While reflecting on last year, our first year officially leading tours of like minded travelers, we are weighing some of the best received and utilized travel advice against advice not used at all to determine how to continue to provide practical advice going forward into 2019. Here’s what we think is most important to know when traveling internationally this year:
Don’t be at the mercy of ATM Withdrawal Fees. This was by far the most underutilized travel tip in 2018 (and this applies to both domestic AND international travel). How? Open a Charles Schwab Online Checking Account FOR FREE allowing for free (via reimbursement*) ATM Transaction Fees across the globe. For more information, go to Schwab.com *(Unlimited ATM fee rebates apply to cash withdrawals using your Visa debit card wherever it is accepted. ATM fee rebates do not apply to any fees other than those assessed for using an ATM to withdraw cash from your Schwab Bank account.)
Another important related tip: Many ATMs abroad do not have letters on the keypad, so memorize the numbers corresponding to your password if you have chosen your dog’s name as your ATM code.
You don’t need to add International Plans to your US Cell Phone Carrier. We strive to do everything possible to get you the best value for your vacation experience. We suggest spending the extra $100 or so you would invest in adding International Coverage to your Phone Plan on something more appropriate to enhancing your travel experience like a hotel upgrade or pre-booked airport transfer. You simply don’t need to pay $10 a day just to have your access to your phone while traveling. There are several (cheaper or free) options available if you simply MUST talk to someone back home while traveling.
One is to utilize Facebook Messenger, Viber, or WhatsApp to make calls over the internet. True, these only work where there is WiFi, but these days, WiFi is everywhere. Simply sit down in a café and order a cold drink and you will have access to WiFi while out and about during your travel day. Better yet, send a text or email to check in and continue on with your sight seeing. Be present on your journey; you payed a lot of money to get there. If you have started traveling and are becoming addicted to this way of life, consider changing Phone Plans to TMobile where International Plans with free data and texting are included in 100 countries and counting (phone calls are a quarter a minute both ways). Note, this may actually be a trend, as other carriers are now including Mexico and Canada and we venture to guess, more popular international destinations may be added soon.
Or check into getting a SIM Card for our phone when you land (make sure your phone is Unlocked before you depart). These are less than $10 and allow you full access to an international phone number for calling within that country or region. Another option is an International SIM Card which you can purchase at home which allows for reduced rates on calls home and in the country you are traveling in.
GET YOUR GUIDE (known as GO! City Cards on our website) are a must on your next urban adventure. From museum entrance to theme parks and city yours, these cards are the key to savings on your next trip. Check out these favorites and hundreds more!
Aside from getting you drastically reduced entrance to museums and other excursions across the globe, you can book city tours and airport transfers at a fraction of the cost. There is a card for almost every destination, so hop on over to our website to explore thousands of money saving options allowing for intense savings on your next domestic or international holiday. For example, The Paris City Pass (LINK) allows you entrance into 60 museums (mostly with Skip The Line Access), Metro and Seine River Boat travel, and dozens of other discounted or free benefits from 3-6 days, making these Passes a must have for extensive urban exploration at home and abroad.
Combo Universal Power Strip/Converter/USB Plug
This is probably one of the best Travel Hacks and has saved us an incredible amount of time and frustration (and money). Trust us and get one. Why? First, most South East Asian hotels only have one or two outlets and one of these being all the way in the bathroom). Unless you are traveling alone, this can create a problem when needing to charge all of your cameras, power banks, phones, iPads, laptops, and whatever else you need to have electrically powered. And on top of all that , you need of power conversion (110V to 220V) to run some items (dryers, flat irons, and some camera chargers), and, thus, these electronics become a worrisome luxury.
Make your life so much easier, and purchase one of these units that becomes your one-stop power source while in your room. No additional adaptors are needed for most South East Asian countries (check for Singapore and Indonesia) and no converters are needed at all. You don’t even need a USB port. It’s all included within this unit AND it comes with a long cord because the one outlet in your hotel room is usually very far from where you actually want it. I plug mine in the room’s outlet and dry my hair there while charging my power bank and/or phone for my day’s activities.
You’ve heard of Compression Socks to avoid massive swelling on Long Haul Flights, but we’ve got an even better suggestion: An Adjustable Over the Tray Table Leg Hammock/Foot Rest. Unless you are traveling in Business Class, this is the best $12 you can spend. This gadget really works to keep your legs comfortable during a long haul flight and to prevent excess swelling. (You should wear compression socks as well on any flight over 8 hours.) Seriously. You’ll thank us later.
Travel Responsibly. This is a broad notion and encompasses everything from respecting other cultures by learning about them before your trip to not adding to a plastic problem in underdeveloped nations. You know... basically, “treading lightly.”
Mileage Credit Cards: Want to know how to fly for free? Charge everything. That’s right, EVERYTHING! Even household utilities and car insurance. (This only works if you don’t carry a balance.) We travel so much that this is the only way to make sense of the crazy prices Airline Tickets cost these days. Don’t even bother bringing a Credit Card on an international trip if it charges Foreign Transaction Fees. These days there are so many Travel Cards out there that don’t charge these fees, so make sure you apply one in plenty of time for it to arrive before you depart. We love our Chase UNITED EXPLORER CARD because not only do we get charged ZERO in Foreign Transaction Fees but 2 pieces of Check In Luggage are also included when traveling on any United Flight, Domestic or International. Apply with this link and get 40,000 free miles upon approval.
(And don’t forget to call your bank before you travel and notify them of your travel plans or you’ll find yourself calling them from overseas to set things straight.)
Get Travel Insurance. Really. Accidents happen and you don’t want to be stuck in a hospital far away from home with a bill they only take cash for. Make sure the policy you purchase has at lease $200,000 in Emergency Evacuation Coverage. We recommend World Nomads, it’s hard to beat their coverage and prices.
Stay hydrated - on the plane and on the ground. Sometimes when it’s humid out it’s hard to keep hydrated no mater how much water you drink. Make sure you carry Electrolytes and use them often. And as far as keeping hydrated, it’s best to not drink tap water unless you are sure it’s safe (although brushing your teeth is usually ok). See our blog DON’T DRINK THE WATER . Don’t forget to bring a water bottle along
Get some advice. Hire us to plan your journey. Journey Planners, like us, have both personal and professional travel experience. We can plan a trip for you much easier than you can alone because we have the contacts on the ground at your destination ready to take you on an incredible journey. The biggest benefit is the time saved in planning a trip because we've already researched the destinations and most likely we've been there too. There is money to be saved as well as Journey Planners, like old fashioned Travel Agents, have nurtured relationships at home and abroad and, thus, can offer the best rates available. A Journey Planner will assist you with travel advice from what vaccines are suggested to what to pack to where to get the best latte in Bangkok. They know things you simply can't know.
How do we work? Most Journey Planners have a fee based upon how many days in the itinerary you need planning and some charge a simple base rate. One way we work is to offer you concise advise to get you started in the right direction for a set fee, and another is planning a complete vacation with as many or as few details as you need.
In this day and age of seriously TOO much information on every destination imaginable, teaming up with an destination expert like a Journey Planner will take the stress out of planning that dream vacation.