We’ve all been there. Expensive travel booking, long ticket counter lines, security shuffling (with shoe removal) new city navigation and that’s just the tip of the hot mess travel iceberg.
But, nothing grinds my gears more than a savvy jetsetter. One who manages to hop, skip and jump right through the airport and right past me getting the best seat on the plane without breaking a sweat. So with one international trip on in the bag and a few more to go – I’m determined to beat Jetsetter Jane at her own game. In fact I’ll be right alongside her, and maybe sitting one row closer to first class.
So here’s a few tips I’ve picked up in the process of getting my trip ducks in a row. I just thought to share, because that’s just the kind of travel buddy I am…
1. International Booking
One of the best parts about traveling is actually hitting purchase on your ticket. To ensure I got the best deals when booking I surveyed all my options. While sites like Priceline, Expedia and Cheap-O are great reference points and offer many international flight options on U.S. based airlines, often times flying on your destination country’s airline will have fares up to 50 percent cheaper. Mo-nay back in the spending bank!
Additionally, you can repurpose the budget you would have spent on a more expensive ticket to secure premium seats towards the front of coach. A few more perks like extra legroom and more dinner options on a trans-oceanic flight can make all the difference.
For an extra savvy travel tip, look to see if the airline you choose is an alliance member. A group of airlines that allow you to share consistent reward points or frequent flier miles amongst multiple airline brands. Racking up those points can pay-off big time when you then go back to book your next trip.
2. Consider Home Sharing Accommodations
Let’s be honest – services like AirBnb have completely changed the way we travel. Who doesn’t want to wake up to a sick Eiffel Tower view or sip champs on a balcony overlooking the rolling hills of Tuscany. Sign-me up! However booking with a home share site can be a gamble in some places so it’s best to know the tips and tricks to verify your reservation.
While searching for a good property online, stick to major cities where markets for these services are rich and established. Cities like Paris are known for their quality AirBnb stays and have even prompted local entrepreneurs to become property managers. These savvy business folk have invested in the property using it exclusively for AirBnb travelers, aka. no one actually lives there. To make the place even more legit they have gone through extensive accreditation processes to verify the property to ensure a clean, safe, well-stocked flat or home.
When booking with these sites, use the search filters to your advantage. Oftentimes parameters can help narrow down property must haves such as 3 actual beds, not a pullout couch or a crazy mattress coming out of a wall. You can guarantee that you will have the whole place to yourself and even ask to meet the property owner. Another perk of AirBnb, many of the apartments or homes are located near major sites. With homes lining the Champ de Mars in Paris and steps from the Duomo in Florence, these properties can get you closer than any hotel and pull you out of tourist town and into the residential heartbeat of a city.
3. Global Entry
In the early 2000’s the U.S. customs and border protection instituted the Global Entry Program. A way for low-risk travelers to expedite re-entry into the United States. At automated kiosks stationed in customs halls in more than 40 airports around the U.S., the credentials go a step beyond using a traditional passport to validate the U.S. residents’ identity. Though the program requires and extensive application and interview process, say goodbye to immigration lines when traveling back from a whirlwind trip.
Many Global Entry status travelers also have TSA pre-check, arguably the best perk of the jetsetter savvy label. Heading through the security lines you’re separated from the pack and fast tracked to the TSA officer checking ID’s and boarding passes. Cha-Ching! Once up to the security machines, leave shoes on, laptops packed and liquids in their cases. So when the family of 6 is inching towards the front of the line, consider this your – bypass the strollers and diaper bags for free – card. Make sure to wave that ticket as you pass!
4. Be A City Warrior
Nothing gets under my skin more as a NYC’er than tourists that fill the sidewalks with smartphones mapping out their next move. So to blend in with the locals and save yourself from the major shade, maximize your resources.
First, grab a business card from the hotel desk or write your address on a small piece of paper and stick it in your bag. While most developed countries speak English, it’s often American’s that are butchering foreign names and locations. With the written reference, you can flash that to a driver or local and you’ll never worry about mispronunciation or getting a cab that may be going the wrong way.
Make plans. While sometimes getting lost in a city is magical, other times it only takes one wrong turn to take you off your aimless path. So maximize your pre-bedtime moments by studying a map of the city. By orienting yourself with where you have been and plotting out areas you want to go, behind closed doors, you can make small notes in your phone or notebook and avoid the “touristy look.”
Many international cities while filled with great people are also filled with beggars and pick-pocketers. To avoid giving into the gimmicks and taking the city like a pro, put any cash in a few different places, your jacket chest pocket or the hidden inside pocket in your bag, to name a few. Additionally consider making a copy of your passport. Should you need identification anywhere – you won’t be producing the official thing that is subject to being taken right out from under your nose.
With all your credentials secure and savvy tips to take on your destination city say goodbye to jetsetter Jane, you’ll be leaving her in the dust. Safe travels!