Some of my biggest highlights are things that sound so normal: it was drinking and singing with newfound friends in the Philippines, hiking alone in the mountains surrounding Taipei, trying to guess what everything was at a wet market in Saigon, dropping my travel plans to fly home and surprise my mum for her birthday, and spending six weeks in Madrid because that’s where my friends were spending the summer.
Most people choose mid-morning to start their exploration. Get to the main attractions and famous sights as they open and relish the luxury of having the place all to yourself. It’s a great way to enjoy the otherwise crowded touristy places in peace. Be an early riser. Get ahead of crowds. As a family traveler, I’d say waking the kids up at the crack of dawn is hard but well worth an effort. Better than dealing with the hordes of tourists and cranky kids. Isn’t it?
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.
When possible, even on business trips, I try to avoid hotels and stay with a member of one of my homestay networks. I find the genuine contact and family atmosphere a welcome change from conference hotels. Yes, there's some transportation logistics, but generally, I find it worth the schlep across town to make new friends and get my batteries recharged.
I always love travel tips. One tip I always have a hard with is trying new food while traveling. I want to know the food is good before I spend the money or else I feel like the money is wasted. So what we started doing is buying one item I know I’ll like and my husband buy’s another item we want to try. That way we can share the food and at least I know I’m getting something I will like.
You know the socks you often get on overseas flights? The ones that don't fit quite right and come with weird treads that make them impossible to wear with shoes? Give them new purpose by keeping a pair on hand to protect items from getting chipped or scratched in transit. They're the perfect size to hold the trinkets you pick up on your travels—the ones that don't need to be enveloped in bubble wrap but do need a bit of extra protection before being tossed into your bag. And in a pinch, they can serve as a handy alternative to a glasses case in your bag or purse.
As a productivity trainer, I travel quite frequently. Sometimes, there can be quite a bit of downtime. It could be long delays between flights, or canceled flights requiring you to rebook on a later flight. This often causes travelers a great deal of stress. But don’t fear downtime. If your flight gets delayed, you might default to checking your email or doing other work. But it may actually be more productive to use this unexpected time to meditate or just let your mind wander. This kind of mental break really boosts your productivity and creativity.
We’ve all experienced hotel letdown. You arrive at what you thought would be a majestic place to stay, only to be assigned a corner room on the first floor, with a view of the parking lot and the faint scent of cigarettes in the air. Pro tip: This is why you should pretty much ALWAYS ask to switch hotel rooms after seeing the first one you’re offered. Oftentimes, the second room you’re assigned (or third, or fourth if you’re the daring sort) is much, much better than the first. All it takes is a gentle inquiry to land something spectacular, even when it’s not what the front desk initially prescribed.
Travel is stressful when you’re worried about lost luggage or being late to a meeting, says Barbara DesChamps, author of It's In The Bag: The Complete Guide to Lightweight Travel. Bring only a carry-on, check in for your flight online and go straight to security at the airport. If you don’t check baggage, you won't have to wait for it when you land.
For starters, using an unlocked smartphone when traveling internationally will save you money, as you can purchase local SIM cards and use them for local calling, texting, and, of course, for wireless data to connect you to the internet. This is really helpful as you can tether your other phone, tablet or computer via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, effectively sharing the connection and avoiding roaming charges. An unlocked phone with a local SIM card means uploads of photos and videos can happen as you take them versus waiting to get somewhere that Wi-Fi is offered. Speeds are faster than roaming and if you’re taking part in business conference calls, those sound better, without the delay that comes about when you roam.
One of the first lessons I learned on the road was that your plans will nearly always change. You’ll arrive in a place and hate it and want to leave immediately, or you’ll fall in love with a destination and want to spend longer there. You’ll make friends with a group of awesome people and want to change your plans so you can travel with them for longer, or you’ll find out about an amazing town that’s nearby and want to head there instead.
From a safety perspective, it’s good to have several people back home who know where you’ll be. I forward any flight or accommodation confirmations to my family and Skype with them several times a week to let them know what I’m up to. That way, if ever I disappear for a few days, my family will know immediately and will be able to know where I was staying at that time. It takes just a few minutes but really improves your safety.
You've probably seen the infomercials for the magical space-saving bags that can shrink bulky clothing (like sweaters and jackets) into a small, compact unit. Get the travel version of these bags and you'll save space and keep your clothes organized and wrinkle-free. These Travel Space Bags don't need a vacuum to operate. Normal zip-lock bags in various sizes can also be used to achieve a similar effect for much less money.
Longing for a long-distance getaway but don't have a passport? You can still jet off to a faraway island overseas. Consider Puerto Rico, officially an unincorporated territory of the United States; the U.S. Virgin Islands, mere minutes from Puerto Rico by plane; Northern Mariana Islands, a collection of Micronesian islands governed by the United States since the Battle of Saipan in 1944; Guam, which is home to a heavy U.S. military presence; and American Samoa, a collection of five volcanic islands and two atolls between Fiji and the Cook Islands.
In my 12 years of full-time travel, I survived three natural disasters, contracted three tropical diseases, and survived one near-fatal accident. I’ve seen the insides of more hospitals than I’d ever planned on. And while the travel insurance claims process can be aggravating, to say the least, every single time I was grateful for the coverage. Don’t leave home without it!
That’s right, I’m not a carry on bag kind of girl … in fact, I like to OVER pack for fear that I might not have everything with me. My favourite suitcase of all time is the Briggs & Riley suitcase because it’s so massive and they come with a lifetime warranty!! When it comes to packing for the kids, I like to use CINDA B bags! I was first introduced to Cinda B bags when I was on The Bachelor over 10 years ago and have been using them ever since!
When flying a crazy long-haul flight it is often nice to experience the business class lounge. Although Etihad’s lounge in Dublin is lovely, their lounge in Abu Dhabi is often crowded and warm (Etihad has recently been in the process of renovating their Abu Dhabi lounges). The food is good, though, and there is free top shelf alcohol. It is the extra special amenities that are offered that truly enhance the experience.
“For me, the key to packing light is clothing choice. I always favor synthetic materials for undergarments and insulting layers in favor of cotton because they are lighter weight and don’t take up a lot of volume. They also dry quicker if you need to launder while on the road. For instance, I’d favor a Polartec quarter zip over a heavy cotton sweater. Smart wool is another alternative.”
The number one thing to remember if you’re going on a business trip is that you have limited time in your hands. Plan your days, weeks and month ahead. Maximize this time by organizing and setting meetings before you fly out, use the travel time to do one of these two things: your research on the place and people you are visiting or event you’re attending or administrative work.
This is probably the most obvious perk of business class flights, but one I still struggle with. The main benefit to flying business class is the ability to stretch out and sleep, and to arrive fresh in your destination, apparently ready to work, or head to business meetings. I for one, though, tend not to sleep as much as most people on these flights. Instead, I am trying to make the most of a business class flight – I eat loads of food, drink lots of champagne, and watch a mess of movies. I want to take advantage of the experience.
We almost always book our flights with points and miles, which we accumulated over the years through our miles-related credit cards. I know this is a lot easier for Americans than for others. I know for Europeans it is much more difficult to play the travel hacking game. (If you are Kiwi, check out this guide to travel hacking in New Zealand.) Travel hacking is a method for collecting miles and points for serious travelers. It’s one of the best ways to earn a business class trip. If you want to be a business class traveler but don’t have an expense account, this is how to do it. It’s one of the most important business class tricks.
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!
I don’t think the car service is available for every airline, but is pretty common on business and first class travel on the Middle East Airlines like Etihad and Emirates. I think Etihad will even drive you from Abu Dhabi to Dubai… I tried seeing if they would pick us up in Limerick and drive us across Ireland, a 2+ hour drive, but they limit it to 50km from the airport.
I love getting to explore a new place during a layover, and will almost always extend my travel day so that I can spend three or four days in a new city. Some of my layover highlights from the past five years include 48 hours exploring the Golden Circle in Iceland, spending a few days getting lost in Muscat, and when I spent 24 hours in Abu Dhabi just so I could take photos of the Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
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.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a well-packed carry-on. At least it should… if you want your trip to go smoothly from the get-go. Whether you're travelling for business or pleasure, the proper luggage allows you to pack all the things you need and organize them efficiently. If you plan ahead and anticipate your needs during your travels, you can best choose both the type and amount of clothing, personal care products and other items you'll require. The temptation to over pack is always there, but beware that those extra shoes, bottles of lotion and electronic toys could cost you a bundle in excess baggage fees.
Making sure that you don’t lose good business opportunities any time you are traveling is key. While in Nepal, I had to rely on a local coffee shop for a decent connection, as the wi-fi at my hotel was practically not working. It was annoying. I wish I had listened to those who had suggested how to prepare for business trips and said to take a portable wifi device.