If you want to study the local language before you go, learn something out of the ordinary. Something like, “I’m from Canada and do handstands for exercise.” Locals won’t see it coming and will find it hilarious. Unlike a standard “hello” or “thank you,” an unusual phrase will make you new friends and open new doors to extraordinary travel stories.
When you are in a new country, meeting locals is one of the best ways to experience the country’s authentic culture. Smile at strangers, try to learn the local language, and ask questions to the people you meet who live there. You never know, you might end up making a friend who can take you off the beaten path and offer you some true insight into what life is like for those who live there. This kind of experience and knowledge can’t be bought on a tour and can only be achieved by making genuine local friends!
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.
Our company is really focused on growth and has to be frugal with all expenses. This is especially important with business travel. I maximize our rewards points earned from AMEX and Capital One credit cards to cover the costs of all our company’s business travel costs. Using Capital One points allows you to book Delta flights and still earn SkyMiles that can be used for future travel. It’s the most powerful travel savings combination possible. As a matter of fact, I am currently in Guangzhao, China, meeting with suppliers, and all my flights and hotels were paid for with rewards points.
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.
Ever wondered if there’s a magic number of days before a flight when tickets are at their cheapest? Science has an answer for that. Fifty-four days before takeoff is, on average, when flights within the continental U.S. are at their absolute lowest price. And if you don’t hit 54 days on the head, you should usually book between 105 to 21 days before your trip ― within a so-called “prime booking window” ― for the lowest possible prices. In this period, ticket prices typically hover near the lowest price they’ll ever reach.
Whether it’s that steamy romance novel, thrilling sci-fi, or a dog-eared travel guide, download it before your trip. Even if at home you’re a paper-til-I-die sort, save the space and weight for your holiday. And don’t count on wi-fi to jump back into the story from your perfectly positioned beach chair. Make sure it’s on a water-resistent covered device (check out Otterbox for some serious protection for your cherished e-reader, phone or tablet).
No matter where you drive, remember the basic rules of the road. California law states that everyone in a vehicle must wear a seatbelt, and motorcyclists must wear a helmet. Speed limits are posted in miles per hour (mph). Generally, the speed limit on multilane freeways is 65mph/105 kilometers per hour (kph); on two-lane highways, the limit is generally 55 mph/90 kph. The speed limit on city streets is usually 35 mph/55 kph, though in residential areas and near schools, the limit is generally 25 mph/40 kph. It is against the law in California to write, send, or read text-based messages while driving, and drivers must use a hands-free device when speaking on a mobile phone.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new food and drink destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.
"The more you pack, the easier it gets (or at least, the easier it should get) — so make being ready to travel part of your everyday life. Collect travel-sized toiletries when you have the chance: Get an extra toothpaste when you go to the dentist, ask your hair stylist for shampoo and conditioner samples, and keep all of them organized in a ready-to-grab toiletry bag. Learn which items of clothing work best for travel: They shouldn't wrinkle easily, they should work for day or evening, and they shouldn't take up a lot of space in your bag. And always pack less: What didn't you use on your last trip? Don't bring it." — Jessica Plautz, Deputy Digital Editor
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.
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.
Whether due to a travel delay, a never-ending meeting, or arrival in a different time zone, you're bound to end up hungry at some point with limited appealing food options. I always carry three to five energy bars of some sort for just these situations. Look for something that doesn't melt, crumble, or expire, and is well-packaged so it doesn't end up spilling in your bag. I like Kind bars, as they're still relatively tasty even when flattened and deformed after a few weeks in my laptop bag.
Shrink it. Jessica Ellis, a graphic designer who travels between New York City and Chicago every other week, piles clothing into Eagle Creek Pack-It Compressor bags ($10 to $26, rei.com). “Zipper them, and they take out 80 percent of the volume.” Warning: This can have wrinkly consequences, so if the clothes don’t yet require laundering, lay them flat and place fabric-softener sheets between them. Consider your fresh-smelling clothes a welcome-home present.
Want to speed through security? Want the desk clerk to give you a great room? Want the waiter to let you linger over your client lunch? Be nice. It's amazing how much more you can get accomplished on a biz trip if you are simply nice and polite to everyone you meet. Stuck in a line...happily share about your business. If you're enthusiastic, pleasant and open, you can turn line-ups and flights into relaxation time and "gentle touch" networking. A pocket full of biz cards is fine; a smile is better.
Don’t forget to squeeze in some light exercise in between flights and meetings. A 30-minute walk around the airport or a simple stretching routine when you feel tired is often all that is needed to refresh. Exercising also keep the body metabolizing at the ideal rate, which means you can sleep better at night and not have to worry about possible health problems ruining the trip.
Maintain your in-flight comfort and cleanliness by wearing breathable fabrics (materials that allow air and moisture to pass through them) such as cotton, silk, or linen. Fabrics that don't allow air to circulate will hold sweat on the skin, likely making you feel dirtier faster and probably necessitating a good spin in the washing machine upon landing. Natural fabrics are great, but moisture-wicking manmade fabrics are suitable options as well.
I keep a “quick fix” kit in my cabinet and grab it for trips. It contains earplugs, a sleep mask, lip balm, ibuprofen, and extra contact lenses. I also bring flavored tea bags to relax with a cup of tea no matter where I am. As for clothing packing tips, I keep it simple with lots of black. It goes with everything and is difficult to stain! Spanish Sabores
If you’re anything like me, odds are: you’re a hopeless over packer. But, no need to stress! After all, some of us are just born a little weird… like “I need to pack this parka just in case” weird or “of course I’ll read all 7 Harry Potter books this trip” weird. Regardless of the reason, I’m here today with great news: you CAN learn to be a smart packer.
I signed up for an American Airlines AAdvantage account before I left (with a signup bonus of, I think, 1000 points), and I type in my account number every time I book a flight with a OneWorld airline. After five years of travel, I recently racked up enough points to take an economy one-way flight from Nashville to Miami with them. It was worth $100, lol.
You may think you're in the clear for communicating if you're visiting another English-speaking country, but think again. Certain words could cause you embarrassment across the pond or down under. Avoid words like "pants" (it means "underwear" in the U.K.), "fanny" (slang for a part of the female anatomy, and we're not talking about the rear end), and "pissed" (hint: to the Brits and Irish, it doesn't mean you're angry).
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.
One of the best travel tricks is to visit destinations out of season. It’s a great way to save money, as both flights and accommodation are generally available at reduced rates. Unfortunately, not all destinations are suitable to visit out of season – for example, you probably wouldn’t want to visit the Philippines during the typhoon season! That being said, visiting out of season it one of our top tips for traveling South America and is a great way to visit many other places on a smaller budget.
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.
You need insurance. Even if you're just planning to lie around in a resort for a week. If you're in an accident, or you get sick, or your bags go missing, or any one of a million other mishaps occur while you're travelling, you'll be extremely pleased you spent that small amount on an insurance policy. (Read: The insurance mistake travellers keep making)
How much food can you order in business class? One might think it is unlimited, and certainly, it’s almost impossible to go hungry. But, even the best business class products are limited to how much food is on board. We’ve noticed that it is not often you are able to order a second starter or entree, but there are always snacks. One of the best business class experiences was on Cathay Pacific where we ordered a freshly made burger as a mid-flight snack.
Whether you dream of a posh suite overlooking the ocean, a boutique hotel in the heart of a city, a full-service resort, or a serene campsite under the stars, California has the perfect place to spend the night. Book a stay at a major chain almost anywhere in the state, or consider accommodations as distinctive as California itself—handsome stone-and-timber mountain lodges, restored Gold Rush hotels, snug inns, and ultra-exclusive retreats in one-of-a-kind settings. There are also millions of acres of unforgettable parkland where all you need is a tent, a sleeping bag, marshmallows, and a few good campfire stories. (And, maybe, a reservation.)
This is a no-brainer, but it's something that many travelers don't think to do. If you missed the cancellation window for your hotel, restaurant, or car booking but can still change the reservation date free of charge, move your reservation back by several weeks or months. Then call back to cancel with a different representative. Sneaky? Sure. But it works, and you'll never get stuck with a lousy cancellation fee again.
However, there are a few applications that business travelers can complete online to become eligible for special expedited security or customs programs to guarantee a slightly better airport experience every time. The most widely known of these are TSA Precheck and Global Entry. However, there are some differing views across the Internet on the pros and cons of these, so best to do some research if such opinions have stirred some skepticism in you. Big names fall on both sides of the debate, like USA Today or Skift for these programs, and Business Insider and Scott Mayerowitz of Associated Press against them, so, best to educate yourself, scout out some objective comparisons, and decide for yourself.
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.
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.