By this point, you know you should have travel insurance. You know about checking on visas, and you know that you should make, and stick to, a budget. They're all no-brainers.
But there are other rules of travel. Maybe not strict rules, exactly, but little pieces of knowledge and advice that you pick up while on the road. They're rarely written down, seldom passed on.
Maybe that should change. So here are a couple of the slices of wisdom I've picked up along the way, the stuff that'll make travel that bit more enjoyable for all involved. Feel free to add your own at the end.
Always pack thongs. Doesn't matter if you're going on a week-long jaunt to Tahiti or spending six months in Siberia, at some point the humble rubber flip-flops will come in handy. They're easy to pack, cheap to lose, and hard to destroy. Don't leave home without them.
Smile. Always smile. It'll get you places you wouldn't believe. From persuading Parisian waiters to speak English to figuring out where the hell you're supposed to be sitting on that train, a little smile and a good attitude will get you help in no time. NB: There's an exception to this rule – it's called Russia. (They'll think you're mad.)
There is no secret to getting an upgrade. Other than "being able to afford it". So stop obsessing over it, and prepare yourself for the inevitability of cattle class. Feel free to cast greasies at all the people enjoying their welcoming champagne as you wander towards the back of the aircraft.
Don't treat locals like wildlife. The world is not your gallery. Everyone wants those National Geographic-style close-ups of the "colourful" locals, but that's no excuse for sticking your telephoto lens into the face of anyone wandering down the street. If you really must get that shot, at least ask permission first.
Buy music. Local music. You know how you travel to a foreign country and everyone's listening to this one song, or this one band, and you can't get away from it? Buy the album. Years down the track all you'll need to do is stick it in the CD player and you'll be instantly transported.
Don't recline your seat during meal times. I know those extra seven degrees (or whatever it is) can mean the difference between cramped discomfort and blissful slumber, but they also mean the difference between a face-full of food and actually being able to wield a plastic knife and fork for the person behind you.
Take a set of decent clothes. Most of your trip will be spent in the sort of raggedy, stinking gear that Vinnie's would knock back, but there's always going to be at least one occasion when you'll want to look good. Don't be the person at the formal family dinner wearing shorts.
Don't bang on about how great Australia is. There's nothing more annoying that someone who travels halfway around the world in order to inform people about how much better everything is back home. Accept the differences in other countries, and celebrate them. Then go home.
Buy things on the road. Don't pack them. First time I travelled I left with three tubes of toothpaste, because I wasn't sure where I'd be able to buy more. Turns out toothpaste is quite the worldwide phenomenon – as are jumpers, and underpants, and hats. If you're worried about not taking something, it pays to bear in mind that you can always buy one while you're travelling.
More expensive doesn't equal more enjoyable. I probably bang on about this one a lot, but it's absolutely true. Some of the best meals come from the street; some of the best accommodation options are hostels; and some of the best experiences happen in the crappiest places. You don't always get what you pay for.
What are the unwritten rules of travel that you adhere to?
Follow Ben Groundwater on Twitter @bengroundwater