Travel Like a Rock Star!
With the holidays upon us and millions of people traveling this holiday season, I figured it’s a good time to offer up some travel tips. And so, I asked my four favorite rockers to share their best ones for you. (I also tucked in my own at the end.)
Though some of the guys’ tips are for overseas travel, plenty can be applied to domestic travel, as well. And all of these are valid at any time of the year.
Wherever your travels take you, and whatever the season…happy trails!
John Nymann’s Travel Tips
When traveling abroad, try to sleep on the plane to help with jet lag.
Keep a close eye on belongings along the way—especially in hotel rooms. Black clothes love to hide, and whites disappear in the sheets! Cell phone chargers are notorious for getting left behind!
Keep your passport safe, but within reach. You don’t want to have to dig for it in your suitcase when asked for it.
Notify your bank of countries you will be traveling to before you leave. Carry small amounts of foreign currency on you and use your bank card for purchases.
Relax and enjoy the adventure! You’re on vacation! 🙂
Brad Lang’s Travel Tips
Dress comfortably for flights. And, be non-accessorized for security.
Keep your passport, boarding pass, and a pen handy for international flights. There is usually a landing form to fill out, so you’ll need flight info and a pen.
Show up to the airport early. Long check-in lines, traffic getting to the airport, or a multitude of other delays can make one late for an important flight. It’s better to be early and bored, rather than late and screwed.
Smile and be friendly to the entire flight crew. That’s your team. If you’re nice to them, they’re nice to you.
Mike Vanderhule’s Travel Tips
Always pack a complete change of clothes in your carry-on. And in my case, stage clothes, as well. When the airlines lose your luggage it will make the next few days much more tolerable until they find it…hopefully they do. Same goes for your toothbrush and any medicine you may need.
Get bags that roll—especially your carry-on. Airports are huge, and the nerves in your shoulders can only take so much.
Don’t carry your wallet in your back pocket. Instead carry a money clip in your front pocket, with license and credit cards there, as well.
If you sit in the window seat, you’d better have a huge bladder.
Dave Meniketti’s Travel Tips
Travel cash and purchases overseas:
Load up your checking account before you leave, and bring your Bank Card (debit card) with you for cash advances while traveling. Don’t make the “money-losing” mistake of bringing your own currency with you; you’ll lose a lot at money exchange booths, as they’ll charge fees and give you a terrible exchange rate. If you take cash from a cash machine (ATM) overseas using your debit card, the bank back home will charge you the exact exchange rate of the day; if you have an account at some banks, like a Schwab Investment Checking account, there will be no Foreign transaction fees or service charges attached to the withdrawals. Don’t use a credit card for getting cash while traveling, as you’ll be charged a hefty “cash advance” service charge from your credit card company.
When making “purchases” overseas (meals, gifts, tickets, etc.), carry a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, such as Capital One and some airline credit cards. This will ensure that you’re charged only the current exchange rate for your purchase. If you use your bank/debit card (other than the Schwab account mentioned above), most banks will charge you a foreign transaction fee for each purchase, which can be about 3% of the price of your transaction.
Contact your bank and credit card companies for any cards you are taking with you, and inform them of your travel plans. There’s nothing worse than arriving in another country and needing to get cash or buy a meal, and finding that your card won’t work.
So, in short: Well before you leave on a trip, look for credit cards that charge no foreign transaction fees, and take that card with you. Use your debit card for cash withdrawals, and your credit card for purchases, and you’ll be a smarter traveler and a happier one once you get home and look at your account statements.
European Car rentals:
If you’re a US citizen renting a car in Europe or the UK, and you’re comfortable driving a manual transmission, it’s advised to rent only cars with a stick. Automatic transmission cars can be 25% to 100% more expensive than the same car in manual. Most Europeans drive manual transmission cars, so the rental companies know they can charge a premium to tourists from the US (which is one of the few countries in the world where the majority drive an automatic).
Often your travel plans will dictate that you start in one country and end in another, but you’ll pay an exorbitant fee for any car rental that is considered a “one way,” meaning, you pick up a vehicle from a different place than where you will return it. If you stay long enough to warrant it, look into services that offer a short-term vehicle lease. You must stay at least two weeks for it to make sense, but sometimes a short-term lease can be less expensive than a rental company. Plus, some of these short-term lease companies offer extras, like delivery of the vehicle or pick up at your hotel.
Jill Meniketti’s Travel Tips
Electronics: In addition to all of your charging cables (for phone, laptop, tablet, reader—whatever devices you bring), it’s helpful to pack a lightweight extension cord. Oftentimes hotel rooms have power outlets in the most inconvenient places. Having an extension cord along will alleviate loads of frustration when you want to charge a device.
Don’t forget adapters. For traveling in Europe and the UK, FosPower and Mudder each make a great little cube that contains all the necessary plug adapters needed, including two USB ports and three plug sides.
For using your phone overseas, first check with your provider to see what they offer for international data plans, and decide what’s best for your travel needs. For example, T-Mobile offers (as of this posting) a plan with free international data (so you can surf the web, get directions, receive email), free texting, and phone calls at 20¢/minute. For my travel and communication needs, it was well worth making the switch to T-Mobile.
Don’t bring a hair dryer or curling iron. Most hotels these days have hairdryers in the rooms, so there’s no need to bring one from home. If you’re traveling in another country, you won’t be able to effectively use your hair dryer or curling iron from home due to the voltage difference (unless it’s universal).
When paying with your credit card overseas, pay in the currency of the country you’re visiting. Don’t pay in your home currency, as the exchange rate imposed by the vendor’s side will be worse. For example, if you’re from the US and you’re visiting, say, Barcelona, and at your hotel checkout you hand them your credit card to settle your hotel bill; they might ask if you’d like pay in Euro (EUR) or dollars (USD)—if you say “Euro” you’ll get the better exchange rate when your credit card company converts it on their end back home.
Tipping is not as prevalent around the globe as it is in the States. In some countries, tipping is frowned upon, so check the tipping policies of the places you plan to visit before you go. Search online or download an app to your phone for convenient lookup while traveling.
The word “toilet” is universal. American travelers should get comfortable with saying it.
Don’t expect everyone to speak English. Try to at least learn a few language basics before you go—”please” and “thank you” in the mother tongue (and a well-concerted pronunciation effort) are always appreciated in any country. Gene Roddenberry’s “universal translator” is nearly here; nowadays, there are translator apps for our phones, which puts communicating in another language right at our fingertips. As frustrating as language barriers can be, dancing around language can also be a fun experience…embrace it!
A positive attitude goes a long way in shaping your own travel experience. Remember, wherever you go, you are a guest! 🙂
What useful travel tips do you have to share?