Leisure Travel

 

Trip Planning

globe-icon.jpgFor those complicated, once-in-a-lifetime trips, you might consider using a travel agent to plan your time abroad. With access to hidden deals and professional experience weeding out any needless costs, a travel agent might save you big in the long-run.

If you choose the DIY planning route, there are several travel hacks to keep in mind to save your sanity and your wallet:

  • Leverage credit card incentives

  • Know when to book your flights, and become familiar with special airline
    programs, events, and promotions

  • Try to stick to one airline if possible--loyalty often means extra benefits and bonuses! 

  • Don't forget hotel points

  • Online aggregators like Kayak and Expedia can help you compare prices






Deciding Where to Stayhotel-lodging-icon.jpg

Lodging options today include so much more than just your conventional hotels and resorts. Travelers can rent out private rooms and homes, stay a night in a medieval castle, or even claim a spot on someone's couch. How do you know where to begin your accommodation search?

Start with the type of trip you're planning, and your destination. From there, outline your options and decide which fits best with your preferences and budget.

For example, if you're planning a luxury trip where you plan to relax, a hotel or resort will provide the amenities and privacy you might be craving. For the more adventurous trip, hostels, Airbnbs, and homesharing experiences will provide you with local flair, and will most likely save your budget as well.

Here are a couple resources to get you started:

Transportation transportation icon.png

From flights between destinations, to how you plan to get around once you're there, you have much to consider when it comes to transportation. 

Research the options available in the city you're visiting, and decide which works best with your travel style and budget.

  • Look into smaller airlines for flights within your destination--Ryanair, in Europe, often offers flights for as little as $15 per ticket! Just don't fall prey to the extra fees.

  • Car rental is a good option for the convenience it offers, but be sure you know the driving laws, and that you're equipped with the necessary documentation. Ridesharing programs like Uber and Lyft in the U.S. are great for cost-conscious travelers and are a good alternative to car rentals, especially in bigger cities since you won't have to worry about finding parking.

  • In bigger cities, public transport is often a great way to get around. Research how the systems work in advance, and look into smartphone apps that may help you keep track of the schedules.

Staying Safesafety-icon.png

While visiting an unknown city or country, where you might not even speak the language, safety should be a top priority. 

Research your destination before you leave, and come up with a solid plan:

  • Know your network--know exactly who you will call in an emergency. Be aware of the embassies nearby and look into special traveler programs, like the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for U.S. citizens, that can provide safety updates and help you reach loved ones in an emergency.

  • Carry the right tools--like a spare credit card, or emergency cash in a secret location in case your wallet or bag is lost or stolen.

  • Consider travel medical insurance--while the medical benefits alone are worth checking into a policy, most plans include travel assistance services like lost passport aid and lost luggage coverage.



Communication Abroadcommunication-icon-tilt.jpg

Communicating abroad ranges from being able to reach loved ones back home to speaking with locals in whatever city you're visiting.

Some points to consider:

  • Decide how you'll want to use your cell phone--most cell phone plans will not work outside your home country without high roaming fees. You can choose to purchase an international plan or only use your phone's services while in wifi.

  • Electrical sockets are different all around the world, so be sure to research the shape and voltage of the plugs in your destination country or countries and come prepared with the appropriate adapters and converters.

  • Download language translating apps, pack phrasebooks and dictionaries, or attempt to learn some key phrases in the national language of your destination country. Also remember gestures and body language can go a long way, but be sure you know what a gesture means in different cultures before using it!

Travel Documentationtravel-docs-icon.jpg

Passports, visas, permits--before you set out on your international quest, be sure you know what types of travel documentation you need for the countries you're visiting. 

It's also a good idea to carry backup copies of all of your documentation in case anything is lost or stolen. Make front-and-back copies of your passport, credit card, and other documents, and save them to a cloud storage system like Google Docs or Dropbox, where you can access them from any web-enabled device if needed.

A few helpful resources:


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