Kayak.com, Hipmunk, Momondo, Onthefly and Skyscanner are a few sites to begin my search for airfares. Aggregators work efficiently to provide fares on most airlines, then send me to the individual site for purchase. Consolidator CheapOAir sells directly; not many sites carry China Southern but I found a great price for a Taipei-Kathmandu flight. Google for local airlines flying to my destination’s airports as many aggregators do not cover these foreign airlines. I track fares using Airfare Watchdog and Kayak; check Bing for buying advice, and Seat Guru for seating suggestions. When I see the flight, convenience and price I want – book it. Period. I lost a great direct flight to Taipei by puttzing around waiting for something better.
Before I purchase my airfare, I either clear my cookies or use a second browser to check on the airfare. Airlines have been known to track the traveler and charge accordingly. I don’t want to pay more for a ticket because I search on a Mac.
Booking.com, Venere.com and Kayak.com are excellent and reliable for finding accommodations. HostelWorld.com for hostels. VRBO or AirB&B for rentals. I am beginning to use Travelocity and Trivago more. Otherwise, use Google Maps for locations and follow link or google hotel directly.
Creating an ebook of travel itinerary worked perfectly using my iPad. I can’t have too much information or too many links at the tap of my finger. If a travel site has an App, I check it out and if good add it to my Travel Utilities folder on my iPad.
Book train tickets using Trenitilia (or DB bahn). The electronic ticketing is easy and saves a lot. If a short trip, book the regionals using the machines in the stations. Look for the ones that take cash. Other machines will require a credit card pin.
ATMs work the best. I can up withdrawal limit so I pay fees less often. Check out who are foreign partners with my bank. Call my bank and all CC before departure to notify them of travel (or do online).
Get a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign exchange fees. My Capital One doesn’t charge plus has a PIN for point of sale purchases. My United Chase just recently eliminated foreign exchange fees.
Whenever possible, use my loyalty credit card to book flights. I love the priority boarding, free checked luggage (if dumb enough to pack that much), and pass to the private lounge it affords me.
I booked only hotels with free wifi and had no problems. Most are password protected. Occasionally rooms were at the end of signal reach but in general worked well. I even found entire cities that sponsored free wifi and many cafes and restaurants have wifi. Invest in a VPN if I feel the need.
Use common sense on public wifi and never send sensitive information. I am more confident of confidentiality when it is password protected, but use common sense and be sure I am signing in to my host’s wifi. I stand at the desk, locate their server and enter the password. Never sign into financial institutions using public wifi.
Forget adding AT&T international plan. Never had a need for it. Many times I checked and got no service. Save my money. There is enough wifi I don’t need the extra expense. Texting is easier and more popular. And cheaper.
iPad is a great companion.
Many trains have electrical connections for people traveling with smartphones and computers.
Use my world phone and travel number and give number to my hotels, etc. so I have a connection if I need it. This would have come in handy in Padua when I couldn’t find my hotel. They called the only number they knew, my home in California. My bad for not giving them my international number.
Don’t change all my Euros back at the end of my trip. It is costly plus the Euro isn’t going anywhere and I will have money when I arrive the next trip. In fact, if the exchange rate is good, buy extra. This tip does not apply to most other currencies.
For my own sake, pack intelligent – pack light. Dress to blend with the locals.
Do my homework. Read and research my destination. Otherwise, why not stay home?
The ability to adapt is more important than the ability to plan.