You know, I like to think I give pretty good advice. Readers frequently tell me that my travel tips helped them plan a trip, save money, and avoid trouble on the road. It’s nice to know that I’ve picked up some useful travel tips in my 12+ years of roaming the globe. But hey, I don’t know everything (if you’ve read some of my earlier blog posts, you might be convinced that I don’t know anything…) and there’s always more to learn.
With that in mind, I reached out to 50 expert globetrotters from around the world and asked them for their very best travel tips. They came through in spades, sharing with me their brilliant travel tips for trip planning, saving money on travel, packing smart, using technology for a better vacation, staying healthy on the road, and making the most of your trip.
Check out these 50 brilliant travel tips from expert globetrotters and you’ll be well on your way to being an expert traveler yourself:
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Brilliant Travel Tips for: Planning & Preparation
➤ There’s one very easy way to save money when you’re travelling, that not everyone thinks of – book accommodation where you can cook your own food! I know, you’re on vacation and probably want to skip having to cook (and wash dishes!) but, even if you only cook one meal per day, it can save you so much money! Going to restaurants is overall a very enjoyable experience, I especially like to eat out when I’m abroad to try new food, but if you need to travel on a budget – remember this tip for your next trip! – Amanda, My Backpacker Life
➤ As frequent travelers who spent one year traveling the world, we’ve learned a ton of simple ways to make getting from point A to B as easy and efficient as possible. One of our top tips is to take the time to research how to get from your point of entry (eg, airport or train station) to your local destination (eg, your hotel) before you arrive. This is especially important if you’re traveling overseas or crossing borders since you might not have service/data immediately upon arrival.
It’s easy and quick to look into your transportation options before you leave. We recommend checking tourism boards and airport websites for the most up to date information, but often find great information on Wikitravel. And having that knowledge of what to do and where to go right when you arrive will make you more confident, save you time, and make you look less like a tourist (who scammers love!). Even though we’ve traveled a lot, we still have to remind ourselves to do this, and have definitely forgotten more than a few times and suffered the consequences. Most memorably, we arrived in Bratislava, Slovakia without a clue as to how to get to our hotel, and without wifi or cell service to figure it out. After taking the wrong bus, we ended up having to grab a taxi from a random hotel – a costly mistake! – Sarah & Justin, Travel Breathe Repeat
This is such an important tip! I shared similar advice in 25 Ways to Overcome Travel Anxiety. Knowing where to go when you land makes all the difference in the world, especially if you’re a new or nervous traveler.
➤ If you need to pack light, book accommodations near a laundromat. Booking accommodations near a laundromat has saved me a ton of money in my travels. I’ve been able to fly much cheaper flights by bringing only a carry-on bag and sparing the checked luggage. You don’t want to find yourself mailing clothes back via UPS to make room for souvenirs! (True story). Next time you’re trying to decide between two hotels, go with the one closest to the laundromat. You can pack all of your essentials and easily rewash items you have already worn. Also, be sure to check the laundromat rates ahead of time! – Crystalyn, Trip Gazer
➤ I am a family travel writer, who has crossed the US and many parts of the globe with two kids in tow, and my #1 travel tip is to stay at a location that has laundry facilities. Doing laundry half-way through your trip enables you to pack about half as much and eliminates the costly fees for checked luggage. I’ve found washers and dryers in hotels and rentals all over the world, and when I don’t, I’ve even hand washed clothes in a sink using Dr. Bronner’s soap and used a clothesline for them to dry. Using this trick my family of four was able to pack for a 10-day trip to Europe last summer with only carry on bags (four backpacks). A mom to 8- and 11-year old boys, I write for Maps Memories and Motherhood, Kidtripster and other travel publications. My husband and I are indoctrinating our boys into the wonder and awe of travel. So far, we have visited 29 states and 11 countries and counting. –Lori LeRoy, Maps Memories and Motherhood
➤ I might be biased, but I recommend travelers use GetYourGuide to discover and book tours and activities around the world. The experiences you have on vacation or what you remember most, right? Then why wait until you arrive to think about what you’ll do and where you’ll go. You’ll end up paying more for tickets and waste hours in line. Travelers should book tours and activities right after their flight! That way you’ll save money, have a wider selection of options for days and times AND you won’t risk getting to your bucket list attraction only to find it SOLD OUT! GetYourGuide was recently named to Fast Company’s most Innovative Companies of 2019 (#3 in Travel). The site offers more than 34,000 things to do in 7,600 destinations worldwide–from skip-the-line tickets to the world’s most iconic attractions, walking tours by top local experts, immersive food and beverage tours, cooking and craft classes, bucket-list experiences and niche offerings you won’t find anywhere else. –Angela Drab, GetYourGuide Regional Manager, US East, Mexico & The Caribbean
➤ Always purchase travel insurance. We all want to think that bad things will never happen to us. However, that isn’t always the most reliable and responsible mentality. What happens if you are traveling abroad and something unexpectedly goes wrong? Often times the solution comes with a hefty price tag. Say you become sick while traveling internationally. The average healthcare company will not cover your medical fees for an illness abroad. In fact, it can be up to 12 times more expensive to spend the night in a hospital abroad than a five-star luxury hotel according to Finder.com. Travel medical insurance is great “bang for your buck” purchase to have alongside trip protection.
For instance, 18-year-old Alysan’s life was, quite literally, saved all thanks to her $35 travel medical insurance policy. The amount of money she saved due to having travel insurance was thousands, but keeping her life after a terrifying battle with malaria was priceless. Or, you land from a long flight only to discover your luggage did not arrive with you. With around six bags for every 1,000 passengers misplaced in 2017 according to information technology company SITA, it is a smart, money saving tactic to purchase trip protection that includes coverage for lost, stolen or damaged baggage. And if something comes up last minute that requires you to cancel your trip all together? One of the best ways for anyone to protect their future travel and financial plans is to add a ‘Cancel For Any Reason’ (CFAR) policy to their travel insurance package. The CFAR benefit allows travelers to cancel their trip for any reason they wish. That way, should an unavoidable circumstance occur prior to the departure date, travelers can cancel their trip and receive at least 75 percent of their nonrefundable trip cost back. – Justin Tysdal, 25-year travel industry veteran, co-founder and CEO of Seven Corners
I couldn’t agree more with Justin’s travel tips! No matter how tight your budget, never travel without insurance. I use and recommend World Nomads. Without them, I would have been out thousands of dollars on a trip to Brazil when Hurricane Irma caused me to have to cancel at the last minute. Pop your info into the box below for a quick, free quote.
➤ Always, always, always bring a printed paper of the hotel names and address translated into different languages. This will help you with having to deal with a headache by trying to navigate a unknown country all by your self or with friends. Often, hotels offer their business card at the check in counter; grab a few and save them all over your clothes. I use this tip even when am going home to Puerto Rico, it makes my life easier. Finally, this tip will also help you in case you have to deal with local police for any reason. –Cristhian Gonzalez, CGM Travels
➤ Do your own travel planning & booking! Yes, this takes time, and can be very time consuming, but for me, trip planning is truly half the fun of a vacation! I love emailing people around the world and getting emails from China and Vietnam at 3 a.m.! If that’s the kind of thing that floats your boat, and you have the time to do it, you can save a TON of money AND get to do “off-the-beaten-path” things that you won’t get to do on a guided tour. My chef husband and I recently spent a month in China, traveling the country by train, and taking cooking classes, foodie tours, etc., and I arranged it all online and by email- with no problems- for 1/3 of what that trip would have cost us booked through a travel agent. I have booked everything for our vacations in Vietnam, Israel, Italy, Chile, Korea, Japan, and a number of islands in the Caribbean, online and via email, with no problems. Almost everyone in the travel business around the world is going to be able to email you in some sort of okay English- the 2 times they haven’t been able to do it in Perfect English- one place in Chile and once place in Japan- it worked out fine, too! 🙂 I do “Google” to see reviews before I make reservations… Viator was great for booking many truly excellent private tours in China, but many (cooking classes & foodie tours all over the world, truffle hunting in Italy, train tickets, cruises, apartment rentals & hotel stays, a Ryokan stay in Japan, etc.) were booked directly with the companies or guides via email. – Elisse & Chef Dan Clark, Elkhorn Inn & Theatre
I agree, the planning of a trip is almost as much fun as actually going. And it can save you boatloads of money, as I showed in my two week Sri Lanka itinerary, where I recreated a $10,000 luxury tour for just over $2,000. Don’t be afraid to do it yourself!
Brilliant Travel Tips for: Packing
➤ My favorite travel tip is simple, empowering, and saves money, time, and stress. It is to pack as light as possible. By limiting the stuff you bring, you save money by avoiding baggage fees on flights. You save time not waiting for checked in bags. You eliminate the stress of keeping track of extra bags. With less stuff, you can more easily traverse airports, rail stations, cobblestone streets in Europe. In addition to physically limiting stuff, packing less emotionally will also benefit your travels. –Charles McCool, Travel Happiness Advocate, McCool Travel
My friend Charles gives the best travel tips! It’s common for new travelers especially to over pack, thinking they need to bring everything they own. I’m telling you, you don’t need half that stuff and you’ll never use it.
➤ I’m a frequent traveler, and like a lot of people, my main stress when I’m traveling is going through security. Especially because I travel with my five year old daughter, often alone, and when you’re traveling in Europe (I live in Spain), anything electronic that is cell phone size or larger has to be taken out of your carry on and placed separately on the belt. With a five year old, we have multiple tablets, and cell phones, and laptops, and Kindles, plus liquids, and it can be a nightmare! So what I do is pack all of the stuff that has to be taken out in one bag, and then I only need to unpack one thing. So instead of grabbing my cell phone and liquids from my purse, and then laptop and tablet from my main carry on, plus my daughter’s stuff in her bag, I pack everything that has to be taken out together in one bag. After I’m through security, I can re-pack so my cell phone and liquids go back in my purse, and the Kindle goes into my daughter’s bag, and it saves me having to remember where each electronic is, and unpack that bag individually while in the security line. It’s made going through security so much easier for me! And it’s made the people in line behind me much happier, too! –Heather Teysko, Writer, Storyteller & Adventurer, The Renaissance English History Podcast
➤ I think that one of the best tips that I can ever offer a person who travels is to take a travel board game along with them. It is an odd tip and it has been over three years since someone suggested I try it. Over the years, I have begun to realize that it is rather invaluable for a number of reasons. Travel is fluid and you never know what is going to happen. Flights, trains, buses etc get delayed and instead of moaning and groaning about it, a good travel board game helps keep your mind occupied and happy. It also helps keep kids entertained!
Aside from that, they are great for days when it rains or when you get back to your accommodation and are just too tired to move. We have also found that board games provide a great social icebreaker! So if you find yourself in a hostel or even in the common area of a hotel, you can invite other travelers to join the fun! If picked wisely, they are both portable, re-playable and fun! –Penny, Globe Trove
I love travel tips like this! This is something I’ve never thought of, probably because I usually travel solo, but I’m 100% doing this the next time I travel with someone else.
➤ Always pack binoculars! Even an inexpensive set of binoculars can open up a whole new world of very familiar destinations. They’re great for spotting the intricacies on cathedral and temple ceilings, or displaying the details of an altarpiece that is behind a gate. The colors of mosaics and paintings seem to pop with light when you can get a closer look. I’ve taken a set with me to Egypt, where the hieroglyphics in the temples and on the massive pillars stretch more than 30 ft. high. They double as theater glasses for plays and concerts. And, they can also be used as intended to bring far away castles and birds and other wildlife into focus. –Debra Ruzbasan, Regional Sales Manager, Ed-Ventures, Inc
➤I carry a handheld digital luggage scale when I fly. The reason is that it’s easy to reach carry-on and checked luggage weight restrictions simply by filling your suitcase with clothes, shoes and toiletries, especially when domestic maximum weight is only 50 lbs. You’ll never have to worry about your luggage being too heavy at check-in. Knowing the weight in advance will allow you to redistribute your items in the hotel or at home versus at the airport. These little easy-to-use scales cost around $10 on Amazon which is much less than an excess baggage charge. – Katie Dillon, La Jolla Mom
Katie speaks the truth! If I had $1.00 for every person I’ve seen frantically stuffing dirty underwear into their purse on the airport floor, desperately trying to get their bag under weight, I could buy a whole case of luggage scales. Also we won’t discuss how often that person has been me.
➤ A great travel tip that I have come to exercise regularly is to always keep a good quality foldable reusable bag in my pocket or in my carry on when traveling. This bag comes in handy when you are checking in baggage and your checked bag is overweight. You can simply remove a few items and place them in the reusable bag carrying them with you as opposed to checking them in your luggage. This tip has saved me overweight baggage fees many times. The reusable bag also comes in handy when you buy too many things from the duty-free shop that you are unable to squeeze into your carry on bag. You have your handy bag available to keep all your purchases together which makes them easier to carry and less likely to be left on board the plane when you deplane. –Shanita Moore, Tour This World
Absolutely, Shanita. There’s a reason I have these bags on my printable packing list! They also come in handy while shopping at your destination. Lots of places have done away with plastic bags, and even if they haven’t, you can do your part for the environment by using your own bag instead of taking more plastic.
➤ My best travel tip for new travelers is to bring your own reusable water bottle. It’ll save you money and it’s better for the environment. Most recently, I packed water bottles for each member of my family when we went to California. They were handy for the flight, but also once we were there and doing a bit of hiking, we each had one to stay hydrated. A key thing to keep in mind when flying, though, is you must keep your water bottle empty when you go through the security checkpoint. Once you’re through security, fill it in a water fountain and you’re good to go!- Kim, Founder and owner of Oh My! Omaha – Exploring Omaha & Beyond
➤ Always carry plastic zip-lock bags in three different sizes – snack, sandwich and gallon. Gallon size can be used to store dirty clothes, especially the wet ones, including shoes. There are many uses. The sandwich size can be used to carry extra food off the breakfast buffet for a lunch or to save a half eaten pastry for later, or to store documents in purse so they you can easily get to them. The snack size can be used for snacks, jewelry, extra change or for separating different currencies or to hold a toothbrush and paste. –Susan Carlisle May, Author
I’ve been carrying Ziploc bags with me for years and you’d be amazed at the things you find to put in them that you wouldn’t have thought about beforehand. Collect seashells on the beach without getting sand all over the inside of your suitcase, have an emergency barf bag for sudden travel sickness, stuff your folding travel umbrella inside so you don’t get water all over the inside of your purse… the list goes on and on!
➤ I seriously don’t know what I would do without packing cubes. They are affordable, convenient, and have become a total essential for my travel lifestyle. In fact, my only packing cube-adjacent complaint is that they didn’t enter my life sooner! They help you quickly and easily categorize your belongings, and organize them within your backpack. When I forgot to grab my favorite cardigan right before checking my backpack at security, it was ridiculously easy to slip out the right cube and find it. Before packing cubes, I would’ve been rifling through my whole backpack, the pile of clothes on the airport floor slowly growing… if you want to up your travel game, get some packing cubes! Just know, once you’ve tried traveling with ‘em, there’s no going back. –Kaisa, Glam Granola Travel
Totally agreed on all counts, Kaisa! I held off on getting my first set of packing cubes for years because I just didn’t get what all the hype was about. But after my first trip with them, I was a total convert. If you have ever rummaged around in the bottomless depths of a suitcase while breaking out in a cold sweat because you could have sworn you had at least one more pair of clean underwear in there, you will love the feeling of total organization packing cubes bring to your travels!
Brilliant Travel Tips for: Saving Money
➤ My favorite airfare hack is what I call across the pond hack. This technique is pretty simple. When flying across the ocean to Europe, Asia, or South America you will often, if not always, have a stop at a major airport such as ORD, NYC, MIA, IAH, SFO, or LAX. If I am helping someone with traveling overseas I will first look at round trip prices to see what the average on tickets is. Then I will check a round trip to the city where the layover is and another round trip ticket to the final destination. The price difference is often significant and it is always worth the extra time to me.
An example of this is if you wanted to fly to let’s say Finland from St. Louis, your layover most likely will be Chicago or New York. Check the price of a round trip to either ORD or NYC, then the price of a second round trip to Finland. One thing to bring attention to is checked baggage. If you are traveling with checked baggage make sure your layover between the two round trips gives you enough time to claim your baggage and check back into your new flights on both sides of your trip. –John Renken, Adventurer, Leadership Coach, Entrepreneur
Genius. Absolute genius. I just tested out John’s theory by checking the price of flights from my home airport of Portland, Oregon to Tokyo. The cheapest flight I found was $688 and required a stop in Honolulu. If I use John’s system and search Portland to Honolulu ($183) and Honolulu to Tokyo ($380), the same flight would only cost me $563, a savings of $125. John, if we ever have a layover in the same airport, I’m buying you a beer.
➤ We love to save money on our travels, because the more money we save, the more places we can go! That’s why we’ve learned that being flexible with your travel dates can save you loads of money. It can be as simple as flying on a weekday instead of a weekend, or changing the season when you’re traveling. If you travel in the slow or “shoulder” seasons, your flights, activities, and accommodations can be much cheaper than in peak season. Our next trip was actually planned for the day after Easter this year, and we realized the trip flight would cost four times less the week after! So we changed our dates, and are using that money for another trip. Be flexible and you can save! –Sara, Our Kind of Crazy
Can confirm! I recently extended a trip to Cuba by one day and cut the airfare in half because I originally wanted to come home during a holiday weekend. I love Momondo for being able to see exactly how prices fluctuate day by day around the time I’m searching.
➤ My best travel tip to help you save money in your next destination is to plan an itinerary full of completely free attractions and activities. During my first trip to Las Vegas, I couldn’t afford to travel and certainly didn’t have any spending money for a vacation, but staying home just wasn’t an option. I’d promised to attend a family wedding in Vegas, and everyone expected me to be there. After an initial panic, I began researching the city in depth to try to find some way to have a good time in a notoriously expensive city without actually spending a single penny while visiting for a full week. It took hours and hours of careful planning, but I now have an extensive list of 100 Free Things to do in Las Vegas.
This technique can be applied to any city though, so I encourage you to use this trick anytime you’re longing to visit a city that you fear you cannot afford. Research it in advance, and plan an itinerary full of 100% free things to do. Search for free tours. Search for free activities. Search for free meals. Many big cities have free museum entries, and some have free parks and gardens. You’ll be surprised what you can find once you start looking. I especially love checking each city to see if it has any pretty waterfalls nearby that are free to visit. Checking for Instagram-worthy buildings and beautifully painted street-art murals is another great option. Compiling a free-itinerary will save you so much money on your next trip, and through this method of planning, you can find so many unique attractions and hidden gems that you’d never find listed on top tourist sites! – Jillian Michelle, Adventure Dragon
I love this tip because I feel like I shout myself hoarse on a daily basis trying to convince people that travel doesn’t have to be as expensive as they think. If you’re looking for more ways to make travel affordable, check out my massive list of travel tips on 90+ ways to travel for free or really, really cheap.
➤ I’d like to suggest one of my frequently used travel tips that help me to save a lot of money around the world. It’s about finding accommodation in neighboring cities next to popular destinations. For example, you’d like to visit Amsterdam or Barcelona in May. Prices are automatically higher due to a high season. Many options are already booked. The money-saving tip is to find accommodation in a smaller city nearby that has a good transport connection. Instead of running over budget in Barcelona, you can choose the neighboring city of Sitges or Gavà. Instead of staying in the over-priced heart of Amsterdam, there is Zandvoort nearby. This tip is also a great way to avoid consequences of ‘overtourism’ and discover more places. While staying in Sitges this January, we found out that this city is one of the LGBT capitals of Europe. Well, the beaches were also better over there and food was cheaper. – Alina, Travel Blogger, Alina on Tour
➤ Many places which typically cost money are free sometimes or for some people. It varies – maybe it’s the first Thursday of every month or for students and people who are employed as artists but it’s worth checking out! If it’s a day of the week or month and you happen to be there over that time, schedule that activity for that day. If there are other requirements, make sure you bring proof (like your student ID). We’ve done this for some museums and save money. – Brianna and Kyle, Married with Maps
And if you can’t find a free admission day, check out sites like Groupon to see if you can at least score a really good deal on your tickets! And if you use some of the travel tips on my Groupon Travel Deals post, you might be able to get them for free anyway.
➤ I spend most of the year covering festivals across Europe. My one tip is an easy one: Make sure your credit card charges 0% foreign transaction fees before you leave on your trip! Also, when using an ATM, only take out money in the local currency. The ATM may “helpfully” ask to convert currency for you, but this is always a worse exchange rate than your bank will give you. – Vito
Valentinetti, Co-Founder/Editor in Chief, Music Festival Wizard
➤ I have been keeping an eye on prices over the last 14 months. To me it seems that the best time to book flights is when they are released (that’s around 11 months in advance for most airlines) or really last minute, say a month or less before travel. The issue with the latter is availability so you can’t always choose where on when you want to go or if there are a few of you travelling together it might be an issue. Airline flight sales are also pretty good, if you sign up to a travel agency newsletter you will get notifications of all flight sales rather than having to sign up for 10 different airlines flight sale alerts. –Andrea Crome, Head of Marketing, SN Travel
➤ Booking directly with a hotel is always better than booking through third-party websites. The reason for this is because the third-party sites, which can offer great deals, many times don’t have guest-friendly cancellation policies. By booking your hotel stay via the hotel’s website or on the phone with the hotel’s sales office, you’ll usually have at least a 24 to 48 hour buffer before your check-in in the event that you need to cancel for whatever reason.
Also, when booking directly, you’ll have access to valuable money-saving specials that the hotel may be running during the time period when you’re looking to visit, so be sure to ask what’s available. Once you’re booked and checked in, ask the hotel if it has any discount partnerships with, or coupons for area restaurants and attractions. At The Commander, for instance, we have a mobile app that entitles our guests to exclusive savings at mini golf courses, bike rental shops, and freebies at local restaurants (such as a free appetizer or drink with an entrée purchase).
Another secret perk is that guests can always request room upgrades if a hotel isn’t fully booked, which can be easily arranged based on availability. While hotels should offer this without being prompted, many don’t – so it’s definitely worth it for guests to inquire about it!- Jim Douglas, General Manager, The Commander Hotel, Ocean City, MD
➤ Harness the money-saving power of travel credit cards. Even basic travel credit cards provide plenty of opportunities to save. Most let you earn points or miles per dollar spent, and these can generally be redeemed for flights, hotel rooms, or other travel expenses, depending on which card you prefer. Travel credit cards with higher annual fees might be pricier up front, but they tend to provide impressive benefits that can prove particularly valuable for the passionate explorer. Benefits to look out for include airport lounge access, complimentary hotel loyalty status, travel statement credits, and complimentary travel insurance. – Sean Messier, Credit Industry Analyst, Credit Card Insider
I’ve also seen credit cards that pay for your Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check fee, which is worth its weight in gold!
➤ Microstays are a new travel trend defined by Wikipedia as ‘residency in a hotel room for less than 24 hours, choosing check in time and length of stay.’ They are another lifestyle upgrade that has come about largely due to smartphone GPS technology which allows us to cram more into our days and spontaneously access useful services where we are and at any given moment. Inherently practical, booking a hotel room for a few hours is a clever modern hack for a huge number of scenarios, from a pitstop for business trippers in between a day of meetings, to a comfortable port in the storm for those travelers with an early, delayed, cancelled or red-eye flight to enjoy hotel room facilities as a bed, shower or secure wifi connection for 3, 6 or 12 hours.
Now, this microstays trend, who is implementing it? BYHOURS is the first online platform & APP that allows booking hotel rooms for a few hours. You can book a room in one of our 3,000 Hotels for 3, 6 or 12 hours, choosing the check-in time, and paying only for the time you use. And these “microstays”, have proved to be a big innovation in the business industry transforming our productivity wherever we go. That’s right, the first pay-per-use system in the hotel sector. We work with over 3000 big chains and indenpendent hotel partners in 600 cities worldwide.
Just to highlight one of the use cases, the one related to airport booking reservation, I would showcase four hotels that are subject to be booked on a microstay through our platform:
- Hotel Air Rooms Madrid Airport by Premium Traveller, in Terminal 4 at Madrid Adolfo Suarez- Barajas Airport
- Hotel Sleep & Fly Business Center, in Terminal 1 at Barcelona el Prat Airport
- Hôtel Hilton Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport, at 350m from the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris
- Hotel izzzleep Aeropuerto Terminal I, within the Mexico Benito Juarez International Airport in Terminal 1
-Rosa González, PR & Communications Manager, BYHOURS
I really love this concept. When you fly to some of the most far-flung corners of the world like I do, it’s super common to have to leave or arrive in the middle of the night. This always prompts the question of whether to pay for a hotel room that I’ll only get to use for a few hours or to suck it up and hang out in the airport for longer than I need to, forgoing a shower and a comfortable bed for even a few hours. When I was younger, I would try to tough it out in the airport as often as possible, but y’all- I am too old for trying to sleep in an uncomfortable chair anymore. If there was a nearby hotel that I could book for a few hours without having to pay full price, I would be all over it.
Brilliant Travel Tips for: Using Technology
➤ As you are walking around a new town and visiting different attractions, take pictures of the signs. In fact, if you are dining at a new restaurant, take a photo of the restaurant’s sign before you leave. As you are sorting through your photos days later, the signs will be good reminders of what you saw or where you went. Especially if you happened to stumble upon a site, the picture of the sign will help you look up more information later! On one of my most recent trips, I completely forgot the name of a restaurant I was recommending, but at least I took a picture of it! – Michelle Maraj, Travel After Five
I do this *all the time*. I wouldn’t be much of a travel blogger if I couldn’t remember the names of any of the places I wanted to recommend to you guys, would I? But I think it would be a good practice for everyday travelers, too- have you ever wanted to recommend a place to a friend but it’s been a while since you visited and you can’t remember the name? Ugh.
That’s also why I save every place I ever go on Google maps- you could ask me 10 years from now what was the name of the hotel I stayed at in Scotland, and I’ll be able to search for Edinburgh and immediately see that it was the Fraser Suites (which I highly recommend, incidentally.)
➤ Conquer your fear of flying with the SOAR in-flight app. It is like having a pilot sitting next to you, explaining every sound, every turn, and every sensation. If you enter your flight into the app, A server will research your route of flight and set up the app to tell you when you are approaching an area of possible turbulence and when you are past it. –Captain Tom Bunn, MSW, LCSW, retired airline captain, President & founder of SOAR
➤ I wanted to suggest a no-brainer travel gadget that your readers probably already have in their homes – a standard plug-in power strip. Here’s why it’s great… When you’re on the road and you have multiple devices that you need to charge, it’s much easier to plug them all into a power strip rather than having to search out multiple outlets in a hotel room.
Also, when it’s time to pack up and leave, you’re far less likely to forget a device (or your charger) and leave it in your hotel room if everything is plugged into one centralized location. Finally – and this is particularly convenient – when you’re traveling internationally, you only need to bring along one plug adapter. You simply use that one adapter to plug in your power strip, and then everything else plugs into the power strip using their conventional, two-prong, U.S.-style plugs. No additional adapters needed!
FYI, credit for this travel hack goes to my colleague Brian Stacey here at Tauck. Perhaps you’re familiar with us? We’re a 94-year-old leader in guided high-end tours and cruises, and Brian travels the world for us designing new itineraries. Brian has been to 76 different countries, visited all 50 states, and he averages 120 days on the road each year, so he’s an experienced traveler. – Tom Armstrong, Corporate Communications Manager, Tauck
This is one of those travel tips that just made me stare off into space for a few minutes, questioning my entire existence. I have literally left dozens of phone chargers in hotel rooms all over the world. I wonder how many I would have saved if I had been traveling with a power strip? We’re about to find out because I’m never going anywhere without one again.
➤ Download Google Translate to your phone and download the language of your country you’re visiting so it can be accessed offline. This has saved me on numerous occasions when I’ve been somewhere and needed to communicate with a local and neither of us knows each other’s language. Google Translate allows you to access languages offline which means you or the interlocutor can type in what you what to say and understand each other quickly. This is great for learning vocabulary and translating short phrases. The first time I used this method was in a small town in Czech. I couldn’t understand the train station staff and needed to get a train to the airport. I was flustered and he was confused about what I was asking. Finally, I took out my phone, typed in my question in Google Translate and showed him. He smiled and typed back his answer. It worked like a charm. –Michelle Frolla, Author, The Intrepid Guide
➤ An app not many people seem to use is maps.me You’re able to download a country’s map and then use it offline anywhere. You’re able to see accommodation, restaurants, etc. etc. and find your way around anywhere. You can bookmark where you’ve been and track your travel – leaving notes about each place. It’s 100% free and far better than google’s offline maps. –Charlie, Bookmundi
I totally agree, Charlie! I love Maps.me. I used this app extensively in Cuba where I had no Internet access whatsoever, and it was amazing.
➤ I suggest every traveler, whether near or far, invest in a VPN service. They’re not terribly expensive and the peace of mind while using public WiFi that your information is safe is worth the small cost. –Annick, The Common Traveler
Yes, yes, yes! This is one of those little things that no one ever thinks about that can totally revolutionize your travel. Have you ever wanted to connect to a public WiFi while traveling but you weren’t sure if it was secure? Using a service like PureVPN takes the worry out of connecting to random WiFi around the world. In addition, if you like to use streaming media while you travel (and who doesn’t anymore?) you might find some of your favorite shows or movies blocked in certain parts of the world. I found that out the hard way when I added a bunch of movies to my Amazon Prime video watch list and couldn’t access any of them in Sri Lanka. With VPN, that’s no longer an issue. And for about $3.00 a month, why wouldn’t you get it?
➤ My best travel tip is to save important travel information online (using Google Drive, for example). When checking out of an apartment in Rome, I was told to leave the keys inside. After locking and closing the door, I realized I’d left my train tickets on the kitchen table. There was a brief moment of terror when I realized what I had done, but I had all the information stored online. With the train, car, and seat numbers, I knew where to go, and I had the reference number saved online also, which was all the conductor needed. Storing the information online saved the day! Pro tip – Google drive will let you save your files for offline use, too. – Donna Wilson, Some Bold Adventure
➤ There are tons of apps that make travel more comfortable. The first app I check while planning a trip is Hopper. It tracks flights, the best time to fly, and finds the perfect deal. Hopper analyzes flights to help you find the best times to fly and buy. Next goes Tripcast. Sharing photos is always a headache, right? Tripcast is an app where you can create trips, invite friends and family to collaborate to the trip album and download all the photos. Isn’t it a great instrument to share photos in high quality without posting pictures to social media? Another sharing tool. This time on how to share expenses. There is an app that lets you split expenses, track bills with friends, called Splitwise. Splitwise is a free tool available on the web, iPhone, and Android that makes sure that everyone gets paid back. –Maria Pohetina, Call It Adventure
➤ My number one travel tip is Google’s offline maps. Navigating a foreign country is hard—you don’t understand the language, you are trying to see as much as you can within a limited time, you don’t have cell service or an international plan, and struggle to carry around and read physical maps. Thankfully, Google offline maps makes traveling easier no matter where you are in the world. By simply searching for your city or country on google maps, clicking the toggle bar on the left hand side, and selecting offline maps, you are able to instantly download a google map of the area you are traveling in. Whether you have service or not, the GPS will always know your location on the google map and you can search for hotels, restaurants, and POIs all without having to have service. This especially comes in handy when you are driving or walking in areas that don’t have cell service. Google’s Offline Maps helps make sure you get to your destination without wasting time and without getting lost.- Sveva Marcangeli, Founder & Writer, SVADORE
Brilliant Travel Tips for: Staying Healthy
➤ When you’re going for street food, no matter what country you’re in, always go for hot foods from the busiest stalls. This is because places that are really busy will necessarily have fresher food thanks to the high customer turnover, making it much less likely that the food gets contaminated. This rule of thumb goes for both food & drink stalls. Though in the case of drinks made with ice, I’d avoid at all costs anyway since bacteria thrive in water and you don’t know where the ice came from. I know I’ve taken many trips wherein I needed to last on street food for weeks at a time, even when I first moved to South Korea and was munching on everything I could find in Seoul. Feeling confident going for street food helps you connect with new cultures so much faster, and takes a bit of strain off your pocketbook at the same time. – Max Gandy, Dame Cacao
➤ I used to get sick after every flight. Now, when flying I always carry a pack of disinfectant wipes (lysol, target, clorox, etc.) and when I board the plane I wipe down the armrests, the tray table, and the seat in front of me (behind the tray table). Since I started this practice ~1 year ago, I have not gotten sick while flying. – Catherine, Traveling with the Littles
You and me both, Catherine! You’d like to think that people on airplanes behave like civilized humans, but I’ve seen everything from bare feet to dirty diapers on those tray tables and there is exactly zero chance I’m going to eat anything off of them without disinfecting them first. I always have a travel pack of disinfectant wipes in my bag to de-germ my space.
➤ I’m frequently traveling because of the nature of my work, I’m always in hotels. I very rarely see this accommodated for, but having a portable water bottle humidifier is perfect for a hotel room. They tend to be smaller so you don’t need a huge one, and they help offset hotel rooms generally being very dry because the AC is always running. – Evan Chen, CEO, Akia
I didn’t know these things even existed until Evan gave me this tip and now I’m thinking back over literally hundreds of trips where I ended up with a sore throat and sinus issues due to the pervasive dry air in hotel rooms and airplanes. I’m picking one of these gadgets up for my next trip!
➤ Pack Pedialyte powder no matter where you travel. I am so grateful that I had it with me during a recent conference when I developed food poisoning. When you are sick, you may not be able to locate it and do you want to wait? These travel packs are fantastic. Just pour the powder into a bottle of water. –Janice S. Lintz, consumer education/travel writer and a non-practicing attorney.
Mind. Blown. This is another one of those travel tips that makes me sit up straighter in my chair and go, “Why have I never thought of this??” I have been sick in So. Many. Places. around the world and there’s literally never a convenient 7-11 nearby where I can grab a soothing bottle of Gatorade. This idea is literally genius and I’m adding Pedialyte powder to my travel first aid kit forever.
➤ When I travel, my only “must have” are my Psi Bands. They are the only relief I find from motion sickness. I don’t like taking drugs, so these effective acupressure bands are a perfect choice. Bonus: I love the colorful designs. They are also waterproof so I can keep them clean and wear them in the water without waterlogged bands. I always keep a set in my car, too! –Denise Lucarelli
Brilliant Travel Tips for: Making the Most of Your Trip
➤ At the start of your travels, take a cooking class. It’s a great way to meet a local, learn the region’s native dishes, and get tips on what and where to eat. Not only do you have to eat during your trip, making it enjoyable and finding great local spots that serve up tasty dishes will help you learn more about the region and appreciate your travels all the more. –Jenn Nicken, Founder, The Chef & The Dish
I love this idea! I took a cooking class in Cuba on my tour with Intrepid Travel and it was a great way to experience some real local culture and get to know some of the dishes that kept appearing on restaurant menus. Some good places to look for local cooking classes are Get Your Guide, Airbnb Experiences, and Groupon.
➤ The best travel tip for women travelers is to begin every trip well rested. Plan your departure allowing time to relax prior to leaving. Avoid running around in a last minute flurry of activity. Upon arrival reserve a spa treatment for yourself to unwind after a long haul flight and ease into vacation mode. –Peggy Coonley, President, Serendipity Traveler
I wholeheartedly agree with this advice, Peggy! I’ve been known to book a hotel near my departure airport for the night before my flight so I can relax in a cozy hotel room and then roll out of bed ready to go- no frantic night-before-the-trip panicking at home and no long, stressful drive to the airport in the morning. And I think this advice is just as applicable to male travelers- you guys deserve a nice relaxing spa treatment, too!
➤ Since I frequently travel internationally (and have problems mastering foreign languages), I’ve found the perfect solution in decks of playing cards from LINGO. They’re an innovative way to learn the kind of key phrases in many foreign languages (Spanish, German, French, Italian, Mandarin, Japanese, even British and Aussie slang) to get you through the day. And playing cards is also another way to make new friends! –Barry M. Schwartz, President, Schwartz Public Relations
➤ After visiting 27 states with my dog, my non-obvious travel tip for new travelers is to make sure to build in downtime to your schedule! It is hard, because sometimes you want to do ALL THE COOL THINGS, but vacations are supposed to be relaxing! This goes double for business travel; if you or your company are spending a ton of money for you to go somewhere, it’s no use if you can’t function while you’re there. –Beth Gordon, spacewhippet
This is so important, and such a tough lesson to learn. I mention this in 12 Tips for Traveling with a Chronic Illness, too. If you don’t slow down and take a breather during your travels, sometimes your body will force you to do just that.
➤ Last year I traveled to a new country each month. I would have DIED without Priority Pass. The lounge lifestyle is a must for a frequent traveler. The best part is that if you’re in the airport for a long time you can jump from one lounge to another. Each lounge offers food, drinks, and even showers. Arrive at your destination feeling refreshed and happy! – John Stenstrom, Cast & Spear
Amen to this! And if you follow my tips in Groupon Travel Deals, you can snag that Priority Pass for $7.00 (or even free if you combine deals!)
➤ This is something we do in most cities: some of the best meals we have had in major European cities have been in department stores. Don’t hesitate to take a break from shopping or just make a point of visiting the cafeterias and/or restaurants of department stores as they are often a great and inexpensive way to have an authentic meal of local cuisine. For example, after arriving on an overnight flight from NY to Paris we wandered into Au Printemps to their gorgeous stained glass dome restaurant for a delicious lunch of veal stew, the daily special (and it was only 19 euros!). It was great food and wonderful people watching as it was primarily filled with shoppers and business people who already know this secret. The same can be said of Amsterdam’s Bijenkorf where you can take your gourmet cafeteria food and sit on a sun-filled roof deck where no one will bother you for hours! –Alise Kreditor, KMC
Let me co-sign this travel tip, Alise! When I’m in London, I love to have lunch at Harrods and people-watch for hours.
➤ -One tip I would give to LGBTQ travelers specifically would be to check out all the resources at GayTravel.com. For more than 20 years, we’ve been a comprehensive resource for gay travelers, providing info on the best gay-friendly hotels, destinations, tours, and events. We work with travel partners around the world who have shown themselves to be gay-friendly and welcoming to the LGBTQ community and who constantly improve their amenities and service levels for all travelers. We decline advertising from companies and organizations that have shown discriminatory behavior toward any minority community. If travelers are looking for gay-friendly hotels, they can check out our list of options here. We’ve got lots of gay-friendly destinations highlighted in our “Destinations” tab. – Theresa Boehl, Editor, GayTravel.com
➤ When going to a new place, find someone (a tour guide or friend of friend) who is a local.. Have them meet you first thing when arriving to the place you are visiting, at the Paris train station for example. I find a two to three hour introductory tour of how the city works, metros, customs and highlights really helps people feel more comfortable and gives them tips. Myself and guides I work with also are often in contact with the clients before they arrive, offering important tips like which tickets to book in advance and when to go. Now that you know the area and can feel less stressed trying to figure out what to see and how to get there…leave a day unplanned. If you are there for a few days, don’t book every day. Let yourself get lost. Sit and watch people pass in a local café or restaurant. These are some of the best memories people have from trips, not standing in line for the sites that every other tourist wants to see. Be a local for a day and let yourself relax.- Anne Jordan, Aquitaine Travel Guide
I really love this advice, Anne. When I’m traveling, I try to blend in with the locals as much as possible and definitely leave some unstructured time to just wander and people watch and check out the non-touristy parts of town.
➤ Travel money cards are debit cards which you can use at any ATM across the world – the great thing about travel money cards is that they can be loaded using an app, so you don’t need to store any money on the card and you can load it up only when you want to withdraw cash. This means even if you lose the card, you have nothing to worry about. Most travel money cards can be used around the world which is extra useful – a few years ago I was in Morocco (I took a day trip from Gibraltar) and I suddenly realized that they used a different currency and I needed some dirham pretty quickly, so I just loaded up my travel money card using my app and I was absolutely fine! –Max Robinson, WeSwap Euros
➤ The best travel tip I have ever received and live by is to pack your sense of humor and sense of adventure. No trip goes perfectly as planned and if you can hang onto your sense of humor you will have great stories to tell when you return and you will have much less stress on the trip. Be adventuresome and try new things. Put on a vacation persona and step out of your comfort zone. Do the zip line. Eat at the restaurant where all the locals are lined up outside. Venture off the Interstate and take the back roads. When I was in Chile traveling with my best friend and her 18 month old baby, we dropped her husband off to go fishing and we went to explore on our own. We took a wrong turn and ended up on this tiny dirt road heading into the forest with no way to turn around. All of the sudden the road turned into this canopy of Fuchsia bushes surrounding our dirt road with beautiful red, white and purple flowers. It was as if we drove into a magical forest. As we drove through this wonder it led us to a hunting and fishing lodge where we were able to get directions and turn around. It was the most magical moment of our trip. We still laugh and delight at unplanned moment. It could have been scary and stressful to be lost in the forest in a foreign country but we took it as an adventure. Pack your spirit of adventure and your sense of humor.- Anna Ransom, Travel Agent, Destination Yours Travel, Small Group Learning and Chile and South America Travel Specialist
Love, love, love this story. It reminds me of some of my own magical travel moments I wrote about for Intrepid Travel: Why the Magic of Travel is in the Unexpected Moments.
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