Tip #627: Make Travel Easier

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”  Anonymous

If you travel frequently and you’re like me, you probably worry about having a packing list so you don’t forget anything important. Although you can check online, it can be difficult to anticipate weather or temperatures so you know what you’ll need. And if you travel to another country, you need to check numerous sites if you want to know dialing codes, currency conversion and even time zone differences.

Well, have I just learned about an online tool that will make traveling (especially international traveling!) so much easier. It is the one-stop Universal Packing List.

According to its website:

The Universal Packing List is a tool that provides a custom travel check list.

The UPL was created back in 1996, however it first appeared on the internet in 1994.  The goal of the site has always been the same: provide unique packing suggestions tailored to the trip you are taking, not a generic one size fits all approach.

All you need to do is to fill in the boxes above about your trip and then you will be presented with a custom travel checklist.  Use this to make sure you have everything you require for your trip and try not to leave it until the last minute.

You can also find out the expected local weather at your destination to assist you when working out what you need to take. You can also use our time zones tool to work out the time difference between where you are and your destination.

UPL also allows you to book car hire for when you arrive at you destination.  This was added at the request from our users due to the large increase in prices when you land at a destination as opposed to booking in advance.

During our research we also found that buying currency in the airport or whilst abroad resulted in large extra fees for our users.  Please see our currency converter which will allow you to work out the rate you should be getting.  Use it also to pre-order currency to make sure you secure the best rate and maximise the spending money you are taking away with you.

Pretty great, huh? You can see the List at http://upl.codeq.info.

I found out about the site in an article: 40 Travel Tips From Hard Traveling TED Staffers.

Here are my top 12 recommendations from their list:

1. Use an Incognito Window to book flights. “You know how you check the price of a flight, then go back a day later — and the price has gone up? That seems to happen less often if you use the Incognito function in Chrome. I also love Kayak, because it gives you advice on whether to book your ticket or wait for a better price.” — Kate Torgovnick May, writer

2. Try Airfarewatchdog.com. “You put in a destination, and get emails with updates on fares so you know when there are deals. Geneva is my spot, and I get excited when I see a round-trip flight for $650 instead of $1,200.” — Hailey Reissman, TEDx blogger

3. There are good and bad hotel rooms. “Research your hotel on TripAdvisor to see which rooms people prefer, and request that room. Don’t speak to a reservations office that might be in a call center — always ask for the front desk. My trick: if the operator asks if I’m calling about a reservation, I say, ‘No, I have a question for the front desk.'” — Tom Rielly

4. New town? Plan for one night in a known spot, then keep your options open. “I book my first night’s stay ahead of time, but keep things open from there. When I arrive, I walk all over and find a local spot to move to. I did this when I went to Jericoacoara on the coast of Brazil and found the loveliest guest house run by this not-tech-savvy-at-all bohemian Italian lady. Score. This works best when you’re traveling off-season.” — Thaniya Keereepart

5. Research local transportation before you go. “You can never be sure if you’ll have the Internet on your trip, so research this ahead of time. I like Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forum for transit tips, but you can also just type in ‘how to get from X to Y’ in Google. Sometimes you’ll end up with a bus or train schedule, or sometimes you’ll land on some blog post that tells you to grab the van at the corner of the market and wait until it’s full. Either way, write down the names of the companies that operate the transportation — along with a few sentences in the native language on how to ask for directions.” — Thaniya Keereepart

6. Mark everything. “Take your business card or a piece of paper with your mobile number and email on it. Write, ‘Staying at the [fill in hotel] in [fill in city].’ Put one in everything you have — your luggage, your camera case, your glasses cases, your wallet, your phone case, even in the back of your passport. People want to give things back, if you make it easy.” — Tom Rielly

7. Be a power ninja. “Put all of your cords, chargers and earbuds in a small bag so they’re all in one place and stay in good shape. Clear toiletry cases are especially good for this, so you can make sure you have everything before you leave.” — Susan Zimmerman, executive assistant

8. Get set on prescriptions. “Refill prescriptions and over-the-counter meds well in advance. Your pharmacist can give you a vacation override to refill early. Write down the generic names of your prescriptions — the brand name might be different abroad. And bring spare prescription sheets signed by your doctor. International pharmacists often have more latitude in prescribing without a doctor — just look for the green cross.” —Tom Rielly

9. Ask your barista for recommendations. “On the first day of a trip, I go to a local coffee shop, and tell the barista, ‘I have this many days in the city. What should I do?’ As locals, they know big, seasonal events and small, local things. They can help you prioritize.” — Jody Mak, partnership team

10. Use an offline navigation app to save on data. “I like OsmAnd, but there are plenty of free choices for both iOS and Android. There’s no need to pay for an international 3G connection; with just your GPS on, you can navigate any destination and find the nearest ATM, supermarket or subway. One note, though: using your GPS will drain your phone’s battery fast, so you may want to get a portable charger.” — Krystian Aparta, translation team

11. Download some good travel apps. “I’ve heard good things about Native. You pay about $25 a month and it’s like a virtual travel agent you text for help. – Gavin Hall

12. Take advantage of Google Translate. “Google Translate‘s app can work offline. If you point it at a menu in a different language and take a photo, it shows it to you in English. I used it in Brazil when ordering food. And for those who want to stay off devices: Lonely Planet’s phrasebooks come in handy.” — Gavin Hall and Thaniya Keereepart

If you’d like to see the entire list, go to http://blog.ted.com/40-vacation-travel-tips-from-ted-staffers/

Happy traveling!

May your learning be sweet


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