Your tips are great, and I definitely agree with #1. Like you, we started off traveling as a couple. In fact, we met when we were both backpacking through Southeast Asia, specifically Vietnam. Now that we have a toddler, we tend to pick family-friendly vacation destinations. This year, we traveled to Barbados for two weeks. The beaches are amazing, the food is awesome, and most importantly, the locals are very friendly.
Concerned about losing your phone while on the road? Change your phone's lock screen to an image that displays your emergency contact information, including your email address and an alternate phone number. If your phone is lost or stolen and a Good Samaritan finds it, he or she will easily be able to get in touch with you to return it, even if your phone is locked.
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".
People laughed at me when I said that I was carrying around a dozen spare passport photos, but they’ve been incredibly useful and saved me a ton of time and hassle. Who wants to wander the streets of some rural town in Cambodia searching for someone who can take your photo? I’ve used them to apply for visas around the world, to get a new passport when mine expired while I was on the other side of the world, and I even needed one to buy a local SIM card in Nepal! Having spares in my bag meant that I didn’t have to waste a day researching and then wandering around a city to try to find someone who could take a passport-sized photo of me.
Great article. You had me at towels for galactic hitchhiking. “Don’t panic, in large friendly letters.” A fav in regular quote rotation in our house. I’m proud to say I live and do most of the tips! Will need to remember the incognito browsing. Who knew? And I’m definitely on #teamnomoneybelt. But I still can’t bring myself to step into a Starbucks. Can barely even do it in the states! Happy travels and thanks.
A good pair of earplugs is an essential item on any packing list. No matter where you’re traveling, whether it’s on the other side of the world or in your home country, there’s always a good chance that you’ll end up somewhere that’s just too noisy. It could be a hotel with poor noise insulation, an Airbnb with noisy neighbors, or a hostel dorm with noisy roommates.
One thing I thnk you’d love which you may not yet know about is PortaPocket. Lets you safely, hands-free carry small essentials ON your body. Much more than any neck safe, money belt or leg wallet. It’s a patented, wearable system that’s modular, so it’s really ALL of those in one, and works almost ANYwhere on your body (& either under/over your outfit). Super confy, detachable/interchangeable, easy to use. Go from a workout to a night out without skipping a beat. I won’t leeave home without ’em, and haven’t relied on a purse to carry my valuables in over 10 years. Freedom = GOOD!!
Good advice. Here’s a dozen more. (1) Packing a towel: get a thin, cotton towel used in Turkish Hamams. They pack to nothing; dry out fast; double as a sarong, Mosque head covering, or picnic cloth. (2) Universal sink stopper – don’t leave home without one. (3) As much silk, light cotton, Gor-tex, and synthetics as you can tolerate. Dries fast, light weight to pack. (4) Prescription scripts – diabetics know this is critical; others can use the advice as well. (5) Money belts – absolutely use them!!!!! (6) Lunchtime museum visits – check opening hours!! MANY close at lunch. (7) Locks: Yes, but add thin fishing lead wire (loops on both ends). Lock luggage together or to the overhead bin of buses and trains. (8) City Attraction Cards: some work; most don’t unless you want to race from museum to museum. Do the math first. Often transit cards are a better deal than the full event cards. (9) MAJOR sites/museums: book admission times/fees on line in advance. Why stand in line at the Louvre, etc. when you could be inside appreciating. (10) Double-check all opening hours on line and ask TIC what sites are closed (for renovation; lack of funds; you name it). All guide books, no matter how useful, are out of date the minute they hit the stores. (11) Learn to use Kindle (or similar) for travel reading but as NOT guide books (worthless). (12) Location, location, location. Sometimes, that cheap hotel/hostel/apartment in the boonies is worth the savings, but not if you want/need a quick refresher in the afternoon. AND, always ask floor level and elevator availability when renting an apartment! European floors begin on the “ground” level, not “first floor” — and the stair cases can be very high. Not all of us are twenty-something Australians who can climb mountains with full packs.
There's a reason employees at so many clothing retailers fold just-bought clothes in tissue paper. The lightweight stuff protects garments and helps prevent wrinkles. Wrap your clothes in tissue paper to keep them free of unwanted rumples when packing. (We also recommend using tissue paper to fold a suit.) Additionally, use balled-up tissue paper (or even newspaper) to keep the shape of items like purses, boots, and bras.
Get ready to roll. With its mild climate, outstanding highway system, and nonstop-gorgeous scenery, California stands out as the perfect place for a road trip. And renting a car is about as easy as it gets. Whether your trip itinerary is a statewide tour of California’s greatest hits, a all-in-the-family visit to iconic theme parks, or an off-the-beaten-track adventure, there’s a vehicle to match your mood and style—snazzy convertibles, family-friendly vans, rugged models that can handle all types of conditions (even snow), even campers and Rvs, all in excellent shape and with good road assistance and optional insurance policies.
Shrink it. Jessica Ellis, a graphic designer who travels between New York City and Chicago every other week, piles clothing into Eagle Creek Pack-It Compressor bags ($10 to $26, rei.com). “Zipper them, and they take out 80 percent of the volume.” Warning: This can have wrinkly consequences, so if the clothes don’t yet require laundering, lay them flat and place fabric-softener sheets between them. Consider your fresh-smelling clothes a welcome-home present.
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.
Have a few overflow items that just don't seem like they'll fit? Try closing and zipping your suitcase completely (even if you have to sit on it to make it work). Then reopen your bag and try adding the items in any available spot (think corners, spaces between larger items, etc.). Often, once you've compressed the bag by zipping it shut, you'll find just a bit more room once you open it again.
There have been so many times when I’ve been too shy to ask someone to take my photo in a place and I’ve almost always regretted it. After five years of travel, I probably only have around 200 photos of me around the world. Photos of the beautiful places you visit are great and all, but when you get home, they’re not all that different to the ones everyone else has taken there, too. Photos with you in them are special and they’ll come to mean a lot more.
Decades ago, before the Internet, one of the standard tips for travelers visiting Europe went this way: If you find you need to rent a car after you arrive in Europe, don't pay the high local rates. Instead, call the rental-car company's U.S. office and rent at the much lower rate quoted to U.S. travelers. Surprisingly, this recommendation is still valid. Book your car rental from a U.S. website to pay about half the local quote.
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.
I cite leaving my comfort zone as the number one way in which travel has helped me. It was leaving my comfort zone that gave me confidence in my abilities as a traveller. It helped me to overcome my anxiety disorder by showing me the things I was panicking about rarely happened — and if they did, they were never as bad as they thought they would be. And it introduced me to new experiences — most of which I unexpectedly loved!
2. Blend in with your surroundings. Once you’ve done your research, you can start your visit to a new destination as if you were one of the locals. This is not only sound exploration advice, but a good safety tip as well. You’ll make yourself more vulnerable to con artists if you stick out like a sore thumb with your massive backpack, two cameras and confused look on your face. and you will draw much less attention if you make an effort to blend in. You also don’t want to disrespect or offend with improper dress or manners. If you’re visiting places of worship, make sure to dress modestly in order to prevent upsetting the locals.
Make no mistake: The Conservatives pretend to be 'for the people,' but that couldn't be further from the truth. This is still very much the party of Stephen Harper, Trudeau said.==========================================Meaning we have nothing to run on. So we are stoke fear and hatred and division in the hopes the uneducated liberals will still vote for looks.
Never forget to pack multiple power banks/portable phone chargers when traveling for business. Low battery anxiety is real—there’s even a name for it: Nomophobia (Google it!). Please note: low battery anxiety is exacerbated when traveling. There is no reason to land at your destination on 10 percent phone power. As a businessperson, I cannot afford to lose my connection to my customers, social media, email, the outside world. Even a small power bank solves the problem and eliminates unnecessary stress.
Airports are pretty bad in and of themselves, but the hassles and restrictions they place on our gadgets are the worst. No Wi-Fi, weak cellular reception, and three power outlets per terminal? Come on. But not every trip to JFK or LAX has to be a brutal experience—you just have to prepare. Here are some airport tech hacks that can help make the inconvenience of traversing the globe a little less disruptive.
Work-Around: If you unexpectedly decide to rent a car in Europe, use your laptop, notebook, tablet, or smartphone to book your rental through a U.S. website. Just make sure you reach a U.S. website; often, when you go online overseas, the default site that appears is the local version of a company's website. If access to a U.S. site seems blocked, try a Canadian site.
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 know that to most people it looks like I am always on vacation, and that I live the glamorous life. But trust me, there is a big difference in traveling for pure pleasure or going on vacation, and traveling for work reasons. I have learned how to prepare for a business trip, and I talked about this a year ago, on a post where I explained what the reality of being a travel blogger is.
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.
I too travel quite often so am quite well versed in packing. I now leave quite a few things in my bags so I don’t have to pack them each time for a trip. It saves me so much time and energy for the rest of my packing. I have a separate little bag for undies and socks and I have my large laundry bag left in my case, it can always be used as an extra bag as well if I’ve picked up a few items on my trip and they don’t fit in my suitcase. I breeze right through security as I have everything in a large carry on bag on my shoulder and just pull out my laptop and bag of liquids. I have Nexxus so I don’t usually have to take my shoes and belt off or I won’t wear one. I like everything to move smoothly.
"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
7. Pick the “right” security line. This is more of an art than a science. The best line is usually not the shortest one. Two things to check are the efficiency of the personnel manning the line and the mix of travelers ahead of you. Several things to watch out for include families with small children, unconventional luggage which will likely be inspected, and anyone who looks like they haven’t been in an airport security line in the last 10 years. Picking right can save you literally hours if you travel often. For humorous look at this situation, check out this clip from Up In The Air.
I am particular about having my toiletries organized and in one place. So, I was excited to find the "Hanging multi pocket cosmetic bag" from The Container Store. The hanging hook is the key to the product. It's great to bring to budget hotels that may not have much sink space. I can hang it on a lamp or on the door, and have my shampoo, perfume, makeup, cotton balls, etc. in one place. This is a travel essential must have!
The Americans with Disabilities Act states that all public buildings must be wheelchair accessible and have accessible restrooms. Most hotels and attractions are now outfitted with wide doorways and wheelchair ramps. City streets now feature a growing number of sidewalk corners with dropped curbs, and some public transit vehicles are equipped with lifts. Many state and national parks now have fully accessible ADA trails. If you need details, call destinations and services in advance.
This is probably the most obvious perk of business class flights, but one I still struggle with. The main benefit to flying business class is the ability to stretch out and sleep, and to arrive fresh in your destination, apparently ready to work, or head to business meetings. I for one, though, tend not to sleep as much as most people on these flights. Instead, I am trying to make the most of a business class flight – I eat loads of food, drink lots of champagne, and watch a mess of movies. I want to take advantage of the experience.
Scan a copy of your passport, any visas, and any debit/credit cards you’re traveling with. Password protect the documents, and email a copy of them to yourself and to a family member . If everything you own gets stolen, you can access them safely from your email account, take your copies to your embassy as proof that you’re who you say you are. Plus, you’ll be able to buy flights home and pay for accommodation with your debit cards to keep travelling/go home in an emergency.
“I’m a firm believer that everything you need for a trip — whether it be three days or three weeks — should be able to be packed in a carry-on. This is simple once you master the art of layering your clothes. Choose a color combination for your attire and pack only pieces that match this so that you can mix, match and layer to create different looks (instead of packing completely separate outfits).”
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.
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.
Meeting and schedule changes at the final hour make last-minute travel sometimes inevitable. Booking last-minute flights usually leads to sky-high airfares, but there are ways to keep premiums at a minimal. Recent SAP Concur data revealed it’s best to book flights at least eight days or more in advance—tickets booked fewer than seven days prior to departure can be on average 44 percent more expensive than the same ticket booked 15 days in advance. You can save $148 per ticket by booking at least eight days out.
For example, a recent search on Polish airline LOT's English-language website found a March flight from New York to Warsaw priced at $968.75, but the Polish-language website (with help from Google Chrome's translation feature) turned up fares from 2,641.01 PLN (around $849.64)—for the exact same flight. If your credit card has a low international-transaction fee, the savings could be well worth it.
Hotels & Motels: Hotels and motels are the tried-and-true standard for most vacations—providing a safe, clean, and comfortable place to go to sleep at night. They’re important here. Remember, California invented the motel back in the 1920s. Top chains are well represented statewide, and are often located in larger metropolitan areas and near tourist attractions and travel routes. Boutique hotels tend to offer a more intimate and luxuriously stylish environment for travelers. In more rural areas, consider independently owned lodgings, some in historic buildings.
I used to be disastrous with my tech, but now that I have cases for everything, I’m doing much better. It’s worth getting a shell for your laptop, a keyboard cover for accidental spills, a sturdy case for your Kindle, and a waterproof case for your phone. Replacing tech is expensive and spending a day trying to figure out which island you need to fly to in the Philippines in order to get your laptop repaired is frustrating.
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.
Good news, globetrotters: Traveling a ton doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether you’re wondering how to pack efficiently, find the cheapest flight or score major hotel deals, you’ll love this ultimate travel hack list for explorers. Say sayonara to those pre-travel jitters, because your jet-setting ways just got way easier. You can thank us later.
If you arrive at your destination stress-free but some of your clothes aren't as lucky, try this trick: Hang the item in the bathroom while you take a shower and let the steam work out the wrinkles. If that doesn't work, try Brown's secret weapon—a spray-on de-wrinkler. Brown swears by Downy Wrinkle Release, which is often sold at newsstand stores inside the airport.
Some people will want to take advantage of you, but the vast majority of people you meet when you travel are good, decent, and will want to help you. Don’t let bad experiences prevent you from trusting anyone again. As long as you have your wits about you, expect that tuk-tuk drivers or anyone who comes up to you with amazing English and wants to be your best friend for no reason at all is out to scam you, and be most wary of the people in the most touristy places, you’ll be all good.
These genius flight hacks minimize the headache that comes with busy airports and long flights. But surprisingly, not every frequent flier knows them all. We were familiar with some tips, like the speed of TSA PreCheck and the ability to cancel almost any flight within 24 hours of booking, but other hacks were shocking news: You could get in-flight food faster as a vegetarian? And you can buy a day pass to an airline lounge?! So study up, learn ’em all, and pass this handy guide along to the travelers in your life. They’ll thank you.
That said, remember that a work trip isn’t your own personal spring break. Even if you’re technically off the clock, after-hours events with your co-workers are not the time to ride the mechanical bull, challenge a local to a drinking contest, or re-enact your favorite scene from Coyote Ugly. What happens at the regional sales conference doesn't necessarily stay at the regional sales conference—and you don't want to run the risk of your bad behavior making it back to your boss. A good rule of thumb is not to drink more on a work trip than you would at any other business function.
Perfecting the art of beating jet lag is a feat achieved by few, but there are a few important tips to at least get the amateur business traveler started. It’s always best to leave home well-rested so you avoid starting off on the wrong foot. From there, it is best to try to get as much sleep as you would in a 24-hour period at home. Your time in the air can either help or hinder you, as a plane is a great place to sleep, but often a difficult place to stay awake, if that’s what you need to do to settle into a new time zone. Either way, it is key to stay up until the local bedtime at your destination and not sleep in the following morning. Depending on which way you travel, the pros either recommend short naps and good coffee or short-acting insomnia medications like temazepam.
5. Consider a cycling event. Start by choosing an enticing ride and let that inspire your trip planning. On any given weekend, you’ll find dozens of cycling events throughout California. Want to tackle a century (100 miles) in wine country? Attend a mountain biking clinic? Check the event calendars on SoCalCycling.com, Raceplace.com, Active.com, or TourOfCalifornia.bikefor ideas.
Great list of tips! I do have to say that I have been very thankful in the past for a nearby McDonald’s. Years ago when I was not a very experienced traveler, I arrived on a train by myself in Munich. I don’t speak German beyond a very few basic phrases. The train station is large with numerous exit doors. I knew where I wanted to go but didn’t know which door to take that would put me in the right direction. After standing there indecisively for some time, I realized that I would simply have to select a door and go out. When I did exit, the sight of golden arches about 2-3 blocks away was most welcome. I knew that I could go there, order some coffee or perhaps something else breakfast-like and study my map to orient myself. It turned out that I had selected the best door to exit, but it was the ability to sit somewhere somewhat familiar that gave me the confidence to carry on with my travel plans. I agree with several other posters, too, that McDonald’s can be depended upon to have clean bathrooms, often the only ones available.
No matter where you drive, remember the basic rules of the road. California law states that everyone in a vehicle must wear a seatbelt, and motorcyclists must wear a helmet. Speed limits are posted in miles per hour (mph). Generally, the speed limit on multilane freeways is 65mph/105 kilometers per hour (kph); on two-lane highways, the limit is generally 55 mph/90 kph. The speed limit on city streets is usually 35 mph/55 kph, though in residential areas and near schools, the limit is generally 25 mph/40 kph. It is against the law in California to write, send, or read text-based messages while driving, and drivers must use a hands-free device when speaking on a mobile phone.
We were first business flyers to arrive for our morning flight. We were asked if we wanted to sit in the dining room to order a hot, fresh breakfast from an a la carte menu. Yes, please! A fresh cappuccino, fresh squeezed orange juice, and crepes made to order. I was so impressed. I am accustomed to buffet style snacks and treats, but having a menu to order fresh food was quite enjoyable, particularly sitting alongside the floor to ceiling windows with a view of the runway (Eric liked that).
This is all such great advice — thanks for sharing! My partner and I have been traveling full time for the past couple years, and we’ve found ourselves falling into these mistakes every now and again. We always take the time to reflect on each trip to pick out ways we can make our experience better (and the experience of people around us). You’re right about traveling with someone requiring compromise, and your advice to just relax every now and then couldn’t be better! Always being “on” can so easily prevent you from truly experiencing something. Thanks for this great post!
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)
So, when it comes to packing personal items, it is best to keep it scant. Dark colored clothes are a plus because they hide stains well and can often be reworn. Shoes without laces are extremely convenient for getting through security. A Dopp kit or toiletry bag can be within your set of go-to’s to ensure you don’t show up to a meeting with rancid breath because you forgot toothpaste. Gather the essentials here and ensure that the rest is versatile.