"Packing in a soft-sided weekender or duffel gives you the flexibility (literally!) to shape your bag to what you're packing instead of the other way around. My canvas overnighter takes on a different shape depending on what I need it to hold and will squish, even when packed almost beyond its means, into spaces a hard-sided roller bag just won't go. I hope my current bag will last forever but I'm eyeing this simple weekender from Makr as its eventual replacement." — Skye Senterfeit, Photo Editor
Food is now my absolute favourite way to get to know a place better. I love trying new things, and I’ve found a thousand amazing dishes that I never would have discovered if I’d continue to eat from supermarkets. Trying new food isn’t scary, and you’ll build your confidence up as you fall in love with more and more things. Try everything, even if you have no idea what it is. I promise you won’t regret it.
When you buy the full tank, the price may be close to the going rates locally, but that's not the gouge. The gouge is that you get no credit for whatever fuel remains in the tank when you return the car. Instead, you donate it to the rental company. So unless Avis, Hertz, or Enterprise is your favorite charity, this option is a nonstarter. And when a rental company fills the car, it typically charges two to three times the local price per gallon (or liter).
Download the Google Translate app before you leave and use the camera feature for translating menus, signs, posters, and anything else you need to read. You simply press the camera icon, aim your phone at the text, and it translates it all in real-time for you. This was so unbelievably helpful for menus in Taiwan, where I had no idea what anything was.
"Choosing thin clothing that packs flat over thicker, more bulky items makes a huge difference in how much you can fit in your suitcase," says Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today's Traveler. Instead of packing a heavy sweater and jeans, try more travel-friendly options like a micro-fleece pullover and pants in lightweight, weather-resistant fabric. Diana Lane, an associate with Geiger & Associates, a Florida-based destination marketing firm, loves the versatility of lightweight sarongs, which can be worn as skirts, various styles of dresses, shawls, swimsuit coverups, shoulder bags or even used as a blanket. "There aren't many items that give us quite this much bang for the buck," she says.
One of the best travel tricks is to visit destinations out of season. It’s a great way to save money, as both flights and accommodation are generally available at reduced rates. Unfortunately, not all destinations are suitable to visit out of season – for example, you probably wouldn’t want to visit the Philippines during the typhoon season! That being said, visiting out of season it one of our top tips for traveling South America and is a great way to visit many other places on a smaller budget.
Number 2 and 4 rings so true for me. I hate the burnout of travel. I always feel I am going to come back to a place so I try to do less and enjoy a more rich experience, hoping to build on that the next time I come back. Traveling even after having kids is one of my big beliefs. I am not one to want to wait till the kids are out of the house to experience the world. While i am healthy and at my most active self, I want to experience the world – with the kids when possible.
The one thing I really have to disagree on though, and think you’re mad for not doing, is collecting points and airmiles. I cottoned on to this a few years back and every single trip I’ve taken since then has been by using airmiles and reward flights. I’ve travelled to Thailand, Finland, Croatia, Italy, Spain, South Africa, Germany, Norway and more – all with points and just paying the taxes in cash. It saves a tonne of money and even if you use budget airlines most of the time, if you pay with a points-earning credit card then you can still collect points to use on airlines where you may want a better quality experience, for a longer flight for example. I would seriously recommend American Express – I’ve had the Amex Gold, BA Basic and BA Premium Plus cards. I’ve also just applied for the Lloyds Avios rewards visa and mastercard combo for when we spend a year abroad, which also comes with 0 fees on foreign spend and earns you points. If you want more info, I find this really useful:
That said, however, there are scammers out there, and it's the naive rookie travellers that provide their easiest targets. I was scammed the first time I travelled. And the second time. And the third time. There's no easy way around this – you're often dealing with pros who've been doing this their entire lives. Just roll with the punches and try not to part with too much cash. (Read: Ten classic travel scams)
Work trip schedules run pretty tight and you may not have much time to get your regular requests done without sacrificing sleep. In addition to being as well-rested as possible before you go, get as up to date with your workload as possible to give yourself a buffer. It would also be worthwhile to see if there are any colleagues who can help pick up some slack while you’re out of the office, making sure they are aware of what might come up, and where they can find what they need.
Before you decide to visit anywhere out of season, it’s important to do some research. Many destinations in Asia have dry and rainy seasons, but overall the rainy seasons aren’t too bad – with just a few hours of rain a day. If that’s the case, then you shouldn’t be put off by visiting out of season. If there are other reasons, you’ll need to weigh up whether it’s worth saving money to visit at this time. As long as you’re happy going out of season then you’ll have the added bonus of fewer tourists too – so it really is a win-win situation!
Thanks for sharing the link, Hayley! I’ll check it out. The flights I buy are usually super-cheap, though, so I don’t feel as though I’m spending a ton of money on them as it is. As an example, this year, I’ve flown Lisbon to Cape Town for $250 return, Copenhagen to Los angeles for $100 one-way, and Rome to Tokyo for $200 return. So I’m not like, oh man, I really wish I wasn’t spending this much money on flights. But as I said, will check it out nonetheless!
19. To check a bag or not to check 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 what your airline’s rules are to avoid any incremental fees. And, if you are connecting during your trip, know the luggage rules/fees for those airlines as well -- especially for regional or low-cost carriers.
One tip that’s probably been mentioned a lot, but I live by, is this: lots of layering options for the kids reduces the need to pack lots of warm clothes. By layering, it’s easy to modify their level of warmth. Having multiple short sleeve and long sleeve t-shirts are more space-friendly than carrying extra jackets, for example. Little Aussie Travellers
Smart explorers know that clothes should have more than just aesthetic value, so look for multipurpose pieces to accentuate your basics. Travel outfitters offer lines of vacation-friendly but stylish separates with a whole slew of side benefits, from sun and bug protection to ample hidden storage. Check out this wrap with 30 UPF sun protection from Magellan's and, for men, these sun-blocking T-shirts from TravelSmith (they would make great foundations to any ensemble).
“You can ‘de-materialize’ certain objects by replacing them with apps on you phone. The obvious example is the camera, but also think of the travel guide book, maps, the moleskine, books, magazines, etc. Also, if you are taking a long term trip, you can buy clothing from locals as you go with apps like Modabound (an Airbnb for clothing) and others.”
No trick here - use a credit card that gives rewards for your favorite hotel chain and you can sleep and eat (breakfast) for free. We use our Marriott and Hilton credit cards for lots of business expenses and average around 24 free night stays each year - that's about $4500 worth of Residence Inn, Hampton Inn and breakfasts for two. Better still, use the cards to pay for business expenses and the rewards for personal trips. Pay yourself to take a long weekend off!
I do it this way: I walk inside the terminal and take a look at both the length of the line for check-in, and the clock. If the line isn’t too long, and I have enough time, I head for the check-in; I get your seat assignments, can make any special requests, get credit for frequent flier miles, and can best address any problems with the flight such as delays or cancellations.
Seasoned business travelers will be less effected by jet lag. This is because we are simply used to being in multiple time zones and having to be “up” for customers or colleagues. It doesn’t always work (sometimes you are just dog tired), but with practice and training you can start to tune your body to be less dependent on the actual time zone it is in or coming from.
I signed up for an American Airlines AAdvantage account before I left (with a signup bonus of, I think, 1000 points), and I type in my account number every time I book a flight with a OneWorld airline. After five years of travel, I recently racked up enough points to take an economy one-way flight from Nashville to Miami with them. It was worth $100, lol.
So many tips here that I live by. After 5 years on the road I came to #4 (kids). Recently had a month in USA and happily did #12 (blow budget) but we have come back and said to ourselves that it’s not really worth those massive big budget blowing trips with our little one only being 2 yo (almost 3) as she can get great fun out of almost anything. We took her to Disneyland and her best time was a bench seat that had old tractor seats on it!
3. Always keep an energy bar in your carry-on bag. During one seven-hour delay I experienced in Miami, the airport vendors had literally sold out of food. If it’s a winter blizzard or a massive string of delays, you may be out of luck. Prepare in advance by keeping an energy bar in your bag so you’re always ready in case disaster strikes. Pro tip: At the grocery store buy your favorite kind in bulk -- they often sell them in boxes of 12 or more.
One of the best space-saving techniques is to roll your clothes and place everything into packing cubes. The packing cubes are a life-saver as they help organize, compress the rolled clothes, and save time with repacking. They come in different sizes, so you can’t overstuff them. Another way to save space is to layer your clothes so you don’t need to bring as many heavier items. Wearing moisture-wicking clothes and lightweight, warm jackets is practical for any location.
Traveling with kids like us? Then spend more time in fewer places. Don’t try and go everywhere and do everything – that’s a recipe for burnout and blowing your budget! Instead of racing from one end of a country to another, or tearing through 6 countries in 6 weeks, slow down and take more in. Constantly having to pack and unpack, spend time searching for flights and accommodation and transport, and deal with different time zones, currency changes, and even visa issues can be exhausting.
These websites will help you get an insider’s perspective on your destination by connecting you with locals in the places you visit. The sharing economy has changed the way people travel allowing you to meet locals, get off the tourist travel, and save mega money! It’s a triple win – and resources that I use all the time when I travel. Here’s an article on how to use the sharing economy (and what websites to use) when you travel.
Hotels hate having empty rooms, so if you can, wait until the last minute to book your stay to get the best rates. On the other hand, if you need to cancel your hotel reservation last minute and want to avoid a cancellation fee, you can often manipulate a small loophole by rescheduling for a later date (which is usually free), and then calling and requesting a cancellation through another representative.
Not using a money belt is not great advice. Not showing you have a money belt is. I was express kidnapped in Peru by a fake taxi, robbed at night on a train in India and was pick pocketed in the Philippines. I had an additional incident in Peru with a mugger who slammed into us at tried to snatch and grab one of my two companion’s bag. I carry several extra credit cards, a second cell phone and my passport and hundreds of dollars in backup cash when traveling, which I keep in pockets that are going to require my cooperation for a thief to access. I keep cash and my preferred credit card in separate pockets in my outer garments, and figure that whatever is there has to be of low enough value that it is expendable in the event of criminal action. Amazon has packs of 20 zipper pocket pouches that can be sewn into clothing. In addition to shooting pictures of the serial numbers of my phones and cameras, I email photos of my birth certificate, passport, passport photo, driver’s license, and credit cards (front and back). Plan on being robbed at some point. If you travel long enough, it is going to happen. I live near Khao San Road, and just going to the market is an opportunity for a smash and grab or a sleuthy pick pocketing. I plan accordingly, and use money belts for my passport and Departure Card as well as secondary credit card and emergency cash. Having been to emergency rooms twice in Thailand and Vietnam once, it is necessary to have several hundred dollars worth of cash on hand for emergencies. ATMs and bank balances are nice, but can be pretty worthless if you are not in a major city when fortunes change for the worse.
I just recently discovered your blog and I want to thank you! This blog posting is the most helpful one I have read yet. On most of the other blogs that I have read, the tip are all very repetitive and not very descriptive. Many of your tips I have not heard of and are the kind that one would only figure out through pure experience. For someone with not that much experience traveling, but with a desire to do so soon I found all of these travel tips extremely helpful! Thank you!
Tissue Paper: For delicate items, one of our favorite packing tips is to use tissue paper. Lay the item face down and place tissue paper on top. Fold it up with the tissue paper inside. Use additional layers of paper as you fold the garment so it is completely wrapped in and around paper. This is easy enough the first time you pack, but becomes a pain if you have to keep repacking. We only use this approach for evening clothes that we don’t want to crush.
Despite the constant rise of popularity in Skype and other modes of video conferencing, meeting in person has not become an extinct activity. If you are a young professional or recent graduate, business travel will likely be part of your job at some point. If you happen to be a lucky consultant, you will reach frequent traveler status faster than you can say “priority boarding." After reaching the frequent traveler status just a few months into my new job, I hope to bring some value to those who share aspects of my life on the road.
How about both! Bleisure is a growing trend among business travellers. Not sure what it is? It’s when a business traveller tacks on a vacation day or two at the end or beginning of their business trip. Another popular form of bleisure travel is bringing your partner or children on the trip with you. This bleisure boom has been a growing success since many have found it reduces stress and increases productivity.
This is a no-brainer, but it's something that many travelers don't think to do. If you missed the cancellation window for your hotel, restaurant, or car booking but can still change the reservation date free of charge, move your reservation back by several weeks or months. Then call back to cancel with a different representative. Sneaky? Sure. But it works, and you'll never get stuck with a lousy cancellation fee again.