Travel Sites~Consider searching sites like Travelocity, Priceline, Orbitz, and Expedia. Price compare across sites– they all offer competitive rates at various moments. Factor in your time. If you’ll have a 24 hour layover chances are you’ll spend a fair amount in a room and meals. It may make better fiscal sense to pay a slightly higher flight price and travel directly.
When to Buy ~ Search for flights Tuesdays at 3 pm. Airlines sell the most flights on weekends and inflate their prices. Every Monday they assess what seats are left. The most discounts are available Tuesday afternoons.
Alternate Airports -Price compare various airports for departure. I live nearest Philadelphia International Airport but often depart from Newark International Airport. I’ve found that flights to Central America are often direct and far less expensive from Newark. However, when I’ve flown to Asia and have to transfer domestically regardless, flights from Philadelphia were more convenient and comparably priced.
Jetlag prevention~ I am NOT a doctor so please understand this is simply what has worked for me! Consult your medical professional to best plan ahead.
That said, when traveling to a different time zone I take the following as directed while flying:
-Chinese herb Yin Chiao
-Grapefruit seed extract
The grapefruit seed extract and Yin Chiao boost vitamin C to help prevent getting sick and worn down. The Jetzone works some homeopathic magic.
Upon landing, if possible, lie down on the earth. Get grounded. If you can, get body work done. Let your body feel really earthy again.
Sleep when it’s time to sleep. If you’re not tired, try eating dried cherries and taking melatonin. In the morning, drink coffee or something to give you a boost. Get on the schedule of your location as soon as you can.
I often find that I don’t experience severe jetlag on my trip but it will get me when I come home. I think it may be the timezone shifts in quick succession compounded with grief over the end of a trip!
What to pack
A good backpack ~Remember that most airlines now charge for checked luggage. I purchased the Rincon 65L Travel backpack a few years ago (I’m not getting a sales commission from them!)
The front backpack unzips to slide under the seat in front of you. The main backpack fits in most overhead bins. Double check with your airline to see if this pack, or one similar, will save you baggage costs. Otherwise, budget for additional airline charges. Also factor in convenience. If you have a connecting flight or a tight schedule, it may be worthwhile to travel with this type of luggage that precludes you from having to check in and go through baggage claim.
You may want to pack a second, easily folded duffle bag. I usually travel with an additional pack to bring home gifts. Remember that you may be charged a baggage fee for checking this luggage on your return flight.
Good traction shoes ~I suggest Keen Waterproof Sandals. They are not at all sexy, but will protect your feet. These waterproof sandals transition easily from city sight-seeing to lounging on a beach. Your feet will be supported, with traction, for activities ranging from hiking to cycling.
A light rain jacket ~ I love the Marmot PreCip Jacket. Not only are rain jackets useful while traveling, but they also ease the transition when flying between hot and cold climates. Layer sweatshirts under the rain jacket, socks under your Keen sandals, and wear comfortable yoga pants while flying. In hot climates you can shed the socks and outer layers; in cold climates add these items.
A flashlight ~ I have always found a flashlight essential. Always. Headlamps are ridiculous, but even more useful.
Before you depart
Converting Currency ~I usually convert about $200 into the currency of my destination in advance of traveling. Generally, your local bank will give you a more preferable rate of exchange than an airport. Allow them at least two weeks to secure the foreign currency. Keep some USD on you for snacks and magazines while in US airports. Having the foreign currency will give you a window to get your bearings in your destination.
Using a Cellphone ~Travel with your cellphone, but consider turning it off for the duration of international travel. Always check with your cellphone provider before departure about the costs of roaming abroad. If you’re offered a fair rate, by all means, use your cellphone abroad. I’ve always found that the charges would be exorbitant. I bring my cellphone and leave it on while in the US in case I need to communicate with a ride. As soon as I’m airborne, the phone goes off and stays off. I provide my family with the phone numbers for my hotels in the case of an emergency. I check in with them via Skype at internet cafes every few days. When I land in the US I turn the cellphone back on to let my ride know I’ve arrived.
I know some people who purchase SIM cards once abroad. This way you can communicate easily within your destination country.
And Finally ~In advance of travel, call your bank and credit card providers to tell them of your destination. Banks and credit card companies appreciate the head’s up. This should save you the hassle of finding your accounts frozen when it’s assumed your cards were stolen!