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Travel Talk

Travel Talk: Some travel tips can be life-changing

Chase Binder

Chase Binder

Readers and friends often email me about travel. Sometimes they ask specific questions and sometimes they offer links to interesting travel information.

Last week, a friend sent me a link titled “40 Must-see Travel Tips That will Change Your life Forever” (pulptastic.com and distractify.com). A bit of an exaggeration, perhaps, but it was an interesting compilation and it got me thinking about travel tips in general. How do you find the ones that might indeed change your life – or at least your travel life?

Focus on problems

If there’s a part of travel you loathe – say, going through security – research how others have solved that particular problem. Use Google, ask.com (one of my favorites) or any of your favorite search engines and then sort through the tips that make sense for you.

Some, like packaging your stuff to anticipate the search process, will be no-brainers. Others, like enrolling in Global Entry (cbp.gov/global-entry) or another official process that gives you access to expedited lines, involve interviews and work best for people who do a lot of international travel, may not be for you.

Depending on the problem area, these tips can indeed be life-changing. Some people, for example, rarely travel at all because they can’t bear to leave their pets. Nowadays, though, there are solutions that range from pet-friendly vacation rentals, hotels and restaurants to local services by people who will even come and stay in your home and take care of Fluffy or Fido.

Get on lists

If (like Bud and I) you have an obsession with travel, find a few websites of interest and sign up for their email newsletters and alerts. These will often be chock-full of tips – the best time to visit the great capitals of Europe, how to find the best cruise prices, where the hottest new restaurants in Boston are – on virtually any topic you can think of.

Some of the most useful are those where independent travelers, folks like you and I, post tips and opinions, and where you can ask specific questions of the person posting the tip. You do have to register to participate, but the blogs and forums are worth the effort. Cruisecritic.com, fodors.com and tripadvisor.com are some that do this particularly well. Many sites are free and post general industry-related tips. I like airfarewatchdog.com and smartertravel.com, but there are lots. They pop up all the time – so do a search for the best travel tip websites every six months or so to see what’s new.

Some sites are fee-based, such as Matthew Bennett’s firstclassflyer.com, which has been around for almost 20 years and has an excellent reputation for giving useful tips on how to get upgraded airline seats.

Keep track

I am a hoarder. Back in the day, I kept paper folders for every trip we took – or wanted to take. They’d be stuffed with ticket receipts, brochures, even photographs. That’s all been recycled, thank heavens. Now I keep emails (yes, for years) – especially those that contain key contact info for particularly interesting trips that Bud and I have taken – or want to take.

I used to organize the emails by date, but now have a system of destination and topic-related folders. Tip-laden emails, alerts and newsletters go right into the folders, and I can find what I need easily. Find a system that works for you and you’ll never be thinking, “Gosh, what was that great tip I read last week?”

(Chase Binder lives in Bow. Read her blog at travelswithchase.blogspot.com.)

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