We are so excited to introduce Racquel Knighton, our FIRST guest blogger! We asked Racquel to write for us, as she lives the co-mads ‘travel & do good’ lifestyle. Racquel spends her time between South Carolina and New York, and has traveled far and wide. She works in social media management and writes an incredible blog (definitely worth the follow), “In Between Dreams.”
Thrown in to this world of travel by chance, Racquel is passionate about experiencing all life has to offer.
- Bring a vacuum sealed water bottle
This was a GAME CHANGER on my recent trip to Italy in August. Not only did these water bottles keep our water COLD all day, I didn’t have to buy water, or worry about them leaking in my bag. There were plenty of fresh water fountains in town so I filled up every chance I got. Why didn’t you just buy water when you were there? you ask, well, I did a few times until I took the time to look at the bottles closely, in some countries their bottled water has added SODIUM! Crazy right? From then on I was a huge fan of my reusable water bottle, and it helped the environment! There’s no need to go spend a lot of money on a top brand one either, I got mine for less than $20 and it was great!
2. Packing Cubes
If the thought of packing for a trip stresses you out like it does me, packing cubes may help. At first these didn’t make sense to me, I thought “why would I add unnecessary weight to my bag?” Once I purchased them and began loading them up I totally understood why they were such a great product. Packing cubes help keep track of what you’re packing in a very organized way. I chose to pack mine by type of clothing and it worked out great. Instead of having to rummage through your suitcase looking for what you need and creating a mess, you simply just look in each cube and these ones have see through sides so you don’t even have to unzip them! They are designed to fit perfectly stacked in many travel bags.
3. Earn Points
Make sure you are taking advantage of credit card point systems to cover flight and hotel expenses. There are many great programs out there offering discounted travel and you’re earning these points with money you are spending everyday. A card I really like that has a great welcome bonus is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. This card offers double the points on travel expenses and dining while also offering a 25% discount when you use your points to book travel through Chase.
4. Red Eye Flights
There are perks to catching a red eye (over night) flight for sure! I especially like to book red eyes for long flights because I’m usually tired enough to fall asleep for a few hours making the time go by faster. Recently on a 7 hour flight I took melatonin just before we took off and I slept a few solid hours on the plane. By the time we landed I felt refreshed and ready to explore but the best part was the day was just beginning too! Red eye flights are generally cheaper also! Win win!
5. Blanket Scarf
If it is chilly enough out to wear a blanket scarf do it! A blanket scarf is a scarf that is large enough to be worn as a blanket. Flights get chilly and I assure you… you DO NOT want to utilize the blankets that the air service provides. They are NOT cleaned even though they seem like it because it is presented to you in a sealed plastic bag. Wrap yourself in your own blanket scarf…or blanket! The blanket scarf is just a great piece because it can be worn as a scarf, poncho, wrap, or used as a blanket!
If you’re traveling in a European country be sure to do your research on the area and proper etiquette regarding leaving a tip. It is common in the US to tip 20% of the total for services. However, in most European countries it is proper to only tip when the service is exceptional, meaning tips are not at all expected.
If you’re traveling to a new place where they speak a different language, you should be sure to research and learn a few phrases such as: “Hello” “How are you?” “Please” “Thank You” “Where is…” “May I have…” “Do you speak English?” etc. This is a friendly gesture especially when you are out to eat or hopping in Ubers frequently. A great app is “Google Translate”, download this before you go in case you are in a situation involving a language barrier. This app can translate spoken word or typed.
8. Outlet Adapters
Before you leave the country be sure to take the time to research what type of outlets they have. It’s really a bummer showing up to a hotel and not being able to plug in your laptop or curling iron. If this does happen to you, the front desk at your hotel might have a few extras that other people have left behind, it’s always worth a shot to ask. Also, many TVs have USB plugs in the back of them so that offers an option for a phone or watch charger.
9. Cash or Credit Abroad?
When traveling abroad there are a couple of different options when paying for things. First, always be sure to call your bank & credit card companies and alert them of your travel plans, this puts a note on your account so they don’t get locked for what looks like fraudulent charges. Second, when using a debit or credit card machine always choose the foreign currency option over the USD option, the exchange rates are much less through your bank/credit card provider. Same goes for cash, it’s cheaper, if not free, if you utilize an ATM rather than exchanging a large sum of USD for the foreign currency. There is a hefty exchange fee when you visit the currency exchange desks. And lastly, to be on the safe side in the event your credit cards go missing during your trip be sure to take a photo of them on your phone/email or have the information saved so you can easily lock up the accounts. (same goes for your passport!)
10. Go Off the Beaten Path
If you’re in a foreign country take some time to “go off the beaten path”, meaning, get away from the touristy places and get yourself some authentic cuisine. It’s tempting to go to the first restaurant you see after a long tour or travel day but you’ll enjoy your meal more if it’s made by the hands of a local who takes pride in their craft. Same goes for shopping and such, there’s better things out there than overpriced knick knacks that every gift shop has.