French novelist Gustave Flaubert once said, "Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world." And we have to agree, the world is a big place with so much to explore, and that can make it a daunting endeavor at times. As a result, we've put together some of our favorite tips to help make your next trip less stressful, and more fun!
Travel blogs are the perfect way to get some inspiration before your trip. You will learn about the best things to see and do in a destination, what to avoid, how to get around, and more. Here are some of our favorites:
- Mytanfeet is a fantastic travel blog by Samantha and Yeison, a friendly couple that calls Costa Rica home. As resident experts, their blog is overflowing with all things 'pura vida' and it is a must for anyone planning a trip to Costa Rica.
- A Cruising Couple have traveled all around the globe, but they have particularly great insight on adventure travel in many great Latin American destinations. This duo has also been mastering drone videography and their content will make you want to quit your job and follow in their footsteps!
- Our Escapades follows the adventures of Anu and her husband Karthik as they travel to destinations around the world, snapping incredible photos along the way. Be warned, however, that their photography may result in the impulsive booking of a trip.
- Along Dusty Roads avoids the cliches that come with backpacking with solid writing and beautiful images. They have a focus on Central and South America - their tips for budget planning actually work, but they don't make you look flimsy or cheap.
TSA Pre-Check & Global Entry
TSA Pre-Check is a glorious way to get expedited screening through dreaded security checkpoints at the airport. With Pre-Check, you get a 5-year, $85 membership and you won't have to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, or light jackets when going through security. The line is also much shorter, with 95% of members standing in line for 5 minutes or less. To get Pre-Check, fill out a 5-minute, online application and follow up with a 10-minute, in-person interview that includes a background check and fingerprinting. Once approved, you'll add your KTN, or Known Traveler Number, to your ticket and you're good to go!
If you're traveling internationally, Global Entry is a program that gives expedited clearance to pre-approved travelers upon your arrival back into the US. Members simply enter through automatic kiosks by presenting their scannable passport or US permanent residence card, placing their fingerprint on the scanner, and completing a customs declaration. To apply, all applicants must pay a $100 application fee, then undergo an extensive background check and in-person interview before being approved.
#TravelTip: If you have Global Entry, you can enter your KTN when booking reservations and become automatically approved for TSA Pre✓ and voilà! Your travel experience just got 10x easier.
Planning ahead for your trip can save you a lot of headaches in the future. First, make sure that your hotel and flight are all booked well in advance. According to CheapAir.com, the best time to book an airline ticket to Central and South America is 70 days out from your travel date; for Canada and Mexico, 75 days is optimal. The best fares for Europe can be found 4 months out (120 days) and for Asia, your best bet is 160 days in advance.
In terms of hotels, booking in advance is always key - you don't want to get to your destination and be stranded. USA Today recommends booking at least one month in advance to avoid last minute price increases, especially in popular destinations. Shop around for a bit, too - websites like Hipmunk and Airbnb can help find cheap flights and deals on hotels, making booking fast and efficient.
Now that you know how you're getting there, you should figure out what you're going to do. Project Expedition offers thousands of bookable tours from all around the world, with a particularly large presence in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. With activities ranging from snorkeling with whale sharks to ziplining across jungle canopies, there's plenty of things to do for families, groups, couples, and even solo travelers! Project Expedition itineraries will even integrate into your TripIt mobile app - one of the best mobile phone tools for organizing all of your individual bookings, receipts and reservations that stack up when planning a trip.
Our Favorite Travel Apps
- Google Maps is great for helping you navigate new, unfamiliar territory. You can even filter different modes of transportation, such as walking, driving, or using public transit, and Google Maps will tell you how to get there. #TravelTip: If you type in "ok maps" into the search, it will allow you to download that portion of the map so you don't use pricey international data roaming!
- LoungeBuddy revolutionizes your airport experience by giving any traveler the ability to discover, book, and access premium airport lounges worldwide. LoungeBuddy will take the guesswork out of knowing which lounges you can access - just fill in your information and they'll do the rest. Then, sit back and relax until you're ready to take off.
- WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app that allows you to exchange messages without having to pay international fees. You can send pictures, videos, and even create group chats, which is perfect if you're traveling in a group. Project Expedition also offers customer support through WhatsApp, in case you run into any issues after you've arrived at your destination.
- TripIt for people who really appreciate organization - it pulls together all your confirmation emails from flights, hotels, rental cars, and activity bookings and turns it into one itinerary. You simply forward your emails to the app, and they do the rest. With TripIt, you're not constantly shuffling around for emails or manually putting them in a calendar yourself. If you're traveling with others, you can share your plans, so this app is great for planning group trips.
- Hostelz.com is a great website that allows you to compare over 40,000 hostels around the world. Accommodation can quickly add up to be the most expensive part of your trip, so finding somewhere affordable to stay is key if you are on a budget.
Packing for your trip is just as important as planning. You want to make sure you have everything you need, but most airports have a 50 lb. limit on checked baggage, so you'll want to avoid overpacking as well. Here are some packing hacks to ensure maximum efficiency.
- Roll your clothes instead of folding them. This allows you to have more room in your suitcase and prevents your clothes from wrinkling! It's a win-win all around.
- Pack dryer sheets in between layers of clothing to keep them smelling fresh and clean!
- Use the hotel shower cap as a cover for your shoes in your suitcase.
- To avoid spills and leaks, unscrew the cap of your shampoo, conditioner, or any other liquid, lay some plastic wrap over the hole, and screw the lid back on. No leaks guaranteed.
- To save even more space, roll up your socks and stuff them in your shoes - you'd be surprised by how much room this saves in your suitcase.
- Take an empty, refillable water bottle on your carry-on, and fill it up once you've gone through security - you'll save yourself from the outrageous prices in the terminal!
How to Get Over Jet Lag Fast
Jet lag is a series of symptoms that happens when we cross timelines, messing up our circadian rhythm, or our internal body clocks. These "body clocks" keep us in tune with the pattern of day and night, but can also affect hunger, mood, and blood pressure. For example, if you're traveling from the US to China, they're fast asleep while we're usually eating lunch. Here are some tips to help you get over jet lag fast, whether you're arriving at your destination or coming back home.
- Avoid alcohol or coffee 3-4 hours before you go to bed. These are stimulants that will prevent you from being able to fall asleep.
- Stay hydrated with water before, during, and after your flight.
- Try and get out in the sunlight as much as possible before going to sleep. Our bodies respond to light and this will help keep you awake until it's bedtime at your travel destination.
- Take a hot bath before bedtime. This can ease sore muscles and the drop in your body temperature when you get out of the tub can make you sleepy.
- If you still can't seem to fall asleep, take a small dose of melatonin before bed to help you stay asleep.
Life is Short and the World is Wide
Traveling is great because it gives you new eyes to a world that you thought you knew. You can look at pictures and follow blogs, but nothing compares to experiencing it for yourself. It's a great way to reconnect with family, friends, or even yourself on a solo trip. Next time you decide to pack your bags to a new destination, consult this guide to ensure your trip runs as smoothly as possible.