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.
No trick here - use a credit card that gives rewards for your favorite hotel chain and you can sleep and eat (breakfast) for free. We use our Marriott and Hilton credit cards for lots of business expenses and average around 24 free night stays each year - that's about $4500 worth of Residence Inn, Hampton Inn and breakfasts for two. Better still, use the cards to pay for business expenses and the rewards for personal trips. Pay yourself to take a long weekend off!
Whenever you travel, it’s a great strategy to put together a networking dinner. This lets you learn about your target audience and gain new leads. Already have a customer or two in the city you’re visiting or a connection in your network? Invite them, and ask them to make introductions to a few others. Otherwise, you can use cold outreach. Frame the meal as a chance to get to know other folks in the same industry. Exchange business cards and tell people what you do but don’t pitch. Pay for the entire meal if you have the budget. Your guests will feel obliged to help you out when you later ask if you might do business with their company.
As the TSA screening protocol has expanded, I've found small ways to save time during airport screening; I make sure that metal (watch, keys, change, phone, etc.) is in my computer bag - not on my person. And since airport requirements differ, I always assume the TSA will need to see my boarding pass a second time. Finally, for those wearing dress shoes through airport security, consider trading in your laces for a pair of slip-ons. You never know when you may need those two minutes you'll save.
A study from budget airline easyJet claims to pinpoint the perfect airplane seat: 7F. Their reasoning? It sells the best. But these results conflict with an earlier survey from Skyscanner that claimed 6A was the best according to a poll of travelers and a consideration of “lucky numbers.” Ticket sales and lucky numbers are great, but neither of these methods seems entirely sound to us. So which seat on the plane is the BEST, and how do you pick it? Check out this article for what flight attendants and experts have to say.
When’s the best time to book a flight? How can a free upgrade actually cost you money? Why are duct tape, petroleum jelly, and dental floss among the most valuable things you can pack? Find out the answer to these and many other questions with our list of the 101 travel tricks you need to try. (And then add your own tips and tricks in the comments area below!)
The best time to buy domestic airfare is on Tuesdays around lunchtime. The airline sales typically only last three days or less and tend to publish on Tuesdays. Also, the best days to travel are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. You’ll almost always pay less if you accept a connecting flight. Travel on the off-season, as you can get better deals for flights and hotels. Excursions and local sites also offer cheaper prices. Another perk is that you don’t have to fight as many tourists and can experience a private beach or more entertainment options.
Yet, I still believe that the positives of travel outweigh the negatives. Travel provides an unparalleled educational experience and is hugely beneficial to promote cultural understanding and world peace. So today, my tip is to embrace your travel experience by staying in a locally owned guest house or B&B, eating in locally owned restaurants, and hiring local guides.
You think you won’t forget anything, but you will. You won’t remember the name of that lovely girl from Oslo you hung out with for a day in Marrakech, you won’t remember the name of the hostel you loved in Beijing, you won’t remember the conversation you had with that dude in a pub in Sydney. Keep a journal to remember those small details because you’ll treasure them in a few years.
Pack light! Vegas loves to give stuff away and if you like to shop, buying a new suitcase can be pricey on the strip. So, bring an empty bag for your new stuff! Vegas in the summer is super hot- sometimes 120 degrees! You don't want sweat your clothes out before your important meeting, so dress light! Bring at least one outfit in case you get invited to dinner, a club, or VIP event as the club owners & restaurants don't allow you in if you are not dressed to impress.
Be wise and be wary, but try not to be paranoid. I once travelled with a guy who couldn’t relax because he was convinced everyone was out to steal his money or diddle him. He lost his car keys at one point and started blaming the family who had put us up for the night in the desert. He eventually found the keys at the bottom of his sleeping bag. More: 10 Travel Scams that cost unwary travellers
Even if you don't normally use lip balm, it can still be an important item to pack. Breathing dry airplane air, being out in the sun, eating salty foods in transit—travel inevitably leads to mild dehydration and chapped lips. And there's something off-putting and vaguely predatory about constantly licking your lips. Lip balm can also be used to tame frizzy hair ends, soothe dry cuticles, protect skin from windburn, and even unstick a stubborn zipper.
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.
If you disregard all other advice about carrying money when traveling, take this tip to heart: Whenever possible, divvy up your travel cash and even credit cards into multiple safe spots. If you've got all your money in one place, it only takes one time for a thief to totally wipe you out. You can even apply this idea when you're out and about by keeping some money attached to your person and some in a bag you carry. That way, if your bag gets lost or snatched, you'll still have enough to get to a police station or back to your hotel.
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.
What happens if you arrive in a city, go to grab your email confirmation for your accommodation, and your phone and laptop are out of battery? I always make sure I have a hard copy of my guesthouse name and their address, as well as directions if I won’t be taking a taxi. Once I arrive, I’ll grab one of the hotel’s business cards, so I’ll always know where I’m staying, and can show it to locals to ask for help with finding my way back.
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.
So many people will tell you not to travel with jeans, but if you wear jeans all the time at home, you’ll want to wear them while travelling, too. I didn’t start travelling with jeans until my second year of travel, and man, I missed them so much! They’re not *that* bulky so you really don’t need to worry about the extra space and weight. And in many cities in Europe, you’ll want to wear jeans to fit in with the locals — you don’t want to look like a grubby backpacker in Paris!
If you can afford to travel, you’re luckier than an enormous chunk of the world’s population. Be grateful that you were born in a country that’s safe and stable. Be grateful you have a passport that allows you to easily travel. Be grateful that you have your health. Be grateful you were able to get a job; that you had the ability to save up enough money to travel. Yes, you worked goddamn hard to get to this point, but you’re still unbelievably privileged. Never forget it.
Prepare a digital backup in case your identification gets lost or stolen. With your camera phone, take a photo of your passport or driver's license and email the photo to yourself. You might also want to take a photo of the contents of your checked bag, which may come in handy if the airline loses your luggage. (Use the photo to help document your missing belongings when filling out a claim form.) Throughout your trip, take advantage of the camera on your phone and snap photos of anything that might serve as a helpful reminder, from your airport parking-lot spot to your hotel-room number.
Your tips are great, and I definitely agree with #1. Like you, we started off traveling as a couple. In fact, we met when we were both backpacking through Southeast Asia, specifically Vietnam. Now that we have a toddler, we tend to pick family-friendly vacation destinations. This year, we traveled to Barbados for two weeks. The beaches are amazing, the food is awesome, and most importantly, the locals are very friendly.
Let’s say you’re flying straight to Bangkok, where you’ve given yourself three days to see the main attractions. You can plan it all out, but you’ll most likely end up jetlagged and sleeping away a chunk of that time in the city. When you’re planning how long to stay in a place, take jetlag into account, as well as general travel fatigue. Remember you won’t want to be outside exploring for 12 hours a day every single day.
When we are on the road, speaking to groups about marketing, we have to bring our laptops and all the other cameras, wires and action guides and stuff that go with it. I have found that having a specific bag just for air travel trips (compared to driving) allows me to keep the weight and just as importantly, the excess stuff, from tagging along with me. It gets me through security much faster. As soon as we return from our marketing seminars, the first thing to do in the office is remove all the things we gathered along the way — most importantly, the sales forms and the business cards of entrepreneurs who need information about our business coaching programs. This is the best way to make sure that you don’t overlook an important sales lead.
Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. He has spent over a decade providing strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com. All opinions are his and may not represent those of his employer.
Packing is pivotal. Forget an essential item and you're left disappointed and scrambling to find the nearest store in your destination. Pack too much and you end up disorganized, burdened with heavy bags, and hemorrhaging money to pay for pricey airline baggage fees. So we thought it best to revisit the most basic—and most useful—packing rules. Here are 10 fundamental packing strategies that every traveler should learn.
You see that photo of me on the beach? Half an hour after it was taken, there were at least a hundred people there. I managed to explore the ruins of Tulum on my own and without the crowds simply by being there when it opened. Arrive early for everything and you’ll get to experience major attractions at their least busiest. Plus, sunrises are pretty.
2. Blend in with your surroundings. Once you’ve done your research, you can start your visit to a new destination as if you were one of the locals. This is not only sound exploration advice, but a good safety tip as well. You’ll make yourself more vulnerable to con artists if you stick out like a sore thumb with your massive backpack, two cameras and confused look on your face. and you will draw much less attention if you make an effort to blend in. You also don’t want to disrespect or offend with improper dress or manners. If you’re visiting places of worship, make sure to dress modestly in order to prevent upsetting the locals.
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.
Before you go on a big trip, it is tempting to try and plan every aspect of it. As tempting as it might seem, make sure to leave plenty of room for serendipity. Try to just plan the skeleton of your trip and leave room in between for discovery and for things to come up which you didn't plan. Talk to other travelers that you meet on the ground and you'll have a much better idea of what you want to do once you land.
Work-Around: If you unexpectedly decide to rent a car in Europe, use your laptop, notebook, tablet, or smartphone to book your rental through a U.S. website. Just make sure you reach a U.S. website; often, when you go online overseas, the default site that appears is the local version of a company's website. If access to a U.S. site seems blocked, try a Canadian site.
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.
Usually, just having a smile seems to get me what I want. I always ask when I check in however, if there is an upgrade available, if they give extra points for anything, and what specials might be available. Just last night (although at a stage theater) I asked if I could upgrade my row. Although they don't do exchanges, they made an exception and upgraded me 8 rows.
Even if you aren’t headed to a beachside city or major metropolis, work trips don’t have to be total snooze-fests. Every destination, no matter how small, has something to keep you and your co-workers entertained. Find the local hot spots using TripAdvisor and Fodor's, or search by city on the Food Network website for restaurants featured on shows like Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. At the very least, you'll avoid an overpriced meal at a mediocre chain restaurant, and you may even become the office hero for discovering that the sleepy southern city you're visiting is home to the world's best hickory-smoked ribs.
"There's not much that makes me feel like an organized human as much as dividing my belongings into color-coded cubes. It's so wonderful to know exactly where everything you brought is as soon as you unzip your suitcase. Plus, you can very easily move your packing cubes into the drawers of your hotel dresser and instantly be done unpacking and ready to go." — Richelle Szypulski, Assistant Digital Editor
In the same breath, your business trip is not the time to throw your exercise routine out the door either. Always try to book a hotel with a gym and go first thing in the morning if you can. That way, you won’t have an excuse to not go later in the day, or the opportunity to schedule something that cuts it out. Learn bodyweight exercises or yoga at home, so that if, for whatever reason, you find yourself without a gym, you have a few go-to’s on hand. Picking up running is also a great idea. This will be a great way to both burn calories and explore a bit of the city you’re in.
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!)