Monday, December 4, 2017

Travel Tips

I've had this post on my webpage for a few years now. I'm sliding it over to the blog.

This is my recipe for comfortable travel. Am I missing anything? What are your go-to's to happily travel?


Flight Purchasing

Travel Sites 
In an incognito window, go to www.google.com/flights. Input your point of departure and destination. Then open up the calendar. Look at price trends around when you'd like to go. This will let you know what your flight is averaging and also if there are more advantageous days to travel. I do this mainly to get a sense of the general price of my flight. It's hard to shop well until you know realistic amounts to budget!
Some savvy travelers do the same with the https://matrix.itasoftware.com/. This will also give flight trends and prices.
I personally don't book through these sites. I find it a little confusing. I find the dates, prices, and travel times that look best and then book directly through the airline.
Pay attention to travel time! If you have a 24 hour lay-over calculate how much you might spend on a hotel room, food, or trying to pop off in the lay-over city. If it's worth it to you go for it! For me, the price has to be REALLY good for a lay-over beyond 4 hours. I like less travel time and more time in my destination. 
When to Buy 
Search for flights Tuesdays at 3 pm. Airlines sell the most flights on weekends. It's kind of a lottery-- they're charging what they can. Every Monday they assess what seats are left.The most discounts are available Tuesday afternoons. I like to watch my flight on a few successive Tuesdays (maybe on google.com/flights) from an incognito window. This let's my know if rates are dropping or potentially elevating so I can hopefully purchase at the most opportune moment.
Alternate Airports 
Price compare various airports for departure. I live nearest Philadelphia International Airport but often depart from Newark International Airport. I’ve found that flights to Central America are often direct and far less expensive from Newark. However, when I’ve flown to Asia and have to transfer domestically regardless, flights from Philadelphia were more convenient and comparably priced.
Discount Airlines
What everyone says about Spirit is absolutely true. There are a lot of discount airlines these days like WOW and Frontier. Some are better than others. Pretty much everything is reviewed these days so google what people are saying and believe them. Remember to factor in the additional costs that reviewers warn you about. Sometimes all those baggage and amenity fees actually bring your real cost closer to flying with a more reputable airline. I've done it. I've flown with Spirit. I won't be doing that again.

While traveling

Jetlag prevention
I am NOT a doctor so please understand this is simply what has worked for me! Consult your medical professional to best plan ahead.
That said, when traveling to a different time zone I take the following as directed while flying:
-Homeopathic Jetzone
-Chinese herb Yin Chiao
-Grapefruit seed extract
The grapefruit seed extract and Yin Chiao boost vitamin C to help prevent getting sick and worn down. The Jetzone works some homeopathic magic.
Upon landing, if possible, lie down on the earth. Get grounded. If you can, get body work done. Let your body feel really earthy again.
Sleep when it’s time to sleep. If you’re not tired, try eating dried cherries and taking melatonin. In the morning, drink coffee or something to give you a boost. Get on the schedule of your location as soon as you can.
I often find that I don’t experience severe jetlag on my trip but it will get me when I come home. I think it may be the timezone shifts in quick succession compounded with grief over the end of a trip!

What to pack

A good backpack 
Remember that most airlines now charge for checked luggage. I purchased the Rincon 65L Travel backpack a few years ago (I’m not getting a sales commission from them!).
The front backpack unzips to slide under the seat in front of you. The main backpack fits in most overhead bins. Double check with your airline to see if this pack, or one similar, will save you baggage costs. Otherwise, budget for additional airline charges. Also factor in convenience. If you have a connecting flight or a tight schedule, it may be worthwhile to travel with this type of luggage that precludes you from having to check in and go through baggage claim.
You may want to pack a second, easily folded duffle bag. I usually travel with an additional pack to bring home gifts. Remember that you may be charged a baggage fee for checking this luggage on your return flight.
Packing Cubes
Especially if you are #teamcarryon, use PACKING CUBES! Look for sales at places like the Container Store. These travel gems help you effectively pack more than you would think possible. And it's neat. Amazing and so worth it!
Good traction shoes 
This is mainly for those who like being outside and hiking. I suggest Keen Waterproof SandalsThey are not at all sexy, but will protect your feet. These waterproof sandals transition easily from city sight-seeing to lounging on a beach. Your feet will be supported, with traction, for activities ranging from hiking to cycling.
A light rain jacket 
Not only are rain jackets useful while traveling, but they also ease the transition when flying between hot and cold climates. Layer sweatshirts under the rain jacket, socks under your Keen sandals, and wear comfortable yoga pants while flying. In hot climates you can shed the socks and outer layers; in cold climates add these items.
A flashlight 
I have always found a flashlight essential. Always. Headlamps are ridiculous, but even more useful.

Before you depart

Converting Currency 
I usually convert about $200 into the currency of my destination in advance of traveling. Generally, your local bank will give you a more preferable rate of exchange than an airport. Allow them at least two weeks to secure the foreign currency. Keep some USD on you for snacks and magazines while in US airports. Having the foreign currency will give you a window to get your bearings in your destination.
Some folks prefer using an ATM upon arrival at their destination to get foreign currency. Know your tendencies. Years ago, I arrived late at night at Siem Reap airport without any Cambodian currency. The ATMS were all out. Thankfully, I had booked a ride from the airport through the hostel where we were staying that night. The driver kindly took me to another ATM but it was a little sketchy (he was nice, Siem Reap can just get sketchy at times) and it was late and I didn't yet have my bearings. This is less likely in a larger city but it's possible. I know how I am and what makes me comfortable. Having some currency until I get my bearings feels really helpful.
Using a Cellphone 
Travel with your cellphone, but consider turning it off for the duration of international travel. Always check with your cellphone provider before departure about the costs of roaming abroad. If you’re offered a fair rate, by all means, use your cellphone abroad. I’ve always found that the charges would be exorbitant. I bring my cellphone and leave it on while in the US in case I need to communicate with a ride. As soon as I’m airborne, the phone goes off and stays off. I provide my family with the phone numbers for my hotels in the case of an emergency. I check in with them via Facetime when I have wifi. When I land in the US I turn the cellphone back on to let my ride know I’ve arrived.
I know some people who purchase SIM cards once abroad. This way you can communicate easily within your destination country.
And Finally 
In advance of travel, call your bank and credit card providers to tell them of your destination. Banks and credit card companies appreciate the head’s up. This should save you the hassle of finding your accounts frozen when it’s assumed your cards were stolen!

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