We’ve all done it. Caught up in the excitement of a great trip, we find ourselves “going local,” and buying an article (or wardrobe) of indigenous clothing to show our love for a place. Sometimes, as with vintage aloha shirts, pretty kurtas, handcrafted leather sandals or Latin American peasant blouses, these looks play well back home. At their worst, however, they make the wearer resemble a clown, costume party-refugee or garden variety idiot.
I understand the urge to wear groovy clothes that scream, “I’m a world traveler!” But more often, bad sartorial choices are the result of too many margaritas, too much pakalolo or the shopping frenzy that results from visiting foreign craft fairs and artisan markets. God knows, I could stock a Goodwill with past purchases. But, like cornrows on white girls, male sarongs or anything from Hilo Hattie, most wearable souvenirs are better off left in their place of origin.
View the slideshow for a selection of frequent travel fashion violations.
It was an airline mistake and the number of tickets sold is unknown, but a glitch on the United Airlines booking site offered some really good deals yesterday. Only the automatic airport fees and other surcharges added to flights by airports around the country were included, not the price of the flight. The flash sale-like offerings were caused due to an error loading fares into the United computer system.
This is not the first time this has happened. A similar mistake happened in May 2002 when a fare sale accidentally appeared as a $5 round-trip ticket for about 45 minutes. In 2008, United accidentally stopped charging a fuel surcharge that was as much as $130. In that case, the airline honored the price of tickets sold without the surcharge.
But what about those unbelievably low fares? Will United honor the obviously incorrect pricing?
“As always, we will do what is appropriate,” United Continental Holdings Inc. spokeswoman Megan McCarthy told the Huffiington Post.
As travel writers, taking solo trips goes with the territory, so to speak. Sometimes, we’re able to take along significant others or friends, but that’s the exception. For my part, I prefer to travel alone, be it work or pleasure (which, given my occupation, generally turns into work in some form).
I just returned from a two-week-long solo assignment in Hawaii; it was my 15th visit, 14 of which have been made solo. In the early and mid-90s, I lived on Maui, and those experiences are what really cemented my love of traveling by myself, even in a place marketed to, and dominated by, couples. Sure, it can be lonely or a bit depressing at times to be a lone nomad, but I prefer to focus on the numerous advantages:
You generally get more of a cultural immersion when you’re by yourself. Depending upon where you are, locals may either pity you or find you an object of curiosity. This results in invites to dinner in private homes or to local events, and other experiences not easily had when you’re a twosome or in a group.
There’s no one to get pissed off at you when you inevitably get lost.
You’ll likely get more out of your trip, because you can focus on your interests.
Even without someone to watch your luggage while you purchase train tickets or run to the bathroom, it’s usually less stressful to travel alone. Bickering is inevitable, no matter how great your relationship, be it romantic or platonic.
Locals are usually happy to show you the sights. Again, this depends upon where you are, but by way of example, on a recent trip to Paraguay, I encountered palpable national pride among every single person I met. Everyone was eager to show me why their country is incredible (and it is).
Per the above, you’ll see things “tourists” don’t, like hidden waterfalls, swimming holes, sacred sites, rituals, festivals, etc. As with accepting an invitation to someone’s home, you need to use good judgment so you don’t compromise your safety, but without question, my best travel experiences have come about in this manner.
Watching a sunset alone on a deserted beach is highly underrated.
You may save money; single rooms can be less expensive and cover charges are often waived for women.
While I don’t often go out alone at home, I usually love to grab a drink at a dive bar when I travel. It’s a great way to meet locals as well as like-minded fellow travelers (who are always happy to share tips).
I find I push yourself more when I travel by myself. My friends aren’t as adventurous or outdoorsy as I am (they might use the term “dirtbaggy“), so hostels, janky buses and ferries, extreme sports, weird street foods and backpacking are out. I happily partake in these activities on my own, which has also been a big confidence-builder.
Airlines receive substantial criticism for their ever-increasing fees. While complaints about surprise fees associated with air travel are warranted and deserving of productive conversation, similarly unsuspected hotel fees are often overlooked. A recent New York Times piece highlighted the problem and stated that hotels in the United States are on track to earn $2.1 billion this year in fees and surcharges alone.
Some of the most outrageous hotel fees that are being reported:
Charges for donations to local charities (without receiving consent) are being added to bills. This actually happened to me while in Grenada.
Bellhop service charges, even when bellhop services aren’t used.
Charges for using the business center, fitness center or other areas of the hotel.
Some hotels now charge extra for a new set of clean towels or sheets.
Some hotels add fees for using the in-room coffeemaker.
Sometimes guests are charged for the in-room safe, even if they don’t use it.
Package delivery fees are applied for receiving mail and other items to your room in some hotels.
Bills at some hotels now include an “energy surcharge.”
Paying to use the internet often comes with a fee, and sometimes it’s ridiculously steep.
Given that New York is the priciest city in America, it’s not surprising that a night in the Big Apple will leave you digging deep. But if you don’t want to pay the $281 that an average hotel room will cost you for a night, there’s another option: In Chinatown’s Sun Bright Hotel, you can have a room for just $10 per night.