Monthly Archives: July 2016

Best Travel Tips After 10 Years of Traveling the World

After over ten years of consistent travel, I’ve definitely learned my fair share of lessons. Like the time I was robbed on a train because I let my guard down or the time Scott and I showed up at the Bozeman Airport only to find that we no longer had a car rental.

Some of these travel mishaps can be avoided and some of them are just a part of traveling. You simply cannot plan for everything. However, keeping a few important things in mind will make your travels much easier. So, in no particular order, here are The best travel tips:

BE FLEXIBLE

We always plan for delays and try not to get upset when things inevitably go wrong. Patience is extremely important when traveling!

MAKE A LIST

About a week or so before each trip, I make a mental list of items I don’t want to forget — which I WILL forget if I don’t write them down. I’ve learned that when I think of something, I need to write it down.

LEARN COMMON PHRASES OF THE LOCAL LANGUAGE

A simple “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry” in the local language goes a long way. I also like to learn the word for beer, but that’s just me.

DON’T FORGET AN EXTRA CAMERA BATTERY (OR TWO)

Have you ever gotten to that epic sunset photo spot and realized your camera battery is dead and you don’t have a back up? I try to bring at least three camera batteries on all of our trips so that we don’t miss out on that perfect shot.

ALWAYS BRING A SARONG

Sarongs can be used as a wrap when you are cold, a towel, a curtain, or a piece of clothing that can be worn dozens of different ways. Solid colors are great, but if you want something that stands out, I love this sarong.

ALWAYS BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE

A medical emergency can wipe out your savings — or even worse. We use and trust World Nomads for travel insurance.

MAKE PHOTOCOPIES OF IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS

In my early twenties, I was very good about keeping a copy of my passport in a separate bag from my actual passport. Then I got lazy. Recently, a friend of mine lost her passport at the airport. She was told that if she had brought a copy of it and extra passport photos they would have let her travel. Since she didn’t, she was forced to forfeit a $2,000 flight and a week in Europe. I now carry a copy with me.

PACK EXTRA UNDERWEAR

Undies are small and it’s always a good idea to have a few extra pairs in case of emergencies. Another option is to pack these quick-dry underwear so you can easily wash them on the road.

PRE-PLAN YOUR OUTFITS

I’m a lazy, last-minute packer, so I’ve spent too many trips with all black or all grey outfits because I didn’t plan my outfits before packing. I look back at photos and wish I had put more effort into packing.

PUT ELECTRONICS, MEDICATIONS, TOOTHBRUSH, AND AN EXTRA PAIR OF UNDERWEAR IN YOUR CARRY-ON

A few important items should always go in your carry-on. A swimsuit is also a good idea if you are going on a beach vacation. You can buy most of these things if your bag gets lost, but having them in your carry-on will save you money and time if your luggage gets lost in transit.

ENQUIRE ABOUT THE PRICE BEFORE YOU TAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

It’s a good idea to ask about the price before you hop on a bus, guagua, or other form of public transportation. We learned our lesson in the Dominican Republic.

BRING LOTION IN YOUR CARRY-ON

I fill both sides of a contact lens case with hydrating lotion (I use this all-natural hydrating lotion) because they rarely have it in the lavatories and airplane cabins are exceptionally dry.

STAY HYDRATED ON PLANES

I know it’s fun to get drunk at 30,000 feet, but it’s also much easier to get dehydrated. Staying hydrated — especially on long-haul flights — makes it easier to get over jet lag too.

PUT YOUR ROOM NUMBER & HOTEL ADDRESS IN YOUR PHONE

Am I the only one who can’t remember my hotel room number?? There has to be others out there like me.

ASK THE LOCALS

We always ask the locals to point us to the best restaurants, awesome spots to watch the sunset, the best coffee shops, etc. I do like to tell people what type of food I’m craving though. I’ve been led to some interesting restaurants that wouldn’t have been my first choice.

BEWARE OF FREE PUBLIC WIFI

I always try to avoid logging into bank accounts or entering any passwords while I’m using free public WIFI at a place like an airport. I’m not as strict about it once I’ve gotten to my hotel, especially if they have a password for their wifi.

ALERT YOUR BANK AND CREDIT CARD COMPANY OF YOUR TRAVEL PLANS

This is a great habit to get into if you don’t want your credit card company or bank to put a hold on your card while you are overseas.

WEAR SUNSCREEN

My face moisturizer has SPF. This is just something I do every day, but it’s especially important while traveling.

TAKE PLENTY OF PHOTOS

They make the best souvenirs!

KEEP AN OPEN MIND

Don’t judge other customs. You are a visitor. Be respectful.

LEAVE ROOM FOR SPONTANEITY

Don’t plan your entire itinerary ahead of time. It’s tempting, I know, but those unplanned moments while traveling can be the best memories.

LET SOMEONE AT HOME KNOW YOUR PLANS

This is extremely important when traveling solo, but it’s still a good idea no matter how many people are in your travel group.
SEPARATE YOUR PERSONAL ITEMS

When Scott and I travel together, we mix our personal items into each checked bag (assuming we have more than one). That way if one of our bags gets lost, we both still have some clothing and personal items.

SEPARATE YOUR SOURCES OF MONEY

Don’t keep all of your cash and cards in one spot. I usually hide some cash and a back up credit/bank card in a separate bag — not the same bag as my wallet.
TRAVEL FIRST AID KIT

We pack up a small first aid kit with aspirin, Benedryl, cold meds, Tums, cough drops, bandages,Activated Charcoal pills (these are a life saver for traveler’s diarrhea and minor allergic reactions), Neosporin, and other things that we may not always have easy access to when traveling. J&J sells an inexpensive mini first aid kit.
LOVE TO TRAVEL?

Want to know how to travel the world? I’ve put together a page full of useful travel resources with tips and tricks I’ve learned after consistently traveling for over ten years. Learn how I make a living while traveling, how to find the best prices on flights and accommodation, how to save money for travel, how to start a travel blog, and more.

Tips To Stay Stylish While Traveling

Packing clothes for a trip can be an incredible hassle. With many airlines charging growing fees for checked baggage, packing light has become not just an issue of space but of economics, too. In my twenties, the only thing I cared about was how much my bag weighed. Now, in my thirties, I carefully consider what goes into my suitcase — so I can save luggage space and still remain stylish.

TRAVEL STYLE: HOW TO LOOK STYLISH WHILE TRAVELING

PACK MOSTLY BASICS & A FEW STATEMENT PIECES

About 70% of the clothes you pack should be basics, not statement pieces. Dark blue jeans, a black skirt,a cute sundress, shorts or a warm coat, depending on the local climate, and a few dressy-casual blousescan all be mixed and matched to fit any occasion. By stocking the majority of your suitcase with basics, you remove the need to pack a different set of clothes for each activity.

For example, wearing a plain black or white tank top with some dark jeans or shorts can be perfect for physical activities like hiking, biking, or just exploring a city by foot. That same tank top, when tucked into a black skirt and covered with a cardigan and a scarf, becomes a cute and flirty outfit for a dinner in town.

DRESSES

While most of my clothes are solid colors while traveling, I do have one or two colorful dresses and pairs of shoes to brighten up my outfits. For instance, this dress goes with me almost everywhere.

From the vineyards of Emilia Romagna to the beaches in Mexico, this cotton dress pairs perfectly with a cardigan (I love this cardigan) or long-sleeved solid top — and it doesn’t wrinkle in my suitcase.

SHOES

Another way to spice up an outfit is by packing a colorful pair of shoes to go with solid colors. These are my favorite travel shoes and I get compliments every single time I wear them — even from men! They go with jeans, shorts, dresses — basically any solid-colored outfit — and they have an extremely cushioned insole with amazing arch support. I found them at a surf shop in San Diego, but they sell them cheaper on Amazon!

Boots are another great item to liven up an outfit. Not all boots pack well, but I found a cute pair of knee-high boots that don’t take up too much space in my luggage. I normally end up wearing them on the plane, anyway, because they are so comfortable.

These ankle boots are a good option if it’s too hot for knee-high boots and you prefer more of a heel.

SCARVES

I’m slightly addicted to buying cute scarves and have a drawer full of them at home. It can be tough to pick just one scarf to bring on a trip, so if I’m traveling somewhere cold, I might sneak two or three into my bag.

WORK WITH LAYERS

Layering is the key to dressing your outfits up or down. A little black dress for that night on the town, for example, becomes a lot more appropriate for day wear when it’s topped with a shrug or sweater and worn over dark stockings. Similarly, dark jeans with a plain blouse can quickly become dressed up with a well-fitted colorful jacket or long scarf used as a shawl.

DRESS UP YOUR OUTFITS WITH ACCESSORIES

Like with your clothing, keeping your accessories fairly simple means they will fit more easily with any outfit. Small gold or silver studs, a nice pendant, and your favorite charm bracelet or watch should cover most of your needs, whether you’re going dressy or casual. You would be surprised how easy it is to do a lot with just a few accessories!

I have a few cuff bracelets that always stay packed in my toiletries bag — so I never forget them when packing for a trip. Turquoise and silver bracelets go great with solid-colored clothing.

If you need something flashier or realize you have forgotten something at home, there’s always the opportunity to shop for souvenirs at your destination. Whether it’s a necklace, sunglasses, or a new scarf, chances are that the place you’re going has its own unique style. Purchasing your accessories at your destination can be a fun way of incorporating that local style into your wardrobe, as well as getting a nice memento to bring home with you.

CONSIDER YOUR DESTINATION

Obviously if you’re going to Yakutsk, Russia, you don’t want to pack shorts and a swimsuit. Similarly, a trip to Mauritius is not the place for heavy winter coats and turtlenecks. I always joke that it’s easy for me to pack for a tropical destination — I just throw in a few sundresses and five bikinis.

It’s much more difficult to pack light for a cold weather destination, so this is where layering really comes in handy. Don’t forget scarves, gloves, a beanie, and warm socks. This slouchy knit oversized beanie keeps me warm and — depending on what color you choose — it can brighten up an outfit.

Considering your destination while packing involves more than just packing for the geographical climate — it also means being aware of the cultural and political climate of your destination, too.

If you’re visiting Istanbul or another location whose culture sports a more conservative style, be respectful and wear longer shirts, skirts, or pants. While it will matter less in more cosmopolitan areas, in rural areas your different style of dress might be considered rude or inappropriate. Research your location before you pack to get an idea of what other travelers have found works best.

LOVE TO TRAVEL?

Want to know how to travel the world? I’ve put together a huge page full of useful travel resources with tips and tricks I’ve learned after consistently traveling for over five years. Learn how I make a living while traveling, how to find the best prices on flights and accommodation, how to save money for travel,how to start a travel blog, and more.

Tips To Make The Most Of Reward To Get Free Flights

The airline miles game has changed. Here’s what you need to know.

If you think frequent-flier programs are too complicated to figure out, you’re not alone. A study in June by the U.S. Department of Transportation found the programs so byzantine that even its own analysts had trouble evaluating them.

And recent changes haven’t exactly helped travelers. In August, American Airlines joined fellow “legacy” carriers United and Delta in rewarding passengers for dollars spent, not miles flown; Southwest and JetBlue have similar systems.

The shift makes it much harder for casual fliers to rack up miles. Take a JFK–LAX roundtrip: Until recently, it would have earned a non-elite flier 4,950 miles. Under the new rules, on a typical $500 fare, including $60 in taxes, you’ll get only 2,200 miles for the same trip.

Scoring freebies now takes more strategic thinking, both in accumulating mileage and cashing in. Use these tips to get the best payoff.

Skip the upgrades

Redeeming points for upgrades used to be a good deal, but the math has changed. “Airlines have been adding co-pays to a lot of upgrades,” says Ben Schlappig of PointsPros.com; those can run up to $500. And some carriers don’t let you upgrade with miles if you’ve bought the cheapest tickets. That undercuts the deal.

For a business-class award ticket, a better strategy is to just use miles to buy the trip. “The mileage difference is often minimal between upgrading and outright booking,” Schlappig says.

Break it down

Most airlines let you cash in miles two ways: on “saver” tickets that take fewer miles but have limited availability, and anytime versions that can cost twice as many points but have more flexible dates. When you’re booking travel, think in terms of two one-way legs, says Mike Choi, co-founder of IFlyWithMiles.com, a mileage booking service. Even if you get only one at the lower rate, you’ll still end up with more miles to spend next time.

Go long

You get the best bang for your miles by using them for the most expensive routes and seats. “The sweet spot is international premium business class,” Choi says.

That’s because you pay much less for higher-end options, relatively speaking, when spending miles instead of cash. For instance: A roundtrip business-class ticket to Paris on United costs 115,000 miles—less than five times what you’d pay for a cross-country U.S. economy-class trip. But if you pay cash, that Paris getaway could run almost 17 times the U.S. fare.

Swap partners

Alaska Airlines still uses the old-fashioned, miles-flown points system, but it partners with Delta and American—so capitalize on that relationship if you can. Accumulate miles on Alaska the old way, then cash in points for a trip on its partners. Note you’ll be limited to “saver” tickets, so use this strategy when your dates are flexible.Target your plastic

With miles getting harder to accrue, airline credit cards are now a critical part of the equation. You can still find sign-up bonuses of 50,000 miles or so, says George Hobica, president of Airfarewatchdog.com. Just one key caveat: Some cards, like the Platinum Delta SkyMiles American Express, limit those bonuses to people who have never had the card in the past. Be sure to check terms and conditions before applying, he says.

Take the cash

Infrequent travelers should rethink airline loyalty altogether, whether booking travel or using credit cards. Domestic travelers who spend less than $8,600 on trips a year can earn more rewards with a cash-back card than a travel card, NerdWallet found earlier this year.

Choi sets a slightly different threshold, suggesting cash-back cards for anyone who won’t travel enough to reach elite status. “For domestic travel,” he says, “you’re usually better off just saving up the cash back and buying the cheapest fare available.”

Tips To Expect You’re Traveling When Labor Day

Travel over Labor Day weekend is expected to be up 10 percent compared to last year, according to TripAdvisor.

Sixty percent of people traveling for the holiday will be driving, while airports and airlines are preparing for 15.6 million passengers, according to Airlines for America.

FlightAware showed some delays already accumulating in New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington D.C. before noon on Friday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is expecting increased traffic along the U.S.-Canada border, and is warning drivers to plan for additional travel time.

Meanwhile Hurricane Hermine’s lingering effects will impact millions of people’s plans: “This storm presents challenges for travel and tourism along coastal areas, but if you’re aware of it, you can put a plan in action,” Mary Glackin, head of Science and Forecast Operation at The Weather Company, told Travel + Leisure.

Here is the info you need to be prepared as you head into a hopefully relaxing Labor Day weekend.

Weather
If you’re on the East Coast, expect a stormy, wet weekend. Hurricane Hermine hit Florida early Friday, and although the storm weakened upon making landfall, it will bring rain and winds up the coast over the weekend.

“The storm is projected to track up through Georgia and the Carolinas, then into Virginia and Delaware,” said Glackin. “Finally it will move offshore and linger to bring impact will the northeastern coastal regions.”

By Monday, the storm should be winding down off shore, but could make for rough surf and windy conditions for beachgoers.

Road conditions
AAA has decided Labor Day does not warrant a driving forecast the way other holidays—like Thanksgiving and July Fourth—do. But the organization did release a notice about gas prices, which are expected to rise.

Motorists headed to areas with heavy rains should remember to drive cautiously—getting to your Labor Day party late is better than getting in an accident.

And if you don’t already have a map app, Google Maps or Waze could be your best friend this weekend.

Airlines
Several airlines have issued fee waivers for travel this weekend. A bummer if you were really looking forward to that Labor Day getaway, but good news if your plans are flexible and staying where you are sounds preferable to facing potential delays.