Best travel tips
We at allé are used to being questioned for our top travel tips, the inside scoop to getting the best deals, traveling at the right time and finding the most awesome, Insta-perfect travel experiences. I sat down with fellow allé travel planner, Polly, to make a list of our top travel tips for traveling like a pro:
Think off season
Everything is cheaper and less crowded, you’ll get better deals, and most times the weather is even better than in peak season. Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid Europe during the July- August months because it’s hot and sticky, and everywhere is either packed (beaches) or deserted (the center of town). If it’s Europe you’re after, it’s best to travel May- June, and better yet, September- October. In Asia, the weather will dictate a lot for you: rainy season is intense, and it’s hard to enjoy your trip during a monsoon, so for places like Bali, think September – October or May; mouths like this ensure fewer tourists but great weather. For Thailand, June, though its rainy season is a good time to go to places like Koh Samui, or January- May ensures all around great weather without too many fellow travelers.
Use Pinterest and Instagram
Both are great for finding inspiration and more specific information about the things that are of interest to you as well as keeping your travel tips all kept in one place. When you are ready to dig in, start a Pinterest board with everything you find for your destination; bloggers are more on top of things these days than a guidebook will ever be. As you pin articles and pictures, make sure they are recent (no point in pinning something from 5 years ago). And with Instagram’s new “save” feature, search for #[insert your destination] and then save it so you can come back to it later and use the geo location feature to figure out exactly where it was taken.
Map it out
One of the hardest things about planning a trip is wrapping your head around geography. At allé, when we plan, we always have a Google My Map open, which offers you a modern, savable and sharable way of opening a physical map and putting pins on it. We throw everything into a Google My Map and then we plan the whole how-to-get-there and what-order-to-do-things-in aspect. The best part is, you can save your Google My Map and access it on your phone when you’re at your destination and use it to navigate from point to point. No internet? No problem. Instead of Google My Maps, download the Maps.me app to your phone; it provides you an offline version of Google Maps that also does off-line, real-time directions for both walking or driving from point to point.
Find the best flight deals
This travel tip is invalauble, Momondo is a great tool for finding really incredible flight deals- recently, for example, Polly booked round trip airfare to Italy from Minneapolis for just $445 per person. Incredible. Very soon, I will be flying to Europe from the US for just under $500, all thanks to Momondo. Hopper on the other hand is an app that allows you to enter your travel dates and using its flight price prediction algorithm, it tells you what a good price for that route is, and even watches the route for you, notifying you of when the best time to buy is.
Have you ever noticed that you find a flight, love the price, get all excited for a trip, and then later in the day when you get your card out and are ready to book it mysteriously goes up in price? That’s because your searches are being tracked and watched by nearly every website. If you see this happen, don’t stress. Instead, turn on Incognito browsing, clear your cache, go to a different location (different IP address) or search from an entirely different computer.
Get mobile data roaming
This travel tip is for me one of the most key and yet often forgotten. I can’t overstate how amazing it is to have access to your mobile data when on the road. The world is literally at your fingers. With internet access, you can use Google Maps just like you would at home (hello renting a car and feeling like a local!), as well as translation apps (we love Google Translate), currency conversion apps, and not to the mention countless easy ways to keep in touch with loved ones at home.
Think ahead about money
When your card is charged for a purchase in anything other than dollars, often foreign conversion fees are charged by your bank. These fees can add up fast (and are sometimes as high as 3%), but certain banks and cards don’t charge a cent. So do yourself a favor and check around, call your banks and credit cards and find out their policies. Capital One has some great cards with no foreign transaction fees, as does American Express, though it’s important to note that many vendors abroad don’t accept American Express cards.
Be smart about packing
First and foremost, pack with a realistic mindset; have you noticed that you usually barely use some 50% of the things that you pack? The less luggage you have, the easier and most comfortable it will be to travel. And most likely, even if you do forget to pack something, it will be fun to find a local replacement. Plus, you want to leave some room for local finds, whether it’s clothing or souvenirs. We suggest that you set your bag out about a week before your trip, that way, when you have a thought about packing something, put it into your bag right away. Then, when it comes time to really pack, eliminate, eliminate, eliminate till you get down to the very essentials of what you need to bring. Another favorite tip of ours: always pack zip lock bags! They are the best when traveling – they provide a waterproof pouch for your phone when you’re on the beach or around a waterfall, and they are a great place to store wet bathing suits on your last day when you’re packing to go home, toiletries, etc. Some essentials that you might want to consider purchasing in advance include sunscreen and insect repellent. People in most tropical destinations prefer physical sunscreen (hats and clothing), and sunscreen creams are mainly sold only to tourists, so a bottle may cost you twice what it would at home.
Keep your mind open
OK so this one isn’t necessarily a travel tip, but please keep in mind that that when you travel, things may be a bit different from home, and that’s a good thing! It’s the whole point; embrace it, you’re making memories in the process, and besides, science shows it’s good for your brain.
Work with an expert
We couldn’t end this without a shameless plug for ourselves: travel tips are great but advisors/ planners/ agents do this whole travel thing day in and day out, it’s our speciality. We know places and activities you haven’t heard of and we are pros at crafting the perfect trip. If you like planning your own trips but want just a bit of local insight, check out our ask allé travel coaching service, where you get no-bars access to myself or Polly to get all your destination-specific travel planning questions answered.
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