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.
“I’m a big fan of objects and items that can perform a double duty. For example, I always pack the sarong I bought in Thailand. Not only is it a beach cover-up, but it can also serve as a tablecloth, picnic blanket, makeshift satchel (hobo style), pillow, head scarf for bad hair days, shawl, changing room screen, privacy curtain for a bunk bed…the list goes on. Having one item serve many purposes keeps my packing to a minimum.”
Now, we travel with just carry-on sized luggage. This saves us money on check-in fees (though budget airlines are now starting to charge for carry-on bags too); it reduces the risk of our bags being lost or stolen, and; it means that we're a lot more mobile. Walking a kilometer or so with our bags is not a problem, which it would be with the enormous backpacks we used to travel with.
Decades ago, before the Internet, one of the standard tips for travelers visiting Europe went this way: If you find you need to rent a car after you arrive in Europe, don't pay the high local rates. Instead, call the rental-car company's U.S. office and rent at the much lower rate quoted to U.S. travelers. Surprisingly, this recommendation is still valid. Book your car rental from a U.S. website to pay about half the local quote.
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.
That said, however, there are scammers out there, and it's the naive rookie travellers that provide their easiest targets. I was scammed the first time I travelled. And the second time. And the third time. There's no easy way around this – you're often dealing with pros who've been doing this their entire lives. Just roll with the punches and try not to part with too much cash. (Read: Ten classic travel scams)
“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!”
So, when it comes to packing personal items, it is best to keep it scant. Dark colored clothes are a plus because they hide stains well and can often be reworn. Shoes without laces are extremely convenient for getting through security. A Dopp kit or toiletry bag can be within your set of go-to’s to ensure you don’t show up to a meeting with rancid breath because you forgot toothpaste. Gather the essentials here and ensure that the rest is versatile.
Asking is the quickest way to get a discount but it’s also the quickest possible way to piss off an Airbnb host. This is what differentiates the pros from the newbies. My general policy as a host — which I’ve been doing since 2011 — is to turn away hagglers because it signals a problem guest. It’s still possible, though, to get a confirmed booking and save some money without irritating a host so much they end up declining a guest’s inquiry outright. The trick is learning how to do it delicately.
Despite the constant rise of popularity in Skype and other modes of video conferencing, meeting in person has not become an extinct activity. If you are a young professional or recent graduate, business travel will likely be part of your job at some point. If you happen to be a lucky consultant, you will reach frequent traveler status faster than you can say “priority boarding." After reaching the frequent traveler status just a few months into my new job, I hope to bring some value to those who share aspects of my life on the road.
However, experts warn against passing up extremely cheap flights for the sake of accumulating points. Sometimes there are offers out there that really are too good to miss, and one ought to stay level-headed within the points game. The same goes for balancing frugality and practicality. The cheapest flight is often not the one that gets you from Point A to Point B the fastest, so it is important to know what makes sense for the trip at hand, or how much you can handle as a traveler. Although, it is beneficial to try to consolidate a trip into one or two airlines if possible (less distance to cover when running between gates!).
No matter where I’m traveling, I like to maximize my business trips by scheduling time for what I like to call the big three — existing client visits, new business meetings and professional development opportunities. Before heading out, think about which contacts are based in that area and plan to host a dinner or grab a quick coffee with them. These face-to-face meetings go a long way in maintaining relationships with existing clientele as well as forming connections with potential business partners. To maximize your time out of office, look into any additional conventions or meet-ups you can attend to either strengthen your skill set or learn something new. Being in a foreign learning environment can also be fantastic for networking. If you seek out opportunities in these big three areas, no minute will be wasted.
If humans were shaped like shrimp, the C-shape of most airline seats would be super comfortable. Since we're not, passengers regularly stumble off the plane with achy backs, necks, and legs. Sitting for long periods is already hard on your back, and without lumbar support, your spine and the muscles in your lower back have to work even harder to maintain healthy alignment. Counteract the crush by wedging a blanket, scarf, or rolled-up sweater behind you to allow your lower back to maintain its natural curve.
Most importantly, luggage should err on the safe side of the standard carry-on size -- in inches that means slightly under 22 x 14 x 9 (height x length x width), or 56 x 36 x 23 in centimeters, which is the most common allowable size across airlines. Many bags claim to be regulation size carry-ons and in fact aren't, so double check dimensions before buying to avoid forced gate check.
There have been so many times when I’ve been too shy to ask someone to take my photo in a place and I’ve almost always regretted it. After five years of travel, I probably only have around 200 photos of me around the world. Photos of the beautiful places you visit are great and all, but when you get home, they’re not all that different to the ones everyone else has taken there, too. Photos with you in them are special and they’ll come to mean a lot more.