If you visit costly cities frequently, set up an office there. Become a member of several airlines and hotel chains to get discounts. Buy a business class ticket. Use coupons while traveling. Carry some ingredients with you and cook your meals at hotels. Stay in corporate housing. Do online research to find the cheap hotels. Select garments which are versatile and can be rolled quickly. Become friends with the hotel staff to get perks. Involve them in celebrations to get a free bottle of wine.
It's tempting to walk into one of the travel shops and just go bananas. You could spend thousands in there, picking up things like special travel shirts with breathable material, compression sacks, wire mesh thingys to wrap around your backpack, money belts, karabiners, hiking shoes… But you don't need any of it. Wear clothes you're comfortable wearing. And using a money belt is like carrying around a sign saying "rob me".
It's great to have a guidebook, something to point you in the right direction and give you background information on the places you're visiting. The mistake first-time travellers make, however, is only doing things listed in the guidebook – only visiting the restaurants, staying in the hostels and visiting the attractions that get the guidebook's stamp of approval. There's more to the world than the bits listed in those pages.
Car rentals are available throughout the state; most major companies have locations at major airports and in convenient city locations. To rent a car in California, you must be at least 25 years old (in most cases) and have a valid driver's license and credit card (used as a security deposit). Non-U.S. citizens must have passports. Rates may vary, with factors including location, car size and style, accessories (a child safety seat or GPS, for example, may be extra), and the day of the week that you rent. Picking up and dropping off a vehicle at different locations can also increase rates. For best rates, try booking a car at the same time you reserve your flights.
1. Check-in with your doctor and insurance carrier. Double check and make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations and that you have renewed all essential prescriptions. Also, ask you medical insurance provider if your policy applies overseas for emergencies. If it doesn’t, and you want to add extra coverage, consider supplemental insurance.
The first time I read this tip, I thought it was absolute insanity. Then, one time I actually tried it, and you know what? I didn’t regret it at all! While this may initially feel like a slow painful form of packrat torture, doing this will cut you down to the exact essentials you’ll actually need. I honestly think that overpacking is hardwired in us, which is why doing this exercise is so helpful.
Starbucks addicts, rejoice! Here's a clever way to avoid having to pay a commission fee to convert that last bit of foreign cash to U.S. dollars at the end of a vacation. First, pick up a reloadable Starbucks Card before your international trip. Then, if you have leftover money in the local currency when youâre on your way home, use it to reload your card at the Starbucks location in your international airport.
You've probably seen the infomercials for the magical space-saving bags that can shrink bulky clothing (like sweaters and jackets) into a small, compact unit. Get the travel version of these bags and you'll save space and keep your clothes organized and wrinkle-free. These Travel Space Bags don't need a vacuum to operate. Normal zip-lock bags in various sizes can also be used to achieve a similar effect for much less money.
Money 5. Look up the monetary conversion before you go. Finding out that one Danish Krone is equal to just 20 cents could be a bad surprise. Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at. 6. Make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting. European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards. 7. Go to a bank or ATM in the country you’re visiting. The conversion centres in the airport or around the city tend to be huge rip-offs. You won’t get charged as many fees at the ATM or the bank, and the conversion will be exact. 8. Always have local cash. Not every place takes credit cards. This is especially important if you're catching trains or buses. 9. Call your bank or credit card provider. Sometimes banks think that fraud maybe occurring if transactions are suddenly happening in Bali when you’re from Toronto, and they will turn off your card as a security measure. 10. Check the country’s entrance/exit fees. Some countries require travellers to pay in order to enter or leave the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200. Local Research 11. Buy tickets now for attractions you know you want to visit or see. By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you. 12. Get guidebooks. Guidebooks usually include maps, key words or phrases and provide enough detail on key sites that you won’t need to purchase guides at the venue. Download guidebooks and apps before you travel to avoid data charges on your trip. 13. Research events going on while you’re there. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing out on fun experiences and that you won't be surprised by crowds or closures. Also, be sure to research a few national dishes. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing its specialties! Electronics 14. Bring a charger adapter. Countries have different size plugs and voltage, so if you want to use your iPod, make sure you can charge it. 15. Check the voltage of your electronics. From my own experience I know that nothing is worse than having an adapter and still not being able to use a blow-dryer or a straightener because the voltage isn’t high enough for that country. 16. Activate your phone’s global capabilities. There’s usually a charge we doing this, but it is much less than the roaming charges you’ll get if you don’t. 17. Download the Travelzoo app. The Travelzoo app can help you find great deals in a variety of countries, and has options from local deals to transportation options. Luggage & packing 18. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag. Don’t be one of those travellers decked out in "J’adore Paris" apparel because the airline lost your luggage and you have nothing else to wear. 19. To check a bag or not to check a bag. Each airline has its own set of guidelines as to how many bags can be checked or carried on for free. Make sure to look up your airline’s rules to avoid any incremental fees. If you're travelling with a companion, consider checking one bag between the two of you. 20. Bring snacks. Travelling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a task. Bring small snacks that will tide you over until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.
If looming baggage costs and stronger airport security measures have you in a tizzy, you're not alone. Things we once took for granted when flying, such as complimentary beverages and checked luggage, are fading fast. Most U.S. airlines charge at least $25 to check a bag, and some even charge for carry-ons exceeding backpack-size—but there's no need to panic. Learning how to pack efficiently is the key to lightening your load (but not your wallet). Here, our travel experts share their tips to streamline your packing for a stress-free vacation.
For an easy and often fun way to get around California’s larger cities and communities, do what an increasing number of locals do and hitch a ride on a bus, subway, ferry, or light rail system. Using public transportation can be an efficient, affordable, safe, and eco-friendly option, particularly in areas where roads, parking, and urban traffic can be confusing and frustrating. Some transit systems let you buy multi-day passes; check ticket options online before you arrive to get the best deals. Two companies, Citypass and Go, also offer deals on local transportation options in San Francisco and Southern California.
It also helps to know which items are, according to the TSA, considered liquids or gels and thereby subject to the 3-1-1 rule. This isn't as simple as it sounds. Foods such as peanut butter, pudding, mashed potatoes, and icing are classified as gels. Mascara, lip gloss, and aerosol items are also classified as liquids or gels. But keep in mind that liquid prescription medication is exempt. (Read more on that on The TSA Blog.) See a more complete list of liquids and gels that are not permitted in carry-on luggage in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces here.
Now, remember, we skipped the cocktail in the airport. We’re going to skip it again now. Traveling, especially onboard airplanes, can be extremely dehydrating. So, to put it one way, it’s best to not “drink and fly,” unless what you’re drinking is water. The air itself on the plane is also quite dry, so beyond hydrating, many travelers opt to bring moisturizers, eye-drops, and lip balms as well.
In addition to pulling down the germ-ridden bedspread (such bedding only may get washed every few months), take a moment to peel back the sheets and inspect your mattress for little reddish-brown spots — evidence of bedbugs. Because bedbugs are attracted to heat, aim a hairdryer at the mattress to draw any of those little buggers who’ve burrowed themselves deep.
Bed & Breakfasts: California has hundreds of B&Bs, many in historic homes or hotels and a growing number at family-run (and family-friendly) farms, ranches, and vineyards. B&Bs can give a sense of the region's local character, with helpful innkeepers happy to share insider travel tips. Your stay also includes breakfast—imagine, just-baked scones, fresh eggs, or strawberries from the garden. To reserve a stay at one of nearly 300 B&Bs statewide, visit the California Association of Boutique & Breakfast Inns (CABBI).
If you know that there is a good chance you will be traveling, especially if you will be traveling during a peak season or holiday, start looking into your travel arrangements. Many times, it’s best to book your flight, hotel and car together as you will get a better deal. If you have to travel last minute, there is always the Skiplagged option, but make sure you are fully aware of the stipulations associated with booking travel through such a site. If you find you are booking travel for more than one employee often, it’s best to use a travel management site like American Express Global Travel. I know it doesn’t seem like a cost-effective option for all small businesses, but it is something to consider as they have saved my clients and me the expense of having to change last-minute travel plans.
If you are constantly visiting the same location, find a hotel you like and make that your go-to accommodation on each trip. This way, over time, you can negotiate the rates of the hotel; if you know you will be staying in this city for at least two weeks throughout the year, that’s two weeks that hotel needn’t worry about their rooms being empty. This gives you grounds to negotiate some sort of special rate in advance of your trip. Many hotels are famous for giving corporate rates and discounts for loyal customers, so it can’t hurt to ask. Furthermore, returning to a hotel you know you will like will seriously help to reduce your stress levels. You know what you’re going to get, and you know you like it.