Monthly Archives: April 2018

Best Travel Accessories for Backpackers

Backpacking around the world is a good time, no matter what you bring or how you bring it. Nobody should stress too much over how to pack or what travel gear to bring. Unless you’re scaling Mount Everest, chances are you’ll survive. But there are a few items that are designed help you stay light and mobile, which means you’ll spend less time dealing with life’s basics and more time making new friends and creating new adventures. So here are the five best travel accessories for backpack travelers:

First: A Travel Backpack
By far the best accessory you can bring is also the most basic – a backpack designed for travel. Of course, any backpack will do. But if you want to grab your stuff quickly and easily and keep everything organized, a travel backpack is the best way to go. The main advantage is travel backpacks open like a suitcase. Traditional backpacks open at the top with a drawstring. So if you need to grab something at the bottom of a traditional backpack, you have to take everything out first and then repack it. A complete hassle if you’re in the middle of a train station. With travel backpacks, you have all the same features, but you can open it from the top or side and have access to all your stuff quickly and easily.

Second: Quick-Dry Travel Underwear
Nothing can ruin a trip faster than a little fungus in your nether regions, if you know what I mean. Stuffing damp, cotton underwear in your pack is a recipe for mildew, fungus and odors. With quick-dry, anti-bacterial underwear, you can just wash it in the sink, hang it to dry and it’s ready to pack or wear by the time the next bus arrives. And it’s anti-bacterial coating helps fight fungus between washings.

Third: Packing Cubes
I didn’t even know what these were when I first started traveling. Now, I don’t pack even for a weekend without them. Packing cubes, or compression packers, are essentially mesh or nylon squares into which you pack all of your gear before putting the cubes in your backpack. Not only do they keep everything organized, but they allow you to pack way more stuff in the same space by compressing the materials before putting them in your pack.

Fourth: International Plug Adapters
It’s a wired world and you have to stay plugged in. Each continent, essentially, has its own electrical wall outlet configuration, so you have to bring an adapter to fit it if you want to plug in your electronics. There are a couple of ways to do this. If you’re going for a worldwide trip, or aren’t sure where you’ll end up, bring an all-in-one universal adapter that will fit no matter where you go. If you’re going to be in only one continent, you can also buy an adapter set that includes individual pieces, so you can bring only what you need.

Fifth: Travel or Luggage Locks
I hate to break the positive travel spirit by mentioning security, but you’re a long way from home and it can be a major hassle and time-eater to replace things that are stolen while traveling. So you want to take a few precautions. The best type of locks for backpackers are travel cable locks that include flexible cables to reach multiple zippers. These locks allow you to secure your pack and exterior pockets while in crowded places prone to pick pocketing, or when you are separated from your pack. Some locks with longer cables also let you secure your pack to a chair or other fixed object. Travel locks are small and lightweight. They aren’t going to prevent every theft. But if someone has just a few seconds to pick through a few backpack pockets, these locks will make sure they don’t pick through yours.

What Makes The Best Travel

Travel blogs are of great help when it comes to planning a vacation. They have a touch of professionalism in all the details they provide yet they have an informal and personal feel in the experiences they share. However, not all travel blogs are worth reading. A few only have rehashed content making them very shallow guides.

There are certain characteristics that make the best travel blog. We’ve listed the features of the top-rated ones so that you can use them to make your pick.

1. Engaging Content –
It appears to be the obvious; however, it is a tough criterion to fulfill. The content should be creative, informative and original. It should also be different. If your blog offers the same content that other blogs and travel websites have to offer, they will move on. Content should be on various topics namely travel tips, travel experiences, news and travel technology.

2. Up-To-Date –
The tourism industry is time-sensitive and as such the information tends to change periodically. Hence, it is important that review the information listed on your website from time to time and update it to match the latest changes. It includes information on pricing, visiting hours, programs offered at tourist sites and the likes. Make sure you verify the information that you post on your blog. Not only this, great blogs are those that add fresh content regularly.

3. A Bunch of Links –
Whether they are links to airline booking sites, hotel websites or comparison sites, it is very convenient to have them embedded in the text. Readers can get more travel related information by simply clicking on a link.

4. Photos and Videos –
Media files like photos and videos support your content; they are what complete your blog. Photographs of travel destinations, culinary delights and personal sneak-peeks give readers an opportunity to plan their vacation based on your experiences. It also attracts them to read to the end of your blog.

5. Reader Generated Content –
Including a section wherein readers can contribute their two pence on travel tips and insider insights will also earn your blog more readers. This is because the real shared experiences of other fellow travelers add a touch of originality to your blog.

6. Maps –
In addition to the discussion forums and photo albums, a few destination maps are always a welcome addition. Maps are a must when one goes travelling and it is a better if they can print and use them offline. You can also integrate it will Google Maps so that travelers can plot their trip on the map.

7. A Good Blog Design –
In the bid to create an attractive and engaging design, we often end up with extremely gaudy and complicated blog templates and designs. Choose an eye-catching, simple design, but don’t make it too complex.

8. Easy-to-Use Interface –
It should feature an intuitive interface. There should be too many instructions to follow and pop ups to get through before they get to read what they want.

9. Mobile Compatibility –
We live in an age of smartphones and hence it is important that most travel blogs and websites be optimized for mobile platforms. If your blog does not load on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets there is a likelihood readers won’t revisit.

Best Travel Deals

You don’t have to search forever to find the best travel deals. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of patience and the knowledge of where to look. Successful travel planning involves things like online comparison shopping and deal alerts.

To help you save time (and money!) here are a few tips to simplify the process:

• Always do your research and price comparison in incognito windows. This way, the cookies in your browser won’t be tracked. It’s not uncommon these days for airfare and hotel prices to actually increase when a particular route has been searched, as the websites and companies behind the advertisements want to scare you into booking that deal ASAP by making you think the price is increasing. This unscrupulous practice won’t be an issue if you do research in incognito. Only open up the normal browser when you’re ready to book the trip.

• Figure out the cheapest day to fly out. Most experts say it on a Tuesday, but that isn’t the case 100% of the time. Sometimes the best travel deals can be found on other days. The best thing to do is to select the “whole month” button on a travel search site to view the expected rates on every day of the month instead of trying to play around with the dates manually.

• Keep an eye out for “flash sales” and “last minute deals”. The cheapest possible rates are often short-lived and not ongoing. The only way to catch one of these offers is to sign up to receive emails or text notifications from travel sites or airlines you are likely to use.

• Have an opened mind in regards to destinations, airports, accommodation, dining, etc. The best travel deals are easier to find when you are flexible with your plans. If you can’t find an inexpensive plane ticket to the city you want to visit, for instance, consider flying to an outlying airport and taking a bus the rest of the way. You could also consider connecting flights instead of direct flights.

• Take advantage of travel-related coupons and promo codes. The great thing about the internet is that it is filled with special offers that will help consumers save money on anything – including travel. You’ll find discount codes and e-coupons that can be used either directly with the airlines / hotels / car rental companies themselves or with third party travel sites. Read over the terms and conditions for each offer so you’ll know exactly where you can use it and how to apply it to your order.

Best Travel Deals

Why travel agencies will never have the best travel deals?

There is something that will always be against them. They need to win money from your bookings and no suppliers want to lower their prices and at same time give commission to travel agencies for the bookings. Both things will not happen at same time, so you will never be looking at the best travel deals when asking to a travel agency. Then, why should I go to find my best travel deals to a travel agency?

Travel agencies probably don’t have the best options but they do have information. Information is power, and you want this power in order to take the best decision possible to make your dream holidays. How to find your dream holidays? In travel agencies. How to get the best travel deals? Using the information travel agencies give to you. So, how should I use travel agencies information in order to get the best travel deals for my dream holiday?

Pretty easy in fact. Go to the travel agency with a piece of paper and something to write on it. Travel agents are good professionals but as everybody they commit mistakes. Most of the times this means that they will mention the name of a supplier if you insist in order to know it. Don’t be pushy or aggressive, but they need after all to satisfy their customers and avoiding to answer any of your questions would create a bad feeling to you that they want to avoid at all costs.

After you get some relevant information on this way, the best you can do is to smile and ask them to prepare a plan for your holidays with an estimated total price of the package. You’ll get some kind of document specifying the different parts of your trip with costs involved. Sometimes you’ll get supplier names such as airlines or hotel names or tour operators. Some other you won’t have this names and you’ll need to find out.

How to get the best travel deals using all this information?

Internet has the most erroneous information you can find in the world, but at same time is a powerful tool if used properly. Google in this case will be your intimate friend. In case you have supplier names, the task is very easy. Get to the web-page of these airlines, hotels or tour operators and check the prices for the exact dates the agency was proposing. You will notice they are always cheaper than booking directly from the agency. Be aware that you should never use a travel search engine, as they have affiliates and all the trips you can find will have an extra $10 fee to pay to the affiliates.

What happens then with the suppliers that are not mentioned by the agency?

Well, that part can be more tricky but usually it works in an easy way. Look at the parts of the document the agency gave to you where it appears information about this supplier, as many times travel agencies simply copy and paste the web-page information of their suppliers.

Get different sentences and copy them into Google between quotes. Almost probably you will find different places that offer this tour and one of this pages will be the mother page. You will know that because their prices are cheaper as no intermediate travel agents add commissions on them. If this does not work, any alternative in order to find the best travel deals?

Travel certificates is the answer, as there are a couple of places on the net that offer travel certificates for free simply for registering or making little purchases. And I don’t mean places that offer travel certificates for a determined price, because this is pure fraud. This guys are making a lot of money offering something that is free for a high price. In any case, in the places that are not fraud and offer them really for free, you will get discounts between 70 and 95% in hotels and flights.

How to Find Best Travel Deals

So you are in the market for cheap airline tickets, but not sure where to start and how to find the best travel deals. The reality is that in order to find the cheapest flight fares and schedules you need to know when and where to look and how to search. Yes, it is that easy, and all you need to know is several tricks. First of all, do you need a domestic or an international travel ticket?

Domestic Air Travel

These can be US domestic flight or flights within Europe, or within any country or other continent. If you are looking great flight deals, you need to know WHERE to look for low airfares. If you are looking for flights within the US, you may contact local US airlines or travel agencies or look up flights on the online travel search engine.

Airlines compete among each other and they can give great flight deals (just know WHEN to look). Travel agencies might also find you great deals. Here is the truth… lately several airlines and several large and well known travel agencies started having some issues and several airline banned those huge agencies from selling their airline tickets. Therefore, small and specialized agencies still do have very good contracts with major airlines of the world. So, my advise is to look who has the best flight deal, not at the size of the agency or the popularity. At the end of the day, it matters how much you pay for the ticket and that you have a confirmed seat.

Most smaller travel agencies have online only booking so they can save YOU money by eliminating staff salaries. Most of the time travel agencies use the same fares as airlines offer (unless negotiated better rates), but usually with 0 commission. Since agencies need to survive, they are forced to add a small service fee on the top of the ticket price. If you do not mind that, call your travel agent or best of all go online and check flights yourself. If you are traveling within Europe, you might want to contact a travel agent or search online travel agents’ websites first. In Europe local travel agencies and agencies outside Europe that specialize in international travel will have low fares because they use very low so called consolidator fares. This is nothing else, but negotiated contracts with airlines to sell special very low priced airline tickets.

International Travel

Whether you live in the US or other country, you travel internationally if you leave your country of residence.

What concerns transatlantic, transpacific or other between countries international travel, your best bet is a travel agency. The consolidators will offer you the best fare deals and will find you the best schedules. Depending on personal preferences, some might prefer talking to a travel agent, while others would want to do their own fare search online at their own pace. There is no right or wrong choice here. As long as you find a flight and a fare that works for you, you succeed. HOW to find a travel agency or a good travel website Always work with the travel agent or travel website that specializes in your travel destination or region. For example, if you need to fly from the US to Europe, search for ‘flights to Europe’ or so. Usually online search will give you best results. Check several websites or call several travel agents and compare the deals.

NOTE, you might know lots of huge agencies like Travelocity, Orbitz, etc. They might seem attractive to you because they are big and well known. But they will not always give you the best flight, hotel or cruise deals. They might be good for US domestic travel, but not always for international travel.

HOW and WHEN to search for best fares

Where you need a flight, hotel or a cruise, you need to know how to find the best fares and when to look for those. Let’s say that you found a travel agent or travel website that specialized in your travel destination.

5 tips on How to Find your Best Travel Deal:

  1. Be Flexible. In order to find lowest price, you might need to be flexible on travel dates, arrival/departure times, airlines, and sometimes destinations. In short, there are different price levels for every flight and the only difference is the price and number of seats an airline assigns to that price level. Therefore, all depends on when you buy a ticket, how popular is the destination, travel season (peak or low), and how full the flight gets.
  2. Book domestic travel tickets as early as you can (this applied to some international travel as well). Most domestic airlines have best fares with 21, 14, and 7 day advance purchase. This means that you may find lower fares when booking (= purchasing) a flight this many days before the flight.
  3. ‘Play’ with the search. This means that you need to be creative when searching for flights. Check flights couple days or weeks (if possible) earlier and later, check various airlines, different connections (an airline might have several hubs or fly with 1 or several connections), search based on price and try searching based on schedule (you’ll see different results).
  4. Check travel package deals. If the purpose of your travel is vacation, instead of booking flights, hotel, and car rental separately, check on travel package rates. Sometimes your total package rate is lower that if you book everything separately.
  5. Use miles or points when possible. Apply for airline/ hotel/ car rental, etc. frequent traveler programs. They are FREE, and you can get lots of benefits. For example, I cannot remember the last time I paid for a hotel room when Hilton Hotel is in my destination. Check out hiltonhhonors.com website. Go to the airline, car rental, or hotel websites and sign up. The only disadvantage of using miles and points is that you need to book your travel early as there is limited number of seats for miles or points on the plane and they go fast.

If you cannot decide whether to use an airline or a travel agent, here are some suggestions.

AIRLINE vs. TRAVEL AGENT/AGENCY WEBSITE

Advantages of booking a ticket with an airline:

  • you are talking directly to the carrier, the entity responsible for a flight
  • it may take much less time to deal with the airline directly (if an agent knows his/her job)
  • airline customers representatives are usually open 24/7

Advantages of using travel agents or travel websites:

  • lower negotiated (consolidator) fares
  • more flight options; travel agents/travel websites search all possible airlines, not just one
  • low fares available 24/7 given that an agency has a online booking system