Travel Diaries

Travel

Things to Consider Before Traveling with Friends

Traveling with your friends?  What could be more fun, right?  Such a trip can actually be a wonderful experience.  One you will remember for years.  On the other hand, it can also be an ugly experience that changes the way you feel about each other or those in the group. 

Disappointments, misunderstandings, and frustrations can easily sour the trip you have planned together for so long.  You can avoid the negative results that can come from traveling with a friend, or a group of friends, by simply considering some of the following travel tips.

Before You Leave

It is not enough just to decide you’re going to travel with an old friend, your family relative, an old roommate or even your favorite co-worker.  There are other important factors you should consider as you evaluate whether this person or group of friends has the proper combination of traits that will contribute to a successful and happy voyage. 

  • How well do you actually know this person?
  • What kind of travel planning personality do they have?  Are they a spontaneous person or are they a planner?  If this trait is opposite of yours, it just may not work for a long-term travel partnership.
  • Do you each have similar traveling energy levels?  Do you both enjoy short, leisurely walks and activities or are you both adventure-seeking, high energy, rugged outdoor types who constantly want to push the daily activity levels?  A mismatch can make for plenty of frustrations and may not work out the best.
  • What about your dietary habits and preferences?  Do you like the same foods?  A vegetarian will want to eat totally different than a meat lover. 
  • Are your body clocks similar?  Are you both morning persons or are you both night owls?  Again a mismatch here can turn out to be frustrating for both of you and others if you are with a group.
  • Do you enjoy constantly being with this friend or this group of friends in a variety of situations?
  • Are your traveling interests similar?  Do you both enjoy similar items?  A confirm art museum connoisseur will definitely have different desires during the trip than an outdoor, thrill-seeking adventurer.
  • What about the level of travel experience you each have?  Experienced travelers may get a bit frustrated if they are constantly needing to mentor novice companions.
  • How long is your trip?  One can handle a variety of different issues during a short trip.  But issues developing over a longer trip can really put a strain on the relationships.

Agree on the Basics

Now that you are planning your trip it is time to make sure you all agree on the basics.  Where are you going?  How long are you staying?  What do you plan on doing while you are there.?  What are the goals of the trip?  It is the time now to make sure that all parties are on the same page—at least with the basic, rough schedule and plans.

One hint:  book your travel with a set itinerary, such as a cruise, or an organized tour.  This will eliminate many of the decisions about where you will spend a good chunk of your time.

Agree on the Budget

Of course, in a perfect situation, all traveling companions will have similar financial situations and preferences—at least as it applies to the trip you are planning.  One person may want to make it a 5-star vacation while another is looking for a modest Airbnb experience.  One may want to walk most places and enjoy the nearby local scenes while another may want to rent a car and get out to other distant locations.  One may want to eat at fancy reservation-only establishments while another may want to eat in the local sidewalk casual dining spots. 

During the Trip

Plan on having some personal time during your journey.  Although it is great to be with friends, too much togetherness can put a strain on the relationship.  Also, each of you likely has some different interests you want to satisfy. 

Don’t be afraid of splitting up for part of a day or even an entire day and then getting back together for dinner.  That way you each will have some time to pursue your own interests and not be pressured to go along with another or with the group.  

This works, of course, as long as you are each comfortable going your own way for short periods.  Otherwise, one may decide to join a guided tour while the other pursues some personal relaxing time by staying at the hotel and getting a rejuvenating, and well-deserved massage. By the way, if Salt Lake City is ever in your traveling plans, be sure to schedule some massage time downtown at J Massage—my favorite conveniently located massage spa in that city.  You’ll thank me for the recommendation.

Enjoy Your Friends

Travel is a great experience.  And traveling with friends can strengthen your relationship with shared experiences and memories.  Be sure to enjoy each other and be present.  During your together time it would be wise to limit your time on social media, emails, texts and phone calls.   

Be Flexible

Bring along plenty of patience and flexibility when you are traveling with friends.  You may not get to see and do everything on your list.  But don’t worry.  Your traveling companions may not get to do everything on their list either.  There will be many times you each have to give in to the other and adapt to the variety of conditions that occur during your travels.

Talk About It

Consider your traveling companion choices, plan ahead, communicate clearly and be flexible.  And most important of all, have a great time on your journeys together. 

Summary

Consider your traveling companion choices, plan ahead, communicate clearly and be flexible.  And most important of all, have a great time on your journeys together.  …

Travel

Actions to Take After Your Trip

girl in rocker on porch - after your trip

Now, what should you consider after your trip?  Just returned from traveling?  Tired from all the endless to-do lists that began long before you departed and continued until returned?  You planned your trip, booked your flights, your hotels, your activities, stopped the mail, packed, found a sitter for your dog and then jetted off for a great vacation.  After enjoying the activities you planned, and some you didn’t, your trip finally came to an end.  Now, what should be on your list when you return home?

Some might have planned an extra day or two to recover, others will jump right back into their daily life as if nothing had ever happened.  However, there is a middle ground.  Here are a few things to add to your list after your trip is completed.  They will help you remain healthy, save money and relish a bit longer in the fantastic memories you created during your travels.

Check your accounts

It is always good to regularly review your bank and credit card statements.  However, this is even more critical for travelers.  Identity fraud is an increasing problem throughout the world and it often impacts travelers who are forced to use internet connections that are not secure, use credit cards with vendors and merchants they don’t know and will never see again, use debit cards in ATMs and carry extra personal identification documents. 

So a wise traveler will take the precaution of checking bank account activity and credit card activity within a few days of returning home and then again in another week or so.  Watch for things like items you don’t recognize, double charges, missing refunds or credits, overcharges, or anything unusual.  Any issues you find should be reported to your bank or credit card company immediately.

Update your cell phone package

Be sure to turn off or remove any international calling, data or other cell phone package you may have enabled before you left.  The trip is over and there is no sense continuing to pay for services you will no longer need. 

Give your email account some love

If you have let your emails build-up while you were gone, now is the time to address that bulging email inbox.  The longer you wait, the worse it will be.  So take some time now to go through your messages, respond to urgent and important items and delete all the junk or alerts that you don’t need.  Also, don’t forget to turn off your “out of office” or “vacation” notices now that you have returned.  Finally, take a moment to email or text your appropriate family and/or friends and let them know that you have arrived home safely.

Take care of your health

Traveling can take a toll on your body.  Especially those long trips when you cross several time zones, deal with flight delays, connecting flight issues, uncomfortable cramped airline seats and breathing the same cabin air as all those other passengers.  These are just a few of the travel-related things that can have an impact on your health.  Take care of yourself when you arrive home.  Drink plenty of water to rehydrate, get the sleep you need to recover after shifting time zones and pace yourself as you return to your normal world.

Organize your photos

Don’t let too much time pass after your trip before you sort through your photos.  The more time passes, the more likely it becomes that you forget some of the details from your travels.  Sort your photos now and make notes, add captions, create your travel scrapbook sooner rather than later.   You will be glad you did.

Post your reviews

You relied on reviews when making your travel plans.  Now it’s your turn to contribute.  Consider taking a few moments and writing reviews for the various places you enjoyed on your trip.  Doing it within a few weeks of your return while you can still remember the places and the details of your experience.   

Begin planning your next adventure

Now that you are home, it is never too early to start thinking about your next adventure.  As the post-vacation blues begin to settle in as you return to normal life, chase them away by building on what you just experienced and starting plans for your next trip. …

Travel

Find Good Airfares for Big Savings

airliner landing in large city - find good airfares

Airfare can be one of the most significant expenses in your travel budget.  The online capabilities of search engines and travel sites provide opportunities to compare prices, travel options and find good airfares.  You can search for your travel fares by various dates, or based on using different airports, or by looking at various route options in search of the best fares.  The sites also provide some helpful tools such as fare alerts, frequent traveler benefits, additional costs involved, etc.

Explore Your Options

In your search for the best airfare, it is always wise to investigate many different options.  A diligent search does not require much time or effort.  A few extra minutes in front of your computer or on your mobile device may surprise you with the number of options and different prices you may discover.  You will never know about these options if you don’t look.  Even changing up your travel itinerary can result in different pricing. 

Look Everywhere

A quick internet search for airfare travel sites will turn up many different options in your search to find good airfares.  I like to use Momondo, Google Flights, Kayak, and Skyscanner.  So I start my search using Skyscanner.  After finding the best prices for my planned travel dates and places, I then will open additional windows and check the same, or similar, itinerary on Momondo, Google Flights, and Kayak.  My next steps will include a search on the specific airline websites (at times you will find the best prices on the airline websites) and a search on the sites of the budget airline carriers that do not submit their information to the travel meta sites. 

Be sure to compare the total travel price offered for each option.  Add up all the costs including the ticket, any seat preference costs, baggage costs, carry-on costs, boarding pass printing costs (yes some of the budget airlines can nickel-and-dime you to death and an apparent cheap ticket plus all the extra costs can end up costing more than other options).

This comparison only takes a few extra minutes and often can save you significant monies on your travel costs. 

Get Alerts

Be sure to sign up for travel fare alerts at each site you visit.  Especially if you are planning your trip early and have plenty of time before you buy your ticket.  You will be able to see how the fares change over time and often daily.  As the fares change these travel alerts will let you know.  After all the research you have completed, you will know a great price when you see one.

Also on the internet, you can find various websites dedicated to searching for the best airfare deals all around the world.  They continually post fantastic bargain fares without regard to itineraries.  When they find a great deal, they post it.  You can get on the mailing list for these sites, or join as a subscriber, and get regular notices of the deals they find.  Then when you see a deal for a location you would like to visit, you can quickly buy tickets before the deal expires.  Many such deals are extremely time-sensitive.  Check out Scott’s Cheap Flights and the Dollar Flight Club which are two of these airfare deal sites.

Each major airline publishes electronic newsletters.  By signing up for these publications from the airlines you frequently fly, you can get notices of special discounts and promotions offered by the airline.  Often they come in the form of a special offer or a special promotion code.  If you are not on their mailing list you may miss these fare deals.

Be Flexible

There is no exact time to book a fare for the best deal.  Generally, the prime time to get buy is approximately four to ten weeks ahead of your travel time.  Once you do your research and sign up for fare alerts, you will be aware of the available options and will know when you see a great price.  By looking at the calendar prices many sites offer, you can see that it is often cheaper to travel on Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday.  Pay careful attention, often the cheapest flights for the day are the red-eye, late-night flights. 

Look at Airport Options

Another way find good airfares and save is to consider using alternate airports.  If your destination has several nearby airports, you may get a better airfare deal to an airport a little further away from your desired location.  Then just compare the total cost of the airfare plus ground transportation to find the best deal.  Consider the time involved too if that is an issue for you.  I once saved over $800 on a round trip fare to New Zealand by driving 10 hours to a different departure city from my home airport.  Time was not a factor since I had a family to visit in the alternate departure city anyway so I got to see that family, save a bunch of money and still enjoy my trip to New Zealand. 

These are a few considerations in your search to find good airfares.  Taking a little extra time to do the research, planning ahead, starting early, and exploring various alternatives will help you find those good airfares and save the extra money to cover other expenses of your trip.…

Travel

Is traveling solo still safe these days

European tourist - is traveling solo still safe

Traveling alone was always popular. Going backpacking and working as you are traveling was a trend that many young people have done. But, is this still something that they can do, or is the world now too unsafe for traveling solo?

There are a couple of things that you need to consider before you can answer this question correctly. Sometimes it is safe, while other times it might be dangerous. Here is the answer to if this is still safe to travel solo. 

Is this still safe to travel solo?

Is traveling solo still safe these days? It can be still safe to travel solo. This is if you are doing your homework beforehand. And if you are choosing the country that you are going to travel carefully.

You might need to be more careful and not let other people know that you are traveling solo, but it is possible to travel solo and to make money as you are traveling. 

Where are you planning to visit?

Where are you planning to visit? This is the key to being safe. You can’t just go traveling to any country alone and think that you are going to be safe. There are countries that aren’t safe to travel to. Not even if you are going with a group.

This is why you need to make sure that you are going to do your homework and making sure that you are choosing a country that is safe to visit. Especially, if you are doing it alone. 

Some essential tips to remember to travel solo

When you are traveling alone, you need to make sure that you don’t tell anyone you came across that you are alone. And, you need to make sure that you are making copies of all your essential documents to prevent you from getting stuck in a country if your documents are stolen. Especially, your passport, your Visa and your bank accounts. 

You should also don’t walk alone at night. Don’t let anyone see that you are alone, walk-in crowds and staying in places where you will be safe.

Yes, you can still travel solo. Even in the world that we are living today. But, you need to know a couple of things, before you can make sure to stay safe. These are a couple of things that you should know before you can decide if traveling solo today is still something that you can do today.