Travel Tip Week: Travel Buddies

Allen from the Hangover has taught us best that we should make wise decisions when deciding who makes The Wolf Pack.  Travel companions can make or break an enjoyable vacation.  And sometimes, you never really know a person until you’re away…together…no escape.  So, in order to preserve some friendships and even your experience in a new place, there are some things to do before inviting your bff, boyfriend or mother to be your wingman as you trot through the streets of Bangkok.  They’re very simple but absolutely imperative.

1.  Take note of you and your potential travel mate’s differences.  If you are one that likes to wander about, sleep late and stay up all night, you may want to stay away from the friend that likes more structure.  The same rule applies for friends that are in search of a rendezvous and you are more interested in scenery, one that is very cautious and you are spontaneous.  These things may not be bothersome on average but are magnified while on vacation.

2.  Have an open discussion.  Nothing too formal.  Talk about the things you like/dislike when you travel.  Discuss how much spending money is required (yes, money matters can be difficult to address but it will be beneficial if your budgets are notably different).  Give each other a brief overview of what all you want to do while away.  If everyone understands and is in agreement of what to expect, the journey will be easy peasy.

3.  Match destinations with personalities.  Some people prefer the beach.  Some people prefer the countryside.  Some people prefer the city.  Not everyone is a chameleon traveler and that’s ok.  If you know which friends adjust better in certain locations (or where you can tolerate them best), choose accordingly.  For example, I would most likely ask Snooki to come to Miami with me before Monaco.  I don’t know if they’re ready for her in Monte Carlo just yet.

4.  Don’t be afraid to separate for a few hours and reunite.  Even those that have the most in common can have different interest.  When this happens, venture out on your own and come back together for dinner.  This potential plan should also be addressed in the pre-departure conversation, especially if you are traveling with only one other person.  Not everyone feels comfortable roaming solo in a foreign place, so in order to avoid hurt feelings, give a little warning.

5.  Start small.  If you are able to test the waters, go on a small trip that is one or two hours away from home before arranging to leave the state/country together.  You’ll learn a lot!

So, who will it be? 😉

Travel Tip Week: Finding the Flight

The busiest travel season will be here in a jiffy.  Going on a trip is always exciting but the planning stages can make you go berserk.  This week, we’ll give you tips to feel less of this:

And more of this throughout the entire process:

1.  After you’ve selected your destination, next is pricing tickets.  The best flight purchasing sights are constantly rotating but at the moment, our favorite is http://www.skyscanner.com.  It includes a greater number of flight combinations, allows you to search with a map (if you want to close your eyes and point to choose your next destination) and most importantly, provides the cheapest results.  Once you have found the right itinerary, purchase the ticket from the airline’s website if it is the same price.  The reason for this is, if you must change your travel arrangements, going through the airline is easier and incurs fewer fees.

2.  When choosing departure and return dates, be as flexible as possible.  The cheapest days to fly out are Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  And booking a ticket for a full week is less than a ticket that is for a few days.

3.  Fly into nearby airports to save money.  If there is one that is a short ride away from your destination, you could spend up to $200 less on your ticket.

4.  The best day to book a flight is Wednesday.  Prices are significantly higher on the weekends and decrease midweek.

5.  Social media stalk airlines!  They often announce sales and promotional codes via Twitter and Facebook.

6.  Just do it!  If you find what works for you, act fast.  Don’t wait until something better is available because that may not happen.  Nothing is worse than having the perfect itinerary at your fingertips, then it seeing it vanish.

Happy hunting 🙂

5 Overlooked Travel Tips

1. Always carry your emergency utelsils spoon.

Hunger is likely to creep up at any moment and you must be prepared.  I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to eat a little yogurt but couldn’t because I was missing my tool.  I say spoon because it’s the most multifunctional of the utensil family.  As the King said in The King and I in reference to forks, “you pick up the food and it leaks”.

2. Visit local grocery stores for culinary delights.

I have a slight obsession with grocery stores.  It’s magnified when I travel and for good reason.  They are usually healthier than dining out (if you make the right choices).  They’re also cheaper for daily eats and souvenirs.  In Germany I found a macadamia  spread at DM that still makes me salivate at the thought. And when I visited Amsterdam, instead of buying my delicious stroopwafels from the gift shop, I found them for half the price at the grocery store.  The list goes on!

3. If suitcase weight and space are limited, wear your bulkiest, heaviest items aboard the plane.

This is one of the best ways to negate those exorbitant overweight luggage fees.  If needed, wear multiple layers even.  You might bear a resemblance to Stay Puft Marshamllow Man (Ghostbusters) but at least you will have $25-$100 more for grocery trips.

Stay-puft-marshmallow-man.jpg

4. Engage with Locals

(Disclaimer: Always be aware of your surroundings and take precautions to avoid danger.)

This has been and will always be my favorite part of travelling.  For some, it comes naturally.  But for non social butterflies, add this to your to-do list.  You’ll be pleased to learn the city’s secrets that are not always published in destination guides.  I attended my most memorable new year’s celebration in Lisbon. It came about by chatting with a man that sat beside me in the food court.  If nothing else, meeting new people always creates good fun.

 

 

5. Wander, wander and wander some more.

I have always found the best restaurants, boutiques, musicians and photo ops in unplanned journeys.  There’s something extremely satisfying about accidental astonishments.  The time my friend and I were roamed for hours in Venice but had our “meal of the year” at a nondiscript eatery.  The time in Madrid we searched high and low (to no avail) for a highly recommended vegetarian restaurant but decided on a place away from the clutter.  The paella pan was clean in 20 minutes.

Ok, so many of my examples are food-related.  I’m busted. But believe me, they are all handy and can be personalized for your own travels.