Welcome to The World’s Greatest Travelers™ tip of the day!
The idea is to impart on travelers everywhere a little unconventional wisdom, tips and quotes that will hopefully increase your Travel IQ—or just make your travels more fun.
Here is the first installment of 100 tips as extracted from “1,001 travel tips from The World’s Greatest Travelers” book due soon…
Travel Tip #184 – As mention (Seven Deadly Sins & Ten Commandments of The World’s Greatest Traveler), one of the worst things to pack with you when taking an adventure is inflated expectations—because you only set yourself up for disappointment.
So, leave them at home is the best travel mindset to have. Fanciful wondering and mind wandering are good but expectations are bad. So, don’t expect West LA and Manhattan service anywhere else. Don’t expect Thai smiles and German efficiency everywhere you go; or Southern manners and Middle Eastern hospitality. It is a really BIG world out there and expectations of fun are good, but avoid like the plague the Shangri-La Syndrome that idealizes destinations. As Alexander Pope said: “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” Enjoy!
Travel Tip #381 – Cultivating the right travel mindset takes effort. No one can just flip a switch; you actually have to train your brain to take a holiday. So, start creating mental, physical and emotional space to go—before you go. Breaking daily work schedules, to-do lists and chores, changing high-tech habits, and leaving your problems behind as much as possible. If you don’t…they sure as hell will infiltrate your travels. Traveling is time to allow for the serendipity of spontaneous joy, novel experiences, mental roaming and getting lost. If you approach travel like work, guess what—it will be just like work.
Travel Tip #872 – It is really important to have your expectations aligned with reality when heading out on a long adventure. Here’s the mindset travelers should have: don’t expect anything from the first few days and last couple days of your trip, vacation or adventure…the reality—they are your to and fro days, packing and unpacking days, travel days…and are by design NO FUN! Fun is when you get there…
Travel Tip #367 – Always remember—and it is your fault if they don’t—to make sure that immigration officials always stamp your passport upon entry…there may be significant delays in exiting if you don’t have that entry stamp. We have seen some folks refused boarding on a flight and sent back to the destination they entered the country—300 kilometers away! Get stamped.
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religions and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James A. Michener
Travel Tip #228 – One of the most versatile things to pack is also one that takes up zero space: a bandana/scarf. Let me count the ways that a bandana wins the ultimate travel accessory award: it takes up no space, it is easy to wash and dry, it is good for you hair, it can keep you cool, it is good for wrapping something up in, it can work as an old timey hankie (aka snot rag)—yuck!, it works as a pollution muffler/dust screen, it is great for putting ice in for bruises, wiping your hands, to use as a napkin when there is none, as a table cloth, it can be used as a coffee filter, protects bald heads from the sun, a useful tourniquet, it stops bloody noses, it is a mini towel, a lens cleaner, an eye mask, a hair tie, a headband…I could go on. Pack a few!
“This is what’s priceless about travel: It allows us to fill in the blanks, put names to faces, and make bits and pieces of the wide world, now and forever, part of our own worlds. And through it, we gain a better understanding of everything from the front-page news to our next-door neighbors.” – Thomas Swick
Travel Tip #391 – We always over pack. One helpful way not to, is not to pack your vanity. No one cares what you look like after a 14-hour flight to the other side of the world. You are not going on a job interview or a first date…just be the real you. Think about it. It will lighten your load. Smiles and demeanor matter—not you’re packaging. Transcend you.
Travel Tip #281 – Long for comfort food on long trips? Or just need to hold something down? Pack a few bags on instant oatmeal—add hot water and you have a nourishing tick to your ribs meal. Some travelers take a few instant breakfasts for quick calories too when they are in need…
Travel Tip #421 – Upon arrival to an international destination, always have a personal pen handy to fill out the inevitable forms awaiting you.
Travel Tip #422 – When entering a foreign country always travel as a tourist, never as a writer, blogger, lawyer or businessman; it prevents border hassles, kidnappings and political problems. And no matter how long you are visiting, never tell immigration officers you don’t know where you are going or how long you are staying. They want concrete answers, not vague plans. This is a rookie mistake that make their heads explode. Always give them a two-day, one- or two-week answer and naming any hotel (whether you are actually staying there or not) will usually suffice.
Travel Tip #276 – Okay you are all packed. Good job! Now take all your stuff, bag and back pack and go for a walk in the neighborhood. Pretend like you are strolling through a long airport concourse…or between a subway stop and your hotel. After you come back from your walk, ask yourself: Do I have any second thoughts? Did you travel easily? Was it a heavy load or a light load? Remember: You don’t need options…you need to be smart. Take a few items out of your bag—now!
“A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” – John Steinbeck
Travel Tip #842 – Taking video today has never been easier—or easier to edit it later into a fun travel adventure movie. But when taking videos, people tend to either take either too short and muddled a take, or too long and meandering a take.
The Goldilocks Theory of Videos involves these rules of thumb: 1) less is more when taking B-roll…3-5 seconds per image—8-10 seconds max; 2) avoid unnecessary zooming and panning by keeping the scene steady (pick your zoom levels before you shoot); 3) there are three basic shots to capture: close ups, mid-shots and wide angle shots—stick with one for each scene/take, but take many of them; 4) make a scene have relevance or context to your travel narrative interviews are good, telling a funny story is entertaining and odd facts and history can be fun; 5) Finally, always shoot more than you need you can always delete footage—but you cannot take more after you’re gone!
Travel Tip #442 – Hotels are notorious for excessively marking up products for the convenience of their guests. Their revenue centers are expanding daily. On the other hand, water is a basic human need. Quickly scout out stores near your hotel when you arrive and buy water at the nearest convenience store. You are a true sucker if you pay for the bottles of water in your room…you know, the one’s that should be offered gratis. Shame on you and shame on them.
Travel Tip #594 – Taxi drivers have bad reputation in some parts of the world—for good reason too. You will most likely get ripped off at least once. Don’t worry about it. Consider it a lesson learned…get it over with quickly so you know!
And what do you need to know? A few things really: firstly, always agree on a fare before setting off—yes, it is always negotiable. But always agree first. If at the end of the ride there is a scene, call a police officer if you need one. Secondly, always have small bills to pay taxi drivers or else you might enter the realm of money-changing magicians where your large bills have mysteriously turned into small bills and you still own them instead of them owing you change! And one more thing, never let a taxi driver put any part of your luggage in the trunk until you have agreed on the fare.
Travel Tip #721 – Shopping abroad for unusual treasures used to be caveat emptor—let the buyer beware. No more. Today the buying and shipping of exotic treasures home can be pain free if you are sure to follow a few basic rules: 1) always pay by credit card so that you have advocates if something goes wrong; and 2) always take a photo of the item so you know exactly what you are supposed to be receiving. (I always sign the back of pieces of art or rugs, so I know they are indeed mine.) Enjoy your exotic conversation pieces…
Travel Tip #471 – A rookie mistake I see all too often: Never put the Please Clean My Room sign on your hotel room door—it is just a work order notice for would-be thieves. Rather, call the front desk to let them know it is okay to clean.
Travel Tip #695 – When checking out of a hotel room…always double check your room (aka do the-once-over-twice)—behind doors, closets, safe, under beds, tub/shower area, power outlets. You’d be surprised what we leave behind: mobile devices and chargers, glasses, passports, bathing suits, jewelry, toiletries, etc.
Travel Tip #582 -When we travel, we keep money separated in three places: small bills and coins in an easily accessible front pocket; ATM/credit card and larger bills in a zipped secure secondary pocket (shirt or pants); and then we keep a crispy twenty, a few mixed bills and a backup credit card in our backpack (or purse). Some folks prefer a money belt—I have never used one.
Travel Paradox #2: What is worse? Suffering from homesickness while traveling or wanderlust when you’re not.
Travel Tip #388 – Most travelers have no local currency upon arrival…your best bet is to take US$100 worth of local currency from an airport ATM machine—sometimes they are in the baggage terminal just before customs. You now have enough for subway/cab fare and beer and water money to tide you over. Once you get your bearings, exchange more, but never, repeat never change money at hotels as their rate is a real just another huge ancillary revenue stream for most hotels.
Travel Tip #673 – Remember that many historic and sacred sites are still functioning places of worship for local inhabitants—and not just for tourists to admire and photograph. Always adhere to the posted “no photos,” and/or “no flash” rules. Leave people alone when praying…
“He who would travel happily must travel lightly.” – Antonine de Saint-Exupery
Travel Tip #295 – Always have scans/backups of all your vital travel information (passport, airline and hotel confirmations, insurance, credit card info, emergency contacts, destination info, etc.). A couple of suggestions to reduce paperwork in our digital age: 1) backup all your vitals onto a flash drive that takes up almost no room and can be accessed on any computer anywhere; 2) use your public email account (Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, etc.) and just email it all to yourself, again you can access them from anywhere in the world from any internet-linked computer. Forget bulky paper.
Travel Tip #176 – Want to prevent over-packing and forgetting things? If you are a regular traveler, make a simple checklist of stuff you actually bring before you go…then check it when you get home. Did you take too much? What did you miss/ forget? Keep updating that list. You will never make packing mistakes again instead of packing being a stressful chore, it will become consciously effortless.
“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” – Rudyard Kipling
Travel Tip #391 – When packing, I am a passionate advocate of using Ziploc freezer-type bags for everything. It may be the Holy Grail of Packing! I put whole outfits (socks, t-shirts, dress shirts and pants) in one bag; sit on it to suck the air out, and then seal it up. Boom. No wrinkles, no smells, no lack of organization and no rummage chaos. Great of course for all checked liquids and shoes too. Then I pack a small garbage bag for the dirty laundry. Plastic reusable bags people…the only way to go!
Travel Tip #472 – When packing a bag for a long adventure, put scented dryer sheets that you use drying laundry between your clothes in your suitcase. It will keep clothes smelling fresh and clean while in transit. Especially when appearances and odors are everything.
“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you’ve got to keep moving.” – Albert Einstein
Travel Tip #183 – Planning, researching and organizing your trip will help you get the most rest, relaxation and adventure out of it. What you put into it—you will get out of it! It is much easier to unwind and explore when your trip has a basic plan. Not planning on the other hand, will add unnecessary uncertainty and stress to any trip. So, save your family, friends and fellow travelers from going postal on them—do your basic homework. (But not so much that your expectations are overly inflated or that you don’t allow for serendipity.)
Terrible Travel Advice #176 – Buy really expensive luggage, it will last forever.
Gearing up for a road trip, adventure or trek is always fun; but don’t buy expensive luggage. (I have witnessed plenty of expensive luggage in pieces on luggage belts and worse, mysteriously gone missing because they are so valuable!) No, buy quality luggage. There doesn’t seem to be a relationship between luggage price and quality. Check the zippers and straps—those are what matters. And although I prefer wheel bags, I also see the merit in getting wheel bags with the option of using them as a backpack for when the road ends—and it does eventually—as they end up easier to carry.
The Travel Mindset #105 – Admittedly, travel is not always easy or perfect. But consider this—the personal experiences you derive from travel will make you much happier (and a more interesting person too) in the long run than having more stuff. Experiencing, learning and challenging yourself, are much better than buying, consuming and acquiring.
Travel Tip #366 – If you are traveling with a partner, think about what stuff you can share with them. Why pack two of the same thing? And when traveling afar with a partner for an extended time—or just a weekend away—split up your essential stuff 50/50 into your two bags (aka cross-packing). That way, if one bag is lost or delayed, it is less of a hassle because you still have stuff.
Travel Tip #292 – We are big advocates of taking the kids when you travel afar. Yet managing them can be tricky; so, remember that bribes, threats and extortion is the way to go! One method is that we play the bribe game by offering treats—giving them a buck or two, an ice cream or a special treat—whenever someone traveling tells us how great and polite they are! Those “please” and “thank you’s” get them what they want. Basic Skinner conditioning works.
Travel Tip #178 – Before you head out on that grand adventure, you should make sure of a couple things in regard to your valid passport, as immigration officials around the world are getting a little stuffy these days. One: Make sure that your passport will not expire for six months after you enter the last country on you’re a trip. Tourist visas on arrival typically last 180 days and your passport needs to be valid to get one. Two: Make sure that you have at least one clean empty page for each country you are planning to visit for stamps and official whatnots (entry stamp, visas, exit stamps, customs stamps, etc.)—at a minimum.
Travel Tip #254 – Before you finally book your hotel, use Google Maps to check out the area around the hotel. Location, location, location! Consider being nearby a bus line or subway station—it can save you a lot of time and money. Are there any local stores, restaurants or bars? How far away are you from the things you will want to see and do? Saving $30 on a room for a weekend that is far away from everything and costly to travel to/from the places and things you really want to see and do, is penny wish but pound foolish.
Google Maps is an absolutely revolutionary tool; one that I am constantly awestruck by the possibilities it presents. Use it often.
“Travel…is not always the reward for financial success. Sometimes it furnishes the source of one’s wealth.” – Robb Report
Travel Tip #103 – When packing resist the urge to pack more than you need “just in case”. Because in the oft chance that you do get invited to a state dinner, are asked to pose for a glossy magazine spread, or maybe are upgraded into First Class because you were just so nice to that gate agent (aka when “just in case” happens) —just buy something new to wear. It will probably be cheaper and be a future conversation piece too: “Oh this thing? I bought it at a store in Laos.” Spoiler Alert: Serious travelers know, but neophytes should too, that they do have stores in the rest of the world! And they do also do laundry in other countries too. BTW: We also live in the 21st century where there are plenty of ways to check the weather for any impending destination and then to pack accordingly. We can’t say it enough: Pack light, don’t let a heavy load get you down. Less is more.
Travel Tip #287 – Are security folks always taking away your newly purchased, must have in-flight, water? Solution: Take an empty refillable plastic bottle with you through TSA, and just refill it in the terminal…saves you $3-5 bucks a pop. Plus, you won’t be adding to land fill sites. I also fill them up on the plane during my flight—the flight attendants never mind. You will always have water…err, except during security!
Travel Tip #429 – Are you coming and going by train or bus from a single destination? One way to save time—maybe money too and ease your mind about logistics—is that when you first arrive at a station, quickly check the time tables for your future departure options. It may show whether you need advance reservations, what alternative timetables there are and what track you might be leaving from, etc. Familiarize yourself with all these. This saves a lot of needless Traveler’s Panic when you are departing in a rush…and maybe another needless trip to the station.
The Travel Tip #145 – This of course almost goes without saying, and yet I must say it: If somebody offers up their home for you to use anywhere in the world—just say yes! Build your trip around that destination using it as a base. It does not matter where it is—go…experience their lives for a period of time.
Travel Tip #356 – Want to fly a little better? On a long-haul flight pre-order a special meal—pasta, fish, vegan, whatever. This is a no-brainer, because not only do you get your food first, but they are usually a little better and healthier too!
Terrible Travel Advice # 13 – “Once I was running late for a flight and couldn’t find a parking space, so I just left the car at the terminal departure curb. Yes, it got towed away, but it was cheaper than missing my flight.” A smart business calculation if I ever heard.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
Travel Tip #291 – Don’t backtrack. Satisfying traveling requires good time-management and one of the worst uses of your time is backtracking. Create an itinerary that always moves forward and onward to new destinations. Always be moving on to someplace new, only to backtrack when necessary to return to your place of departure. But even that can be fixed with good planning. Look for natural travel circles or travel triangles of off-the-beaten path places to experience around and near your gateway cities.
The Travel Mindset #4 – Be a curious soul and develop a deep longing to travel. A wise man once said, “The world is a book; and those who do not travel read only one page.” Some would say travel is better than reading a good book because it not only allows you to escape (not vicariously though) and personally experience a whole new set of assumptions; all while creating your own narrative full of drama, romance and adventure. There is no boring travel—just boring people. So, be curious, seek out the elusive. Go on a quest, fulfill a bucket list item, take a pilgrimage, or just go on an adventure. Travel for whatever reason you want—but do travel!
Travel Myth #3 – I’m too young to travel. Oh really, who said? If your parents will let you and you are younger than 18—why not? Over 18, you don’t need anyone’s permission. (Have you ever heard of any mode of public transportation that won’t sell a ticket because you’re only 18? Me neither.) It may be the best education you ever get being able to worship at the altar of experience. And travel is all about experience. In fact, it may be a case of now or never for you too as you begin entering the trials and tribulations of adult responsibilities—tomorrow may never come (school, marriage, adult responsibilities, debt, mortgage, kids, etc.). And in this ever-changing globalized world, the contacts, the insight and the context you will garner from international travel will benefit you immensely. Besides, when you are young you can embrace and tolerate a lot more discomfort and adversity—which make the costs of travel even more feasible. Go now!
Travel Myth #2 – I’m too old to travel. Oh really, who said? If your kids don’t need you around and you have the inclination, time and money—why not? It’s not like you need anyone’s permission, right? That old cliché rings true for travelers too: it doesn’t matter how old you are, it only matters how old you feel. Think about it; you followed the rules, did the requisite things in life that responsible citizens do: high school (check), maybe college (check), a job for 40+ years (check), husband/ wife/mate/friends (check), maybe kids (check)—you paid your taxes and your dues! Sure, you won’t have the same energy as a 21-year old and may not want to deal with some of the discomforts of travel, but there are always ways around that—and you have the acquired wisdom to figure it out. Life is short…and growing shorter…it is a simple case of now or never. Enjoy!
The Seven Deadly Sins of Travelers:
(Although envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth and wrath still apply!)
1. Always looking for cheap;
2. Packing high expectations;
3. Putting off till tomorrow what you could do today;
4. Being a guest in a country and behaving badly…
5. Not doing enough prior research…
6. Being silly or drunk…or both!
7. Bad luck… wrong place at the wrong time not using your situational awareness!
Travel Mindset #15 – Did you know that 85% of trips are taken to places that the travelers have already been to—sometimes, over and over again. A curious, adventurous traveler might consider trying someplace exciting and novel in order to expand their comfort zones. You never feel more alive than when you challenge yourself.
“Once a year go someplace you have never been before.” – Dalai Lama
Travel Tip #380 – Your money is important—to you and in the places you spend it. When traveling, especially in struggling destinations, make a small effort to understand where your money spent is actually going. Is it staying in the country or being exported? Is it going in a corporate brands coffers or recirculating in the hands of locals? Try to leave as much as you can in-country—that makes the tourism equation a virtuous cycle and more rewarding for all.
Travel Advisory Tip #101 – I know it is your dream destination, Cork, Ireland this—that you saved and planned for years to visit. But do not, under any circumstances, kiss the Cork institution known as the freaking Blarney Stone (aka Stone of Eloquence)—unless you want to kiss any of the other 1,000 or so other daily visitors who do. Yuck! It has been affectionately called the Bacteria Stone by local guides; and it will only give you the gift of herpes—not the Irish gift of gab. Be forewarned…
Travel Tip #389 – Just a word to the wise when purchasing items in markets: Never, ever, take currency/bills from a fish monger or off a fishing boat sales person—it will stink up your pocket/wallet for days. Trust me on this one! Have exact change.
Travel Tip #876 – Having the proper mindset when traveling is key; so, don’t expect anything from the first and last days of your trip, vacation or adventure… they are to and fro days, travel days…and are by design are usually NO FUN! Get over it….don’t complain, be happy you are traveling!
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener
Travel Tip #444 – One of the biggest issues most travelers will suffer from is
“money illusion”—a phenomena that causes you to overspend. Three things play into this illusion: 1) you think prices are the same as where you live (called purchasing power parity)—and they usually are not; 2) you don’t know the real value of you money because you don’t know the “real” exchange rate—sometimes the street rate is a lot different from the official bank rate; and 3) travelers forget all the fees associated with accessing their money and making non-cash purchases: exchange fees, conversion fees, international services and bank fees. The simple Rx: Check you card fees before you go, carry cash and a calculator, or, better yet, a currency-conversion app.
Travel Tip #954 – A great way to keep your recent travel memories alive is to try recreating a memorable dish or meal that you had while traveling. Food stores today sell all manner of specialty spices, exotic sauces and global vegetables; so there’s really no excuse why you can’t try it at home. You’d be surprised to—it might become a staple. (I think of Pho, Cuban chicken, ceviche, pesto linguini, Wiener schnitzel, beef Penang among our staples today.) Make a theme night of it and invite good friends for some future travel conversation. Show them a few photos…but not all of them please!
Contrarian Traveler Tip #48 – When traveling in-country, the use of guidebooks is a good indicator of where not to go (too busy or touristy). And think about stopping off at the nearest destination before or after the recommended hotspots. Forget Malaga, Spain—try Ronda. Stay away from Kuta, Bali—try Ubud. The same goes for countries too. Instead of Costa Rica—try Panama. Instead of Hungary—try Romania. Instead of Vietnam—try Laos. Just think like a contrarian and you will be in great shape and get better value too; besides the hotspot is not too far away if you really feel the need.
Travel Paradox #14 – When you spend less you can travel longer—mileage may vary!
Travel Tip #611 – Word to the wise: Never, ever ride an elephant in shorts….just trust me on this one. Their cute, wrinkled skin is like sand paper. BTW: Little known fact, that if want an elephant to remember you forever—just breathe into their trunk…they now have your scent. Forever!
“Better to ask twice than lose your way once.” – Danish Proverb
Travel Tip #210 – Choose your traveling friends slowly. Good things take time, bad things happen quickly!
Travel Tip #894 – A simple trick on how to avoid bringing home a biological disaster when you buy a wooden object overseas, is to place it in the freezer for a few of days. Freezing kills whatever larvae that may be lurking within.
“The more I traveled the more I realized that fear makes strangers of people who should be friends.” – Shirley MacLaine
Contrarian Travel Tip #119 – Sleep outside whenever you can. Some of my most memorable travels were had because I was not scared of sleeping outside: in the desert, on a longhouse balcony, on a beach, on a ship deck, on the balcony of your hotel room, on a poolside deck chair, wherever…you will remember it forever!
Travel Tip #821 – Want a good deal on an urban hotel for the weekend—Friday and Saturday night? Find a large business hotel in the financial district of any major town—they are usually somewhat empty on the weekends. Make a deal.
Travel Tip #490 – Two things always make me feel like a million bucks when I have inevitably succumbed to a dreaded Weary Traveler Flare-up: brushing my teeth and changing my socks. Maybe it’s just me, but others seem to agree. Try it, you’ll like it…
Travel Tip #289 – Your mother was right of course—if you’re not early, you’re late. Don’t miss your flight. It can be costly, both financially and time-wise in the long-run. FYI: Nobel Prize-winning economist George Stigler has figured out the perfect time to arrive at the airport to make a domestic fight—one and a half hours before your flight (with a 5% margin of error that you will actually miss your flight). I will take that chance! I say two hours for an international flight is plenty of time. Besides, if you never miss a flight—you are spending way too much time in airports!
The Four Essential Travel Truths: There are four essential travel truths when preparing for a great trip, a new adventure or just a quick fun vacation away: One) prior research; Two) adequate supplies (the right stuff you’ll actually need); Three) proper preparation; and Four) commonsense (that comes from knowledge and experience). Any fool can travel, but a serious traveler knows well these four essential travel truths.
“Better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times.” – Asian proverb
Travel Myth #13 – You can fly for free as a Courier Service traveler. Not anymore. But there was a day when seat-of-the pants air couriers accompanying time-sensitive business cargo was a reality and it was cheap—but not free. Due to rapid globalization of the air freight industry over the past three decades, and with the growth of next-day delivery companies like: FedEx, UPS and Emory; the courier service angle is all but non-existent nowadays. I hear that a few Colombia and Mexican drug lords are still looking for mules though…
Travel Tip #311 – Survey’s vary, but 50% of travelers use four or more main information sources when researching destinations: destination specific websites lead the way (57% of sites visited), travel content sites second (55%), followed by traveler review websites. I hear tell that the average person visits 21 sites during nine sessions while preparing for a trip. Twenty-one! Research is good, but don’t get information overload…and know that too much often contradictory information can lead to paralysis—a symptom of decision fatigue. Manage your intake and stay with information sources you both trust and have a good history with. BTW: Before you actually book, be sure to delete all your cookies for the best possible deal—because Little Brother (aka corporate America) know where you have been and what you have been quoted!
Travel Tip #128 – If you really must go to a theme park; Fridays are the best days to visit, according to attendance records. And January and February may be the best times to go—cool weather and the least crowded. Avoid them at all costs between Memorial Day and Labor Day, as you are only be setting yourself (and the kids too) up for bad times to come. Humorist Dave Barry may have set it best when he said, “The best time to go to Disneyworld, if you want to avoid huge crowds, is 1962.” Indeed.
Traveler Paradox #1 – You either have all the time you need to travel but no money, or you have all the money you need to travel but no time. Go figure? Make time and be resourceful…just go.
“An adventure is like love – anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort and remembered with nostalgia.” – Author Unknown
Travel Tip #427 – Try having at least one progressive dinner whenever you are in a different country. Start with drinks at one spot, then move on to appies at another eatery, then try a main course someplace else, followed by dessert also elsewhere. Okay, then a night cap someplace fun. Make an evening out of it and explore…you will have a ton of fun.
Terrible Travel Advice #88 – Don’t talk to strangers. WTF!? I know, your mom taught you that when you were a preyed upon innocent in Fear Inc. (aka USA). But now that you are a mature, smart, sophisticated and savvy adult traveler—please do talk to strangers. Despite the evening news programs, you will find that humans around the world are inherently kind…you can trust strangers in strange lands. In fact, ever person you meet along the way is a potential friend and knowledgeable travel advisor. (Just keep your talk/listen ratio in check.)
The Sydney Sisters giving travel advice from a bullet train in Taiwan. Listen carefully!
Travel Tip #267 – Expert savvy travelers know that that admission price of New York City museums is totally flexible and based on your willingness to pay. Forget that suggested posted price…just name your price and they will let you in. I promise. Yes, even for a buck!
Travel Tip #688 – If you really must take a cruise, book the shore excursions yourself (DIY) without the help of the cruise lines. It is really easy to do and book them when you arrive with locals and you will save a ton of money, as well as escape from all your cruise buddies for a day too! Shore excursions are huge revenue streams for cruise lines and the markup is obscene. One friend told me he booked a day to Angkor Wat from Bangkok for two for $3,500…in 15 minutes I had it priced at $364—cars, guides, flights, grand hotel. Nuff said, DIY!
Travel Tip #233 – NEVER ever stick your thumb in the popular weeping column hole in Hagias Sophia (Ayasofya) located in Istanbul, Turkey. There is no glory in that hole; as your finger will smell for days and you might consider cutting it off! Yucky.
Travel Tip #401 – Always, repeat after me: always check your hotel and restaurant bills. Believe it or not, people have been known to pad the bills of customers they will never see ever again. Really! An extra side order here, a movie you didn’t order there, an extra beer…it all adds up too. For some places—no names on the advice of counsel—it seems that it is a business model.
Travel Tip #873 – Whenever possible, always return home one full day before you are required to jump back into action after a lengthy adventure. It gives you a short breather and time to decompress, get reacquainted with loved ones, unload your bags, open mail, get some familiar groceries, reflect a little, do laundry, and maybe get (or at least try to get) a good night sleep too.
Travel Tip #342 – Once home from your adventure, study your photos well, especially your worst pictures—they are your best teachers of what to do and what not to do. Learn from your mistakes. (Also, please, never show all your photos to friends and family—keep some of the mystery and the reject pile to yourself.)
Travel Paradox #23 – Countries where people have smaller cars have much bigger vacation time allotments than people in countries with bigger cars. Hmmm…You might be wrong Cadillac Man!
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where you’ll go. Oh, the places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss
Travel Tip #101 – Remember that the bargains you obtain in poor destinations, are only possible because of low wages paid to the producers of goods and services in poorer places. Pay the Gringo Tax cheerfully. Don’t quibble over a few cents. Never try to cheat poor, ignorant and desperate people. It is still a bargain for us. Karma…
Travel Tip #341 – Yapta.com is a wonderfully subversive site for travelers in the market to buy airline tickets but want to hold off buying them until they are as cheap as possible. And after you do purchase them, Yapta will also notify you if the price drops and help you get a refund too! (Yapta.com made the 101 Best Travel Websites for 2015!)
Travel Tip #45 – When your get the urge to go, start looking at a calendar and find a chunk of time. Be flexible. To save money and avoid busy travel periods, be flexible. Here are a few things to consider: 1) The best time to travel are the so-called shoulder seasons (spring and fall before and after the traditional summer vacation period), and between US thanksgiving and Christmastime (aka Dead Week). 2) Conversely, unless you like crowds and over-paying, avoid at all costs the Travel Bottleneck Periods, including: statutory long weekends (Easter weekend, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas holidays), and the busy and expensive summer holiday season (between Memorial and Labor Day weekends). And, 3) Remember important family occasions like weddings, reunions, graduations and potential births. Find your sweet spot, circle the calendar, commit to it and inform the boss. You are now committed and that is a good thing…
Travel Tip #444 – Avoid China’s twin semi-annual so-called Golden Weeks: Chinese Lunar New Year in late January, and National Day usually early October. Again, everyone is off and moving… and you have not seen a traffic jam until you see 1.3 billion people moving here and there. It is a cluster fuck like you have never seen on par with India’s every 12-year Kumbh Mela. You have been warned.
Travel Tip #318 – Do you occasionally have a senior moment and forget your hotel and/or room number—they all look alike, right? If you have a smartphone/ digital camera, take a photo of the front of your hotel…you will never have a problem explaining to taxi drivers where you are staying again. Ditto your room.
Travel Trip #564 – When in transit, or just basically traveling, take to heart these few basic rules: never stand when you can sit; never sit when you can lie down; and never pass up a chance to use the bathroom…and mostly never be without toilet paper in your daypack.
Travel Tip #210 – Word to the wise: Always make sure that you leave your loved ones on the right terms. Have great sex the night before you fly. Leave some fun notes for the kids. It will help everyone…and you will sleep better too. And just in case, their final memories of you will be good.
Travel Tip #345 – When booking anything, remember that everything is always negotiable. Always ask: Is that the best price today? Should I come back tomorrow for a better price? They want you to book now and they might offer you a “deal,” seeing if you’ll snatch it while knowing it’s not the lowest price they can offer. Always express hesitance and wait for them to sell you. If you think you can do better, walk away saying: I’ll have to think about it. Bottom-line: Don’t ever be afraid to ask. Because as I tell my kids, if you don’t ask—you don’t get. This works for buying flights, booking hotel rooms, on rental cars, and in markets the world over…don’t be shy!
“Travel has never been so urgent, even necessary, as it is today.” – Pico Iyer
Travel Myth #1 – There is a right way to travel. Wrong, there is no right way formula to travel. There is no cookie cutter one-size-fits-all approach to travel either. There is only your own personal Goldilocks Theory of Travel. Some folks love to sleep on the beach, while others are adrenaline junkies. Some are cheap and busy, others wealthy and lazy. Some like the tried and true and hang with the herd, while others head off to parts unknown independently. Some folks just need a few days, while others take a whole year off. There are no right ways to travel, and one way is not better than any other; it is wholly subjective, personal and an individual choice. Just like art. There’s slow travel, hyper-travel, event travel, culinary travel, cultural travel, etc. We say, do what feels good and just travel.
The Travel Mindset #1 – The hard fact of life is that you are only getting older and closer to death. Accept it. That said, YOLO (You Only Live Once)…now is the time to travel; not next year, not after you retire, not after the world goes to hell in a hand basket—now! Shit happens, and frankly, you never know where the roller coaster we call life will take you. As Woody Allen says, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” So, planning a trip for a year from now is great, but don’t put off travel as you and the world are rapidly changing…and it will only cost more later too. No matter how short your trips, make taking them a lifelong habit.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
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