While I wouldn’t consider myself a travel guru, or even a “seasoned” or overly knowledgeable traveler, but I’ve hopped my fair share of flights, and I think my current summer home of Mexico gives me a bit of creditability (Maybe?).
So, in the spirit of summer freedom, here are some of the travel tips I’ve gleaned from my forays:
If you’re going far, and need a flight Kayak.com rocks. I think I’ve used it to book every flight I’ve taken in the past two years (and trust me this is a substantial number). I like Kayak for several reasons; 1) It scans and gives you quotes from many discount sites, including Priceline amongst others. 2) It also includes a wide variety of airlines both domestically and internationally. 3) It also allows you to log-in directly with your Facebook account, to set up preferences (like home airport—yea RDU!) and finally 4) You can set price alerts (here’s hoping my current alert on Boston goes down) and you can even elect to get weekly updates on the cheapest trips for your home airport (interested in going to Milwaukee? That always seems to be a steal.) Trust me it’s handy. However, kayak is not all-inclusive, and before booking checking other sites such as AAA.com, and Southwest Airlines (which recently removed themselves from all other flight search engines) is always wise. Know of other great sites? As I said, I’m no guru… Share! Please!
For a short jaunt but don’t want to drive? Megabus.com is where it’s at. Buses depart from the Bus Depot in Durham every day of the week for Charlotte, Richmond and Washington. I’ve taken the Durham-Washington bus several times, and I can vouch that the service, is quick (almost always arriving at your destination early), clean (some of the better bus bathrooms that I’ve seen) AND added perk for the internet-dependent like myself, complete with WiFi! One of the best perks? Their tag line “Tickets as low as $1,” isn’t too far off. For a round trip ticket to Washington, I’ve never paid more than $25, and usually less (way less than I’d pay for gas). The ticket prices vary by demand, so much like plane tickets, the soon you purchase, the lower the price. But, as I said, even a few days before, still beats driving (both in cost and comfort). Plus from DC you can head further north on Megabus to other exciting destinations.
Travel with meds. You never know what is going to hit you. As I write this, several of members of my group living here in Mexico have been stricken with a mysterious stomach virus, and all I say is thank goodness for a well-stocked supply of Pepto. What you’ll need for your particular trip will vary by destination, but here are some basics I’ve found useful:
- Pepto: Nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea—you’re covered!
- Dramamine: Driving long distances? Flying? Taking a bus? You never know when motion sickness might strike.
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen: Good for aches, pains, and lowering fevers.
- Sudafed (or other cold meds): A stuffy nose can really ruin a vacation, keeping a few of these on hand can help head off a serious cold.
- Band Aides and Neosporin: great for minor cuts and blisters from walking.
- Hand sanitizer: Just think about how often pubic bathrooms are lacking in soap.
- Small roll of TP: Gotta go? No TP? No problem!
- Metamucil and/or laxative: This nugget of advice comes from one of my current companions here in Mexico, in her words, “You never know which way you’ll react to the local cuisine.”
Traveling internationally? Make sure to check vaccinations and recommendations from the CDC. If you need to get vaccinations or medications you can contract the UNC International Travel Clinic or if you’re not in the Chapel Hill area, Passport Health has travel clinics all over the USA.
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of gear. I was always one to scoff at the need for ear plugs, eye masks, neck pillows, etc… I couldn’t understand how they were that useful. I am a full convert. Before traveling to Mexico I splurged (okay so less than 10 dollars, not too much of a splurge) on an eye mask and ear plus… I have been so grateful that I have them, I have slept much more solidly than I would have otherwise (no thanks to the 4am rooster “singing” and hourly church bells).
Do you have other travel essentials on your list? Share! I’m sure I’ll use them for my next adventure