel & drive to Pearl Harbor. Have lunch at the museum.
*4:15pm return rental car
*6:22pm flight to LAX

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The best travel tips and tricks for the ultimate vacation

Travel Tip 3 - Don’t Over Plan

One of the most-common mistakes that travelers make is putting too much on their itinerary and giving themselves a lot of anxiety by rushing from one place to another. We suggest that you make of list of things that you want to do, and a separate list of things you would like to do if you have extra time. This is a really good way to plan effectively and give you freedom and flexibility on your adventure. We also like to have a mix of things with reservations which require us to be on time but recommend that you are always careful not to put too many things back to back that have a check-in time.

Want to know how to have the best vacation?  Keep reading this special travel guide and discover some of our secrets.

Travel Tip 4 - Avoid Crowds – Wake Up Early

We believe in making the most out of every adventure, and we tend to sleep an hour or two less while traveling than we do at home. We typically get up earlier than usual so we can avoid the crowds. We also try to travel during non-peak times, like those when kids are in school and family travel is limited. This means less crowds at beaches, resorts, restaurants, etc.

Important expert travel tip – slow down and enjoy every moment.

Travel Tip 5 - Stop & Smell the Roses

I made a lot of mistakes during my early days of traveling, and one of my biggest regrets was not taking more time to notice all the small things. I rushed from one place to another like it was a race and missed a lot of cool things that really interest me now. That’s why I do a lot more research and I spread activities out, more so I can spend time looking around. I also find that taking photos helps me look at things from a different perspective and interrupts my cadence to my benefit.


Time management is extremely important to having an enjoyable trip. That means there’s no time crunch as we explore Convict Lake in the Sierra Nevada’s.

Travel Tip 6 – Think About Backups Like Spare Credit Cards

Before traveling, alert your credit card company on the dates and the destinations to reduce the chance of fraud alerts locking your accounts. This has happened to me a lot over the years, so I pay real close attention to this and also carry other credit cards in the event of an emergency. I
also pay my credit card bills off before traveling so I have full availability of funds on my accounts.

Travel Tip 7 – Carry Extra Cash

As an extra backup to my backup, I carry cash, and probably way more than I need. It’s rare that I have to use it, but when I’ve needed it, I have been very relieved.

Travel Photography Tip & Tricks

Travel Tip 8 - Take Travel Photos

I enjoy making memories and, like most of you, have found that photos and video are the best ways to relive my favorite life moments. I recommend taking lots of photos and investing in a good camera with a zoom lens and a flash. I wrote a blog on the camera equipment that I use and also a story on the best travel cameras that you will find useful. Photography also forces one to slow down and look at their entire surroundings.

Try different things and look for adventures that you normally wouldn’t consider.

Travel Tip 9 - Leave your Comfort Zone

This will mean a lot of things to different people, but we hope that you expand your boundaries and try different things. Over time, I have discovered new foods to enjoy, have bungy jumped in New Zealand, even though I am afraid of heights, and have swam in Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe
which is full of crocodiles and hippos. I have ridden in jet boats with in New Zealand, hiked long distances in Australia, and have swam with stingrays in Exuma, Bahamas. None of these are things I ever expected that I would do in my lifetime.  
Abandoning your comfort zone can offer rewards far greater than you realize as you plan your trip.

Travel Tip 10 - Explore – Get Lost on Purpose

I don’t do this all the time, but in places I feel safe, sometimes I will just start driving in directions that look interesting. One time, Jennifer Emig and I ended up driving all the way to the Canadian border in Montana about 130 miles just because the scenery was so amazing. I just planned on spending 4 or 5 hours driving around to see what looked interesting.

Travel Tip 11 - Don’t Overpack

This is going to be really hard for a lot of you but it’s really important to pack as light as possible but be very realistic. Before traveling, check the weather so you know exactly what type of clothes to bring. Internet weather is pretty accurate these days and will give you an idea of what
to expect. I subscribe to the less-is-more theory and also keep-it-simple-stupid theory. These have helped me a lot over the years and I recommend you do the same.

Try something different. For example, one time in Cabo San Lucas I decided to go deep sea fishing my very first time.

Travel Tip 12 - Say Yes to New Things & Be Impulsive

By not overcrowding my schedule, I have learned that it has given me much more flexibility. Although I love to plan, and am very detail oriented, I am capable of over planning to a fault. This is where my wife, Amy, has helped me through the years, and it’s served me very well. Some of the coolest things I have done in life have been spontaneous.

Travel Tip 13 – Prepare to Sleep Better

I always travel with ear plugs and sleep goggles to help get as much rest as possible. I also try to get up early on the first day of travel, so I can crash hard the first night and get some really good sleep. Of course, this doesn’t always work because some destinations have extreme jetlag, but I do try to plan accordingly. Sometimes I will even take redeye flights that are long distance because sleeping on a plane is a great way to pass time and adjust quicker.

Travel Tip 14 – How to remember where you are staying

I was in Barcelona, Spain a while back and a friend, Ron Lechien, taught me a couple cool tricks. He would always grab a business card from the front desk so he could always remember his hotel in case he lost power in his phone. He would also shoot photos of where he parked his car at the airport (like the section numbers) and shoot photos of anything he needed to remember. This trick is so simple, but it’s so often overlooked. This has become a habit for me, and has served me well.

It’s okay to splurge on yourself every once in a while. We will show you how to find the best value without being cheap.

Travel Tip 15 - Splurge on #1 (That’s You)

I used to skimp on so many things during travel, and now I have an entirely different attitude. I still go for value, but I don’t ever want to be cheap during my adventures. If I have spent $3000 on an adventure, I am not going to let another $200 come between me and a cool experience.
This is a full mindset, and I realize it can be difficult to swallow when traveling on a budget, but you may regret it in the future if you miss opportunities with your world travel.

Travel Tip 16 - Carry a Water Bottle

I always carry some type of insulated water bottle. You will have to empty it to go through security at most airports around the world, but it’s a great creature comfort.

Travel Tip 17 - Carry extra power for your cell phone

I carry a Mophie brand power pack for my iPhone, but there are a lot of good options available on These are small, lightweight, and easy to use. I also try to charge my phone whenever I am near power, just because. A dead phone is useless, especially when it is loaded full of your travel plans.

Travel Tip 18 - Have extra camera battery or two

Invest in an extra camera batter or two, as they are really small, lightweight and easy to store. A camera is useless without it, and they can wear down quickly, especially if you are shooting a lot of video.

Travel Tip 19 - Walk Around the City

I really enjoy walking the heart of big cities because it lets you get an entirely different experience than driving around in a car. I will sometimes walk 5-7 miles in a day and find that it’s good exercise and it helps me sleep better that night.

Travel Tip 20 - Eat Where Locals Eat

Some of the best meals I have had in other countries have been in non-tourist regions. These are the places that are off the beaten path but offer good food at realistic prices. They are not on in the expensive part of town, and you will sometime experience flavors that you won’t find at the
touristy type places. When I was a about 20, I went to
Barcelona, Spain and ate at Pizza Hut every day, and regret that I didn’t try the local cuisine.

Find cheap hotels – without losing the luxury

Travel Tip 21 - Find Best Prices on Hotels & Resorts

I have spent a lot of time trying to master the art of booking discount hotels and have learned a lot. I wrote a story on how to find cheap hotels that should help even the most- seasoned traveler. There are all sorts of tricks and tactics that you can deploy to save you lots of money on places all over the world. The story features links to some of the best travel websites in the world, many of which you have never heard of before. That’s because a lot of the big online travel agencies spend a lot of money with ads to get first page ranking during internet searches, and therefore can charge more because people typically don’t go to page 3 or 4 of
Google to see search results.

Save money on discount plane tickets

Travel Tip 22 - Find Best Prices on Flights

Have you ever heard of error fares – you know, airline ticket prices that are ridiculously cheap because the airline made a typo or some other mistake with their calculation? Well, you can learn about error fares and a lot of other useful information in our blog on saving money with the best deals on flights. It’s only a few-minute read but has all sorts of valuable links that could save you real cash.

Travel Tip 23 - Buy Travel Insurance

This is one of the most-overlooked items for travelers but is really important. There are four basic categories of travel insurance and its very important you understand what you are covered for in the United States, and what you are covered for while traveling to foreign countries. This
area is really, really important for you to explore and we highly recommend that you spend some time researching. We wrote an entire story on this subject just because I learned the hard way when I separated my shoulder off-road motorcycle riding in Costa Rica and had to be evacuated to the United States. It was very expensive, and I didn’t understand my options at the time. That’s why we want you to know what is available.

The famous arch in Cabo San Lucas only reveals its surface once every four years, so getting a photo like this is rare. Protecting your photos is extremely important.

Travel Tip 24 - Backup Photos

Carry an external hard drive to backup your photos while on the road or upload them to the cloud if you have internet service. We try to do both, but it’s not always possible depending on internet service around the world.

Travel Tip 25 - Take your Meds

We always carry about five-day’s worth of medication in case of travel delays, and we carry them in the original containers. This is really important, especially for medication prescribed by a doctor.

Best travel tips for international travel

Travel Tip 26 - Don’t Overeat

We tend to drink a lot of bottled water when we travel, and are always cautious not to overeat, especially in foreign countries. We also carry a variety of snacks from the United States that our systems are used to in case we get some type of stomach irritation from the local cuisine. We
also avoid too many spicy foods, and those made with a lot of dairy products because they can contain bacteria that our bodies aren’t used to and won’t tolerate. Of course, we also carry some over-the-counter medication for headaches, upset stomachs, etc. There is a balance here, and every body, pun intended, is different.

Travel Tip 27 - Don’t Post on Social Media Until After Your Trip

Because I don’t want to tell the world that I am traveling and have my house broken into, I don’t post anything on social media about my adventures until after my trip, and I ask all those I am traveling with not to tag me in any of their photos until we are back home. It’s a simple rule that
I have lived by since the advent of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Tiktok, and everything else.

Travel Tip 28 - Give Family Members Your Itinerary for Safety

I always give my parents and my sister a copy of my itinerary and travel plans in case of an emergency. I also make sure I check with my phone carrier to get on an international plan for the country that I am visiting. It’s simple things like this that give me a lot of peace of mind.

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