People have asked me many questions on travel and below is a series of tips I have given them.
Getting There and Around
- When flying to your destination, consider using an open-jaw ticket. This is a ticket where you leave from
you home and fly to City A and fly from City B home. For example on my trip to Germany, I flew from Washington
to Berlin and back to Washington from Munich. This allow you to see more of a country without having to
backtrack in order to fly home.
- For trips between or within Europe and North America, you can book your tickets online for a great price.
For travel to other destination, look into a travel agent that specializes in travel to your destination. Many
times these agents are themselves from your destination country and market their services to fellow immigrates.
These travel agents usually has connections with the airlines from the place you which to visit and can can
provide you good discounts. Also the agent can usually arrange transportation from the airport to your hotel
which can save you aggravation.
- When in Europe, use the train system to go between cities on your trip. The train system is extensive and
usually has cheap fares. If you are going to travel a lot between cities, investigate Rail Passes, but make sure
that better than to buy individual tickets (many time it is not).
- When traveling in North America, your best bet for transportation between cities is to rent a car.
unfortunately there are few public transportation links between cities and a car provides more flexibility in
traveling between cities (allowing for additional stops for example). A car is also useful in inter-city
transport as only a few cities (New York City, Washington D.C., Montreal, and Toronto for example) have have
good public transportation systems.
- In the rest of the world many times private buses offer the best opportunity to travel between cities. For
travel within a city in the rest of the world, use taxis, they are usually cheap and reliable.
- Many countries throughout the world, now have low cost airlines that can fly you between cities for a low
cost. These can be a good substitute for train travel over long distances or where train or bus travel is not
convenient or even possible.
- When in a major city that has a good public transit system, it is a good idea to buy a day or multi day
pass. These passes usually allow unlimited use for a discounted price. This can save you a lot of money and are
easier to use than to buy individual tickets ever time you use the transit system.
- Stay in a local hotel and eat in local restaurants. Why travel to stay in a hotel or eat in a restaurant
that is the same as where you live? Try something new and different.
- A hotel is where you sleep, it does not need to be fancy or have services that you are never going to use.
Stay at a cheaper hotel and use the money you save to spend a longer time on vacation. I prefer to stay in
small, family run hotels as they are affordable and show off the local culture.
- Many hotels (large and small) have their own websites usually in the in the local language and in English.
Also you can book a room online easily and without having to know the local language or deal with time
- Using the same ATM card you use at home when you are traveling will get you the best exchange rate. When
taking out money, make sure to take out good size amounts to minimize the amount of money you might have to pay
in fees that your bank may charge you to use an ATM outside of your banks own ATM network.
- When withdrawing money from an ATM, try to take out odd amounts like 95 or 90 rather than 100. This way you
get some smaller bills which are more useful when you make purchases of smaller items like bus or subway
- Take cash in your native currency with you just in case you can not find a working ATM right away (I usually
take around 100 USD with me). If you do not use it while on vacation, you can easily used back home unlike
traveler's checks or foreign currency.
- For US Residents: Examine your credit card agreement and see how much they charge for currency conversions.
1% is the minimum charged and some banks charge 3%. If your issuing bank charges more than 1%, get a card from
one that does not. See Credit/Debit/ATM Cards and Foreign Exchange for
a listing of cards that charge a 1% conversion fee.
- Keep a record of your expenses. This will help you determine where you money is going and can help you
determine how much you should withdrawal from the ATM the next time you need cash. The record also will help you
have a reasonable amount of cash on you when you leave the country rather than having too much which will need
to be converted.
- Spend you remaining cash at the airport duty free shop as converting it to your home currency is usually
expensive. This is a good opportunity to buy presents for your family, friends and coworkers.
- Never use the hotel mini bar and avoid going to a bar or restaurant for snacks and drinks. Go to a grocery
store and buy snacks, drinks, etc. and save some money.
- Give yourself a break on your vacation. Do not spend every minute at a museum or seeing a sight, spend an
afternoon in a park observing the city and its people. You are on vacation to relax not to get exhausted.
- Buy a Post Card and mail it to yourself. You get a record of your visit and get to see the stamps of the
country you are visiting.
- A Cheap Souvenir - Keep a set of coins from where you visited.