Do you want to travel like an expert? No problem, we’ve got you covered! We’ve compiled a list of our 20 travel tips from the pros.
Many of us can probably share some not-so-perfect travel stories from our past. Although we can (hopefully) laugh about it now, there often remains a vivid memory of the discomfort and unease that accompanies unexpected mishaps.
When it comes to travel, the anticipation can be thrilling, yet the intricate web of details has the power to either elevate or jeopardize an entire trip. As seasoned Travel Advisors, we’ve accumulated a wealth of wisdom and are eager to share the valuable insights we have gathered over the last 17 years.
Planning Travel Tips:
Dive in and dream big; you deserve to experience everything you desire in your travels! Utilize books, movies, magazines, and your Travel Advisor’s advice set in the destination you’ll be visiting to learn from an abundance of resources. Leading up to your trip is part of your vacation, too. Allowing your excitement to come alive long before you even depart will keep your wanderlust bright.
For the best rates, we recommend planning your trips around a year prior. Hotels publish rates about 11 months in advance, though sometimes we can get rates before they are published publically.
And while we recommend booking ahead at any point during the year, this is especially true for festive travel. The festive season is unofficially identified as December 20th to January 4th and within those two weeks, there are more restrictions in place compared to other times of the year. From blacked-out dates to minimum night stay requirements and extended cancelation windows, festive travel can feel daunting. As always, Team Ourisman is here to assist; we have outlined a few of our travel tips for successfully navigating your festive travel plans.
Purchase Travel Insurance
You never know what may arise right before a big trip! Travel Insurance is optional but highly recommended because it helps protect your travel investment against the unexpected. Depending on the level of coverage you choose to invest in, it can include protection against trip cancellation, interruption or delay, baggage delay, emergency medical expenses, and more. Click here to get a quote from Travelex for your next trip.
Choose the Best Hotel Room
When choosing which hotel room to book, we suggest asking yourself a few questions to determine your priorities.
How much time will you be spending in the hotel room? If you stay in a big city, you may just be using the room to shower and sleep, so the view, while nice, isn’t that important. But if you are staying at a resort and spending most of your time at the property, you may want that beautiful view.
Think about price vs value. Sometimes paying a little extra for a room will pack a huge punch-adding value to the experience. Four Seasons Hotels is a great example of this—they never charge resort fees, their kids club is complimentary and many of their resorts supply complimentary sunscreen by the pool – all of these little perks add up to huge value.
How important is space to you? If space is important to you, research room size and pay attention to square footage on the hotel websites – when comparing different hotels or deciding if it is worth a splurge on a higher room category, it sometimes helps to think in cost per square foot just like you would in real estate.
Read our blog post for the full list of travel tips on how to secure the best hotel room.
Save the Best for Last
Who doesn’t love having something to look forward to the entire trip? It keeps your energy and excitement alive until the very end! When possible, leave the last day in your destination wide open and free of plans. You can use this day to revisit a place you loved, fit something in you may have missed, shop for souvenirs, or spend the day living like a local! This way, you’ll never leave a destination feeling like you missed out on a desired experience or memory.
Double-Check Your Documents
Ensure you have all the appropriate documentation needed for your specific destination before traveling and that they are valid. Make photocopies of important documents, including your passport, and keep them in your carry-on in the event your luggage gets lost, your credit card gets stolen, you cannot access wifi, or any other inconveniences arise in transit. To be extra careful, we recommend giving an extra copy to a loved one who is staying home, too. If the worst comes to worst, a trustworthy person in your life can save the day with a quick email or fax.
Check the expiration date on your passport. Even if it expires a month after you return, you still may not be able to visit certain countries. If necessary, make sure you have a Visa. Review your flight and hotel dates and triple check you have all documents and forms of I.D. before jetting off to the airport!
We also recommend calling your credit card companies to let them know you’ll be traveling internationally so that your charges don’t get declined and flagged as fraudulent.
Packing Travel Tips:
No Wrinkles Necessary
If you have clothes you send to the dry cleaners and want to bring them with you on your trip; leave them in the bags and on the hangers and gently fold them once over in your suitcase. When you arrive at the hotel, promptly hang them up. If you are extra particular about wrinkles, there are fabulous travel-size steamers you can purchase and easily store in your luggage, such as the Electrolux Compact Travel Steamer from West Elm.
Packing Cubes are Pure Gold
They are the secret to carry-on-only travel. If you’ve never tried them, you don’t know what you’re missing! The difference between those who travel with a carry-on only and those who have to check a bag (or two) is not necessarily what they pack but how they pack.
It’s like a game of Tetris; rearrange your cubes and other items until they fit perfectly into your bag. Then, stick with your system! You’ll feel less stressed when packing when you know everything will fit. Some organizers are water-resistant and all offer protection from dirt. They can also protect your clothes in dusty hotel drawers when you arrive and unload. We also suggest packing an empty large packing cube; they take up barely any space and are great for dirty clothes. We love the BÉIS packing cubes.
Walk it Like You Talk It!
If you say you “want to see it all” on a trip, you better prepare your feet for some action! Pack shoes you can rely on for those long days of sightseeing and exploration. We recommend doing a test run before packing a pair of shoes. The worst is buying a new pair of shoes thinking they are going to be comfortable and then it turns out the only thing they guaranteed were blisters.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Suitcase
If you are traveling with someone, pack half of your things in each other’s suitcase. In the event of one suitcase getting lost, each person will still have clothes to get them through a few days without the other suitcase. And of course, put anything essential in your carry-on! This includes all your technology, passports, flight and travel documents, money, medications, jewelry, and gifts.
In-Flight Travel Tips:
Register for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check
You’ve more than likely come across these signs in the airport security lines, but maybe you aren’t quite sure what the programs offer. This is one of the easiest actions you can take to drastically improve your airport experience.
Global Entry is a US Customs and Border Protection program granting low-risk, pre-approved travelers faster clearance through airport security and customs checkpoints. You get to skip the line and skip the hassle of security and getting back into the country only requires your fingerprints at customs. If you don’t travel internationally as often but still want to skip the security line at the airport, TSA Pre-check is also a great resource.
Applying for these programs is easy: fill out an information form online, consent to a background check, pay a one-time $100 processing fee (some credit cards will credit you back!), and schedule an appointment for a short interview at the airport where you provide your valid passport and fingerprints. Once approved, your entry card lasts five years!
Let Me Upgrade You
You never know unless you ask! When checking in for your flight, ask about any available upgrades. If you’re celebrating a special milestone, mention it! You may just get lucky on an undersold flight.
Cashmere to Carry-On
When it comes to quality and lifespan, cashmere is our travel go-to. Investing in a neutral-colored sweater or cardigan will ensure many wears, able to dress it up or down. Even in the summer, airplanes can be very chilly so bringing this trusty piece with you even to the tropics can save the day! We love the oversized cashmere sweater from Banana Republic.
Time to Snooze: Use it or Lose it
There is no better time to start prepping for the inevitable jet lag than on the flight. Try to get some shuteye so you can hit the ground running when you arrive. Bose’s noise-canceling headphones are a game-changer. After wearing them for a while, you’ll almost forget there are other passengers on the plane! We also recommend investing in a silk sleep mask if you’re easily awoken by bright overhead lights.
Destination Travel Tips:
The worst feeling is rummaging through your entire suitcase looking for something and not being able to locate it before the nerves set in. Avoid panic by keeping items easily accessible and organized with purpose. Use the same pouches for the same items on every trip. This way, you can find anything in a flash and not have to destroy your carry-on to find something.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
A souvenir can be as tacky or as momentous as you choose; we always opt for the latter. When purchasing something to take home with you, you want it to continue to spark joy in you even years later, triggering a happy memory or feeling about your trip. We suggest collecting something authentic to the destination and a bonus if it’s something that helps the local economy and puts money into the pocket of a local rather than a larger company. Items offering a glimpse into the local culture allow you to take a piece of the destination home with you and hold it close long after you return home.
Another important aspect to remember is knowing the rules! There are many items that can be purchased that are not allowed out of a country or into the country where you will be arriving. Be sure to look into the restrictions and process of transporting the goods you wish to take home with you before purchasing.
Stop and Smell the Roses
It is hard to not want to see and do it all in the duration you’re at a destination. Cramming weeks’ worth of sightseeing and adventuring into a week or even less than that can be exhausting, stressful, or overwhelming.
We suggest slowing down. Depending on how long your trip is, before traveling, spend some time mapping out your top desires and dive deep into those. Take time to eat your meals, talk to people, and soak in the essence of what is in front of you. Learning to slow down your pace and be present is part of the experience and will, in turn, bring forward memories that are irreplaceable and vibrant.
A Few Words Go a Long Way
You don’t have to be fluent in a language to be able to get around. However, it does help to know at least the basics! Some countries are more tourist-friendly than others and by taking the time to learn a few words or basic phrases, you will have a much easier time getting around and feeling polite in your travels.
Dining Travel Tips:
Be a Student in the Kitchen
What better way to learn about a new cuisine and the locale’s cooking traditions than to learn from the locals themselves? Almost all destinations have some kind of setting available offering hands-on cooking or interactive settings to learn how to cook a locally authentic meal. Remember, calories don’t count on vacation so it’s okay to indulge!
Locals Know Best
Sure, do your research beforehand to see what piques your interest in the restaurant world where you will be. However, just as we know the best-hidden gems in our hometowns, the locals in your travel destinations always know the inside scoop. Ask around and take recommendations from the locals or your concierge. Take a stroll through the local market. This is a great place to learn more about the local cuisine, regional produce, and spices, and pick up a treat or two!
Let Us Elevate Your Next Trip
Helping you plan a unique, unforgettable trip is our specialty! If our travel tips have gotten your travel juices flowing, we’d love to help you get started bringing your new dream trip to life! Already have a trip booked? Fret not! Through a process called a Hotel Reservation Takeover, our team can – you guessed it – take over the hotel reservation and apply our amenities and support your booking from that point on!
- Complimentary breakfast daily for two
- Complimentary room upgrade (STA)
- 100 USD resort credit
- Early check-in / late check-out (STA)