How to get the most out of traveling is not as hard as you may think. There are some simple rules to follow that will make you a better and smarter traveler. Knowing what the best financial tricks are and certain things to avoid can equip you with the right arsenal to avoid scams, make better choices, or just enjoy the vacation and traveling experience.

Protect yourself from scams

How to spot a scam can be difficult in this day and age. For the most part, it’s pretty much still true that “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” But not everything out there is blatantly obvious that it’s a scam either. Some websites offer genuine products or services and here are a couple tips to make sure it’s not a scam.

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Many scams will include “personal” reviews from “satisfied customers” often with misspelled words or poor grammar to appear as though it was written by a real person instead of a crafty scam artist. Check multiple websites for whatever you’re trying to book and make sure the ratings are consistent.

A real-life example of a scam I’ve noticed is product reviews on Amazon. Some companies will post hundreds of fake reviews to boost their star ratings. Amazon has a “Verified Purchase” text above every review that was a true purchase so look for that when comparing products.

For booking vacation homes or anything in general, look up the location on google maps to see if it’s an actual hotel or vacation home. Some scammers will use the address of a vacant lot, but post pictures of the dream location. Always check to see that it’s not a parking lot unless you’re planning to pitch a tent at Wal-mart.

Spend wisely, but not cheaply

Sometimes the cheapest option is not always the best. Hailey and I know this all too well. We booked a hotel in Hope, Kansas and it was definitely the cheapest option by at least $20. I think the room was $49 which should have been our first sign. We pulled up and the pool had police caution tape around it. The sign wasn’t even the current hotel name. We thought we were going to be on the 11 o’clock news.

When eating at restaurants, also avoid drinks as much as possible and stick to water. This is more of a lifestyle tip, but especially helpful when traveling since it’s more likely you’ll be eating out. If you must have a drink, choose a night or specific meal during the vacation and buy your favorite drink then. You’ll have something to look forward to and it’ll help keep the bills down. Plus, water is healthy.

Take a road trip

Just think about it…your car, your tunes, your speed, can life get any simpler? I submit to you that it cannot.

While you can’t drive across an ocean to England, you can save a lot of money and see a ton more if you take a road trip. It’s cheaper if you have multiple people in your vehicle to help split gas costs, but solo road trips are still usually cheaper than flying. You’ll have to book more hotels, but that’s kind of the upside since you can book while you’re traveling and go wherever you want to. “Be┬áspontaneous” as they say.

You also get to pack as much as you want since it’s all going in your car. You won’t need to cram everything in one suitcase or worry about carry-on sizes, just bring whatever the heck you want.

Hailey and I traveled across the country from Virginia to Utah and Colorado in my car and saw so many amazing views and scenery you can’t get from a tiny airplane window. You also respect the distance it took for you to get that far and gives you a good perspective on really how big this country is.

Final tip,

Spend quality time with the people around you

Your experience is with people that are right next to you, not a million miles away, liking posts on Facebook. Keep your traveling and vacation times device free except for taking pictures of your food and your face. Those are a must.

Even if you’re traveling solo, you can still spend your time with others. Stay in a hostel, or go to a restaurant and sit with random strangers. Most people are more friendly than you’d imagine and would actually be perfectly fine meeting someone new. Just don’t be weird.

Make more memories by joking with real people instead of blowing out of your nose at a funny meme.

You never know who you could meet if you open yourself up to new experiences by breaking outside of your comfort zone. Share the wild and keep exploring!

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