Airline Travel Tips To Count On

Airline travel tips come from a variety of sources, all with good intentions. Crowd-sourced recommendations have their place, but often amount to more of a popularity contest than information to bank on. Professional travel writers make it all sound easy but shouldn’t they? It is their job to do so. Going directly to the source, airlines offer their own version of travel tips, based on moving millions of people every day.

Alaska Air suggests some everyday travel tips that include keeping our confirmation codes handy for when a reservation needs to be checked, changed or modified. Armed with that gateway code, we can check flight times, know when to arrive at the airport and gate and choose from a variety of check-in options.

On holiday travel, Alaska Air suggests wrapping gifts at our destination since they are subject to TSA inspection and allow plenty of time to get through congested parking lots and airports during holiday travel periods.American Airlines suggests taking it easy between flights in their Admirals Club with a One-Day Pass, available online or at self-service check-in machines to relax in comfort and elegance. The one-day pass can be used at multiple lounges throughout a day of travel.

Buying a ticket and not exactly sure on the flight times? American Airlines reminds us of the relatively new 24-hour hold option we can put on an airline ticket while we firm up travel plans or shop around.

Offering some tips for healthy travel, United Airlines suggests wearing comfortable shoes, getting a good night’s sleep before flying and drinking plenty of liquids, but not caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

“While away, get as many hours of sleep every day as you normally would at home,” says United Airlines on its website. “Taking short naps of 30 to 40 minutes will refresh you as you adjust to the new time zone.”

Light meals and simple stretching exercises can help too, says United with detailed tips to help avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis, the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein, mainly in the legs.

Airports also have travel tips for us, like this one from San Francisco International Airport:

[Photo Credit- Flickr user catorze14]

10 Pieces Of Travel Advice To Ignore

As someone who has traveled solo to dozens of countries, I’m often given “helpful” advice from well-meaning friends and family. The problem is, much of this advice can actually hinder your trip experience. Think twice when you’re given these common travel tips.

Don’t Talk To Strangers

This is probably the most common piece of advice I receive before going on a trip, especially as I’m often traveling solo. For me, talking to strangers is one of the most important steps in getting to know a culture. I stay in hostels so I can hangout with other backpackers, or I’ll do a homestay to immerse myself in the daily living of locals. Additionally, I pepper cab drivers with questions, ask bar tenders to help navigate me to offbeat attractions and invite tour guides out for drinks. I’m not saying to put yourself in dangerous situations where you’re completely alone with a total stranger; however, having conversations in public spaces can enhance your trip. If I could revise this tip, I would say “talk to strangers, but have your guard up.” There’s a difference between chatting and spending some time with someone you just met, and believing there’s no way you’re new friend could rob or harm you. Use good judgment, and you’ll be fine.Hostels Are Dirty

I’ve stayed in at least 100 hostels in my life, and I can only think of one that I considered dirty. Off the top of my head, I can think of two hotels that were less-than-pristine, even one that had a dead frog on the floor. Yes, in a hostel you’ll often be sleeping in a room with at least three other people, so the level of tidiness you’re accustomed may be compromised. However, clothes strewn about the room does not mean there are cockroaches or rats. Most hostels are clean and safe while still embodying a character of their own. I’ve stayed in hostels where the walls were covered in vibrant graffiti to reflect the local streets, themed like a medieval castle to show the city’s history or just extremely laid-back with bean-bag chairs and a barefoot philosophy. The only thing that’s really ever compromised is your privacy, although many hostels now offer private rooms.

You Must Be Rich To Travel

Along with being a writer, my job titles have included waitress, cashier and telemarketer. I’ve never had a particularly high-paying salary, and I’ve always managed to be able to take extended trips. Just because you can’t afford to stay in five-star hotels and eat at Michelin-starred restaurants every night doesn’t mean you need to stay home. Use some budgeting tips, and you’ll realize a little cash can go a long way. Travel during shoulder season, stay in budget hotels or hostels, travel to countries with favorable exchange rates, avoid restaurants with English menus, take public transportation or walk instead of cabbing it and travel slowly instead of hopping between 10 different cities. While you may not be living in the lap of luxury, you’ll still experience a new culture and enjoy the benefits of travel.

Females Shouldn’t Travel Alone

It’s odd to me that – as a young female who has traveled solo numerous times through countries many wouldn’t visit in a group – people still tell me I “can’t travel alone as a woman.” I, along with countless other solo female backpackers I’ve met on my trips, am living proof this is false. I’ve backpacked solo through Thailand, China, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Morocco and most of western Europe, and have never so much as been pick-pocketed. Use your brain and listen to your instincts, and you’ll be fine. Don’t walk alone at night, don’t flash electronics and expensive jewelry, stay out of dangerous neighborhoods and always be alert to your surroundings, and you should be fine.

Planning Out Your Trip Is Essential

I’m a firm believer in planning a trip without making plans. While you may want to have a rough itinerary and know your flight dates, planning every single detail of a trip can make it difficult to go with the flow. Before arriving to your destination, you have no idea what you’ll encounter and what opportunities will arise. Keeping your itinerary loose and your options open helps you experience more. Know country entry and exit requirements, do some research on the culture and leave the rest to chance.

You Can’t Travel To (Input Lesser-Known City)

I’m not saying every city in the world is 100% safe, but the popular school of thought seems to be if a person hasn’t heard of a city or doesn’t know anyone who has been there, it isn’t safe. Many times, this actually ends up being inaccurate on many levels. For example, when traveling through Ecuador I visited Vilcabamba, Cuenca, Banos and Quito. One friend of mine commented, “I would love to travel through Ecuador. Although I’d only go to Quito, not those other places I haven’t heard of.” The truth is, Quito was the most unsafe by far of the four cities. Just because a city is more popular than others in terms of tourism doesn’t mean it’s safer. And, just because you don’t know someone who’s been to a certain place, doesn’t mean you can’t pave the way.

Don’t Visit (Insert Popular Site) Because It’s Too Touristy

In order for a trip to be well rounded, you should include a mix of touristy and off-the-beaten path fare. Many travelers believe visiting touristy sites is, well, too touristy, and will omit these points of interest from their itineraries. Would you really want to visit Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower? Or Rome without visiting the Colosseum? New York without the Statue of Liberty? These sights are iconic, and for good reason. A site doesn’t become touristy because it’s got nothing to offer; in fact, these places usually hold much historical and cultural significance. While filling your itinerary to the brim with tourist sites can leave little room for surprise, not including them at all will lead you to miss out on important knowledge.

Eating Street Food Will Make You Sick

This is a tip I often get from concerned family and friends. Everyone’s heard one horror story of someone getting food poisoning from street food in foreign countries. To counter that, I’ve actually gotten sick from dining in upscale New York restaurants. I know many people who eat street food and at small local eateries religiously when they travel, and have never had a problem. Eating at these places will not only give you insight into local culture, you’ll be consuming the most fresh and delicious food in the city. Bonus: you’ll be saving a lot of money by avoiding the touristy eateries.

You Need To Know The Local Language

While knowing some useful phrases is helpful, you don’t need to be fluent in the local language to visit another country. Depending on how long you spend in a place, you may actually pick up on language just from being immersed in it. I become an expert in charades and hand gestures when traveling, and always bring a pen and paper to help draw or write down words I can’t pronounce. You’ll find a way to communicate. And when in doubt, you can always look up how to say something.

Mexico Isn’t Safe

Sure, there are places in Mexico travelers should avoid; however, this doesn’t mean Mexico as a whole is unsafe. For example, on a recent trip to Puebla, I felt more than comfortable with my surroundings. Not only that, but my friends took a trip to Mazatlan to take part in some adventure sports and had a great trip with no problems. Moreover, taking a road trip through Baja California will introduce you to some of the country’s best wine in a relaxed setting. Don’t believe everything you hear. Also, realize one person’s idea of an unsafe city may differ from yours. A friend once deemed Playa del Carmen unsafe for travel because “a friend of a friend’s girlfriend got sick after drinking and was probably roofied.” If that’s all it takes to scare people away from a city, I’m surprised they even leave their house.

[Images via Jessie on a Journey]

Video Of The Day: St. Vincent Tour Video

I was leisurely watching this St. Vincent tour video while having my coffee this morning, but once it came to an end, I had to watch it again. St. Vincent‘s touring drummer, Brooklyn-based Matt Johnson, is a wise man. After 20 years of touring, this guy has some golden advice on touring, traveling and how to deal with it all and, better yet, grow from it. Everyone can take notes from him, but his words are especially relevant to travelers who enjoy a good, long, hard journey – like a tour.

Matt Johnson:

“It’s a very humble way to live. You live without many possessions. You live without many of the comforts that other people either do or don’t take for granted. I remember when I first started touring I would get quite homesick. Today, I feel like I am better at finding my home wherever I am. You can be so lonely living your life where you never go outside of five miles of where you live. For me, traveling all the time doesn’t mean that you get to experience something new all the time. It means that you get to experience your same old self with some different outer stuff around you. And so for me, reaching out and learning the stories of where I’m going as best as I can helps me to form a picture of the world that is more accurate. I don’t know. It’s more fun. It’s beautiful.”

Ten things adventure travel has taught me

The adventure travel bug bit me early, back when I was twenty years old. That was, I shudder to say, more than half my life ago. In that time I’ve been to many places generally considered dangerous–Somaliland, Syria, Iran–yet I’ve come through just fine and made lots of great friendships on the road. I’ve learned some things too. Here are ten things you might want to remember when you go on your own adventure trip.

1. Always shake out your boots before putting them on.

2. Never trust a fat man in a thin country.

3. The more obscure the language, the more people will appreciate you trying to learn it.

4. If you’re a First Worlder visiting the Third World, it doesn’t matter what your social status is back home, here you are rich and everyone knows it.

5. You are far more adaptable than you think.

6. Being there doesn’t make you special. How you handle yourself determines that.

7. Treat the old with respect, the young with affection, and everyone as an equal, and any culture worth visiting will welcome you.

8. You are not a member of the tribe and never will be. That’s not an insult, simply a fact.

9. You can’t fix all the world’s problems, but there are many little things you can do to push it in the right direction.

. . .and most important of all. . .

10. No matter what country you’re in, the majority of people are decent. Many folks who have never been anywhere believe this, and that speaks well of them, but the only way to really know it’s true is to go and check.

I have, and it is.

New travel alert tool helps passengers get the seats they want, even on sold out flights

Expertflyer, a company that gives travelers information so that they can get the best possible airline tickets, is offering a free feature to travelers who want to change their seat or who are trying to get onto a sold out flight. To take advantage of the tool, called “Seat Alerts”, travelers create a free account on the ExpertFlyer website where they can setup an alert to be notified when the seat they want becomes available. This can be helpful for passengers who find themselves stuck with a ticket for the dreaded “middle seat” or who are having trouble getting onto a sold out flight.

Usually, airlines require flyers to have a ticket and will only change a passenger’s seat to another “unoccupied” seat. Travelers also usually have to wait until boarding time to find out if the seat they want becomes available. With “Seat Alerts”, travelers no longer have to wait and can switch their seat online once they receive a notification via text or e-mail.

The free feature allows travelers to maintain one active Seat Alert at a time. Additional alerts can be purchased for $0.99, and ExpertFlyer paid subscribers will be able to post several alerts at one time.

For more information, click here.