TRAVEL 101


Staying Off the Beaten Path

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Photo courtesy of winecountry.com

By: Krystal Vera

If you’re off to see the Wizard, you’re off to Emerald City.  Dorothy and her companions traveled to Emerald City along the ever famous yellow-brick road and still only managed to see one thing – the Wizard.  Judging by the view from the poppy fields, there was quite a bit to see! Dorothy’s group made the same mistake many first-time travelers do; they visited a well-known city and went straight to the glitzy attraction while ignoring the allure of the rest of the city. Here are some pointers on how to pay attention to the little things in big cities, all while staying off the beaten path.

Learn the Language

The first step to completely immersing yourself into a place you’ve never been before is to familiarize yourself with the language. Get comfortable with some helpful phrases such as asking where the bathroom is or specific ways to ask for directions. Knowing the basics in any language will help you navigate wherever you are, in many circumstances and locals are always appreciative when visitors attempt to learn their language. Apps like Duolingo help both amateur and professional travelers learn plenty before landing. Emily Luxton, founder of the travel blog Emily Luxton Travels, uses the app herself and advises to “try to talk as much as you can using the language; even if you’re struggling people will appreciate the effort and go easy on you!” Plus, your new found talent is something to show off once you get back home.

Get lost. Literally.

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Photo courtesy of leloveimage.blogspot.com

There is no better way to lose yourself in a city than by literally getting lost. Even if you start in a well-known location and veer off in a random direction, you’ll find little treasures you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Again, make sure you know a bit of the language beforehand so you can find your way home. Say you’re trying to make your way to your next point of interest on a trip and somehow, someway, you get lost. It happens. Little did you know that you would find a small cafe or quaint bistro to stop in for a quick lunch before finding your way back to the right path. Finding those special places where such organic memories are formed can’t be planned. Don’t be scared to get lost!

Walk. A lot.

Walking and getting lost go hand in hand with each other. Sure, you can get lost by taking a bus or a train, but the best way is to keep walking in those random directions. Even if you’re the kind of person who makes an itinerary before every trip, don’t plan out the exact route to get to each point of interest. Have more time than you planned after lunch? Pick a random direction and get to steppin’! Off to those quaint finds and unique Instagram photos!

Google/Ask the locals

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Photo courtesy of tripit.com

Another reason why knowing the language is going to be extremely helpful. Since the beginning of mankind, the best way to know or hear about anything was through word-of-mouth. Although technology demands our attention more than other people these days, this still holds truth. By asking a passing stranger where the best place to eat or see a show, you’ll become completely immersed into the true life of the city you decide to visit. Nobody knows the city better than the people who live in it.

Keep it random

You’ve seen the stand full of brochures in the hotel lobby, the information booth when you get off the plane or main train station. They’re there for a reason. Grab them.  Take one of each and when you get to your hotel, hostel or AirBnB flat, lay them out on a table. Pick out the ones that sound the most interesting and give them a shuffle. The first one you pick; you have to do. No excuses! This will help you discover attractions people may otherwise ignore simply because we’re all so used to the brochure stand never having anything interesting. Still, you should try. You never know what you will discover! Megan Singleton, founder of Blogger at Large: Travel with Megan Singleton and former Twipper of the Week, says that in her spare time she visits “a local café or wine bar and sit(s) down and people watch. I often find the best travel stories are the ones that come out of just sitting, chatting to strangers and watching.”

By sticking to these guidelines you will be able to enhance the quality of your trip. Instead of saying “I went to Paris and I saw the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Arc de Triumph.” You’ll be able to say “I went to Paris and I found this cute little café that served the best coffee and there was this awesome theater that showed old movies for 5 euro a person!” Your adventures will become that much better simply because you took the road less traveled by.


Travel Hack: How to Plan Your Trip Like a Travel Pro

By: Natalie Austin

This year, you’re probably planning an ultimate, life-altering, Instagram-worthy trip to somewhere out-of-the-ordinary. You may spend the next few months dreaming about soaking up the sun on a beach in Thailand. But while your journey may have been planned down to what drinks you’ll have with each meal, you may be making some huge mistakes even before booking your flight. Since booking travel is now done almost exclusively online, there are countless ways to get scammed or not get offered some of the best deals. Even if you’re not worried about spending a few extra hundred bucks, that cash could be put towards a shopping spree or trip extras. Here are sure-fire ways to guarantee your trip is a hit, even before you go through airport security.

Learn to Book like an Expert 

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Courtesy of huffingtonpost.com

With so many booking engines, it’s easy to get caught in a tornado of bad information. While we may think we’re getting the best deals available, online consumers are often aced out of not just the best deals, but correct prices of flights and hotels. The biggest mistake people often make is starting a search with booking engines like Expedia, Priceline and Hotels.com. These booking engines often work with larger hotel companies and can only offer their discounted prices. Also, it’s much harder to find charming, cleaner mom-and-pop hotels as big booking engines don’t seek out business with these types of accommodations. For better hotel prices, use sites like Hotels Combined, who show you smaller, more charming stays at your desired destination.

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Courtesy of https://novoed.com/venture17/reports/172619

Booking flights at the right time and place is crucial to find the best deals. According to travel expert Reid Bramblett of ReidsGuides.com, “The secret to landing the least expensive plane tickets every time is to know where the deals are, search wisely, and never pay retail if you can avoid it.” To ensure that you get the best deals, never book flights more than four months in advance. Search for flights 8 to 12 weeks before you plan to go. Also, when you’re searching, compare flights leaving a few days before and after your outbound date to make sure you’re getting the lowest fare. For the best rates, use an aggregator like Momondo.com. Aggregators don’t work for the airlines, like Expedia or Priceline; they work for you, the consumer. That way you’re getting a comprehensive survey of airline prices, not just prices from popular commercial airlines.

While saving money may be at the forefront of your mind, it is important to remember when not to skimp on travel features. Many individuals get caught booking hotel rooms with seemingly too-good-to-be-true prices. Especially for American tourists heading to European destinations, travelers often don’t pay attention to hotel details that can put a huge damper on their vacation. When booking a hotel, it is often best to spend a little extra money in order to stay close to the city center. “Don’t be tempted by rock-bottom tourist-class hotels out on the edge of town. Anything 30 minutes or more by public transportation from the historic center is a mistake,” says Bramblett. Especially in destinations where the city center is the focal point of the trip, it will save you transportation costs and headaches if you book slightly pricier rooms closer to tall the action.

How to Pick Your Destination: Affordability and Adventure

Picking a destination is hard. People want adventure, but not one that’s going to break the bank. If you want to have an unforgettable experience, there are destinations to choose that are both out of the ordinary and still allow you to get the most for your money. It is important to be mindful of both the experience you’re seeking and your budget so you don’t have to spend any time stressing about money once you’re there.

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Courtesy of http://winewitandwisdomswe.com/tag/okanagan-valley/

For example, Canada is a travel hot spot this year for both its charm and affordability. Several destinations within its borders have been named the best places to visit for 2016. According to Travel & Leisure, the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia is a must-see spot for 2016 for both its gorgeous landscape and epicurean indulgences. “While the area’s stark beauty and hot, dry summers have always drawn outdoorsy types, there’s now an increasingly sophisticated scene revolving around food and local wine.”  The New York Times also mentioned Squamish and Quebec City on their list of 52 Places to Go in the coming year. Both places are off the beaten path and offer unique experiences that are quintessentially Canadian. An added bonus to your Northern adventure? One U.S. dollar will get you $1.40 Canadian dollars.

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Courtesy of https://www.azamaraclubcruises.com/de/okinawa-japan-cruises

In Japan, one U.S. dollar will get you  ‎¥117, allowing you to fully indulge yourself in some of the most unique locations. If you’re looking for a tropical getaway, discover Okinawa Prefecture, a must-see destination for 2016 according toConde Nast Traveler. The prefecture is at Japan’s southernmost point and comprised of hundreds of the Ryukyu Islands with a climate that rivals the Caribbean. “Okinawa and its islands aren’t just a scattered, reggae-sweetened necklace of islands closer to Taiwan than to Tokyo, but one that actively seeks to turn Japanese congestion, industry, and formality on their heads.” Of course you can never go wrong with the mainland either. With Japan’s bid for the 2020 olympics, new developments and advancements are underway as cities are already ramping up in preparation. With its world renowned technology and century-old structures, Japan provides captivating sites that are both ancient and the modern, cultivating a travel experience like no other.

Do Your Cultural Research

© Joel Barbitta D-Max Photography joel@dmaxphotography.com.au

© Joel Barbitta D-Max Photography

If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ve probably heard varying testimonies of different locations and cultures when talking to different people. A common belief is that the “French are unbearable,” and “Puerto Ricans are like long-lost friends.” The reality is that this was probably the attitude of the traveler that impacted the value of their experience. While many people research the best places to shop and eat, people often forget to learn about the culture of their vacation destination. Appreciating a culture before you’ve even visited can set you up for more interesting discoveries and authentic connections with locals. If you, “show a modicum of respect to people and their culture, and you’ll be blown away by what you get back,” according to Huffington Post Travel Writer Clayton B. Cornell. If you’re an American and you walk into a French patisserie using the words “Hello, how much does this cost?” you’re probably going to get a far different reaction than if you walk into a Puerto Rican cafe and say “Hola, cuanto cuesta?”.

Before you arrive at your destination, make sure to learn the most common phrases needed while abroad. Even though you may not be able to hold a legitimate conversation, locals will recognize your attempt at trying to connect and will appreciate your efforts to learn their culture. This shows you’re not just a tourist, but you actually care about their customs. Also, make sure to learn common courtesies of shopping, dining or drinking. This will ensure you and your travel companions won’t be lumped into the typical  “tourist” category. Ultimately, you will enjoy yourself far more if you have learned and understand indigenous culture.


Travel 101: 10 Tips For Not Getting Sick While Traveling

By: Lauren Durden

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Traveling often involves long flights, public transportation and crowded events which can lead to elevated exposure to germs. As cold and flu season creeps into the United States, and the weather starts to cool, travelers’ immune systems are especially vulnerable. If you are planning holiday travel in the coming months or want to ensure you stay healthy throughout your next vacation, here are tips to stay well on your next trip.

Before you embark on your getaway, here are a few tips you should follow to boost your immunity to travel germs.

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Get Vaccinated Before You Go

Whenever traveling to foreign destinations, always check the CDC or State Department’s information on recommended vaccinations. Schedule an appointment with your health professional to ensure that you are fully vaccinated well ahead of your travel, so all vaccines are administered in time to take effect.

Take a Vitamin C Booster Before You Travel

Taking vitamin C booster tablets have been shown to aid the body in its ability to fight off airborne illnesses. Passengers confined to small, dry areas on trains, buses or planes can easily boost their immune systems by taking a few tablets before and during their travel.

While traveling, especially on long flights, travelers can employ these tips to keep the germs at bay.

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Photo courtesy of foxnews.com

Stay Hydrated When Flying

One of the most important ways to stave off illness is to keep your body hydrated, especially during long flights which can be particularly dehydrating to the body. Staying hydrated will not only help minimize the chance of headache and fatigue, but will also help strengthen your immune system. Avoid drinking sweet, soft drinks or alcoholic beverages throughout your flight to ensure your body achieves maximum hydration.

Bring a Nasal Mist & Sanitizing Wipes On Board

Airplanes are notorious for the amount of microorganisms covering the tray tables, arm rests, seats and entertainment screens. Bringing antibacterial wipes on board and wiping down  your space before settling in, will ensure fewer germs in your area.

Your nose and throat are the first in line to be bombarded with germs when traveling – especially while in flight. Recycled airplane air can dry out the nasal passages, which are essential in aiding the body in flushing out germs. Keeping a small spray bottle of nasal mist in your carry on will help keep your nasal passages moist and ready to flush out any airborne germs so they don’t  make their way into your system.

Once you have arrived at your destination, there are a few more habits  to help you stay healthy.

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Photo courtesy of usatoday.com

Drinking Filtered Water

When travelers fall ill due to drinking water overseas it’s not because of contaminants within the water. Rather, the upset stomachs are usually due to local bacteria present in the water travelers are drinking. Even if you are traveling to a developed destination with seemingly updated water facilities, it’s still best to only drink filtered, bottled water. This goes for brushing your teeth as well. Keep a few bottles by the bathroom sink for easier access.

If you don’t want to spend money by constantly purchasing bottled water throughout your trip, consider purchasing a water bottle with a built-in filter feature. This way, you can ensure for yourself that all water going into your body has been properly filtered for all bacteria before imbibing.

Carry Hand Sanitizer

Many times when traveling it’s  difficult or impossible to wash your hands as often as needed to keep away illness-inducing germs – particularly when traveling to remote locale. Carrying an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the next best thing when you aren’t able to find a proper sink.

Lastly, keeping your regular, everyday habits while on the road will help to keep your body in balance.

Photo courtesy of healthcomu.com

Photo courtesy of healthcomu.com

Get Enough Sleep

Late nights exploring the bars, nightclubs and neighborhoods of your destination might be a fun part of your vacation, but making certain that your body is well rested and ready for the days of travel ahead will also ensure that your body has time to repair itself each night – and keep your immune system in tip top shape. A few late nights here and there won’t hurt, but don’t make a habit of staying out until the wee hours of the morning for your entire trip.

Forget Your Medications or Vitamins

If you regularly take medications or vitamins,  it’s obvious that your body still needs these aids while on vacation. Portion out the needed amount of medication or vitamins, and divide into pill boxes or plastic bags so you don’t have to carry the entire quantity with you during your travel.

Eat Properly

Changing your diet too drastically while traveling can lead to an upset stomach and possible illness. While partaking in the local food flavors is an essential aspect of any trip for many travelers, ensuring that you are getting the needed amount of vitamins and minerals from your daily intake of food will help keep your body fueled and ready to take on the next leg of your trip. Enjoy that churro and chocolate, but don’t forget to bolster your dinner with a few extra greens to make up for the indulgence.


Travel 101: How to Survive a Long Haul Flight

By: Lauren Durden

Photo courtesy of wonderfulengineering.com

Tips to help you make it through those extra long flights.

At a recent TWIP event, the focus of the conversation turned to long haul flights. Our Twippers agreed that even though they loved traveling, many dreaded the long international and cross country flights they took to reach their destinations. In last week’s column, we profiled some of the best airports for long layovers when traveling the globe, but what if you don’t have a layover? What if you have to stick it out on a 15 hour flight to Hong Kong? These tips will help you get through the flight without dying of boredom or feeling too uncomfortable.

Upgrade Your Seat

If there is a time to use those extra air miles or spring for a better seat, it’s when you’re going to be seated next to hundreds of other strangers, for hours at a time in a small area. An upgrade will give you more legroom, better meals, and in most cases, fully reclining chairs that come in handy when trying to catch some shut eye on board.

Check in with your airline or travel agent to see what you can do with the air miles you’ve accumulated. You may have to be a bit flexible with your travel plans, but your body will thank you when you’re in hour seven of your 16 hour flight.

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Photo courtesy of iPhonehacks.com

Bring Entertainment with You

If chances are unlikely that you will be getting any sleep during the flight, your best weapon to fight boredom is entertainment that you know you will like. Finally finish that novel you started a year ago, bring your own earphones, and tablet or laptop, fully charged and pre-loaded with TV shows and movies that you’re itching to watch to prevent being at the mercy of cheap airline headphones, reruns of The Hunger Games on small in-flight screens, or outdatedSkyMall magazines.

Pack with a Purpose

Think about what you’ll really need on a longer flight, and bring the bare minimum on board. Make sure everything you bring on board can fit into a small bag or piece of luggage to be stored in overhead bins. You won’t want anything taking up precious leg room under the seat in front of you during a long flight, especially if you aren’t able to upgrade.

Get Up!

Think about the last time you sat stationary, with little room to stretch, for more than 10 hours. For most of us, our bodies aren’t accustomed to being in tight quarters for extended periods of time. Sitting for long periods of time on long distance flights also increases the chances of deep vein thrombosis, also called blood clots, for travelers who are at risk. Fight aches and pains from sitting by routinely getting up and walking the length of the plane and stretching. While you can’t do a full yoga flow on board, you can stretch in your seat by rotating your hands and feet, stretching your arms overhead or behind your back and doing a few neck rolls every few hours.

Hydrate

One of the most important things to do on a long flight is to stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of an electrolyte packed drink with you, ask for cups of water throughout the flight and keep your alcohol intake to a minimum. The recycled airplane air is dehydrating and can lead to a higher risk of blood clots, dry skin and headaches.

To keep your skin well hydrated and looking well rested, remove all makeup once you board your flight. Then, use an viscous serum or portable sheet mask to add extra hydration throughout the flight. Once you’re back on the ground you can re-apply your normal beauty routine.

Photo courtesy of Huffingtonpost.com

Choose Your Seats Wisely

Do you have a go-to seat choice when getting on flights? You may want to rethink it. If you normally book an aisle seat, but are looking to sleep on a long haul flight, you may be disrupted throughout the flight by your seat mate looking to stretch their legs. If you love the extra row for its additional leg room, you may find yourself without a reclining seat for hours on end. Use an app or website likeSeatGuru to help you find the best seats on the flight, and avoid any mishaps.

Dress For Success

Chances are, you won’t have the paparazzi awaiting your arrival in Bali. That means, comfort comes first when choosing your travel outfits. Loose, comfortable layers and a good pair of socks ensure that you can bundle up or take off a few layers if you get warm, while keeping you comfortable. A nice, loose t-shirt with a soft sweater and pants with a little stretch work well. If you’re meeting someone right off the plane, pack a nicer pair of jeans to change into once you reach the next airport, to pull your outfit together.

While the long hours of an international or cross-country flight may seem unbearable, these tips will help you stay a little more sane while in-flight. If there’s any time to cater to yourself, it’s during a long haul flight. Make sure you’re comfortable and prepared for the travel before you board, and you’ll be in a much better place after you step off the plane.


How to Travel with Friends Without Pulling Your Hair Out

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The TWIP team is here for a few reasons:  1) To help you find interesting people, like your super interesting self, to travel with.  2) To help you get weird in the world on those adventures you desire most. 3) To get people to the first party on the Moon!…not sure if we can get you back though, space travel is expensive these days.

The fact does remain however; taking a vacay with one of your best friends is pretty cool.  While it’s hard to decide who your best friend is—Is it Piglet or Eeyore or Tigger? Decisions…decisions—we’d like to mention that a best friend trip can be a dangerous task to undertake.  First you’re smiling and braiding each other’s hair, then you’re slowly becoming jealous of Jim’s awesome backpack, and before you can say Timbuktu, you’re ripping out those beautiful braids screaming, “Redrum, Mrs. Torrence!”

We’ve seen it a hundred times.  That’s why we’ve decided to offer some tips for how to make the friend trip a success…

1. Pick a friend that you have spent time with on a number of different occasions.

Reflect on who you have had sleepovers, spent nights drinking, partied, argued, laughed, and cried with over the years. Think about someone you have known for most of your life, inside and out.  The key here is adaptability, know you’re traveling with but most importantly make sure they can handle the different sways of adversity the trip may throw on them.  If they can dig in with the good, the bad and the ugly, most likely, they’re a good person to travel with.

2. Discuss with your travel companion what kind of trip you envision taking.

Do you want to explore other cities, go on a stay-cation, or lay on the beach? If one person is adventurous and wants to go backpacking throughout the trip, while the other is super laid-back and enjoys sitting outside sipping a cup of coffee, here comes a recipe for disaster! Take the time to plan out what you would both like to do so that by the end of the trip, both companions can say the vacation was worthwhile.

3. Come up with a way both travel partners can “ball on a budget.”

Decide on how much money each person can spend on accommodations, food and transportation, along with which activities you would like to allocate money towards. This way, you can still see everything there is to see throughout the excursion without completely emptying out your pockets.

4. Decide when each travel partner would like to spend alone time to explore and do other things.

It is common that when people spend too much time together, resentment builds up, you get sick of each other which will eventually lead to—you guessed it—pulling each others’ hair out. Pick a time or day(s) where each partner would like to venture off to do their own thing. Going off to do your own thing will allow growth in conversation, storytelling, and will make the trip more memorable.

5. Be considerate of one another throughout the trip.

Be aware of each others’ moods, fatigue, neatness, routines and habits. Don’t be that person to hog the bathroom all morning or spend all night on the phone while the other is trying to sleep. Getting on each others’ nerves is the last thing you want to do while trying to relax on vacation; this will cause months of not talking after the trip.

Trust us when we say please follow these five golden rules.  We’ve learned them the hard way.  My sister is still sitting in a Polish jail after beating up her college roommate for the last Skittle in the bag.  We don’t want you to do that, you don’t want to do that, so don’t do it, folks.

Travel on…


Benefits of a Travel Partner

TWIP

You may be an independent and savvy traveler, but going at it alone does not compare to the excitement of travel companionship. It is easier, more fun, and safe to have a partner in crime when on the road (or in the air!).

Safety is key.

The buddy system is not just for kids. Having another person decreases chances of harm on your trip! When you want to go out and experience nightlife, it can be dangerous to venture out alone. When you need to go to the bathroom at a bar, a friend will be there to guard your drink. Another pair of eyes, ears, and wits make your travels more relaxed and safe.

Expenses are split.

Even if expenses are not your first concern when it comes to traveling, it’s nice to have to spend less. Your travel partner will cut your expenses in half without cutting out the experiences, luxury, and accommodations you desire!

Having another face in your scrapbook.

Having a friend with you makes eating, dancing, and drinking more fun. Together you can discuss your opinion of the little Parisian bistro you just ate at or marvel at the gorgeous views in Machu Picchu. You have someone to take photos with and laugh with. Overall, a win-win!

How much does a polar bear weigh? Just enough to break the ice.

A large part of a travel experience is meeting different people. For many travelers, a must-do on their travels meet the local people and learn of the culture. This is much easier to do when you have someone to help spark conversation.

You will NOT feel lonely.

Traveling requires a lot of time on planes, trains, and automobiles. Instead of  spending your 11 hour plane ride to your destination listening to music and watching movies on repeat, you have someone there to entertain you.

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