Travel Tuesday

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m ready for a break from my dang life. 2019 has been off to a rough start, and traveling serves as a release valve for stress. Even the planning phase is a source of joy as I scour the internet for plane deals, then, once a destination is selected, I spend hours reading through other people’s trip reports and building maps with my chosen itinerary. Let’s talk travel tips and dream of exotic locales!

There are a couple of apps for searching and tracking flights, specifically Hopper and Fareness. I use those for inspiration but would never book through them. Really you want to be looking through Google Flights – especially if your dates are open, because the fare calendar is great. The explore feature is also wonderful, you can move the map around to see fares in different regions.

Right before I book a flight, I check out hotels on booking.com as well as airbnbs to make sure I can even afford to sleep somewhere. I’m a little surprised booking.com hasn’t banned me for canceling rooms so often – I’ve actually found that checking a hotel’s website directly usually results in a lower price, but the trade off is less flexibility for free cancellation.

The absolute best tool for planning what to do in a specific place is the travel subreddit for that country or city, if one exists. r/VisitingIceland and r/JapanTravel are two excellent examples. Start reading through posts, then use the search function to look for people’s itineraries and trip reports. I have learned about things to do and see that I never would have found otherwise – think hidden waterfalls and indigo dyeing classes.

Right now I’m eyeing flights to Copenhagen (pictured above) because they have some good deals over the next two months, and it’s an easy jaunt over to Sweden for a day trip in Malmö.

What are your travel tips? Travel dreams? Tell us about your best trips, tales of things gone wrong, plane snacks, etc.!

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21 Responses to Travel Tuesday

  1. hotspur says:

    I got invited to a wedding in Pittsburgh. Does that count as travel? I can’t decide if I should go. It’s a fat stack of cash, which at the moment is limited, plus time off work, both of which might be more sensibly spent on a weirder adventure than attending a wedding. Plus, while I want to support my friend and she might be hurt if I ditch, I also realize/rationalize that I won’t actually see much of her, because she’ll be at her wedding. What to do, what to do…

    • Tracey says:

      You probably won’t get to talk to her for more than 10 minutes total. Would you have other friends at the wedding or in town to hang out with? I think any reasonable person would understand that it’s hard for people to allocate resources to out-of-town weddings, and generally people seem happy just to get a gift. Also, in my experience, weddings are often the last time I see a friend because we grow apart once they start their new life. If not weddings, then definitely baby showers.

      • hotspur says:

        She moved away from LA about 6-8 years ago and kept inviting me to visit her in her new, remotely located state. I was broke and never went, and by the time I wasn’t broke, she was more settled in and didn’t need the visit as much and I still didn’t go. But I think also I damaged the friendship by not going? Now she visits LA once a year or so and I have been shifted from a friend she needs to see for a serious night out to a friend she meets for lunch? I’m not sure. I still think she’s cool. But it might be smarter to wait till 2020 and then fly to visit her (and her husband) during a non-wedding time. Possible worthwhile side note: She is a very good party host and this is her 3rd wedding, so I suspect it will be less churchy white dress and more “Hey, we’re hanging out but also getting married.”

        • taoreader says:

          This is a tough one. Not really a right or wrong answer in terms of seeing her now or in 2020. Would you rather have a fun party wedding time? Or one-on-one time with her later? Can you ask her which she would rather have you do? Maybe the wedding is a big deal to her in terms of you attending, maybe it’s not. I think she’d understand either way.

          I rather like Pittsburgh. I went to college not too far from there. Maybe you could go to the wedding *and* have a weird adventure the next day?

  2. nastyemu says:

    After wasting an annoying couple of hours trying to get a sim card to activate in Germany a few years ago, I got a Google Fi sim for international travel. It works pretty much everywhere, costs about the same as most prepaid sim plans, and you have a working phone as soon as you land without ever having to deal with topping up or activating while you’re traveling.

    We’re going to New Orleans on Thursday and Italy in September. I haven’t gotten any work done this week.

    • Tracey says:

      Oh wow, I never heard of that option! I just started doing the local SIM card last year and it worked great for navigating Iceland roads and Japanese public transport, but I’ll look into Google Fi.

      New Orleans looks so fun! Where in Italy?

      • nastyemu says:

        Fi makes the most sense on longer trips or when you’re going to multiple countries that would require multiple sims, but I use it for everything now just because I like not having to deal with any phone issues when I’m in a foreign country.

        We’ll be spending several days each in and around Rome, Florence and Siena in Tuscany, Sorrento/Amalfi coast, and Naples. Two weeks total. I’m gonna eat all the food and drink all the wine.

  3. welcometocostcoiloveyou says:

    Traveling is a great source of stress for me because of my OCD. I do have a few destinations I would like to see though.

    Far: Iceland, Italy, London
    Not as far: North Carolina, Austin

  4. taoreader says:

    I’ll take this opportunity to say that when I was in Prague and Budapest last year, I was surprised by how AMAZING the food is in Budapest. Everyone I’ve talked to who has been there agrees. Every single meal was superb. The train station looks like it’s still the cold war in 1980, with gray walls and weary staff, but the food, man. And the gorgeous bath houses.

    There are still some national parks I’ve never been to, including Yosemite. I’d also like to see Montana and the Dakotas.

    Internationally, I’d like to go to South Africa as long as I can avoid any weird vaccines or malaria pills. Every year I think I’m going to Iceland and I still haven’t made it. Amsterdam. Stockholm. Copenhagen too!

    Viet Nam one day, I hope.

  5. Tracey says:

    I booked a flight to Denmark returning with a one-day layover in Helsinki! I also have a job offer! It would be a pay cut but a good job, and my current job is not secure, so I have some hard thinking to do.

    Very sad news today about WOW airlines going bust and stranding passengers worldwide. It sucks that these long-haul low fare ventures are failing. I decided to pay more for my flight and do layovers just to use a legacy carrier instead of the super cheap, direct flights on Norwegian Air just out of caution.

    • Sergeant Tibbs says:

      My cousin and I traveled to Copenhagen last summer on Wow and we are pinching ourselves now. Can’t imagine having to rebook flights in that situation!

      We went to Copenhagen, then took a train over to Malmo. I highly recommended both! On our first night in Denmark, we took a short city train to Mikkelborg (a suburb) and stayed in an Airbnb with a very nice family in a beautiful house that really had the hygge style down. . Then we took another train to Malmo and a town bus out to the countryside and stayed in a little Airbnb cottage outside of Malmo, surrounded by farms. We had to climb a ladder to a loft, which was very fun for one night exactly and the whole cottage looked like it was outfitted and built by Ikea.

      If you’re into small adventures, then I recommend staying outside of the downtown or touristy areas. My tip is to look up Airbnb’s that say you can get to them by bus or train. Inevitably, the public transit will be way better than anything in the US so this is pretty reliable and will get you out to interesting areas not in tour books. I’d recommend a backpack if you’re doing this. I…forgot on this trip and would have preferred some sprightly walking through the countryside instead of dragging my carry-on down the road.

      We of course stayed a bit in Copenhagen and explored downtown Malmo, ate lots of fish based smorrebrod (open-faced sandwiches), and all the pastries. My other budget travel trip is to get food from the cheap sandwich shops or Natto grocery store and have picnic lunches at the parks and then spend money on fancy dinners. You’ll get good eats and people watching at the same time!

      I have lots of specific recommendations if you want more. It was a great trip, you’ll love it!

      And congratulations on the job offer! Sounds like a tough decision, but it’s always nice to know there’s another option available 🙂

  6. Sergeant Tibbs says:

    I just realized this week that I’m an adult with a tiny disposable income finally and paid time off! (Before, I was a semi adult grad student with travel dreams). So anyway, I decided I’m going to plan a trip somewhere that doesn’t involve visiting family. I want to see South Korea, Japan, Iceland, Vancouver (that’s the same as seeing a whole country, I guess), Nova Scotia, Southern California. Tell me where I should go!

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