Go in them to get some insight into the local culture and cuisine by comparing their menus to the ones back home. Check what types of chocolate bars McDonald’s uses in their McFlurrys. (In Geneva they had Toblerone and in South Africa there’s a neon green lime flavor.) See what unusual spices Starbucks adds to their coffee. And compare the prices to the ones back home and other countries you’ve been, just like the Economist does so with their Big Mac index.
I am the founder of a global charity requiring constant business travel and networking at both official and local levels in the places we operate. The key to a successful trip has been to take time to cold call local experts in my field, such as Rotary Club members and NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], brainstorm potential solutions that address concerns while also maintaining respect for cultural markers such as age and experience, and communicating the need for compromise on behalf of the team and community served by our charity.
Analysts at CheapAir.com reviewed more than 351 million individual airfares sold on more than a million international routes in 2016. They tracked flights from the day they went on sale (usually about 11 months in advance) until the day of takeoff to see when each fare hit its lowest point. The resulting map shows how many days before takeoff you should buy your ticket to score the best deal, on average, depending on your destination.
Many state and national parks permit camping, although some popular locations such as Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon tend to fill up months in advance, so reserve as early as possible. Federal lands operated by the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife, also have thousands of campsites, which are often uncrowded, even during the summer months. There are also many outstanding private campgrounds statewide.
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.
Space will be tight in your backpack, so you’ll want everything to be essential. If your clothes require ironing or will get destroyed easily, don’t pack them. I brought a fancy dress around the world with me and not only did I never wear it (because I was a backpacker and nobody was wearing stuff like that) but I felt guilty about throwing it out, so carried it around with me for an entire year! Don’t do this — bring clothes you don’t care about and replace them for cheap on the road.
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!
2. Select the right clothes (for men). Pack only one color of pants and one (matching) jacket. This way you can optimize the accessories you need to take. The same shirts and socks will match, so you can reuse some of the items if you come up short. This vastly reduces the amount of stuff you need to pack. Also, if you want to exercise, take some of the new lightweight sneakers that take up zero room in your luggage. Wear the heaviest things you are taking (if weather permits) to minimize the amount of stuff you need to drag around with you.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said. Travel is a life changing experience which draws people together and educates. Even if you don’t have plans to sell everything and travel continuously, the best tip I could give is to travel to a different country at least once in your life. See how other people live their lives. Witness the day to day things like going to the market, or how something simple like lunch is done in Spain, France or Italy. Having this perspective is a good thing and helps understand the world a little bit better.
Step 2: Fill empty bottles with your favorite brands. Evelyn Hannon, creator of journeywoman.com, a travel-advice website, swears by Japonesque’s Gotta Go Weekend Travel Bag ($20, amazon.com). A mere four inches high by four inches wide, it’s stocked with eight clear containers for lotions, contact-lens solution, and the like. Fill them three-quarters full. “The storage department on a plane is not pressurized, so items filled all the way to the top will overflow,” says Bond, who learned that the hard way when a sample of Pepto-Bismol exploded all over her clothes.
A common mistake many people make is to ignore or shy away from the importance of social customs overseas. Be open to accept hospitality and engage with respect and patience and understanding of the challenges inherent to life in their country. Try the local food, seek out conversations with varying members of the community, and take the time to sit and listen. This type of focus on business trips has helped me learn about the culture and people with whom I would eventually manage an international charity empowering hundreds of women.
Don’t bother with those fancy, expensive travel towels. Instead, get a sarong. It’s cheap and multi-use: use it as a wrap, lay it out for picnics or sunbathing, or dry off with it. They’re super light and dry quickly, even in humid places. For packing, invest in packing cubes! They make packing and living out of a suitcase/backpack more organized and much easier. It’s one of my best packing tips. 1 Dad 1 Kid
But more than this, I love building a rapport with a person, and then getting to ask them big questions about their countries. With the car doors closed, and no-one else listening, it’s amazing how much people open up to what life is really like. One of my biggest aims when travelling is to learn, and it is in these conversations I learn more than at any other time.