Why did you start your travel blog?
My husband is an airline pilot which affords us the benefit of being able to travel at a whim for very little to no cost. As we travel, we always share our adventures, stories, and pictures on Facebook. We get told by people we hardly know that they love watching our travels and wish they could travel more.
We decided to utilize this blog in order to open our travel experience to a broader audience and share our experiences with the world.
Your husband travels for a living, does he really like traveling on vacation?
My husband is an A-320 Pilot and flies in the US, Canada, and Mexico. While he certainly gets around North America, most of his time is not spent experiencing places on his layover. He is mostly working, resting, eating, or getting ready to go fly again.
Do you ever go on trips with your pilot husband?
Of course! I only get to go on work trips when there is room on the plane and the destination layover is long enough to have an adventure. An advantage of traveling with a crew member is a free place to stay. Airline employees have their layover hotels provided by their airlines so it makes it much more economical.
How do I get the most out of my visit to a new city?
Participate in a walking tour! Lots of cities have free tours (check out Sandemans in Europe, freetoursbyfoot.com in the US and Europe, and sfcityguides.org for San Francisco). These are great ways to learn about the city you're visiting, they are FREE, and you have the opportunity to ask a local guide for suggestions regarding sight seeing, food, and anything that interests you.
Do you recommend hotel accommodations or a vacation rental like Airbnb?
We choose Airbnb accommodations most of the time due to cost, location, and space. We have stayed on Via del Corso in Rome between the Piaza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps. This street is over 2000 years old and the atmosphere is unique. The space we have in an Airbnb is usually greater than we would have in a hotel room so we can stretch our legs and not bump our elbows. The cost, especially when traveling with children who will also require accommodations, is usually far less than renting hotel suites or multiple hotel rooms. There are times we choose hotels, but usually we like to stay with the locals and experience a little of what it's like to be a local.
If you have never used AirBnb we have a gift for you. An Airbnb $40 Travel Credit. Just click the link and create an account.
Attractions are often expensive when I travel. What are some travel hacks for making my money go farther?
Students know to show their student ID card to get a discount and senior citizens often get discounts too with ID. There are other options for the rest of us. Many cities have a City Pass that gets you discounts or free admission to many local attractions. Look into these passes and determine if these are places you would have visited anyway and if the math makes sense. Be aware of any restrictions including time limits for using the pass. Another way to get a discount is Groupon. You can often get a discounted bike rental or discounted admission to an attraction.
How long should I stay in one place?
Stay as long as your current schedule or budget allows, or long enough to enjoy your adventure. This is not the only place you will visit, so if you have limited time or limited funds, treat it as tapas and move on.
What's the best time to travel?
The best time to travel is now (regardless of when now is). We have a limited lifetime, so seize the day, don't put off your dreams, or whatever phrase gets you to take action and live your life -- just do it! There are plenty of places to visit regardless of time of the year.
What things should I do to stay safe while traveling?
Traveling places you in unfamiliar surroundings so it's important that you pay attention to what is happening around you, to your location, and that you listen to that voice at the back of your head.
Do wear a money belt under your clothes with your cash, ID, and credit cards. Plan ahead and have enough cash in your pocket for incidentals. You can go to a rest room or a store's dressing room to raid your money belt when needed. Don't carry a purse unless it's absolutely necessary and if you do, make sure that it goes over your neck and shoulder and that it rests on your front, not your back. Do not put anything in your back pockets.
Do wear comfortable shoes, layered clothing for changing weather, and hang on to your phone and camera (preferably with a strap). Do NOT give strangers who offer to take your picture your phone or your camera.
Know the name and address of your hotel or accommodations.
Any international travel tips?
Start your travel plans by making sure your passport's expiration date is more than 6 months after you will have returned from your trip. If that is not the case, you will need to renew your passport prior to being able to travel. Email a copy of your passport to yourself in case you lose your passport. You'll be able to show it to the US consulate or US embassy and they will be able to issue you a temporary replacement.
Next, check the State Department's website to learn about any travel advisories or restrictions pertaining to your destination. Inquire of your destination country if a visa (not the credit card, ha ha) is required and if there is anything else you should know such as what you cannot bring into the country or how long you can stay.
Bring some local currency from the US and then use the ATM at local banks to get cash as needed. The exchange rate is often more favorable this way, but verify with your banking institution regarding your ability to withdraw funds in your destination country and the fees involved. Some credit cards work really well because they don't have international fees, but be sure they have a chip and you have a PIN. Remember to order the foreign currency from your bank 2 weeks prior to your departure and to notify your bank and your credit card companies that you'll be traveling -- you don't want your financial institutions to cut you off while you're out of the country.
Know the location and phone numbers of the US embassy or US consulate in your destination country and know the local rules, laws, and customs that pertain to your visit prior to leaving home. Know tipping customs since in some places people are offended if you tip and in other places people are offended if you don't tip. It's important to know if most establishments are closed on Sundays especially if you're arriving on a Sunday. Know that you can't visit a church in Rome in a tank top and short shorts so pack accordingly. Choose not wear clothing that screams "I'm an American!" (leave your t-shirt with your sports team at home) and people will respond well to you. Yes, they will know you're an American and they will like you. Learn a few words in the local language (please, thank you, water, restroom, hospital, etc).
Check with your cell phone carrier about coverage during your trip and cell and data packages they have that may benefit you. Verizon, for example, has a package for international travel, where they charge $5 a day or $10 a day per device, depending on the country, for access and you use your minutes and data from your regular plan.
Do a little homework before leaving home and you will enjoy your trip and limit the misadventures.