Unfortunately, there comes a time in every traveler’s life where you’re stuck with that long layover. Whether it’s because you booked the cheapest flight available or there’s no other way to make your flights work out, these layovers are a fact of living—for all that we may wish it otherwise. Instead of twiddling your thumbs on your next layover, here are some things to try instead:
Install the GateGuru App
If you’re hungry or you’re traveling with bored children or…well, there’s a lot of reasons why the GateGuru app can be useful to you. Airports know that you’re not going to be too happy when you have to pass the time on a long layover, and they also know that you’re less likely to be grumpy and obnoxious around the airport and on your flights if you’re a bit happier on your layover. You can use this app to find everything from restaurants to play areas to other fun activities in the airport.
Turn It Into a Mini-vacation
Rather than having a short stopover that you have to kill in the airport, if you’ve got some flexibility in your travel plans, why not schedule a longer layover that will allow you to get out and explore the city? Even if your layover is just for a day, you’ll be able to see something of the city and try some of the local food. Just make sure you have the appropriate visa (if necessary) and that you leave yourself enough time to get back through security!
Play a Game of Airport Bingo
Especially if you’re traveling with others, printing off some airport bingo sheets ahead of time can make passing time in the airport into a game. Your boxes can range from anything from “the parent who can’t control their child” to “someone who missed a flight.” Don’t have time to make up your own cards? There are plenty of free ones already floating around out there.
Chill Out With A Movie
These days, plenty of airports offer free WiFi access, but that won’t help you if you want to do certain things, such as access Netflix while you’re traveling abroad. The problem is, many sites are only accessible from your home country because of copyright restrictions and contract agreements. This can be annoying when you have one of those hours-long layovers and have nothing to do, but fortunately, you can get around these location restrictions. See, the way Netflix or another site knows where you are is by reading the location off your internet server. But a VPN will re-route all your information through a remote server, meaning you can trick the site into thinking that you’re actually located back home rather than in some foreign airport.
Get Into a VIP Lounge
If you’re traveling a lot, look into getting into one of the nicer parts of the airport. In the United States, you can get into the airport USO with your military ID or dependent ID card if you have one. Airlines also offer their own VIP lounges around the world. Although it may seem frivolous to pay for these, they often offer food, comfortable seating, book exchanges, and other perks that can make that long layover a lot more bearable. You could also book a room at the airport hotel, so you can catch up on some sleep during your layover.
Drink Plenty of Water
This may seem like a strange thing to put on this list, but you’ll actually notice a huge difference in how pleasant your air travel becomes (and how much easier managing jetlag becomes) if you really keep yourself hydrated. The problem is, airplanes and airports are naturally dehydrating to our bodies, so you actually need to drink more water when you’re traveling than you normally might. Not willing to shell out the $5 for a small bottle of water at the airport? Most times you can get away with carrying an empty bottle with you through security and then can fill that up at the water fountains located around the airport.
Although layovers generally aren’t the best part of a trip, it’s definitely possible to keep yourself occupied so that the time flies by.
Travelers, what’s the worst layover you’ve ever had to deal with? How did you cope? Tell us your tales below!
About the author: Jess Signet has been traveling from a young age and loves to explore the world. Currently on a quick break from her travels, she is hoping to hit the road again soon. You can keep up with Jess on Twitter at @JessTravels
An unhealthy mix of pubs, dancing, shows, and exploring has been what has made up my last three weeks and it’s decimated any bit of motivation i’ve had to do anything else. But now that I sit, semi-burned out, I want to tell you all about one of the greatest festivals on Earth. It’s called the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
For those that haven’t heard of it before, it’s the largest arts festival in the world that happens annually. Last year they hosted just under 50,000 shows in three weeks and the one I was at this year may have very well beat that. With something this large, it’s no wonder that you can get caught up in the same whirlwind of events that I was – that’s just how the Fringe works – and for three weeks, it owns you.
Three weeks ago, I moved into a gorgeous palace called the Dalkeith House. There is a lot of history that makes it a fun and somewhat intimidating place to live. Here are a few bullet points:
- 15,000 Soldiers died just outside in battle
- The bill that restored the monarchy was signed in the dining room I’m currently writing this in.
- It was built around an old castle in 1702, so some of the walls are quite thick.
- Witch trials were held downstairs (also apart of the old castle) and people were tortured.
- Queen Elizabeth II and a king stayed here at separate times for a fortnight.
- Where the old nursery used to be upstairs a baby jumped out the window and died. The nurse was so distraught with shame and public hate she hung herself in the nursery a little while later.
- It once guarded the royal jewels that to this day cannot be seen by the public and are rumored to be hidden deep within Edinburgh Castle.
So as you can probably ascertain, it can be a wee bit scary to walk about alone at night! I’ll be staying here for three and a half months to study business and writing, so even though I loved the Fringe, part of me is happy it’s over now and life can settle back down to a quiet Edinburgh pace.
All in all, during the festival, I saw somewhere around thirty shows. Here are some of the most memorable ones to me:
– Shit-Face Shakespeare: The most hilarious show that I saw, it featured a completely drunk actor who tried to act out “Merchant of Venice” with five other performers who had to stick to their own character as he went off to lick fans and insult Geoffrey from Game of Thrones. Every show is different and unique. (paid)
– Spank!: An intense late-night show not for the light of heart. Expect it to last from midnight until three in the morning filled with raucous humor and nudity. I enjoyed the show, but it was a bit intense at points and the crowd who was attending may not be for everyone. They featured eight different comedians, including Piff The Magic Dragon, two short dance parties, and one naked man who danced. (paid)
– Titanic Orchestra: This show boasted John Hannah, the man behind the Ludus in the hit show Spartacus. The acting was some of the best I have ever seen by the entire cast, as hobos deal with their own damaged mental states. (paid)
– The Kenny Newman Show: An improv comedy with an overexcited host who interviews other actors based off fan suggestions. It was hilarious. (free)
– Cosmonaught by Ryan Good: During this performance I was brought onstage for about 45 minutes and became quite close with Ryan. From rocking the drums as he sang to marrying him, it was a hoot. This show is heavy on one person in the audience participating, but Ryan is a great guy and a wonderful performer. His show is based on his knowledge of the past fifty years of Cosmopolitan magazine. Ryan, if you’re reading this, congrats on the new baby my friend! (paid)
– Military Tattoo: The world famous performance of Scottish bagpipes and dancers from around the world is a ticket well worth the price. It reminded me of what you would watch on TV during the opening of the Olympics. (paid)
– The Secret Life of Suitcases: A piece of children’s theatre that follows the story of a puppet who realizes that life isn’t all about work. (paid)
– Battling Superheroes: Three comedians who threw this together to promote their other shows, each choose a new superhero each night and battle it out to see who is top dog. I wanted Squirrel Girl to win (she beats her enemies with friendship!), but Dr. Strange took this one. Even though it seems like it was thrown together last minute, it was funny. (free)
– Leper + Chip: An Irish drama about two crossed lovers is an intense performance to watch. The stage is two highly trained actors dressed in black in front of a white background with lights. It’s fun to watch them create the story. (paid, but I was given free tickets for them in the streets)
– A Pint and a Half: Sadly I caught them at their last performance of this show. It was improv comedy that was based off audience suggestions. It’s quite run of the mill, but they were exceptionally good. (free)
If you haven’t experienced the Fringe before, it can be done cheaply if you’re careful, but it’s easy to splurge. There were definitely times when I saw shows that cost me 20 USD and drank too many expensive beers. Overall though, I’m pretty happy with only spending a few hundred during the whole affair and that’s for my one big “splurge” for the next few months outside of Oktoberfest.
The biggest lesson I learned while walking the streets, is to just let the Fringe take you. It’s smart to plan out a show or two to catch for the day, but during the time in-between, walk the streets and just see what happens. There are people handing out fliers practically shoulder to shoulder and many of those shows are free acts. In fact, the majority of shows I saw were free. You may even get lucky and have one of them hand you tickets to a paid show. That happened to me twice and both acts were wonderful.
An embarrassing mistake I made is that it’s customary to leave a donation after a free performance if you like it, so be prepared to have a few pound coins handy before you go. If you truly don’t like it, no one will glare at you for not donating.
Your average pub and street bar during the festival is going to be pretty expensive. On average a beer will run you just over $6 USD a pop. My favorite drink is Strongbow Darkfruit, which is wildly popular here, and four of those a day pretty much killed my budget. There are some other cheaper tasty drinks you can get depending on what bar you’re in like a Fosters Raddler for $3.80 USD (the cheapest beer I found).
If you go to a club, you may be able to find less expensive drinks on average. I know for a jack and coke it cost me $3 USD, which I thought was pretty reasonable. Although, make sure to do some background into which clubs you go to, not only can some be sketchy, but it may hold a crowd of people who aren’t too keen on Americans, a problem i’ve ran into a few times during my stay here. The last club I went to (The Hive) I had a sweater stolen too!
Eating in this city, especially during the Fringe has its good and bad sides. To start with the bad, it’s pretty common to expect to pay $12 USD or more for a meal, unless your body can withstand cheap deep fried food and chips which costs around $5 USD if you stick to lower end items. On a side note, if you’re in Grassmarket, head to a place called Castle Rocks (I think that’s the name anyway), where they sell deep fried mars bars for two and a half pounds.
Now onto the good side. If you go shopping, you can find super cheap groceries at Lidl, Tesco, or Morrisons. On average you can get away with only spending $30 USD on groceries a week if you have access to a kitchen. Even less if you stick with basics like soup for $.30 USD a can. Even items like burgers you can get for only two or three pounds.
The public busing system here is fantastic. They are all clean, well-labeled, and generally on time or only delayed by a few minutes. You can pick up a one way ride for 1.50 GBP or a day pass for 4 GBP, which is worth it if you plan on taking more than one trip. Chances are you’ll end up having to take a night bus if you’re out late, and those will run you 3.50 GBP every time you take it. The best bet is to go to one of the “Transportation Edinburgh” stores and buy a card if you’re staying for more than a week. It gives you unlimited access on the buses all day and night as well as the trams for 18 GBP per week.
If you plan on traveling to Edinburgh during the Fringe, be prepared to book well in advance, these places go quick. There are loads of nice looking hostels in the city that look like they charge between 20 and 40 GBP a night, more so on the low-end.
There are also plenty of nice B&B’s I saw on the outskirts of town. One of the best parts of this city is there are so many great small towns surrounding it such as Portobello (a hot spot to check out the North Sea) and even where I am, Dalkeith. They are always close to a bus stop that will be able to take you to the Royal Mile so you can get your Fringe on.
A few final tips:
Any time you’re in a crowd of this mass, it’s important to keep your wits about you so you don’t end up in a sticky situation, especially at night. So stay vigilant. It’s a safe city, but bad things can always happen.
Read this post on avoiding pick pockets if you haven’t already. I had my sweater stolen, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to let anyone steal my phone or wallet!
Speaking of phones, there are plenty of spots to get a sim card for your device, especially on Princes Street such as Carphone or 3Store. I forgot to unlock my phone before I went, so I just use the free bus and occasional pub wifi to connect back home and keep it on airplane mode. To text people locally I just got a basic phone and a ten pound plan.
If you’re lost or confused, ask someone who is handing out fliers for help. They face rejection thousands of times a day and need the love. Thank them by taking their flier and if you can, go see their show. These people are generally super friendly and the best part is that they are often the skilled performer you may be seeing later.
Take a walking tour on the history of the Fringe. It was worth the 5 GBP and explained how the Fringe is a rebellion against mainstream entertainment. The one I went on also talked about some of the craziest shows that have ever happened at the Fringe and the ones that were currently going on (such as a city disco walking tour where you dance through the city and City Dash, where you run through the city in a race looking for clues while bad guys try to get you.)
At the end of the Fringe, all I can say is, God I love Scotland.
Clay: This is a sponsored post by Hipmunk and helps support this website to keep the content free.
Washington D.C. is a sprawling city filled with national monuments and enough American history to give even the most fanatic history buffs their fill. These hotels listed below are all in the lower threshold for cost, are located in hot spots, and are comfortable with plenty of things to give you entertainment when you’re not exploring the city around you.
The Baron Hotel:
The best way to describe The Baron Hotel is cozy and warm. It’s situated in the Embassy Row area next to the metro, so you’ll be just be a hop, skip, and jump away from the White House. You’re also a lovely 20-minute walk away from Georgetown. Inside you’ll be greeted with traditional decore and a cozy lounge. The Baron Hotel is home to the Bier Baron Tavern, which features a vast selection of international beers, food, and entertainment such as comedy and musical acts.
Hyatt Regency Crystal City:
The Hyatt Regency hotel is said to have “luxury rooms for a fair price,” which can be a nice change from boring rooms that leave more to be desired. You’ll be situated in a good location, within 5 miles of the Smithsonian Museum and The National Mall. Inside, enjoy modern decor while lounging and people watching as you sit above the atrium or head to the Lobbibar for a drink and light meal.
Sheraton Suites Alexandria:
Sheraton Suites are typically a safe bet when it comes to finding a relaxing and enjoyable place to stay while traveling on the short-term. It’s within 3 miles of the Ronald Raegan National Airport and it’s only a few minutes of walking from the King Street district. You’ll find Starbucks Coffee in your room as well as a pull-out sofa if you need a bit of extra sleeping or lounging space. There is also an outdoor eating area to grab a meal and an indoor pool.
Courtyard by Marriott Alexandria Pentagon South:
Perhaps not as cool as the two hotels above, it still holds it weight for comfortable accommodation at a good price. You’ll be next to Fort Ward Park, which features trails, a playground for the kiddies, an arboretum, and even a Civil War Museum. Inside there’s an on-site restraunt for all three squares of the day as well as an indoor pool and workout room.
Extended Stay America – Alexandria – Eisenhower Ave.
Holy hotel names, this is almost pushing it for name length. This hotel is next to the Capital Beltway, which forms a circle around Washington D.C. The neighborhood of Alexandria is known for being friendly as well. You’ll be able to find lots of shopping and food nearby. One of the best aspects if the local walking and biking trails you can explore. If you’re looking to make an extended trip to D.C., this hotel is the best option because it comes fully loaded with its own kitchen.
Washington D.C. is known for being a pricey city, but for what you get with these hotels, they are worth the money.
Clay: Hey guys, this is a sponsored post by Hipmunk that helps pay for this site. Thanks.
The coastal town of Vico Equense is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, with photo quality that will blow your mind. If you want to get as much of the natural landscape as you can while you’re there, here are a few places that you can go to marvel at it.
Antico Bagno Stabilimento Balneare
Antico Bango is a hot spot in Vico and has excellent ratings with people saying that it has “everything you need for a good day.” The beach itself is gorgeous with waters that are as clear as the sky above, allowing you to see the bottom with ease. The beach comes with lifeguards and if you grow hungry from all that playing in the water and tanning, there’s good food nearby.
Bikini Beach is one of those picturesque places that you’ll find on a postcard in your local pharmacy. Its sights are gorgeous, only bettered by the warm setting in the evening as you lay out on the beach. Sadly, if you want access to this beach, it’s going to cost you: 12 Eur just to get on the beach, 15 Eur for a sun bed, and another 15 Eur for an umbrella. So while you won’t have an overcrowded beach, it’s not the best option for a budget-savvy traveler!
Monte Faito e Panorama
The most popular attraction in all of Vico is of course the Monte Faito e Panorama. From atop the mountain you’re able to see for miles over the city of Naples and the volcano of Vesuvius in the distance. Monte Faito has the tallest peak of the M. Lattari chain, with its summit nearly reaching 1,500 meters. To get to the top of the mountain, you can simply take a bus to the summit, where food and wine is waiting for you.
Scrajo Mare is another great beach to visit in Vico with far-reaching blue waters and a lovely beach with beach chairs and umbrellas that both tourists and locals enjoy . The water is semi-enclosed by artificial groupings of rocks where the shallow waters are, but if you dare to venture out farther, it’s open to you. When you do get hungry from the fun day you can head along the shore to find a restaurant that’s been said to have great local wines, interesting seafood dishes, and excellent service.
Hit Running Trails
Running while traveling is a joy, and a fun way to explore the city, so by utilizing MapMyRun, you can view routes people have previously ran or walked to see what interests you the most. The linked website has five different routes people have gone on, but if none interest you, then make your own route for future travelers and locals, or just ditch the app and enjoy a nice walk wherever your heart takes you.
This city isn’t known for being cheap, but thankfully (outside of Bikini Beach!) seeing the natural sites is, which in the end is what really counts anyway. For hotels in Vico Equense, you can find them on Hipmunk.
In honor of my 100th blog post (yay!), I wanted to do something big – something I haven’t done before. So with the help of many wonderful travel writers, i’m bringing you a two part segment that is filled with some of the best travel advice in the world.
I was recently in contact with dozens of highly experienced travel writers to ask that they each provide me with their best travel tip. Some are short and some are long, but all of them are actionable gems that you’ll be able to pick and choose from for your next trip to make it that much more enjoyable, savvy, and adventuresome. I’ve linked all of their blogs to their names, so I encourage you to head over to their websites and check them out if you enjoy what they have to say.
I’d like to give a huge thank you to everyone involved in helping me make this happen. I’m still a new travel blogger, so it means the world to me to have such awesome people all together in one piece on this site.
I hope you get as much enjoyment out of reading this as I did!
Travel light. It sounds simple but there are lots of scenarios that make this a little more difficult than you might at first imagine. For example, you might need a range of attire if you’re going to be somewhere with a wide range in temperatures, or if your schedule dictates that you have both formal and informal clothing. Or perhaps you want to take some extra gear for the gym, or photographic equipment or something else? Whatever your travel demands, good planning can help you take just the bare minimum. Perhaps some of your items can serve more than one purpose or that book you want to read can be accessed from an electronic device you’re taking anyway. In short, the less you can get away with taking, the easier your travels are likely to be.
If you pack a pair of shoes, be sure to put your underwear in your shoes. This not only saves you a bunch of space, but it also prevents your shoes from losing their shape while they’re packed!
Go with the flow. Flights get delayed, weather is unpredictable and things seldom go as planned so it helps to be accepting of change. Instead of getting stressed and upset try to see it as an opportunity. Some of the best experiences in life are the unexpected ones.
Don’t plan too much! Obviously it can be fun to plan a trip, but my experience is that the best moments when travelling are the chance encounters that lead to unplanned adventures. So don’t plan too much, but if you do – don’t be afraid to tear up the plan if you find something better to do!
We always tell people to look at more than one room before committing – even if you’ve booked online, check them out when you get there. More often than not, the owners/managers will always try to pawn off the worst room first, for the same price as a better one. This has happened to us a couple of times…while we’re stuck in the horrible room, there’s one significantly better than ours right next door! Always ask to see a few.
I’ve said time and time again: travel is personal. Your trips and experiences should reflect who you are as a person or what you’re personally seeking. It’s OK to be a little selfish and never feel the need to apologize for being you. If you like spas and shopping go for it. Hiking and hosteling your thing, go ahead and knock yourself out. That being said, it’s always great when you can stretch yourself a bit beyond your comfort zone. Even if it’s only one thing, bring an extra dose of fearlessness along in your journey. You never know what you could be missing if you don’t give it a try. Chocolate covered crickets or sky diving anyone?
Don’t worry, don’t try to plan everything, just GO! We meet so many people that dream of traveling, but never do, letting their fear hold them back. As long as you have some money, everything can be bought and fixed along the way. Unexpected things will happen during your travels, things you can`t plan for. In our experience the true beauty of traveling is in stepping into the unknown, temporarily loosing yourself a little. When you do that unexpected experiences and great moments will happen, that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
The hardest part is stepping out of the front door….
We love the quote from the film Into The Wild: “The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
Saving money is a great thing, but my biggest tip – don’t save on tours and activities and food that is ultra unique to the place. When I started traveling with my backpack years ago, I was always trying to save a buck, most of the places are places I won’t be going back to since the world is so large and there is only so much time to see it all. And the one thing I remember most about a lot of the places was what I didn’t see because I was trying to save.
Don’t! Enjoy it! That’s what travel is all about – learning all you can about the place and sometimes it means paying for it. If it’s too hard to part with the money, think of it this way – you are contributing to the economy of the place which is a huge deal and really one of the main reasons you are visiting.
There are a lot of people who forget one crucial thing when making their travel plans, and that is: what happens when you come back? It’s understandable not to want to think about your return – it’s significantly less exciting, especially when you’re wrapped up in the anticipation of all the amazing things you are going to see and do. But post-travel blues are a reality that nobody can escape from. If you are only going for a short trip, you might avoid the worst of it, but if you are travelling long-term, there are some significant issues you need to prepare for.
If you are taking a leave from work or study, is it going to be soul-crushing to return to that same situation? If you are quitting a job, are you prepared to start again from scratch when you come back? If you’re selling your home and are planning to spend some savings, is there somebody you can stay with when you return happy but penniless? Are you prepared for the fact that you will miss a lot and you and your friends may grow apart?
Don’t let the fear of any of these things stop you from travel, but make a plan for how you will reintegrate when your travels are done. Ensure you don’t burn any bridges with study or work. Make sure you have friends or family who are willing to give you a roof over your head on your return. Use your travel time to gain some valuable skills that you can put on your resume for future job hunting, such as TEFL or a divemaster qualification. Your travels could open up amazing new opportunities for you and you might never come home – but most people do. So set up a plan, even if you never use it
Make friends with locals!
Whenever you are in a new place, try to make acquaintance with local people. No book, no guide or tour will give you a better sense of the place you are traveling around, than a local friend. This is the key to not only seeing a new place, but to really experience it – as closely as possible as locals do. It is with your local connection that you might end up visiting spots you’d never got to as a tourist. Perhaps you’ll end up being invited to eat at a local, which is great, because restaurants might not always be 100% representative of the local cuisine.You’ll surely listen to first account stories about what local life is really all about. And, because making a friend you always end up meeting more people!
To meet local people, you have to leave your shyness at home. You may want to try and establish conversation with locals at cafes and restaurants. Or, perhaps even more effectively, join meet-ups (such as those promoted via Couch-surfing) where local people tend to be very open to “guiding” travelers around their city, in an informal yet enriching way.Make friends with locals to add an exciting dose of authenticity to your travel experiences!
When people tell you that such and such a sight is a ‘must-see’, feel free to ignore them. Find out what interests you and pursue those kinds of experiences on your travels. For example, you don’t have to dedicate an entire day trudging through the Louvre if you visit Paris if you’d rather be hanging out listening to buskers play by the Seine. If you go to Peru, you don’t have to visit Machu Picchu just to say you’ve done it if you’re absolutely not a hiker. Get out there and satisfy your own expectations about what experiences travel can give you, not other people’s and own it.
Always bring a linen bag to keep your dirty clothes separate from your clean ones as you travel. And, when buying edible souvenirs, it’s just a useful thing to have in case any of the food containers break!
Take a solo trip! It’s one of the best things you can do to learn about your own sense of independence, experience local culture and take time to do what YOU want to do.
My biggest tip is to travel light – you really don’t need to take us much stuff as you imagine. If we can travel carry on only with two little kids then so can you.
When I first started traveling I was always too embarrassed by the language barrier while in a foreign country or simply just too shy to communicate with the locals. This fear put a damper on the richness of my experience. So, one of the best travel tips I can give is to not be afraid to chat, ask questions and connect with the people who call your visited destination home.
This may be as uncomplicated as asking a shop owner for directions to his favorite park or chatting with an elder over a coffee or even having a street food vendor explain his secret ingredients.
If you try and they don’t understand you, no worries, everybody at least speaks the language of a smile.
Always bring a bag of oatmeal with you when you travel. It’s clutch to have, and makes the perfect breakfast or snack. All you have to do is add water! Perfect for long waits at bus stations, airports, visa runs, or the morning you arrive in a new city and are starving but have no idea where the good restaurants are.
Go beyond where the road ends. All my favorite adventures seem to happen in the unexplored and out of the way places of the world. Almost universally, the harder it is to get somewhere the more rewarding the trip will turn out to be in the end.
Always travel like a local and don’t forget to do something you normally wouldn’t do. People tend to be afraid of change and, in some cases, for good reason. However, when you’re traveling to a new country to experience what the locals experience from day-to-day, you’ve got to cut loose a little and let the culture fully engulf your spirit. Try the local cuisine, experience their religion, and climb that mountain to reach the Stupa at the top. If given the chance, always pick up the offer to join a family for dinner. The world is not as scary as most people imagine; if anything you’ll learn that most people are extremely loving & caring, making you fall in love with cultures over and over again.
Don’t try ticking things to do off a check list
, close your eyes and let the romance of the place sink in. That’s the easiest way to fall in love with a new city. Slow travel is usually the cheapest and best way to travel. There’s nothing like taking time to acquaint yourself with a new place and the idiosyncrasies of locals.
My biggest tip isn’t about saving money or scoring the best seat on a flight. My tip is this: don’t let other people dictate your travel experience. Don’t let someone talk you out of going somewhere you want to go, or convince you to go somewhere you really have no desire to visit. Travel is a very personal thing, and not everyone will experience the same place in the same way. Travelers, I’ve learned, can be very judge-y and almost competitive when it comes to getting “off the beaten path” and having “local” experiences. But there’s nothing wrong with being a tourist! Go wherever you want and own it, whether it’s camping solo in the mountains or joining a group tour in Paris. No one else has the right to judge your travel choices!
Challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone as often as you can — it’s what helps you to gain confidence, develop as a person, and find unexpected adventures.
Ownership of most things is overrated. Ownership of worldly experiences is not. Try new things you have not done before – while on the road, most of these will be positive, some will be negative but it is all part of exploring the world.
When booking flights always be sure to clear your cookies periodically, search engines will never show you a cheaper price than the one you’ve already seen. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars just from simply clearing my cookies!
Wear a fanny pack – I believe the fanny pack is one of the most useful travel devices in terms of both practicality and safety. There are a lot of fanny pack haters out there, so many object to them from a fashion standpoint. Isn’t one of the reason you travel is to get away from those social constructs that tell us what is hip and what is not? The fanny pack places all your small objects like cameras, iPhones, wallet, keys, passport all in one place where it is only a zip away. Plus, it keeps all these items safe. You can pick a pocket, but It is very difficult to pick a fanny. I have never heard the expression fanny pickers before. Well, actually I have, but that is different.
When booking accommodation try to book a hotel with free breakfast. Not only does this make the morning easier (you wont have to search for a cafe on an empty stomach), but it can also help you save loads of money.
If you plan to go backpacking, make sure you pack your bag and take it for a test walk before your trip. When it comes to backpacks, looks can be deceiving! Your bag may look small, but if you get a little carried away with packing, it could end up weighing you down. Remind yourself that you’re going to have this backpack on your shoulders as you walk uphill to your hotel, weave your way through the train station, and run to catch that bus. So strap on that pack, take it for a 5 minute walk, and if you start to feel pain in your back or shoulders, you know you need to go and repack.
If I could only give travellers one piece of advice, it would be to walk. Every time there is an opportunity to walk, rather than catch a bus or sit in your hotel, take it. It’s a simple thing but has so many benefits. It saves you a bit of money, if you’re walking instead of getting transport. It gets you a bit of exercise, which helps work off all the food and drink you’re trying. And, most importantly, it allows you to explore parts of a city that you may never have seen if you had got a subway, for instance. Healthier, wealthier and wiser – all from just putting one foot in front of the other!
Enjoy the moment! Never forget to enjoy each and every moment of your trip because that exact moment will not happen again. You may be able to visit the same place again in the future, but the experience will never be the same. The people that you will meet will be different and also all the other circumstances that made your trip memorable will be different on your next visit.
Know a bit of the language of where you are headed. You do not have to be fluent, but it is better to know a few basic greetings than nothing at all. Using the local language will increase your safety and also open new doors for meeting locals who can show you the best spots in town.
Whenever I fly, I carry a little pouch that contains a small tube of Neosporin, some cotton swabs, and a few tissues. After I fasten my seatbelt, I apply a small amount of salve to the tip of the swab and rub it around on the inside of my nose. I understand this works as a barrier to germs and keeps the nose moist-a good thing. In the past 10 years since I have been doing this, I have not gotten an “airplane cold.” People sneeze and hack all around me, making me cringe, but I do not get sick. From being on a plane. I do still get sick in real life, when I never take this precaution. In the last week, I took six flights and as I sit here keyboarding my nose is dry and my throat doesn’t hurt.
Know the busy seasons for your travel destination, as this can not only impact the price you pay, but also how efficiently you’re able to enjoy the attractions.
My number one tip is to make sure that you keep an open mind and not be too strict on schedule. Many of us when we travel, especially for the first time, want to try and rack up the sites and things we want to see and often set very rigid schedules. I would recommend a more structured approach to traveling so that we don’t spend more time in trains and airports than actually experiencing. Travel is different and unique for everyone but at the end of the day it is about the experience.
Before going on any trip, spend the time researching and planning what you want to see, where you want to eat, and what you want to do. Create an agenda for each day including meals, travel time, wake up calls, nap times, etc. This will help you prioritize and keep you on track to see and do everything you want to on your trip. Once you arrive at your destination use the agenda as a reference more than a rulebook. Accept that no matter how meticulously you planned your trip things will change and your plans will need to adapt. That is part of the adventure!
Leave your camera in the hotel room for 1 day. This is a tough one I know. The mere thought of this may already be causing you to react and experience anxiety. What if something happens and I miss it! What if I see a Zebra! What if … you have a completely different travel experience? I have had some the most amazing days abroad when I have chosen to experience the location fully, not through the lens of my camera, but through being fully present in the moment. You will be surprised at how liberated you feel.
Save your charitable giving for official, vetted organizations. “Hand-outs” of any sort create an awkward cultural situation, so ask your leader’s advice on what’s appropriate, then follow it.
When you’re traveling, the goal is to experience something new or exciting…. So stay away from chain restaurants (for example), and make a point to try get lost and find something new! Life is a series of moments, but when your plan is too concrete, it doesn’t allow for moments beyond what you’ve scheduled. Sometimes there are greater things out there than you previously considered… and even if you try something new and it sucks, at least you have a story!
Our best travel tip, by far, is to realize that all your best memories, all your best stories, are going to come from the people you meet along the way, not from the museums and galleries and natural wonders. Don’t skip the opportunities to connect with the locals, don’t be shy, and don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation. Make each person you meet your new best friend, consider every local as the fountain of useful travel information they almost certainly are. And don’t forget to swap email or FaceBook account info so you can stay in touch.
Develop a travel “uniform.” YOU may be sick of that scarf/top combo, but no one has seen it in the next town you’re visiting. 3 pairs of shoes, 3 trousers, 6 tops – whatever combination works for your trip, but learn to stuff things into every corner of your luggage, roll up most clothing into neat little sausage rows, and get a grip on the number of shoes. I am convinced that the tyranny of shoes is why so many people overpack.
Separate everyone’s things throughout all of your luggage. If a bag gets lost, everyone can still get by.
Follow the Disaster:
We coined this phrase and it is our most powerful cost-saving technic. We have had some wonderful trips costing us almost half the normal cost by using our ‘follow the disaster’ travel-planning model. This idea takes some careful explanation. When a country experiences an unexpected tragedy and the ‘news’ reports the worst things, people will cancel their planned trip. For months, sometimes years, tourism will be significantly reduced to the whole country. What many people see as potential risk, we recognize as a
potential travel bargain.
Let’s examine this concept a bit deeper. The terrible 9/11 incident in New York saddened and concerned all of us. As bad as it was, a couple of months later were you concerned to walk around your hometown? Would you have been concerned to visit San Francisco? If you answered ‘probably not’ then you are a candidate to consider the ‘follow the disaster’ travel-planning model. After the tsunami that hit Thailand in and around Phuket, Thailand became a travel bargain. Of course, Phuket in the south needed time to recover. We planned our Thailand trip to start in Bangkok over 500 miles away from Phuket and worked our way north to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. What a wonderful trip! Hundreds of miles away there was no evidence of any problems and we took advantage of much reduced tourist crowds and amazing prices including our flight to Thailand.
We have benefited from many more examples of this. When China experienced the SARS outbreak, people were rightfully concerned about traveling there. Fortunately for us they stayed concerned long after the outbreak was over.
For about half of what you would normally expect to pay, we took a terrific trip to China visiting the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and Tiananmen Square in Beijing; the terracotta soldiers in Xian; the beautiful canal city of
Suzhou, and the modern city of Shanghai.
Even political and terrorist incidents can provide travel bargains. For a fraction of the normal prices we went to virtually unaffected places such as Bali after the bombing of the disco, Fiji after their coup, and more recently found amazing bargains during peak seasons in the Greek Islands after the demonstrations in Athens.
This concept also applies to economic recessions. Our 2-year travel adventure was much more affordable because we did it during the global economic downturn starting in 2009. We were able to negotiate much lower hotel prices even in peak times for hotels that were only 40% occupied when a couple years previously required a year in advance to get a reservation. Flights, tours, cruises, car rentals, and meals were all significantly more
*A word of caution* is more than appropriate when considering the ‘follow the disaster’ travel-planning model. First, ‘follow’ is the key word. Be sure conditions are safe where you are planning to visit. Usually you will have time to do so because people are overly concerned for a period of time after any disaster. Do your research, be aware of travel warnings, and talk to travel experts knowledgeable of the country you are planning to visit.
There is a ton of useful information in here and I learned a lot from what they had to say as i’m sure you did as well. I’d like to thank all of the participants in this once again for doing me a huge favor by joining up to make this happen, this is the best post I could ask for for my 100th. So thank you!
If you enjoyed this, come back this Monday for “Part 2” of this segment. Happy travels!