Traveling Like the Experts

May 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Recently, Matt Long, creator of Landlopers and self-described normal person who just wants to get the most out of his traveling, shared his best tips with Yahoo Travel, on engaging and embracing your destination when you take a vacation. We thought you’d benefit from his sage advice.

Except his first tip worried me a bit. He suggests getting lost. As in, on purpose. Long believes there’s much lost from visiting a place if you seek to remain comfortable, only “exploring” the well-known tourist areas of any given city. So, in order to force himself to experience wherever he is like the locals, he intentionally shuts off Google maps and takes off on foot from his hotel for a walkabout.

“Along the way,” Long says, “I always discover little things I would never have found otherwise and, more importantly, I start to get a feel for the real city away from the tourist bubble.”

Items in a Dutch grocery store.

Items in a Dutch grocery store.

This leads to his second tip: shop a local grocery store. Besides being economical, Long believes you will learn more about the culture you’re trying to experience if you peruse one of its easiest-to-engage gateways, food.

“Food and travel go hand in hand,” Long wrote, “and it really is the best way to become a part of a new culture, rather than just a voyeur.” You’ll be able to purchase snacks and drinks cheaper at a grocery store than at your hotel, and you could even put together a light meal there to take al fresco.

Long also recommends talking to people. “Whether we vacation as a family or a couple, we all tend to stay fixated on our own packs,” Long said, “rarely engaging other travelers or locals. For me, travel is about personal enrichment and growth, and to do that I need to talk to people.”

If you don’t feel comfortable striking up a conversation, Long suggests joining a local walking tour. You’ll meet other travelers, and you’ll have access to someone with a breadth of knowledge who also likes to talk to people from other countries!

Becoming immersed in a different world is part of the appeal of traveling. What are your suggestions for making the most of your time away from home? How do you engage and embrace your destination? Leave us some ideas in the comments section below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Top Five Technological Advances in Travel

May 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Technology is changing all aspects of our lives, from how we communicate to how we work to how we watch TV. Even our travel is benefitting from new technological advances.

A screenshot of a Google map

You can now download a localized Google Map to your phone for use even when you don’t have wifi or data access.

In fact, technological and engineering advances top the list of coming travel-related improvements. DestinationTips.com recently published 15 new travel advances we can expect to see, and we picked out a few of our favorites.

If you have a smartphone, you’ll be especially jazzed by what you can do with that ever-expanding, multi-tasking device.

Hilton and Marriott are in the process of updating the mechanisms that lock their guest rooms so travelers can unlock the door using their smartphone. By simply downloading an app when you check in, your phone acts as a key, and you have one less thing to keep track of during your visit.
Read more

TSA Wants 25 million Travelers to choose Precheck and Global Entry

May 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

What’s the worst part of the travel experience? Take an informal poll and you’ll find “going through security” to be in the top three, if not number one. Since 9/11, Americans have developed strategies for removing their shoes, unloading their laptops, and shrinking their toiletries to three ounce travel sizes in order to streamline their security screening.

TSA Pre-Check signWhat if you could skip all that rigamarole and stroll through security without removing anything? You can, and The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) wants to tell you how. While many frequent business travelers are familiar with Precheck, TSA is on a campaign to get more travelers to sign up.

The process is relatively simple: you fill out a form online and schedule a brief, in-person interview at the airport where you present the required documentation (a passport, driver’s license, or birth certificate) and are fingerprinted. The $85 fee provides Precheck security clearance for five years.
Read more

Don’t Let Negative Thinking Stop You from Traveling

May 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Yes, it’s a lot of work to go on a vacation. You have to plan your itinerary, find the best airfare, decide where to stay, and perhaps who to travel with. But everything in life requires effort, and we don’t want to see you miss out on a great experience because of the following negative myths:

It’s too expensive

In case you were waiting to win the lottery, the reality is everything costs money. There’s no free lunch, but there certainly are a plethora of free and discounted sites and activities to participate in, no matter where you decide to go. (Look at the activities you do at home — museums, sporting events, festivals.)

Backbid.com screnshot

Backbid.com works like Priceline, but in reverse: hotels bid by offering lower and lower prices to win your business.

And there are ways to take vacations that don’t cost much more than your regular living. For example, if you could drive to a new city 1,000 miles away and stay in an Airbnb apartment, you’re looking at the cost of gas and lodging. You can cook your own food, which you would have to do anyway, and you can just walk around and experience a brand new city for an entire week, and try the inexpensive and discounted activities.
Read more

There Is a Best Time to Purchase an Airline Ticket. Sort Of.

April 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The process of purchasing an airline ticket has become something out of an episode from Survivor — can you outwit, outlast, outplay the airlines and get the price you want? It seems someone is finally seeking to form an alliance.

Mobile boarding pass for KLM. One of a few versions of an airline ticketExpedia and Airlines Reporting Corporation joined forces to conduct an immensely comprehensive data study, analyzing 10 billion flights, to provide you with a detailed strategy for getting the best price on an airline ticket without having to sell your soul at a tribal council.

First, let me tell you when it’s time for you to go: you can actually get the best fare by traveling on the weekend. Business flights are much more expensive than those catering to leisure travelers, so flights that take you to or from your destination over a weekend will be more affordable than those departing during the week. That should help you know when it’s time for you to go.

Here’s the skinny: airlines change their prices multiple times a day. George Hobica of Airfare Watchdog suggests checking, at a minimum, four times a day, every day of the week, as far in advance as you can. Sheesh. Yes, it may take a little work to find the best deal.
Read more

Passport Expiring? Better Get it Renewed, Fast!

April 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Procrastinators, beware! The State Department wants you to check your passport expiration and submit it now to avoid the expected flood of renewals of the 10-year document. They’re anticipating a surge in demand because 2006 was the first year the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative went into effect, requiring Americans flying to and from Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean to produce a passport for re-entry into the country.

A biometric US passport

A biometric US passport

There has also been an increase in renewal activity due to the implementation of the Real ID Act, which creates a more stringent set of standards for travelers using driver’s licenses and other identity cards to board a plane.

To clarify, the Department of Homeland Security has set a January 22, 2018 deadline for states to comply with the changes instituted by the Real ID Act. A passport will serve as a viable alternative to either forms of identification for those traveling after the deadline from non-compliant states.

Read more

The Tall Person’s Guide to Airline Legroom

April 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Airline travel is a necessity for me, but as a taller-than-average guy, I think more about the two inches of extra space some airlines offer, than most people do. Two inches doesn’t seem like much, until your knees are jammed into the seatback in front of you, and you’re wedged in for three to four hours.

Southwest Airlines Airplane

Southwest Airlines offer 32 inches of legroom, which is one of the biggest among the US airlines.

According to a survey conducted by Conde Nast Traveler (and reported on Huffington Post), the three airlines that provide the most legroom on US domestic flights include Jet Blue, with 33 inches; Virgin America, with 32 inches; and Southwest, with 32 inches. The bottom two are no surprise: Frontier and Spirit, each with 28 inches (although Spirit offers no recline). Twenty-eight inches is just a non-starter for me.

It’s somewhat surprising to me that the “big three” U.S. carriers — Delta, American, and United — all average 31 inches. It goes to show that utilizing a smaller airline might actually prove to be a better choice, not just for a lower price, but because there can be an extra two inches of legroom.
Read more

Five Tips for Packing Light from the Pros

April 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It seems everyone has a tip for how to make the most of the space you have in your suitcase. No one knows better, though, than flight attendants. Many of them use the Flight Crew Series Rollaboard from Travelpro.

Here are a few of their expert packing tips, as shared with Condé Nast Traveler magazine.

Travelpro Crew 10 with suiter

Travelpro Crew 10 with suiter

Heavy items such as toiletries and shoes take up a lot of space, but where you put them in your Rollaboard will determine your ease of maneuvering the bag through the airport. If you place your toiletries and shoes in the bottom of the case nearest the wheel base, you’ll be surprised at the difference it makes. By doing this it keeps the center of gravity low and it avoids heavier items falling into your clothing when the bag is being pulled upright. Flip flops and some sandals are by far the most versatile shoe with the smallest packing “footprint.” They go with many casual outfits and can serve as slippers in the hotel.

Don’t use a garment bag. Generally, they don’t fit in the overhead bins well, and closet space on planes is reserved for use by first class passengers first. If you insist, most likely it will be checked and then you’ll have wrinkled clothes when you arrive.
Read more

Four Scientific Reasons Airplane Food Tastes Funny

April 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s not just in your head. The airplane food we consume while in flight does taste different than those same foods on the ground. But before you go blaming the companies that produce those meals — because this goes for the food you brought onto the plane with you as well — let me share the science those chefs are trying to combat in order to create a palatable dining experience at 30,000 feet.

We read a recent article in Travel + Leisure magazine that said there are a number of factors that contribute to our airline food tasting funny or different.

United Airlines International Economy Meal

United Airlines International Economy Meal

Cabin climate contributes greatly to the ability to taste. The air inside a plane is actually drier than some deserts — only 12 percent in some cases. According to the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, the atmosphere in the cabin can decrease the taste of sweet and salty foods by as much as 30 percent. That’s why airlines serve salty snacks — pretzels, peanuts, and those famous cookies — in order to give you the best opportunity to taste something flavorful.
Read more

Myths about the State Department Travel Warnings

April 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent worldwide travel alert issued by the State Department has recently expired, but that doesn’t mean you should stop paying attention to these as you prepare to travel. On the other hand, you need to read the alert carefully before you decide to cancel a trip that you have planned for months.

Folding MapUSA Today recently discussed five different myths about travel warnings from the U.S. State Department, and we picked a few we thought were worth pointing out.

Myth #1: “Travel warnings and alerts are the same thing.” They’re not. Travel warnings are just that, a warning. The State Department declares some countries and places that US citizens ought to think twice about traveling to because of the chronic state of affairs there, like Iraq or Afghanistan. Travel alerts are time specific and are generally issued when there are events happening in a specific country that US travelers should be advised of when planning their travel.
Read more

Next Page »