Besides being free, these tours will give you a good orientation and background of the city you are visiting. I love, love, love taking walking tours when I travel. You pass the time, you get to pepper the guide with questions, and you get to learn so much about where you are! Take a walking tour when you travel! Here are some lists of my favorite free walking tour companies in the world:
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.
6. Try a cycling tour. An organized bike tour can be a simplified, luxurious way to see new parts of California. Dozens of companies—including Backroads, Trek Travel, Bicycle Adventures, DuVine, and many more—offer trips everywhere from Joshua Tree to wine country to the northern coast, and they often include gourmet local cuisine and overnight stays at high-end resorts.
"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
I find that this method is really helpful for people who are planning a more complex trip or planning with a large group of people so that everyone is on the same page with knowing what they need to book. Many tend to wait until the last minute to book flights and thinking through your transportation as well as hotels can really cut down travel costs. It also helps you figure out whether your plans are realistic.
If using room service, be nice to the order taker and make him or her your friend. When they tell the chef about the nice person from whom they just took an order, you’ve assured yourself of getting good food. If the food is great, call back and ask the order taker to thank the chef. I’ve had chefs call me back and say that no hotel guest had ever said thank you to them in their career. Always be nice to hotel workers and go out of your way to greet them with a good morning or good afternoon. They deal with loads of jerks and rude people. Visit the bank before your trip — hotels never have money to make change — and change $100 into $5 bills.
What is sleeping in business class like? Obviously, it is easier to sleep in business class than economy. But when it comes to how to sleep in business class, my number one tip is not to drink too much. I know for first-time business class travellers this might be a tough order, and it’s one I don’t often follow myself. But if sleep in your number one goal, then drink less. My second tip is to bring earplugs just in case the airline doesn’t offer them. This is the hardest of the business class travel tips for Eric to follow. When he is flying business class he never wants to sleep. For him, there is no sleeping in business class.
On average, travelers save about 30 to 40 percent when booking a vacation rental versus a comparable hotel. So in most cases you're already ahead of the game when you sit down to haggle over price. That's right, haggle. Property owners may not advertise that prices are negotiable, but often they are; and if not price, then at least the length-of-stay requirement may be flexible. A property may say it requires a week's stay, or a Sunday arrival, or any number of other rules. What this really means is the owner would prefer it. It can't hurt to ask, politely, if there's room for negotiation.
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.
A business trip is not a holiday. You will be expected to be on your game at the drop of a hat, so this is perhaps the worst time to disrupt your regular diet. Rather than turning to comfort foods, consider a healthy comfort meal that you can eat – as sad as it may sound – as frequently as possible, especially when traveling abroad. The best way to minimize stress on your body and disruptions to your routine is going to be keeping your meals simple and healthy. While some companies provide business travelers with prepaid meal cards for healthier restaurant chains, if you are one of those on your own with the company card:
“For me, the key to packing light is clothing choice. I always favor synthetic materials for undergarments and insulting layers in favor of cotton because they are lighter weight and don’t take up a lot of volume. They also dry quicker if you need to launder while on the road. For instance, I’d favor a Polartec quarter zip over a heavy cotton sweater. Smart wool is another alternative.”
Packing your electric toothbrush or razor? Make sure you either take the batteries out or tape the item's switch in the "off" position. Battery-powered devices can easily turn on after being jostled around in a carry-on, which can in turn draw the attention of security. Play it safe and pack your batteries separately from your battery-powered items.
When you arrive to check into your hotel, make sure you are upbeat and smiling. Greet the hostess and say, "It has been a very long day. I'm betting that you have a really nice room waiting for me." Normally, they smile and keep checking you in. At this point, just keep quiet. I am betting you will be very pleased when you open the door to your room. A smile and upbeat personality will get you a long way.
There’s a good chance you won’t get “walked” yourself (hotels don’t want to offend a guest whose company regularly sends business their way), but here are a few tips to avoid the situation anyhow: First, if your itinerary allows, stay at the hotel for more than one night since those who will be there for less than 24 hours are more likely to be turned away.
1. Pack for today’s overhead-bin reality. Since airlines started charging for checked baggage, travelers have resorted to extreme measures to ensure their bags make it on the plane. But most people get it wrong. Look around the boarding area. Almost everyone has a big roller bag and a briefcase. But one roller bag can fill an entire overhead bin. If your flight is full and you aren’t among the first on the plane, you will have to gate check that bag. A better strategy is to take two more equal-sized bags. One should be the maximum size that will fit under the seat and the other should be flexible so it can fit into any odd space available between roller bags in the overhead bin. Using this strategy, I have never had to gate check a bag in 20 years of travel. An added bonus–you can save the extra fees airlines charge you to board early in order to cram your huge bag on first, which is just a rip-off. For a list of what this luxury and other “premium” services will cost you, take a look at airline services fees on Kayak and SmarterTravel.
This may sound corny, but in an age where travel is stressful and everyone is grumpy, you'll find you go a lot farther if you lead with a smile. I've gotten free First Class upgrades, room upgrades, even free products and services just because I was polite, courteous and cheery. Sometimes, I have to fake it -- after all, business travel is HARD, but you'll find it's easier on you and on others if you lead with kindness.
Chances are you’re familiar with Google Flights. The flight search engine does everything you assume it would, like locate flights based on your ideal outbound time, inbound time and number of stops. After all, it’s the same technology that powers both Kayak and Orbitz. The site also includes a whole host of features that aren’t so easy to imagine, probably because they’re so unimaginably amazing. In some cases, this online tool can beat out any human travel agent. Don’t believe us? Check out these six tricks.
The best way to fit more into your bag is to have a suitcase that grows with your packing needs. Expandable suitcases double as two bags in one, often starting out carry-on size but expanding to a larger bag when needed. We love the Briggs & Riley Baseline Domestic Carry-On Expandable Upright, which grows by 25 percent with the pull of a lever. If you're packing for a big trip (or need extra souvenir space on a return flight), simply expand the suitcase.
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.
“You’ll likely need to wash your clothes at some point, and carrying around a big bottle of Downy or Tide isn’t even enjoyable when you’re not toting your belongings on your back. My suggestion? Bring a ziplock baggie of powder detergent, and extra gallon size ziplock baggies (these come in handy in more ways than you can imagine). If you find yourself sans-washing machine, you can make your own by stuffing water/laundry/soap into the bag and giving it a little (okay, a lot of) shake. Rinse in water and voila: clean clothes. Easy peezy, fresh and breezy!”
“Place all your clothes into your bag vertically so it looks more like a filing cabinet; this way you can see all the clothes you have with you without having to lift up or remove the ones on top. From here you not only have a better view (and reminder) of how many shirts or pairs of pants you have but you can also see which shirts (or whatever clothing item) stand out and potentially don’t match your outfits. Remove the oddballs.”
8. Manage your money. If you plan on using your debit and credit cards, make sure to notify your bank in advance that you’ll be abroad, or you may find your card blocked for suspicious activity. Research beforehand where are the best spots to exchange your money into local currency as ATMs might be scarce in certain places. When out and about, always carry a small amount of cash with you.
This list is incredible and so unbelievably helpful to me – I just wanted to say how happy I am to have discovered your blog and your book! I’ve been battling anxiety my whole life and am five days into my first ever solo-backpacking trip for in SE Asia. Two days ago I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed, so I googled how to deal with travel anxiety and stumbled across your work. It made me feel so much better and I’m doing my best every day to follow your example and push myself far beyond the limits of my comfort zone. Thank you for being you and for all of the inspiration you’ve given me in just a few short days – can’t wait to finish your book and catch up on the backlog of posts I’ve missed!
Use ExOfficio boxers. Seriously. Just do that now. On a 10 day trip to Asia, I will be completely comfortable only bringing 3 pairs of boxers (1 pair I’m wearing, 2 pairs in the bag). They pack down super small, they’re extremely lightweight, they can be washed easily and dry really fast (way faster than cotton). The other knock off brands don’t come close either. Lifetime warranty. Love mine.”
From a health perspective filters can remove Giardia and Cryptosporidium from untreated or contaminated water and other bugs which can cause nasty gastrointestinal diseases. And then there's the plastic – you can reduce the amount of plastic (between 8 and 12 million tons a year!) that ends up in the ocean. Finally, my filter water bottle saves me on average US$425 a year on buying bottled water. Now, why wouldn’t you want that?
It's tempting, on that first daunting trip away, to get everything locked in – every hostel, every transfer, every breakfast, lunch and dinner. That way you don't have to worry about anything, right? But you'll soon come to realise that it pays to have some flexibility. Book in the big things, sure. But also leave yourself space to change your itinerary and take opportunities as they present themselves.