Ten Travel Tips

Tip #1

Best time to book your airfare. I wish I could say that there was a great time to book your airfare but the truth of it is that there is no golden time. Some websites say Tuesday evenings but this isn’t always the case. We have two ways of traveling. First is knowing our destination ahead of time and second is booking at the last minute for the best possible deal.  If we know where we are going ahead of time we start looking about 4 to 5 months prior for international travel. In the past it seems as if the 3-month mark was the magic mark for ticket prices to start to rise.  Here are some of our favorite websites. We use them all.

If you are booking at the last minute use skyscanner.com and in the destination field type everywhere.  Or visit travelzoo.com

 NOTE: If you can book directly with the airline this is always best. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, the airline will be more courteous.  www.momondo.com www.vayama.com www.expedia.com www.justfly.com www.skyscanner.com 


Tip #2

How to get the best seat possible without paying extra. Our tip works best for couples. Our favorite way to get extra room is to try and book our flight during the week. If you can fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday, then this works best. However, it has worked for us on weekend flights also, just not as often. When picking your seats always choose the seats furthest to the back that are still comfortable. You can see which seats recline or have extra legroom by downloading the mobile app seatguru. You can also go online at www.seatguru.com. Once you determine the best seats to the furthest to the back then reserve the window and the aisle leaving the seat between you and your companion empty. These are the last seats to get filled. You could end up with an empty seat to share with your companion and this can make a world of difference. If it does get booked and you want to sit next to your companion the person is always happy to switch the middle seat for the window or aisle. We download the airline app so we can switch our seats all the way up until the time we check-in. NOTE: Sometimes when you book through a site not associated to the airline you won’t have the ability to choose a seat. This recently happened to us when we booked through vayama and flew with Air Canada.     

Tip #3

Pack as little as possible. If you have to wear an outfit twice so be it. We learned early on when traveling that it is best to travel with a tote and one carry on piece of luggage each. My husband who is a Marine calls lugging your stuff the sea bag drag. On the main page of the website you can subscribe to get helpful tips and we will send you a copy of our ultimate packing list. We separated the list by tote and carryon. We never check our carry-on bag either.  On a recent trip to Europe our friends didn’t get their lost luggage for 3 days. When we were in New Zealand it was 3 days also. If you do decide to check your bag, make sure you have a change of clothes in your carry-on.  

Tip #4

Don’t waste your money on a voltage step down converter.  We have NEVER had luck with voltage converters. We burn them up in the first 48 hours. Instead buy an adapter and make sure your small appliances are dual voltage.  Don’t spend money on the expensive adapters. We find the cheap work the best.   

Tip #5

We always use ATMs to get local currency. So far the only country where this did not work was Nigeria. We will take some US cash in case of an emergency. We stick with credit unions because they charge minimal fees. We also use 2 separate banks so we have two accounts for funds withdrawal. Contact your bank ahead of time and make sure your withdrawal limit meets your needs. Most banks cap out at $400 a day. That is a rolling 24 hours. So if you withdraw $400 at 10am on January 1st then you won’t be able to withdraw additional funds until 10am on January 2nd. Some banks allow up to $500. Our favorite bank for overseas travel is Navy Federal Credit Union. They have great rates and we never have issues withdrawing money. We use Chase Sapphire and Chase Mileage Plus as our credit cards so we can not only get points but we don’t incur any foreign transaction fees. Plus, the miles add up for free travel. Note: Always contact your banks prior to travel to place a travel alert on your cards. Most banks allow you to do this online. You don’t want your account frozen! When withdrawing funds from your bank account they assume checking account. You won’t be able to pick checking or savings.      ALWAYS PAY IN THE LOCAL CURRENCY IF YOU HAVE A CARD THAT DOES NOT CHARGE FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES.  DO NOT LET THEM CONVERT FOR YOU.

Tip #6

Buy an international cell phone package for your phone or rent a tep.  Most carriers offer international plans. You can add the plan before you leave and remove it when you return. We actually prefer to use a tep device. You can rent a tep here https://www.tepwireless.com/. We chose to purchase a device since we travel overseas frequently. You can rent the device and you pay $9.95 a day for unlimited wireless. The tep hotspot supports up to 5 concurrent connections. If you rent the device there is a $50 non-refundable fee. By purchasing the device for $99.00 US dollars you get 3 days free (as of 2/6/2017) and additional days are only $8.00 vs $9.95. We have never had an issue with our device. You pay for a 24-hour period and you only pay for what you use. Once your 24-hour period has expired you must acknowledge you want an additional 24 hours. There are other similar devices but we recommend the tep because that is the device we use.      

Tip #7

RELAX. Things will happen that you don’t expect. Roll with the punches. If you let the little things get you down, then essentially you won’t have the best trip possible. Sometimes the unplanned can be an adventure. 

Tip #8

Meet as many locals as possible. This is one of our biggest reasons for traveling. We love to meet the people so we can experience the culture. In our travels we have yet to meet locals that didn’t make our experience better. They are always so happy to meet us and share their corner of the world. They are the best source for travel information. They will share where to go, what to eat, and the best things to do. Not everyone speaks English so another reason we like the tep device (tip 6) is so we have wireless everywhere we go. Then we can use our smart phones as an interpreter. You can talk to anyone with google translate. We also recommend the mobile app Speak & Translate.   

Tip #9

Go outside your comfort zone. Do things you would normally never do. Of course be safe at all times. Eat exotic foods if you have the stomach for it. When we push ourselves we experience more.      

Tip #10

Stay within your budget but don’t be so cheap you don’t enjoy yourself. We cut back where we can so we can splurge on the more important things. Before I buy a souvenir I ask myself – do I really want this or will it be sitting on some shelf collecting dust.  Anymore I normally just buy some local jewelry.    Trying to get the cheapest plane ticket could cost you more in the long run. Europe and other countries have low cost airline carriers. These are great for the budget but keep in mind that some do not fly out of the international airports. Sometimes you spend more time and money getting to the correct airport.    Before you rent a car checkout other transportation options. When we were in Italy last year we took the train everywhere. It was inexpensive and extremely efficient.      

Extra Tip

When travelling overseas it is important when you sleep.  If you arrive in the morning DO NOT go to sleep until the evening.  If you arrive in the evening then it is okay to go to sleep.  If you arrive in the morning it is so important to stay up.  It will be a hard day but try to stay active.  When you finally go to sleep in the evening your body clock will be on the new time.  

Extra Tip

Share your travels!!