The days of “don’t drink the water” might not be over, but there are certainly other tips for better travel, and who best to advise than those who do it most often? Whether you’re traveling with tots in tow or rolling solo, a little planning can go a long way.
You’ve got your destination picked, but now what? Alegnahas3 recommends researching online to plan activities and pick out restaurants so you know where you’ll be going and how much you’ll be spending. Guidebooks are essential to any trip for newhiltonmembr who photocopies only the pages she needs rather than carrying the entire book. “I throw them away at the end of the day. My load gets lighter as the trip progresses.”
Traveling with a light load does just as much good for your wallet as it does your back, since nearly every airline now charges for your second checked bag (if not the first). Before you start throwing things in, rickpeggys suggests making a list. “I never forget items this way.” If, like garlandofroses, you’re partial to particular shampoos and conditioners, “squeeze a bit into plastic bags” rather than taking along bulky bottles. Both biztrav and jerrycoin pack clothes that are going on a one-way trip, which can include “socks and undies with holes in them” or “things [you] no longer like or need.” At the end of the trip biztrav tosses unusable items in the trash while jerrycoin leaves wearable items behind for maids. “[This] means less laundry when you get home and more room in your suitcase for souvenirs,” biztrav says. Whether you’re headed to the outdoor markets of Morocco or the coffee plantations of Costa Rica, you’re likely to bring back more than you came with, which is why kimberlye packs a smaller bag in her large suitcase.
Families with kids have their own needs when it comes to travel. Lisagee suggests a DVD player, handheld games and plenty of snacks. Joannaonthelak brings along children’s travel books related to the destination to keep her kids “occupied, entertained and [prepared] for where [we] are going and what their experiences are going to be.” Amlapresta never forgets to ask for pilot’s wings from the flight attendant since “they make a great addition to the baby album or family scrapbook.” Once you’re in your destination, getting the troops together each morning can take coordination. Mannabsn packs whole outfits for the kids (everything from socks to shorts) in large Ziploc bags so they can dress themselves easily. “The bags are also nice to have on the trip home to carry wet/soiled items.”
For tips on traveling abroad, especially as a woman, check out in-depth posts from profchiara and GemPrincess, who offer advice on everything from blending in with the locals to the safest way to carry a purse. Jerrycoin shares tips on transportation, currency conversions and more in his detailed post.
Special thanks to members alegnahas3, newhiltonmembr, rickpeggys, garlandofroses, biztrav, jerrycoin, kimberlye, lisagee, joannaonthelak, amlapresta, mannabsn, profchiara and GemPrincess. To see one of your posts featured, we encourage you to contribute helpful tips, thoughts, experiences and insights throughout the community.
These "Tips", can really make a difference for all of us. I did bring some clothes and shoes on this trip to Canada and left them with the Maid. They were very appreciative, and there was nothing wrong with them, other than they just were a little older.
Having learned a lot from MI, has made my travel experiences so much better!
Thanks to all!
A well done composite, Community Manager. It's nice to have access to so many good tips from so many contributors here in one post. Thank you.
If I may, I'd like to add a tip: keep a post it in your wallet of important phone numbers (like for the bank and credit card company for lost or stolen cards, or perhaps airlines or FF#'s), especially if an international ("when calling from overseas...") number is required. If the card gets lost, so does the customer service number that's printed on it. While you may (or may not) be able to access that information over the internet at the hotel, it can be very cumbersome, especially when time is of the essence. Another number that came in handy for me on my last Europe trip was the international customer service number for my cell carrier for when I was having roaming or overseas internet connection issues.
Another tip I forgot to add previously but has really improved a trip greatly is to bring samples of American products when traveling abroad.
Things like small bottles of maple syrup, wild rice packets, pecans, etc. They cost very little, fit in the suitcase easily, and provide an interesting conversation on how they can be prepared. Its good to note how you would prepare them at home, and also how they might want adapt it to their cuisine. Gets into trading a lot of receipes. On my last cruise, we did a hometown gift exchange which was really interesting. We all brought something and traded. One of the women was from Scotland and she had brought food items from her town. Another lady was from South Africa. It reminded me just how interesting it can be, and how much of our everyday life we just assume is common, while it is unique to someone else around the world.
Or my cousins from New Mexio bring my favorite ingredients that they can buy in their supermarket but I can not.
Just something to spice up someone else's life, and let them know you took the time to do something for them.
How are you still managing to do that (the champagne) what with the 3 oz. requirement before security? I give my Delta 'special service' certificates to special lounge attendants, but I don't know of anywhere I could manage giving them a bottle of champagne nowadays since it would be confiscated.
We absolutely agree with you ... but in reverse ... we have to take certain British products with us, especially Yorkshire Tea and English mustard. We also used to get requests from US relatives to bring Cadbury's chocolate etc. ... but as Cadbury's is now owned by Kraft (?) they seem less keen
We always seem to return home heavily loaded. I did manage to bring a case of Californian wine back with me once but my wife has now limited me to 3 bottles per trip . However, on our last visit she loaded one of the bags with boxes pancake mix ... they only cost about $1.50c but produce much better pancakes that we seem able to make from UK ingredients.
I hear you. I felt like the mule train going back and forth for family and friends. My mother-in-law loved Black Magic Chocolates. My mother Canadian Cadbury. Cadbury is now owned by Hersey, and Hersey R&D use to be a client. I actuall worked with the Cadbury formulator as a client, and told him all my problems, how my mom swore up and down the Canadian Cadbury was different that the US, my mother-in-law only like the UK Cadebury or Black Magic (I could also get this in Canada). Basically he told me the formulations are the same, the difference is the taste of the milk from the cows. In the UK the milk comes from Irish cows, in Canada from Canadian cows, and the US of course it US cows. I had a boss that like Ports so I use to bring back collectable ports to make sure I got selected for the UK jobs...one of those WIFM jobs.
Then coming back from Poland or Ukraine I usually had pumpernickel bread and Challah, as my dad said that tasted like the only authentic thing. Usually customs pulls me over and searches me as I am always suspect. They said they never suspect me for drugs or money laundering, but I am highly suspect for bringing in food that is not allowed and jewelry. I do know the rules, and anything I can not bring back, I eat on the plane (cheese, sausage, herrings, fresh pate, etc...folks look wistfully at my feast as they eat their air plane meals)
For strangers I meet along the way though I can bring things of my choosing, and I opt for those things that are inexpensive, small, and travel well.
I used to haul things for people all the time, bringing a tremendous amount of stuff. Then I noticed that when these very same people would travel, they just about always would not go to the trouble to get these very same things they asked for when they went to the applicable countries. So I began to wonder why I was hauling things for people when they didn't care enough to do it for themselves.
I still bring things for certain people. I have brought massive amounts of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies for the wonderful people at the Marriott London Heathrow (but they were appreciative), my beef on the previous paragraph was in reference to friends and relatives). I also give out $10 starbucks cards to airline staff at times.
Interesting thing I learned about chocolate because of my mother and mother-in-law's preference for the product of various countries, from the chief formulator of Cadbury's who had been part of the sale to hersey, so we called him our white slave.
Apparently the recipes are exactly the same world wide, but they can taste different, depending on where the milk comes from and the diet of the cows.
He had said that British Cadbury used Irish cows, Canada obviously Canadian, and once bought by Hershey in PA, they used American cows.
I guess its much like wine, where the difference in soil and climate can influence the flavor of wine from the same type of grape.
I just found a new travel tip, at least new for me. I like to take a cell phone and other laptops, etc out of country, but usually only use my cell phone browser and maps when I am at the hotel because of the high cost of roaming. There is a great new option that I will be using on our upcoming trip to Mexico.
I have an unlocked Andrioid cell phone (I have both an Android and iPhone actually) that I will take for the main reason of looking at maps while I'm traveling out in the rural areas. This will work without a SIM card in the phone and no connectivity to WIFI. The reason this works is that the Google Maps Application now allows you to save offline maps (like a GPS device does) and if you are in the areas where you have saved the maps, the GPS blue dot will show you where you are, and you can even zoom way in on the map to see what streets are around you. This is because the GPS does not require talking to a cell tower to show your location on your device. This is really a neat feature! The main thing to remember is that you need to save those offline maps (and the offline area can encompass many many miles, it just uses more data to store the map size and location you set) before you head out away from a WIFI area. No SIM card means no data, no internet access, but using your Android device as a GPS works! Let me know if you need any specifics!
Unfortunately for us iPhone users, this will only work if you have not upgraded to iOS 6.0. This most recent update replaced Google Maps with Apple's new in-house map application that doesn't have this feature . I really don't like the fact that they left Google Maps and replaced it with an inferior map system, in my opinion. I bought an old Android phone from someone I work with and am using it to play with software development, and just figured out this neat trick while I was looking at what I could do with it.
It's not free, unfortunately, but it comes in handy. We have WiFi for my husbands office but the AT&T hotspot is our lower level internet that my son and I use for fun. We chose the 5 gigabits ($50 a month) and I admit, there are times we come close to using it all. My son doesn't know when to stop when it comes to his iTouch and computers. Right now I have it powered off since he used 4G's over a long week-end when I was away doing prison ministry. I was hot, hot, hot!!! Mary
I do most of my research including maps, mapquest, etc prior to departure, and make a large PDF of all the info which I keep in my web-based email that is accessible anywhere in the world (yes, I have even logged in from the Ukraine in an internet cafe on their machines).
I then just print out the pages for that day.
I agree, that's a great summary CM. There are also a lot of great tips that I have noted in the responses. I always have a spreadsheet showing our planned itinerary and include the street address and zipcode of our destinations ... makes it much easier when using the GPS. On our next trip (Virginia in a couple of weeks time), we are going to try and use the Kindle version of a travel guide. The maps are pretty terrible on the Kindle but display ok on the iPad ... we will have both with us, so it will be a good test.
My favorite tip on any trip or cruise is to buy either some kind of perfume or even a plug in air freshener in a scent I've never used. I have done this on any major trip I've taken. Then, when you get home, when you wear that perfume or use that air freshener (save the cap) it takes you RIGHT BACK to that moment when you were on vacation. I accidentally found that out when I bought some perfume in Vegas. I didn't use if for awhile and when I did, and every time afterwards, it took me right back to that vacation.
As a family we always do something silly together. On our last 3 or 4 trips we always get those little box snacks on the plane - and it's turned into a tradition. When my son flew by himself he text me that he had to hit the ATM so he had cash for his snack on the plane. (silly i know)
Great thread, thanks for starting it!
Interesting that you mention that!
apparently our sense of smell is hardwired into our memory so we are able to more quickly retrieve memories associated with smell. One study tip is to use peppermint while studying and while taking an exam or writing, as it is a scent that is thought to have a strong effect on the retrieval of memories.
while in France, and staying at a friends apartment in Nice, we always had earl grey tea in the morning. When I smell Earl Grey tea, I can actually still see every detail of that apartment from over 30 years ago.
Marcel Proust coined the term, Involuntary Memory also called Proustian Memory, in his book called, "Remembrance of Things Past" or in french its, "À la recherche du temps perdu" which I find a more accurate description as it translates to... searching for lost times
Message was edited by: GemPrincess
One more thing that I do before a trip is take photocopies of everything I carry in my wallet. (backs & fronts). I keep one copy at home and secure the other safely away with me.. I also do the same with passports. I carry the copy of my husbands and he carries the copy of mine. Also, additional passport photos are included.
Copies which are left at home can be retrieved and faxed by one of our children, if the need arises.
Now that we're in the digital age, photos can be made and the dedicated memory chip can be taken with you. Just don't keep it in your wallet!
Re "Don't Drink the Water," it's mostly safe everywhere in Europe, including Greece. But in Israel, Egypt or the Middle East (with the possible exception of Turkey, where it just doesn't taste good because of the amount of chlorine or whatever they use), make sure you get bottled water with a seal. It can happen that they reuse the bottles with tap water, so make sure the seal is strong.
I usually drink water with gas,
no way it could have been tampered with if it still has the gas.
I did try tap water in Spain, as I ran into other Americans there doing the same, but ended up with GI issues. Come to find out, that while they were from the US, they were born in South America so probably had more resistence that those of us living here.
Even in the US I drink bottled watter. Am not certain I am that confident of what comes out of the tap.
Just had a letter in the mail from the local water company with a warning about problems with the water. They didn't think it needed boiling.
Not taking chances with this
It is nice when you get to your destination but the stress of getting there can be
minimized. I wrote about tips on dealing with airline delays on ElitePro-travel.com
The FAA is warning that air traffic controller furloughs, due to the sequester
will begin on Sunday the 21st April and will affect up to 7,000 flights daily .Kudos To Nick
Calio, the CEO of airlines for America and he says that “the furloughs are illegal,
irresponsible and damaging. Most of all they are totally unnecessary. They are extorting Americans
by threatening lines, if they don’t raise taxes.
check social media for information and then call your ELITE line or use their App. to
rebook as fast as you can, since those who act quickest in response to a delay
tend to get the best service from the airlines
Mmm....British KitKats...way better than USA. As far as advice goes..my number one trip..wait I have 2...
1) Relax...enjoy vacation. Don't get bogged down on all the little things.
2) Bring a scent of some kind but do NOT open it until you are on vacation. When you use it at home it takes you write back to your amazing vaca.
Loving your second tip, trippin'! Will definitely have to remember that for my next big trip.