Travel Tips

 

The #1 tip we can give is always RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH.  To get the best experience at the best price, you have to have done enough research to know your plan and options.

Transportation Tips:

  • Many airlines allow you to print boarding passes starting at 24 hours before a flight, so print your passes at home or hotel.  Also, even if a seat on the plane has been reserved, if someone checks in before you, they can claim your seat and you could be stuck with bad seats.
  • If the plane has groups 3 seats on either side of the aisle, as a couple you can try to book an aisle seat and a window seat.  The middle seat will generally be the last seat booked, so there is a chance the seat will be empty.  If it is booked, most people are quite happy to trade on the plane to your window or aisle seat.
  • If you are travelling as a couple on a 747, there are 3-4 rows of seats at the back of the plane that only have two in a row on the outside instead of three.  This is worth booking (even for an extra fee) for long flights, as it is much more comfortable.
  • Seatguru.com is a good website to get detailed descriptions about each seat on the planes.  This can allow you to select the seat that has the most legroom, away from the washroom, etc.
  • When going through security at an airport, try to pick a line with mainly business people as opposed to families or tourists.  They tend to be well traveled and therefore better prepared for security and hopefully your line will move quicker.
  • If travelling by train in Europe, try to travel at night.  You will lose less sight-seeing time and the trains through Europe travel very fast and are often in trenches, which causes there to be very little scenery.  This is a way to reduce cost if you travel on a night train as well (no need for a hotel).
  • With European train travel, try to book tickets that have the fewest connections.  The connections are often on different platforms in the train station and you will have to drag your luggage around the station to get to your new platform.  This often involves going up and down stairs in a rush to make the connection.
  • Dress appropriately for airport security very little metal and empty pockets.  This will reduce time and stress while getting through.
  • Look into getting a pass for the hop-on, hop-off bus tours that are in many cities these days.  They go to all of the major tourist spots and allow clients to get on and off whenever they please.  Buses run frequently, so you are not waiting long to hop back on.  We like these as a form of transportation as well.  In some cases it is possible to use the passes for two days, so do some research before you buy.

Money Saving:

  • When booking flights, watch the flight prices for at least a week.  Flight prices often fluctuate and you want to get the best price.
  • Use multiple ways to check the prices of anything you are booking.  This can involve multiple websites and particularly the airline, hotel, etc. direct website as these often have the best prices.  Last, check with a travel agent as they often have access to deals not open to the public.
  • Check prices for flights on Tuesday mornings, as tickets tend to be cheapest on this day.
  • Try to be flexible on travel dates, as weekends (Friday – Sunday) and holidays tend to be more expensive days to travel.
  • Try to book accommodations with breakfast included, and then grab a few things for snacks/lunch later in the day (muffin, fruit, etc.)
  • Take Ziploc bags with you for food that you can take from your breakfast or buy at a grocery store (cheaper than a restaurant).
  • Upon arrival at a new location, find the nearest grocery/corner store to your hotel.  Pick up some water, snack foods, etc. that you can take with you as you sightsee the following days.
  • When choosing a restaurant, try to go outside the main tourist area.  The restaurants away from tourist spots tend to be cheaper.  If you would really like to eat in a touristy area or at a restaurant that is in a tourist area, try to go there for lunch, as the lunch menu is often cheaper than the dinner menu.
  • Look into booking attraction tickets online, the attraction will sometimes be cheaper if you book them online.  It can also mean avoiding long lines to buy tickets at the attraction.
  • If travelling in Europe, when you are in need of internet try a McDonald’s or McCafe, as they tend to have free access.
  • In Europe, most museums are free one day of the week.  When you arrive to the city ask around to find out which day but be aware that it may be busier due to the free entrance.
  • In cities where there are many museums and buildings of interest to visit, look into city passes.  These can be bought for a one-time fee and used as entrance into many sights in the city.  However, they are only worth the money for people wanting to visit numerous locations included in the card, so look into these cards before going.

Accommodation:

  • If planning a trip as a celebration of a special occasion (i.e. anniversary, birthday, honeymoon, etc.), make sure to tell the hotel ahead of time or as soon as you arrive.  Often they will surprise you with a free gift (e.g. bottle of wine).
  • When booking hotel, include any special requests (i.e. Non-smoking room, king bed, high floor with view, away/close to elevator, etc.).
  • Try to stay in the city or research to make sure that there are fast and easy transportation options into the heart of the city throughout the day.
  • Ask hotel to empty out the minibar so that you can store drinks/snacks purchased cheaper at a grocery store (make sure there is no charge from hotel to do this).
  • Most hotels charge for internet access in rooms but ask if lobby has free wifi.

Miscellaneous:

  • Make sure your Credit Card Company and bank know you are traveling and where you are going.  They will be monitoring your purchases and if they see strange purchases, they may cancel your card (which is a big problem when you are away).
  • Learn some basic phrases of the language of the country you are travelling to (e.g. Hello, thank you, please, do you speak English, etc.).  The people usually appreciate the effort you put in and will in turn treat you well.
  • Travelling couples should split their clothes between each other’s luggage.  If one set of luggage gets lost, one person does not lose all their clothes until the luggage is found.
  • Set your transportation dates first, as these can be limited to specific days or times and are often non-refundable.  The accommodations can be abundant and often flexible in bookings, so you are better to book your transportation first.
  • Many of the attractions to visit in any given city are going to be busy.  Try to find out when the attractions open and go there just before opening hours.  This can help you avoid line-ups in some cases.
  • If going on a long trip, take a Ziploc bag full of laundry detergent.  This can be used in hotel bathroom sinks for any emergency washing.
  • The more you can book and print out (i.e. Attraction tickets, confirmations, etc.) before you head out on a trip, the less time wasted while actually on the trip. 
  • ALWAYS ask about upgrades.  You may get lucky and get upgraded and the worst that could happen is they say no.
  • When buying passes to anything, make sure to know everything that is included.  For example, train passes will sometimes get you entrance into museums.
  • Take a small Ziploc bag of laundry detergent.  This way you can easily do emergency washing in your hotel, hostel, etc. sink
  • If you are on a long trip, consider finding a restaurant that serves some home-cooking.  Although it is wonderful to travel the world and try the traditional cuisine, sometimes it is good to get some home-cooking to fend of the home sickness.  We often feel revitalized after the home-style meal and ready to continue our journey.
  • One way to feel good about yourself is to always take your leftovers from restaurants and give them to a homeless person.  The leftovers are just going in the garbage anyway and someone could really use the food.