Everyone has their own favorite travel tips they swear by–and with COVID-19 in the picture, we have so many more to add. We asked a few fellow travelers for their favorites, along with a few top tips for traveling in the “new normal.”
Start with the travel reviews.
Believe it or not, there are still people who don’t jump on TripAdvisor or take the time to actually read the reviews on the hotel they’ve chosen. While there have certainly been cases of “fauxviews” being published, the overwhelming majority is true to life. You might find out, for example, that the “five-minute walk to the beach” is actually a 25-minute trek through the sweltering rain forest next door.
Get the scoop on social networks.
Facebook and Twitter are fantastic resources for getting the inside scoop on your destination or accommodation. Need to find the best steakhouse in Omaha? Trying to find the most fun for kids in Chicago? Ask and you shall be answered!
Buy the insurance.
Emergency travel insurance that covers cancellations, baggage loss and emergency medical expenses is a must nowadays; it’s especially worth it if you’re buying a big-ticket trip, which is usually non-refundable. And don’t forget the emergency medical evacuation membership. Why? Because if you suffer a critical accident or illness away from home, you really want to get back to your in-network provider not just for comfort, but to avoid those stratospheric out-of-network fees.
Yeah, unfortunately it’s a thing. There are studies suggesting flights are actually pretty safe, however, you still need to do your part. We recommend:
- Face shield or safety goggles
- Masks to last throughout your trip (disposable if you can’t wash, reusable with extra filters if you can)
- Hand sanitizer (lots of it)
- Disposable gloves – some people recommend layering them on so you can peel them off as you go along to prevent contamination
- Take your own blanket – you might not even get one in first class, so if you are prone to getting cold, bring your own. And don’t forget to throw it in the wash as soon as you get to where you’re going!
Bring your own goodies.
In other words, bring your own earphones, your own pillow, your own blanket, your own entertainment and your own food. This is valid for every flight, but especially long haul flights.
Use an app for calls.
Calls home can add up quickly if you don’t have the right mobile plan. If you don’t know about it already, WhatsApp is a fantastic way to stay connected via their messenger or phone call systems. And the messages are safely encrypted! There are plenty of others, but this one seems to be very popular.
A corollary to this tip is to make the most of your iPhone if you have one: the iMessage and the FaceTime features are free and pretty amazing as they run on their own network.
Try on your travel wardrobe before you pack it.
Even if you’re a last-minute packer, take the time to make sure your outfits work together and figure out if you really need that fifth pair of shoes. It makes no sense to take up precious suitcase space with a shirt that goes with nothing or two slightly different black pairs of pants.
There were several variations on this theme. “Mix with the locals” was a top one, even if you’re part of a tour group. Another was “try the local cuisine” at a place that’s not next to your hotel—and do your best to figure out what you’re eating before you put it in your mouth. A corollary to this one was “pick a place that looks clean” and “take hand sanitizer” with you (we’d add “have it with you and USE it at all times”—it’s a great way to avoid traveler’s trots.)
- Don’t forget your chargers—all of them
- Keep an eye on bags when they’re being loaded into a taxi and the bellboy’s cart
- Make sure your hotel alarm wasn’t preset by someone else
- Take eye drops in your carry-on and use them liberally during the flight
- Keep an extra outfit in your carry-on in case your luggage is lost
- Scan your travel documents and email them to yourself (including credit cards and passport)
- Wait till you get to the gate to pay for a class upgrade—you run the risk of not getting it, but it’s likely to be cheaper