I had the Barclary Arrival credit card and it was super easy to earn AND redeem rewards. At the time I had to put $3,000 on the card within the first 3 months and then I got 60,000 points, which was about $625 in travel credit. Plus you get 10% of your redeemed points back. So I booked us 2 roundtrip flights from Newark to Orlando and a hotel outside of Newark – earned the points for those purchases and then I was able to go into my account and pay the travel portion of my bill with my points, plus get 10% of them back. Super easy! We also booked an AirBNB in Providence, RI that would have cost us $275, but was free because of rewards. Also, no foreign transaction fee, which is nice if you are leaving the US. I cancelled it after the first year though because I was just churning it for the points and didn’t want to pay the $89 fee after my first year was up. Something to think about though!
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
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 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!
No-where did we find this more frustrating than in Cambodia. Like a lot of countries, Cambodia is quite cheap to travel when compared to Western countries, but are they still largely dependent on using the US Dollar, with the Riel only used for very small transactions. However, all the ATMs seem to be loaded with $100 bills, and don’t charge a % fee, they charge by transaction! This means it makes sense to get larger sums out, to avoid being charged multiple transaction fees.
Sure, you know how to book a hotel on your own because you’ve got a credit card and the Internet. But chances are you’re not booking a hotel as well or as cheaply as you could. Don’t feel bad about your amateur mistakes. All you need is a little instruction, and, well, a credit card and the Internet. To turn you from hotel amateur to hotel pro, we’ve probed the minds of lodging experts to hear their tips on saving the most money and maximizing every hotel stay you book. These are their essential hotel hacks.
To maximize my business travel, I fly in meeting-suitable attire to avoid lost baggage disasters, and I strive to spend the night close to the next day’s meeting to limit traffic problems. A short confirmation text the night before a meeting or first thing in the morning has often avoided mistakes on the exact meeting location or time of the meeting. I pack in color schemes that will all match with one pair of dress shoes (worn on the plane if flying). Being mindful and treating all service people as real people and not objects has been the most helpful habit. I believe I get better treatment and more help when I have a problem, and it keeps me in a happier mindset too.
How do you usually organise all of your electronics, cables, those fiddly bits that take you ages to dig out at security? Stuff them in like the rest of us? Well, if you want to organise your packing then get yourself a stash of ziplock bags. Phone charger, camera charger, adaptors, headphones – take extra plastic bags (the same ones you’d use for hand luggage liquids) and use them to store electrical items, things for the journey home (house keys, parking ticket and car keys), medication and other loose accessories. And if you do love a gadget, then you should check out our top travel accessories.
One other scenario: you have plenty of time, but know that your flight is nearly full, and the line is long. Every minute you spend in line is another minute that the window and aisle seats are given away. If you check in with the skycap, then sprint to the gate for your seat assignment, you’ll often find that the line at the gate is much shorter than at check-in, and you’ll actually get your seat assignment more quickly.
In some respects, I’m amazed at how staggeringly little I’ve grown as a traveler: I still roam cities with nary a clue as to what I’m doing, I’m still motivated largely by my quest to stuff as many baked goods into my mouth as possible, I still weep a little when forced to read a map. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t learn anything. I have picked up a few tips and tricks that I’ve gleaned from my many copious mistakes. Here are the best of of them – my my top travel tips and lessons learned from the last few years.
If you can afford to travel, you’re luckier than an enormous chunk of the world’s population. Be grateful that you were born in a country that’s safe and stable. Be grateful you have a passport that allows you to easily travel. Be grateful that you have your health. Be grateful you were able to get a job; that you had the ability to save up enough money to travel. Yes, you worked goddamn hard to get to this point, but you’re still unbelievably privileged. Never forget it.
"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
Main thing that i have to add in this list is How do you usually organise all of your electronics, cables, those fiddly bits that take you ages to dig out at security? Stuff them in like the rest of us? Well, if you want to organise your packing then get yourself a stash of ziplock bags. Phone charger, camera charger, adaptors, headphones – take extra plastic bags (the same ones you’d use for hand luggage liquids) and use them to store electrical items, things for the journey home (house keys, parking ticket and car keys), medication and other loose accessories..
Everyone aspires to pack light. Some travelers are successful, others can’t help but bring everything and the kitchen sink. Here on our blog, packing light tips are the most popular posts. Even veteran light packers like Jeremy and I are always open to new ideas. Packing light is a process, not a goal. We can always get better. So we asked our favorite travel writers, speakers, designers, and CEOs, “What’s your best, non-obvious tip for packing light?“
I book all of my flights through Skyscanner, because it consistently finds cheapest deals. The key here is to keep things flexible: I look at flights to an entire country (or search for “everywhere” if I’m not sure where to head next) and look at prices over a whole month. I don’t collect points and miles, but I still rarely spend more than $500 on a long-haul flight.
The western foothills of the Sierra Nevada Range, defining California’s eastern border, are known as the Gold Country, named after the rich Mother Lode discovered here in the mid-1850s. While gold is still found in the region, new riches include top museums and art in Sacramento, the state capital, plus whitewater rafting, tucked-away towns, farm-fresh dining, and award-winning wines.
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.
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.
4. Research your route. Check out bike mobile app Strava’s city guides for routes in Bakersfield, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, and more—coffee shops and photo ops included. Also, the California Bike Coalition has a solid list of free online maps for routes from Humboldt County down to San Diego. You can also get turn-by-turn directions using Google maps: Dark green lines denote protected bike trails (read: no cars), light green lines show dedicated bike lanes, and dashed green lines indicate bicycle-friendly roads.
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.
Wearing a money belt or neck wallet lets you keep your valuables close to your body and away from prying hands. Review all the different styles here to choose what works best for you and the type of travel you’ll be doing. You may also want to choose an option with RFID protection. RFID protection keeps all passports with an RFID chip (issued after 2006) and credit cards/debit cards safe while travelling. How? It’s simple. Identity theft can occur when someone is able to “read” through your purse or pocket via the microchip, which has personal information stored on it. By using an RFID blocking technology, your personal information is protected. You can learn more about RFID safety from Scott Shelter, freelance journalist and frequent traveler.
For campers, hikers, kayakers and other adventure-bound travellers, packing for travel means more than tossing a toothbrush and change of clothing in a bag. To be prepared for rough terrain, unpredictable weather and small living quarters, you need to plan ahead. A light backpack with an internal frame is a good option for carrying essentials without weighing yourself down. Dual-purpose clothing that's both windproof and water-resistant can help you stay warm and dry, while taking up minimal storage space. Bandages, water bottles, flashlights, insect repellent, sunscreen, and a GPS may take up some luggage real estate, but you'll be happy you have them when and if you need them.
Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent over a decade providing strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at email@example.com, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com. All opinions are his and may not represent those of his employer.