When I decided to see if it was possible to visit the Maldives on a budget, information was so sparse that I couldn’t even find a photo of the islands I’d decided to visit. Well, that trip was one of my highlights of the past seven years and I’m so glad I went, despite not being able to find any information online. And the advantage to that lack of information was getting to be the only tourist on an entire island — I had the whole beach to myself!
Long distance, "The next best thing to being there!" I say, "Well, better than nothing anyway." But now, there's a new way of "being there" that I find much more satisfying. SKYPE. Be sure to install Skype on your laptop and use it for video calls home each evening. No built-in camera? You can buy one for as little as $30 if you need to. It is also good for video conference calls back to the office if those are needed (you need the "business" version to conference). I'd highly recommend it.
Recently, for example, a nursing mother was told by a TSA agent that she couldn't bring a breast pump with empty milk bottles on board the plane. (Legally, she could.) In 2007, the TSA lifted its ban on regular lighters, but many screeners still confiscate them. (Legally, they can't.) The moral of the story: Familiarize yourself with the TSA's rules and regulations, because you can't necessarily expect your security screener to be well informed.
So whether you are in dire need of help or just want to have a friendly chat, don’t shy away from striking up a conversation with a total stranger; that is the best way to get a sense of Icelandic culture and society, and since all Icelandic students must learn English before they are allowed to graduate from elementary school, a language barrier will rarely, if ever, be an issue.
This is one of our favorite ways to cut down on travel product overload: Stock up on tiny product samples. The best sample-sized products are the ones that come in flat little packets; you can easily fit legions of these into a quart-sized zip-top bag. How do you score them? A number of beauty and skin-care companies sweeten their sales with freebies: Sephora, Aveda, and Smashbox, for example, throw in tiny travel-sized products with orders. Or you can sign up for a beauty-product sampling service, such as Birchbox or Glossybox, which ships packs of sample-sized products to members who pay a subscription fee.
Make the most of your layover in Iceland by booking one of Icelandair's tours, including a transfer to the Blue Lagoon between flights. See Dubai without having to pay for a visa with Emirates' stopover offer, which includes a free visa for a one-night stay. Get to the Eiffel Tower, even if you only have seven hours at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, by booking the Paris Transit Tour from Aeroports de Paris.
If you disregard all other advice about carrying money when traveling, take this tip to heart: Whenever possible, divvy up your travel cash and even credit cards into multiple safe spots. If you've got all your money in one place, it only takes one time for a thief to totally wipe you out. You can even apply this idea when you're out and about by keeping some money attached to your person and some in a bag you carry. That way, if your bag gets lost or snatched, you'll still have enough to get to a police station or back to your hotel.
You know the socks you often get on overseas flights? The ones that don't fit quite right and come with weird treads that make them impossible to wear with shoes? Give them new purpose by keeping a pair on hand to protect items from getting chipped or scratched in transit. They're the perfect size to hold the trinkets you pick up on your travels—the ones that don't need to be enveloped in bubble wrap but do need a bit of extra protection before being tossed into your bag. And in a pinch, they can serve as a handy alternative to a glasses case in your bag or purse.