8 Things Every Tourist Needs

Whether you are touring a new city by foot, car or public transportation, there are several things that every tourist needs. You can get by without a lot of things, but if you are missing these eight essentials, your vacation is probably not going to be a successful experience. Here are some tips to help you be prepared for your next adventure!

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eight things every tourist needs

Eight Things Every Tourist Needs

A Plan

I have met people who visit a new city and have no idea what they intend to see and do. This is a recipe for failure. Take some time before you leave home to do some internet searching. What are the highlights of the city? Are there restaurants that you want to visit? Landmarks of historic significance? Places where famous movies were filmed? Is there a waterfall or hiking trail that will be gorgeous this time of year? What museums are downtown? Is there an admission fee? By doing some research before you arrive, you will be prepared and not miss the most important things you want to see. You will hate yourself if you come home to realize that you missed something really special on what could be a once in a lifetime vacation.

Check out these printables to help you plan your trip and pack for your next vacation!

printable travel checklists and menus

A Map

Whether you choose to use the GPS on your phone or use a map from the visitors center, you will need something to help you navigate unfamiliar streets. Whichever map you choose, take the time to mark the important locations on the map when you first arrive so you won’t get disoriented and lose your hotel, subway stop, or favorite breakfast location. You don’t want to get lost in a new city and end up on the wrong side of town.

Safety Precautions

If you are traveling with small children, make sure they know your cell phone number. Establish a safe place to meet if you get separated. Be sure to talk about evacuation procedures if you are in a high rise condo. By discussing safety measures before you begin your vacation, you will solve potential problems before they ever become a concern. I recently saw a distraught parent at the gate of a large zoo who had gotten separated from their young child. It reminded me that wherever we go, we should always have a plan in place in case members of our party get lost or something happens. You can never be too safe.


If you are going to need to tip the taxi cab driver, waiters, bellhops or other support staff on your trip, make sure you take small change. One couple I know went to the Bahamas and took all large bills. They couldn’t get small change to pay tips and ended up overspending before they ever arrived at their resort. Be prepared with small bills so you won’t overspend. Also, don’t overlook the power of change as well. Some parking meters or turnstiles will only accept coins and you may not be able to find a change machine.

A Camera

Whether you choose to use your phone or a more sophisticated camera, you will want to capture your vacation with pictures. Some tourists are satisfied with the quality of their phone camera. Others want to be more focused and take higher quality pictures. Whichever you choose, make sure you have a way to keep the camera charged, the memory card empty enough to take plenty of images and some way to carry the camera without losing it, dropping it or breaking the lens.


Some families give each member their own backpack. They carry their own water bottle, snacks and are responsible for themselves. Other families carry a diaper bag or push a stroller and let the family snacks be piled in together. Whatever you choose, just remember that it will be more expensive to buy snacks from a street vendor or concession stand than it will be to carry your own. Snack bars, trail mix or apples are options that travel well in a backpack. Toss in a pack of gum to hand out when everyone gets snacky but not really hungry. This will buy you some extra time before you have to eat a full meal.

Comfortable Shoes

A vacation is not the place to test out the cutest new sandals or flip flops. Wear the shoes you plan to use on your vacation before you leave home so you will know if they can handle hours of walking and touring. Save the cute shoes for the special events. Nothing puts a damper on a vacation quicker than blisters or sore feet.

First Aid Kit

You don’t need an extensive medical supply bag for most family vacations, but there are a few things that every tourist needs. If you have specific medications you need to take, make sure you have an adequate supply. Everyone should have a basic first aid kit in their suitcase and at least a Bandaid or first aid cream in their daily backpack.

What Do You Think Every Tourist Needs?

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One Comment

  1. I found it interesting how you mentioned that it’s a good rule of thumb to help you navigate around areas that are unfamiliar to you. My wife and I are considering looking for a travel and tourism area because we’re thinking of taking a vacation somewhere we’ve never been to so we can celebrate our fifth anniversary. I think it’s sensible for us to contemplate going to a reputable place that has fun things for us to do.

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