I was thinking about canceling one of my mileage credit cards. Before doing that however, I have to transfer the miles to some travel partner or spend it. As I was considering which travel partner to use, I came across Avianca from several travel sites, so I figured I would shop around and take a look.
It looks like for almost all of the places I want to go, Avianca is lowest in terms of miles and fees! You can take a look at the chart below for reference. I just picked a few airlines to compare and entered the points. I didn’t enter the American airlines because I’m already familiar with them and use them regularly.
That said, Chase Ultimate rewards don’t transfer to Avianca. It’s okay though. Capital One Spark and Citi both do at 1:1.
If you’re interested in getting a Capital One card, right now, they have various cards with different bonus levels, but the best one to probably get is with a 50,000 mile bonus after a $4500 spend in the first 3 months. They’ll give you 2 miles per $ on anything that you spend it on. There’s a $95 annual fee after the first year, but you can get $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓. Please use my referral link here: https://capital.one/3jgk5CB
If you don’t have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, you should get it NOW. It’s like the Reserve deal they had a few years ago, but better. 100k bonus is worth almost a couple of plane tickets or $1250. Only $95 annual fee, but you can get $50 back if you book a hotel through Chase travel. https://www.referyourchasecard.com/6c/3ISV1VU99F
Install the travel apps. I use TripIt, Hopper, and a bunch of different airline apps. I’ve been told that Synchronize, Currency, and Speak&Translate are also quite useful. I also have Uber and Lyft. Different places will have other taxi apps e.g. Grab Taxi is Singapore’s best taxi app. Just check and install them before you go. I can tell you that Uber works in France and Australia.
Download streaming content into your phone or tablet. Many places in the world now, including planes have wifi, but you’ll be surprised how many places don’t have them. I recommend if you’re using Netflix or whatever you’re using, download whatever your entertainment is just in case so you’re not too bored on a plane or airport or somewhere else.
Download offline maps. Google maps allows you to download offline maps of wherever you’re going onto your phone. Just in case you don’t have good service where you go, I recommend downloading the maps.
Find a good phone carrier. I think T-Mobile is probably the best carrier for travel considering the unlimited (slow) data in almost any country you go to. I also never need to change my number when visiting other countries. One trick my wife and I use is that we tether our phones to each other so that we can make regular phone calls for free while moving.
Carry a travel adapter. This is redundant with my travel packing list. Most plugs on airplanes are universal and European adapters tend to stay in much better than U.S prongs.
Drink lots of liquids on the airplane. It’s very easy to get dehydrated on planes. It’s tempting to drink alcohol when it’s free, but I don’t drink alcohol often on planes and wouldn’t suggest it. Staying hydrated might help get over jet lag as well.
Be careful with the local water. Talking about you staying hydrated, find out if the local water is drinkable. Even if the local water is drinkable, it may not taste good or it might be safe enough for locals, but not you. You might consider buying bottled water. You might also consider boiling the local water if you have a kettle in your hotel room. Sometimes, I drink boiled water when I run out of bottled water and the room’s mini bar is out.
Take down your hotel address. I love Google maps. Put your hotel address in your locations or favorites. Also take down the room number and put it in notes or something.
Beware of Free Public WIFI. You’re not sure who’s snooping on wifi. You might want to avoid using it or just using it for unimportant things like directions and stuff. You don’t know how safe it is. Consider using a VPN for surfing. It’ll slow you down, but might be more secure. I have lifetime subscriptions with VPNSecure.me and KeepSolid.
Subscribe to a VPN service. That’s one way to be able to view some of the content you’re used to watching at home, be it YouTube TV or something else.
Alert Your Bank and Credit Card Company of Your Travel Plans. This can help you avoid some embarrassment in some places. You don’t want to be on hold with your bank while far away.
Withdraw money from ATMs – Do not exchange currency at counters. Exchange currency counters, especially at airports are a total ripoff! I use ATMs at airports all the time though. First Republic bank reimburses all of my ATM fees and seems to give me the best rates.
Get a credit card without exchange / foreign transaction fees. Those exchange/foreign transaction fees could be quite expensive! There are plenty of credit cards out there now without the fees and that also give you some great travel rewards. Consider those. There might be an annual fee, but some annual fees are worth it. Some banks will waive or credit annual fees if you just spend some more money.
Spend money in their currency if your credit card does not have exchange fees. If they ask what currency you want to pay in, always pay in their currency if you have one of those no-fee credit cards. The rates are always better.
Use the hotel safe if possible. Prior to doing so though, check if the administrative code has been changed on the safe. You can find some videos on how to do that on YouTube, like in the one below.
Use the “Do Not Disturb”door hanger if there’s a physical one. Some now have a button for you to press so it may not make a difference. The reason I do is because first off, I don’t want to be disturbed when I’m in the room. Secondly, it’s easier for someone to think the room is there’s if all doors look alike. If yours has the door hanger, they’ll know the room isn’t there’s unless they used it also. The downside of this is that you will need to remove it if you want the room cleaned. Some hotels will give you more points if you don’t have the room cleaned. I don’t want people seeing my things so I often will leave the door hanger on the door and skip the cleaning service regardless of whether or not I get the additional points.
Have a backup! Keep some cash, identification (or copy of it), and a credit card with your luggage. Of course, keep some with you also.
Keep medication/contacts/toiletries on you! If you take any regular medication, always keep some in your carry-on, backpack, purse, or whatever you carry with you in case your luggage is lost. A set of extra contact lenses would help as well. A comb, toothpaste and toothbrush can come in handy in airport/airplane bathrooms. Some airlines are nice enough to provide you these things. Others may only do it in first class. I also like to have earplugs that I sometimes put under my headset.
Bring Clothes, just in case – Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with lost luggage, but it never hurts to be prepared. I usually keep a shirt, pair of socks, and underwear in a ziplock bag in my backpack just in case.
Use your downtime. You can check into your hotel room well in advance nowadays with most hotels. I usually have Uber open immediately after landing. If you’re traveling for business, you can do your expense reports while waiting for a flight or in an Uber back to the hotel. It beats having to look for all of your receipts. I usually snap a photo immediately after getting it and just throw it away.
Carry a water filter bottle. I often bring my Brita bottle. If you’re not drinking bottled water, you can boil water and drink it as is. I like to use the Brita bottle because I always feel it makes my water taste a little better. Also with a straw, I drink way more water for some reason.
Keep some hand sanitizer with you! Considering that there are germs everywhere and that there’s a nasty Coronavirus around, carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer and spray it or rub some regularly. I dry out my hands every once in a while, but I fear getting sick on a trip more than anything!
Steal hotel laundry bags – for division of clean and dirty clothes, they come pretty handy. If I didn’t use some clothes, I just leave them in the bottom of the suitcase and then just use the bag on top of it and throw the dirty clothes on top of that. That way, when you get home, you could just throw the dirty clothes right into the washer and put the clean clothes away.
Steal the hotel shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc, but only if it’s good quality and you’re going to multiple cities. You never know if the hotel in the next city will have comparable ones unless you’re staying at the same hotels all the time.
What are your tips? Please share in the comments below! Thanks for reading!
I wrote this list mainly for myself, but thought maybe others could benefit from this. No matter how much experience you have traveling, I think you’ll always run into something you forget. Hopefully this list can help you minimize those things and allow you to enjoy your trip more rather than you needing to get out and get something because of an emergency.
Medicine – obvious #1 on my list. It’s not always easy to get medications, especially in foreign countries. Bring the ones you need – anything that you’re prescribed. For me, luckily, I don’t take any prescription medicines except for Montelukast (Singulair) if I have an allergy. I guess you can’t predict allergies. For that reason, I carry Loratadine (Claritin) as well. At my last doctor’s visit, he asked me to try Zyrtec instead of the combination of the two, so I will do that next time. Aside from the allergy medications, I would recommend some of the common ones. These include Tylenol or Ibuprofen, NyQuil, etc. If you need pills for motion sickness, sleep aid, caffeine, etc., you probably want to bring some of those as well. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to buy medications abroad. Some over the counter medications in the US are not sold over the counter in other countries. I was shocked to hear that Ibuprofen was considered a strong medication in another country. I also carry stomach medication just in case I eat something bad. I use the Japanese one pictured below. If you have asthma, even if you haven’t had an attack in a long time, be sure to keep an inhaler and if you use a nasal rinse, you might want to bring a bottle and some salt packets. I usually just mix mine with cold bottled water, but most hotels have water kettles to boil water.
Glasses/contacts – I recommend having an extra set of each just in case. What can you do if you can’t see?
Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, maybe a small bottle of mouthwash. Unless you’re staying in Asia, your hotel will not likely have these available for you. They may have some available for sale, but I like to carry my own.
Charging cables – you don’t want to be desperate without a cable. Do whatever you can to avoid paying the tourist price for a crappy cable. In Las Vegas, they were trying to sell generic iPhone cables for $40! Bring your own cable. I like Anker cables, but will carry super cheap cables I get off Amazon as spares as I lose cables pretty often. I also have couple of cables that charge both, my watch and phone.
Nail clipper – I cut my nails almost every week and I’ve bought countless nail clippers abroad. I think it’s good to keep one with you just in case.
Shaving Razors – I’ve also bought many of these abroad. If you’re staying in Asia, most hotels will probably provide you some disposable ones. I would recommend that you have at least one set with you.
Noise-cancelling Headphones – Bose QC35II – I don’t travel without them. I turn them on while I’m on a plane even if I’m not listening to anything just to cancel out the noise. Like a friend said, “They’re expensive, but they’re worth it.”
Humidifier – I keep a little mini humidifier with me when I travel because hotels don’t usually have them. This one works great for me.
Travel power adapter – I keep one of these even if I’m traveling domestically. I recommend you get one of those that has usb charging. I use mine for a night light and usb charging. Additionally, most plugs on airplanes are universal and they tend to stay in much better than standard U.S prongs. The one I use is this one.
Shoes/Slippers – If I’m traveling for work, I always keep a pair of sneakers in the luggage or the dress shoes in the luggage if I’m not heading for business the same day. Always have a set of sneakers or slippers just to be comfortable. I might also bring a pair of flip flops if I plan on swimming.
Extra underwear/socks – I always bring a couple of extra just in case there’s a flight delay or you get dirty for some reason, etc.
Workout clothes/Bathing suit – if you know that where you’re going will have a gym/pool, you should bring a set even if you don’t think you’ll have time to use the facilities. Many times, I’ve gone and been up at 5 am wondering what I should do. The gym is a great way to help you get over jet-lag.
WiFi hotspot – I have one of these so that I can share WiFi among my multiple devices – laptop/iPhone/iPad, but it’s becoming less and less necessary. United airplanes allow you to switch devices as you wish.
First aid kit – if you’re going to be outdoors and not staying at a nice hotel, bringing a first-aid kit with you. Your first aid kit should have things like alcohol, Neosporin, itch cream, bandages, etc.
Portable battery – I don’t usually need/use it, but I carry a portable battery with me most of the time just in case. If you get one, get one that can charge with multiple interfaces – micro-USB and iPhone if you can find it. I use this one. It’s a bit heavy, but it has a high capacity and it charges very quickly.
Laundry detergent – I’m pretty cheap, so I almost never use the hotel laundry service. If I’m staying for more than a week or so, I would look for a laundromat and do the laundry myself if laundry machines are not available in the hotel. If they are, all the better. For this reason, I usually keep a couple of detergent pods in my suitcase as well.
Hope this helps! Please tell me about some of the things you pack in the comments. 🙂
Sign up for the new credit card and get 80,000 points. (I’ll get 20,000 if you use my link.) 🙂 https://t.co/clpVkadt3B It’s well worth it. It does cost an annual fee of $85, but the 80k points will get you 2-3 nights. I think the one night per year covers the $85 annual fee. 🙂
I started using Marriott early on only because I had stayed at Courtyards multiple times for work. I’ve started to take a liking to Marriott and their bonus system. With the Marriott card, you can get 5 points per dollar spent at Marriotts, which is awesome! You get free rooms pretty quickly that way and also get lounge access pretty quickly as well.
If you’re not a member and happen to just be staying at a Marriott, I would say to sign up! The points do expire (I think after 18 months), but you can keep them pretty easily just by continuing to accrue. There are a few ways to accrue them without staying at Marriotts. One of the ways is to sign up for the credit card. Better yet, use my link above! 🙂 Another way is to shop to keep them! https://marriott.rewards.com There, just click through the site and buy anything and they’ll credit you Marriott points. That way, you’re accruing as you spend money. Something I wish I had done during the holiday season. I could’ve had at least one additional point for every dollar I spent! I’ll write another posting on maximizing your shopping points sometime soon.
One last point is to try to stay loyal to one particular brand i.e. if you’re flying United, only fly United. If you’re flying American, only fly American – it’s much easier to accrue points that way and be able to use them. If you’re staying at Marriotts and collecting Marriott points, you won’t get anything by staying at a Hilton. You will get some credit for staying at an SPG though! I’ve already linked my 2 accounts, but haven’t transferred any points yet.
Hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any other/better ideas!
Strange problem, but it seems that it was reproduced by another car other than mine, so I would expect that it will happen to a lot of others as well. There’s an intermittent problem where car will just rev and not move very quickly as if it doesn’t get into gear or something. It won’t go past 60mph or so and it’s revved very high at that speed, so you’re wasting a ton of gas. If you stop and restart the car, it’ll run fine again. It’s really frustrating as you don’t know when you’ll run into this problem and when you won’t. It will get worse and worse as time goes on. Turns out, the problem is with the battery. If you just change the battery, it’ll run just fine again! Just $50 fixes the problem!
Sushi Dai had better service as even though we did the set (omakase), we were asked if there was anything that we didn’t eat. (I don’t like octopus or uni.)
The egg in at Sushi Dai was hot and fresh where the one at Yamato was cold and looked like it sat there for a while.
At Sushi Dai, we were given the items one at a time and told what they were. At Yamato, they just kept throwing stuff in front of us making it feel rushed.
At Sushi Dai, we were offered different tastes for example, the choice between salt and soy sauce and a citrus flavored piece whereas at Yamato, they were all soy sauce flavored.
At Sushi Dai, I was able to use chopsticks to eat all of my pieces. At Yamato, my pieces kept falling apart.