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.
At least every six months I'll empty my laptop bag and suitcase and remove items that I don't regularly use. There are tons of travel and technology gadgets that seem like good ideas, and it can be tempting to pack backup clothing, batteries, and a half-dozen pairs of shoes, but at some point you're going to be dragging, lifting, and hauling those items while they contribute nothing to your trip. In all but rare cases, items from clothing to chargers are available nearly anywhere in the world, so six pounds of backup gear is probably not worth hauling for a year on the off chance you will need it and can't find a local replacement.
Springtime (typically March through early May) is one of California’s most beautiful times of year. Although it can still be cold at higher elevations, temperatures are comfortable and fresh throughout much of the state. Hillsides are blanketed with lush green grass and wildflowers. California’s deserts, awash with poppies, paintbrush, and other desert blooms, are much more pleasant during the spring than during the scorching heat of summer. During these months, you’ll also encounter shorter lines and better deals: Many of the state’s top tourist attractions are still operating at a slower pace, and hotels often charge low-season rates until June.
"There's nothing more annoying than struggling to stuff everything back into your suitcase at the end of a trip only to realize you didn't even wear half the clothes you brought. That's why I started strictly packing by outfit — not individual item — and only letting pieces I had a plan for make the cut. I'll take a skirt only if I know I'm bringing a top and shoes that I would wear with it, and I'll think about the activities on my itinerary and what I see myself wearing while doing them. I hate checking a bag but love clothes, so being realistic and planning ahead is key." — Nina Ruggiero, Senior Digital Editor
This rip-off is especially noxious because it is based on a lie—that the fuel surcharge somehow isn't part of the regular fare. How bad it is? Recently, British Airways posted a round-trip from Boston to London with a base fare of $208, plus $230 in government/airport/security taxes and fees and a $458 "carrier imposed" (read: "fuel") surcharge. Ridiculous!
We all want to keep our money secure while traveling. Prepaid credit cards, which are often billed as a safer and more convenient alternative to carrying cash abroad, might seem like a smart option. You purchase a card and load it with funds in your preferred currency ahead of your trip. And if your card gets lost or stolen, you can cancel it immediately. Simple, right? Unfortunately, it's not so simple.
When we are on the road, speaking to groups about marketing, we have to bring our laptops and all the other cameras, wires and action guides and stuff that go with it. I have found that having a specific bag just for air travel trips (compared to driving) allows me to keep the weight and just as importantly, the excess stuff, from tagging along with me. It gets me through security much faster. As soon as we return from our marketing seminars, the first thing to do in the office is remove all the things we gathered along the way — most importantly, the sales forms and the business cards of entrepreneurs who need information about our business coaching programs. This is the best way to make sure that you don’t overlook an important sales lead.
By far the best way to enjoy maximum value in hotel accommodations and rental cars is to buy through one of the opaque agencies, where you either "bid" on a room or car or accept a price "blind" without knowing the hotel or rental company until after you make a nonrefundable purchase. The two biggest opaque agencies are Priceline (bid) and Hotwire (blind price), but several other OTAs now offer opaque options.
Though Amtrak is the largest train service in the state, it’s not the only way to roll. In Northern California, Caltrain has regular service between San Francisco and San Jose. In Southern California, Metrolink offers service on seven regional lines that connect L.A., Ventura County, Antelope Valley, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange County, and the Inland Empire. Trains dedicated to certain themes and in specific locales, such as the Napa Valley Wine Train, also provide a unique way to see some of California’s premier destinations.
DVT causes leg pain, but the real concern is that part of the clot could break off and flow to the heart or brain, causing severe injury or death. In its DVT pamphlet for travelers, the FAA advises airline passengers to increase leg-muscle activity while flying by walking around in the cabin or exercising lower legs and ankles from a seated position.
Traveler's checks are now widely considered outdated and a hassle. You run the risk of wasting time looking for a place that's actually able to cash your checks, and you'll be hit with hefty fees and poor exchange rates when you do. We advise you to rely primarily on plastic for travel money—credit cards for big-ticket items and debit (ATM) cards for cash.
“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!”
Sharing Space: It may be awkward to share quarters with your colleague, but take it in stride and make the best of it. Be polite and give them privacy when they ask. Avoid using shared spaces such as the bathroom for extended periods. Get dressed and undressed in a private space to avoid awkward encounters. Offer to leave the room for a half-hour or so while they get ready. Hopefully they’ll get the hint and return the favor.
Wherever you're planning to go, pick luggage that is versatile, lightweight and big enough to hold all your essentials. The most important decision you'll make is (as far as luggage is concerned) is buying a bag that has an awesome warranty. Traveling with a piece of luggage with broken wheel, handle or zipper is the absolute worst! Brands that back their gear with stand-up warranties build that promised durability into their gear. It’s also important to finding a travel bag that's as versatile as you need it to be, while also fitting all your stuff and being easy to carry.
It was wonderful reading your blog. The tips are informative and very helpful. I totally agree with points 2 and 6. During my previous tours, I had to cut visits due to lack of time. Talking to the locals can help you get a better insight into the places. During my last travel, I got good help from the locals to find the best affordable restaurants to try the local food.
In general, good advice and info but I sure disagree with #7. Why you need a photo of yourself in all your pix, I don’t know, but I was tired of all your portraits of yourself rather than the places and the people in the places before I was 1/4 thru the list. Not to mention how annoying people who ask strangers to take their photo can be. Take photos of the people and places you see. That’s what I want after my trips and what I’d prefer to see on your blog posts.
Business travel can often be avoided altogether by using available technologies- Skype, Go2Meeting, instant messaging, and conference calling (available for free from a variety of services), saving money and the environment. When travel is required, make the most of it by adding a marketing & education component to each trip - attend a conference, participate in a trade show, or connect with a potential client.
So many travellers preach that it’s all about experiences not possessions, but you know what? Sometimes possessions can offer beautiful reminders of the experiences you’ve had. I only started buying souvenirs from every country I visited in the last year, and I wish I’d been doing so from the start of my trip. And if you’re worried about space in your backpack, just mail them off to a friend or family once you’ve bought them and your pack will be none the heavier. My friend Jaime collects magnets from every place he visits and I’m so jealous of his collection!