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.
I found all the tips very useful, I use some of them. I would like to add a few I use. Packing bijoux jewelry, I pass necklaces through a straw to prevent tangling, put rings and earrings seperately in small ziplocks then all together in a small cosmetic pouch and into my suitcase. For expensive jewelery I put it in a small cufflink box which accomodates two diamond rings, a medium sized locket and a brooch. This protects them from being compressed. Then I carry it in my handbag in a small zippered compartment. Hope this may help somebody.
But there's an exception to this rule: If you're packing something really valuable, you may want to consider purchasing excess valuation (EV) from your airline. It's not insurance per se, but it increases the airline's liability limit. You'll likely have to ask your airline for it directly; carriers don't often advertise EV, and many travelers have never even heard of it. You can sometimes buy baggage insurance from car-rental companies and travel agencies as well.
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.
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 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.
It’s not easy jumping right into work after a long-haul flight, typically with a connection or two, and seated in the economy. This is exactly why I try to take a late flight out on Friday nights — after the end of the workday — that arrives sometime on Saturday. Having the full day on Sunday to get acclimated and refreshed from the flight is critical in beating jet lag as quickly as possible, and helps you get into a groove, so you’re ready to roll on Monday.
While the external stresses of travel are often outside your control, how you manage them is completely within your control. If you let an unplanned delay throw you into a state of panic or rage, travel can become unbearable. When faced with anything from unending delays to slow-moving crowds, pay attention to your stress levels and take a deep breath, listen to music, or otherwise maintain your calm, and you'll find travel much more bearable regardless of what's thrown your way. This is especially important in unfamiliar environments. I've been threatened with deportation, found myself in Beijing back-alleys and completely lost, extorted, and dropped off at the wrong location with no way to communicate with my driver, but a deep breath and a smile ultimately allowed for recovery.
"There's not much that makes me feel like an organized human as much as dividing my belongings into color-coded cubes. It's so wonderful to know exactly where everything you brought is as soon as you unzip your suitcase. Plus, you can very easily move your packing cubes into the drawers of your hotel dresser and instantly be done unpacking and ready to go." — Richelle Szypulski, Assistant Digital Editor
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.
Don’t arrive at your holiday destination and be faced with a pile of ironing. To save space and stop creasing, roll your clothes instead of folding them, then place them in vacuum compression bags. To use these bags, put your clothes in, seal the bag, then squeeze the air out. This will leave you with lots more space in your suitcase and will prevent creases.
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.
Invest in Luggage: After you figure out if you will be a “carry-on only” or “check only” type of business traveler, invest in a lightweight, durable piece of luggage that has a warranty. The same goes for a laptop bag. Whether you choose a shoulder bag or backpack, make sure it has a lot of padding and distributes weight evenly. You do not want your luggage breaking in the middle of an airport.