I was looking through old posts recently and realized that I haven’t devoted a post to answering your questions lately. I get emails and direct messages all the time and while I can’t respond to all of them, I feel that posts like this one help answer many of those travel questions. This is the type of post I intend to do more often, starting with some of the most common travel questions I receive along with my answers.
What Do You Take On Your Trips?
Everyone is different and every trip is different, but almost wherever I go there are certain items I always take along with me. As far as technology goes, I travel with an iPhone, iPad, DSLR camera and all of the associated equipment for everything. Since I have so many things to plug in, a travel power strip has become an indispensable part of my kit. I also make sure to travel with plenty of Ziploc bags. They help me organize my clothes, including dirty clothes, as well as things like cords and extra batteries. I also try to be prepared so that means a poncho, headlamp, eye mask and a small amenity kit to make the travel experience a little more civilized.
How Do I Sleep on Planes?
I’m not the best person to answer this one since I have a terrible track record of sleeping on planes. But, although I can’t manage it most of the time, I do know the best tips to help you get a good night’s sleep on a long flight. It starts before you leave home for the airport. The day or so before the flight start drinking plenty of fluids; hydration is key to enjoying a nice flight. Also be sure to consume more proteins than normal and consider a supplement like Super B-Complex. Once on the flight, stay away from alcohol and caffeine as much as you can and bring with you what you need to be comfortable. Finally, don’t stress out about not sleeping. If it happens, great, if not, it’s really not the end of the world. Taking a sleeping pill depends on the length of the flight. Personally, they make me feel much worse when I arrive so I avoid them, but everyone is different.
What’s Your Favorite City?
This is always the first question I get when I meet someone new and I dread it because I have a really bad answer to it. My answer is that it depends. I know, I know, it’s a really bad answer. I have a favorite city, a favorite country for food, adventure, relaxation and so on. The honest truth is that I like most places I visit. I love to travel, I love learning about new places and people and with very rare exceptions (I’m looking at you Athens) I really do love most places. That being said, I will try to come up with a slightly better answer. My favorite city is without a doubt Paris. The City of Lights holds a very dear place in my heart. It was my first overseas trip and I even lived there briefly. I love it and always will. Other than that, there are several countries I could go back to a thousand times and never get bored, principally South Africa and Australia. I guess I have a thing for far away places on the other side of the world, but they speak to my soul in a way that few countries save my own have.
How Do I Travel and Stay Healthy?
We all joke about gaining weight when we travel, but it really is important to try to stay healthy in order to better enjoy the experience. It starts while still on the plane; avoid too much alcohol and caffeine and instead opt for water. Staying hydrated will help you feel better and minimize jet lag. Once in the destination, definitely enjoy the local food but don’t go crazy and try to balance it with a healthy breakfast. Finally, most of us walk a lot when we travel so use this as your daily workout and burn off those French pastries while also enjoying the sights.
What Are The Best Travel Apps?
My answer to this question has evolved as technology has changed over the last few years and I have no doubt that it will continue to change as new products come to market. Currently though, I use an iPhone 8 and I do have several apps I always use when I travel. TripIt is my go-to app for everything travel related. It keeps all of my reservations organized and helps me in ways I would never have imagined. Get it, now. I also use the XE currency app regularly to help me convert foreign currency with real time data. Since I have a Priority Pass, I use their app to help me find lounges in new airports, a fantastic perk. For photography my go-tos are Camera+ and Snapseed. Finally, for navigating new-to-me transportation systems I use the AllSubway app that has maps for just about every subway and light-rail system in the world.
What Do I Do in Iceland?
Without a doubt, the country about which I get the most questions is Iceland. That’s not surprise really, not only is it easy to reach and travel around but it’s one of the hottest destinations in the world right now. I’ve written a lot about Iceland, but to distill things down to a few sentences I’ve picked the highlights. The size of Iceland is deceptive, it looks small but there’s a lot to see and do so don’t try to do it all on the first trip. Over the last few years I’ve methodically covered different areas of the country and there’s still lots for me to see and do. I love Reykjavik, but also be sure to spend the night in other parts of the country. While you can do most things as a day trip from the capital, it’s much nicer to spend time on other areas as well. Finally, rent a car. Yes, you can organize tours for everything, but Iceland is one of those countries that cries out for independent exploration and renting the car is the only way to do that. For more about Iceland, take a look at all of my Iceland posts.
How Do I Get Around Without Speaking The Language?
Luckily, English is a fairly common language around the world, even if it’s just a few words. But it’s also important for travelers to try to learn basic words and phrases wherever they go. If it’s a country that’s completely alien though, there are some challenges, no doubt. This is where the universal language of pointing furiously comes into play and it’s more useful than you think. Just research gestures before you go to make sure you don’t inadvertently commit a faux-pas.
Do I Need Travel Insurance?
Short answer, yes. Longer answer is that there are many options when it comes to travel insurance. What’s important is getting the most appropriate plan for the type of trip you’re taking. Most commonly you will need to make sure that it includes flight cancellation/trip interruption, lost bags and theft. From there, if you’re going on a sports or adventure travel trip then there are plans that cover those specific experiences and I personally think it’s always a good idea to have emergency evacuation and other medical needs addressed. God forbid you’re in the middle of nowhere and something terrible happens. Flights out for medical emergencies are extraordinarily expensive.
How Do I Use My Phone Overseas?
Carefully. Honestly, it depends entirely on where you’re from and what kind of plan you have. I am a T-Mobile customer, which means that I get free unlimited data coverage almost anywhere in the world, which is amazing. If you use a different company, you’ll need to check out their international plans. If you don’t get an international plan then you have a couple of options. The first is to keep it in airplane mode and to only use WiFi. Second is to unlock your phone and buy SIM cards in new countries. You just want to make sure that you don’t use data overseas without a plan or a new SIM card as it will be very, very expensive.
What Camera Should I Buy?
Believe it or not, but there’s no single answer to this question. I firmly believe that great photos come from the eye of the photographer and not the equipment used. What’s more important is to get a camera with which you’re comfortable (even if it’s just an iPhone) and learn everything there is to know about it. Then use it all the time. Practice makes perfect, or at least better, when it comes to photography and over time you’ll see what is and isn’t good. Composition is most important I believe, and that’s something you just have to either be born with or pick up over time.
How Do I Exchange Money Overseas?
If you exchange money before leaving home the rates are awful, there’s no arguing with that and there’s no need for it. Instead, get currency out from the ATM when you’ve arrived into a new country. They offer the best rates possible, just be aware of any extra fees charged by your bank. Also, be sure to use bank owned ATMs are they tend to be safer than independent machines. The same advice goes for traveler’s checks. You have to pay to get them and to use them, a senseless waste of money. Once again, ATMs are your best friend.
How Much Do You Travel
It fluctuates depending on the time of year and it’s been a really hard balance to try to achieve. I have a house in the ‘burbs, three dogs and frankly I like being home. With that in mind, I try to keep most trips moderate in length, around 7-10 days ideally. I also try to only travel about once a month. My goal is to keep my travel to 30% or so, although in 2017 I spent 150 nights on the road.
Do You Lead Tours?
Sadly no, not at the moment, although I have been asked by MANY people from all around the world to start offering them. I’m very extroverted and love sharing the travel experience with others and I’d love to lead tours to some of my favorite places around the world. So far, the sticking point has had to do with the logistics and legalities. Both are complicated and so, in an ideal world I’d find a tour company with which to partner but so far that hasn’t happened. But I’m hopeful for 2018!
If you have any other questions, leave them in the comments or email me. I’ll be happy to answer them!