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.
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture (formerly Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide). In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.
"It's not exactly in the middle of nowhere." That's what I find myself saying whenever someone says to me, "I'd never go on a transatlantic cruise." I have to admit, while not exactly in the middle of nowhere, there isn't a whole lot of activity going on around you, except maybe for an occasional whale or dolphin sighting. You do feel like you are out there all alone. Kind of.
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.
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 advice is twofold: Wear layers and pack in layers. First, your on-the-road wardrobe should feature plenty of layers, which will help you jetset through multiple climates in style and comfort. Second, the items in your bag should be packed in neat layers for easy screening. According to the TSA, "Pack items in layers (shoes one layer, clothes one layer, electronics one layer, etc.)" so that the security agent screening your bag can get a clear picture of what's inside. The faster the TSA agent can screen your stuff, the faster you'll get through the security line.
One aspect of business travel that we’ve all just learned to live with is managing spending. You pay for food and other expenses, save your receipts—usually in a messy pile—then fill in a painful expense report at some time in the six months after your trip, when you’ve forgotten what all that spending was for. If you used a company card, you have to hope you made no mistakes. If you used your own money, you’re hoping the company reimburses the whole lot.
Have to cancel and/or rebook a room because of a delayed flight or some other kind of disruption? The Proactive Traveler Care program offered by American Express Global Business Travel uses cutting-edge technology to monitor travelers and their itineraries in real time, anticipate travel disruptions ahead, and contact to rebook travelers based on their preferences. There is a simple tap-to-call function within the Amex GBT Mobile app that quickly will connect you to a representative who can assist in making last-minute overnight stay arrangements.
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.
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.
All these tips are great, but I truly appreciate the perspective about Sunrise is better than Sunset. I know I am probably in the minority here, but the freshness of morning is a rebirth for me. And a dazzling sunrise does more for lifting my spirits than almost anything else. Whatever problems I had yesterday, now, with this new sunrise, I have a chance at a fresh start. (Don’t get me wrong…I love a romantic sunset too!)
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Excellent advice about talking to locals. When you get to know the people who live there, it really makes for a wonderful experience. And you are so right, they have the best insider tips! We’re guilty of focusing only on photos at one point as well. When we started blogging as a career, we nearly lost ourselves in the work. We now always have to remind ourselves to have balance. It’s amazing to be able to capture a moment at our fingertips, but we feel it’s just as important to stop and take it all in. It’s easy to miss the moment when you’re looking through the lens. Thanks for sharing!
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.
The best business traveler knows how to pack both the absolute minimum and everything he or she could possibly need. The basic key to this is remembering the purpose of the trip: business. A pro business traveler packs his or her personal items efficiently and packs a disaster kit for business because being shy that one adapter or not bringing a flash drive can cost one a deal.
It's great to have a guidebook, something to point you in the right direction and give you background information on the places you're visiting. The mistake first-time travellers make, however, is only doing things listed in the guidebook – only visiting the restaurants, staying in the hostels and visiting the attractions that get the guidebook's stamp of approval. There's more to the world than the bits listed in those pages.
Money 5. Look up the monetary conversion before you go. Finding out that one Danish Krone is equal to just 20 cents could be a bad surprise. Make sure you do your math before you travel to get a sense of where the conversion rate is at. 6. Make sure your credit card will work in the country you’re visiting. European banks have switched almost completely to the more secure chip-and-PIN technology, and fewer businesses abroad are accepting the outdated magnetic-strip cards. 7. Go to a bank or ATM in the country you’re visiting. The conversion centres in the airport or around the city tend to be huge rip-offs. You won’t get charged as many fees at the ATM or the bank, and the conversion will be exact. 8. Always have local cash. Not every place takes credit cards. This is especially important if you're catching trains or buses. 9. Call your bank or credit card provider. Sometimes banks think that fraud maybe occurring if transactions are suddenly happening in Bali when you’re from Toronto, and they will turn off your card as a security measure. 10. Check the country’s entrance/exit fees. Some countries require travellers to pay in order to enter or leave the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200. Local Research 11. Buy tickets now for attractions you know you want to visit or see. By buying in advance you’ll be able to skip more lines, and find more deals targeted toward you. 12. Get guidebooks. Guidebooks usually include maps, key words or phrases and provide enough detail on key sites that you won’t need to purchase guides at the venue. Download guidebooks and apps before you travel to avoid data charges on your trip. 13. Research events going on while you’re there. This will help you make sure that you’re not missing out on fun experiences and that you won't be surprised by crowds or closures. Also, be sure to research a few national dishes. You don’t want to leave the country without experiencing its specialties! Electronics 14. Bring a charger adapter. Countries have different size plugs and voltage, so if you want to use your iPod, make sure you can charge it. 15. Check the voltage of your electronics. From my own experience I know that nothing is worse than having an adapter and still not being able to use a blow-dryer or a straightener because the voltage isn’t high enough for that country. 16. Activate your phone’s global capabilities. There’s usually a charge we doing this, but it is much less than the roaming charges you’ll get if you don’t. 17. Download the Travelzoo app. The Travelzoo app can help you find great deals in a variety of countries, and has options from local deals to transportation options. Luggage & packing 18. Pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on bag. Don’t be one of those travellers decked out in "J’adore Paris" apparel because the airline lost your luggage and you have nothing else to wear. 19. To check a bag or not to check a bag. Each airline has its own set of guidelines as to how many bags can be checked or carried on for free. Make sure to look up your airline’s rules to avoid any incremental fees. If you're travelling with a companion, consider checking one bag between the two of you. 20. Bring snacks. Travelling abroad is fun, but eating in a foreign country can sometimes become a task. Bring small snacks that will tide you over until you find that perfect restaurant or food cart.
Most prepaid credit cards come with some surprising hidden fees, such as inactivity fees, reloading charges, monthly fees, activation fees, and so on. John Ulzheimer, CEO of SmartCredit.com, told CNNMoney, "Consumers need to realize that any insinuation that a prepaid card is less expensive than a debit card is false, and any claim that it will help you rebuild credit is just a lie."
When I decided to see if it was possible to visit the Maldives on a budget, information was so sparse that I couldn’t even find a photo of the islands I’d decided to visit. Well, that trip was one of my highlights of the past seven years and I’m so glad I went, despite not being able to find any information online. And the advantage to that lack of information was getting to be the only tourist on an entire island — I had the whole beach to myself!
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.
"Choosing thin clothing that packs flat over thicker, more bulky items makes a huge difference in how much you can fit in your suitcase," says Susan Foster, author of Smart Packing for Today's Traveler. Instead of packing a heavy sweater and jeans, try more travel-friendly options like a micro-fleece pullover and pants in lightweight, weather-resistant fabric. Diana Lane, an associate with Geiger & Associates, a Florida-based destination marketing firm, loves the versatility of lightweight sarongs, which can be worn as skirts, various styles of dresses, shawls, swimsuit coverups, shoulder bags or even used as a blanket. "There aren't many items that give us quite this much bang for the buck," she says.