Top 5 Practical Travel Tips For Your Next Trip

I’m excited to share some of my favorite practical travel tips. Since traveling can eat through your piggy bank (unless, of course, you credit card hack 😉 ), I strive to be a financially savvy traveler so that I can spend less and travel more! Although some of these tips extend beyond the scope of traveling, I’ve found that they’ve been particularly helpful during my travels. Without further ado, read on for some useful tips.

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1. Open a Charles Schwab checking account.

The best feature that Schwab offers, as it relates to traveling, is unlimited ATM fee reimbursement. Think about all the times you scrambled for extra cash and needed to trek to find your bank or had to pull out more money than you wanted to make it worth the fee. Don’t you ever worry about that no mo’ – Schwab is here.

I love their service, the easy online account management system, and a no hassle model. It was one of my better moves switching from Wells Fargo over a year ago. I even opened up an investment account with them because they’re one of the cheapest brokerages in terms of management fees.

2. Get Global Entry / TSA PreCheck.

In addition to allowing you to look like a badass marching in a separate queue past your fellow travelers, it substantially speeds up the security process.

TSA PreCheck for domestic saved my life countless of times. 30 minutes until take-off and you JUST got to the airport? All good, you will breeze through security in five minutes (sometimes depending on what airport and time of day) and can still speed walk instead of run. 😉

Especially coming back from an international trip, the last thing I want to do is stand in a long line to get onto U.S. soil. Global Entry provides a super quick check by scanning your passport, and you can maneuver through a shorter customs route.

I’d personally recommend signing up for Global Entry, which is $100 for a five-year membership and includes PreCheck (PreCheck, itself, is already $85). One thing you need to do is book an interview appointment, where they ask you a few basic questions, before you get approved. The process takes like 10 minutes. Worth it.

Credit cards (all with annual fees) that offer reimbursement of the $100 Global Entry fee:

3. Sign-up for a credit card with no foreign transaction fees.

Credit card with no foreign transaction fees coupled with your Schwab checking account? You’re a financially golden traveler. Highly recommend doing this because it will be the biggest convenience to you. Put everything on your card where ever credit cards are allowed since you’ll also earn reward points on your spend!

Credit card recommendations with no foreign transaction fees:

4. Have constant data coverage for your phone (mostly applies to international travels).

I once was that stubborn and cheap traveler who jumped onto wifi networks where ever it was offered, whether it was to pass time or out of necessity. I quickly realized what a pain it was to be internet-less and had to search for wifi, especially in desperate times.

I’m honestly saying it is worth it for the times when you need Google Maps assistance, want to call an Uber, or need to contact someone.

This past year, I switched to T-Mobile, which offers unlimited texting and 2G data coverage internationally. Albeit at a slower speed, it’s still useful to have data available. T-Mobile has improved its data network overall, and I definitely enjoy the T-Mobile Tuesday perks as well as the free Netflix membership that come with being a customer!

Besides T-Mobile, I know other networks offer international data packages. Depending on how “connected” of a person you are, you should sign-up for whatever suits your mobile mood. 🙂 $20-$40 is totally worth it to have the connection when you need it instead of taking detours to find the nearest wifi hotspot.

If you’re visiting a country for a short time, there are also options to rent a hotspot at a local electronics/telecommunications shop or to buy a prepaid SIM card with data. These typically cost about $5-$10 a day.

5. Gather and organize your important documents and trip information in one place.

This sounds like a no brainer, but sometimes, we need this reminder!

Download all your mobile boarding passes onto your phone the day before, so you don’t have to fish for it while in line.

I have a handy dandy passport holder where I store my loose papers, random tickets, boarding passes, and my Priority Pass card. Highly recommend getting a compact one.

You can take pictures of your ID and passport too in the off chance that you lose one or the other, so you can at least have access to the information.

I use my Notes app or EverNote app to keep trip notes organized. I’ve also tried trip planner apps such as Trip It and Google Trips.

6. Bonus Tip: Get a credit card with lounge access.

Obviously, credit cards play a large part in my travel hacking agenda since they have so much to offer.

A good number of credit cards that charge an annual fee include the Priority Pass lounge access as a perk. It gets you into a network of Priority Pass lounges in a ton of airports. Amex Platinum also offers access to its awesome Centurion Lounge in addition to Priority Pass.

I wouldn’t get a credit card just for its lounge access, so here are the cards that include lounge access on top of other benefits that make it worth it:

Lounge access is a big plus. I never thought I would enjoy it so much, but once you have access to a nice waiting room, comfy chairs, snacks, drinks (regular & alcoholic), and good wifi, you will never want to sit at the boring and crowded waiting area again! When you have hours to pass during a layover, go ahead and hit up a lounge to stay comfy.

Note that lounge access is subject to capacity controls, but it’s rare that you will be turned away.

Another plus is that it actually makes you arrive to the airport early. No stress before a flight is underrated.


There you have it – some of my top traveling tips! Hope you found it useful. If anyone has other practical travel tips to share, I would love to know!

 

Top 5 Travel Tips For Your Next Trip

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Life Update: From Work Hiatus to Work-Life Balance

It’s been a while, but I’m here to give a life update since the last time you heard from me (hoping this post will spark more posts to come).

As some may know, I took a hiatus from my corporate accounting job back in February. Five, merry months passed by with me trying to find my true calling (spoiler: didn’t find true calling), dedicating time to work on my blog, picking up random projects (website developing and online selling), and best of all, traveling!

Unsurprisingly, this period to myself was much needed. The decision to step away from what I’ve worked so hard to achieve – a good-paying job right out of college – felt like a daunting one. As soon as I made it though, I felt much lighter and knew it was the appropriate one to make.

During this break, I really got to indulge in my personal interests. I worked hard on establishing my blog and said yes to opportunities I wouldn’t, otherwise, have had time for. I traveled internationally and domestically with my loved ones and made time to catch up with old friends. That was what made me really happy – filling my time with things I cared about most.

Finding the right balance of work and life is an endless struggle for a lot of us. What I can say is, don’t be afraid to take a little time for yourself to figure things out. You may never truly figure everything out, but you’ll thank yourself for taking a step towards change, if you feel that it’s necessary.

With that said, I decided to give the corporate life another chance because I was ready to have this work-life balance nailed down. Luckily, it’s been working out so far with the new job. I’m continuing to develop myself professionally while equally dedicating time to my interests and self-betterment. Win-win, might I say!

If you’re in a similar rut, please share/vent/bounce off ideas with me. You will get through this though! It’s just a small bump in the long, exciting road ahead!

Done with the life rambling for now. Main updates since the last time I blogged:

  • almost five months at the new job (still a tax accountant)
  • moved to downtown LA
  • working on throwing a bunch of old stuff away and selling things on Poshmark, eBay
  • traveled to Dubai/Abu Dhabi, NYC, Seattle, Antelope Canyon/Grand Canyon, and Europe (I need to work on my posts…)
  • still have major wanderlust
  • explored more of the idea of achieving financial independence in order to travel the world and pursue personal interests (perhaps continue to work but dedicate time to enjoyable work)
Life Update

Antelope Canyon

DTLA

Life Update

Newport Beach

Life Update

Monaco!

As for my blog, I’ve been thinking about what directions I could take it, and I’m constantly striving to create awesome content. I’ll mostly focus on travel topics, but I’m brainstorming about what other topics to sprinkle on. Apologies for my major writer’s block these past couple of months, but I’m trying to get back on this horse! Stay tuned. xx

-T.

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5 Reasons to Hike Potato Chip Rock

Location: Lake Poway (Use this address: 14644 Lake Poway Rd)
Hike: Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson Trail
Distance: 7 miles
Duration: 3 to 4 hours

I’ve been wanting to hike Potato Chip Rock for a while now. Glad we were able to make this happen on a beautiful and sunny, Saturday afternoon! It provided a refreshing start to my hiatus from work.

N and I had a $200 Hilton Hotel voucher to use before it expires this weekend (yes, last minute people we are). I thought SD was close enough for a last minute getaway. Since Potato Chip Rock was on the way down, we could do the hike before spending the rest of the weekend in SD. I was also in desperate need of nature.

This hike turned out to be one of my favorite! I recommend it if you’re looking for scenery and a challenge!

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How I Make Time to Travel Frequently with a Full-Time Job

It surprises me how much people tell me, “You travel so much!”

To me, it’s not nearly enough. However, I guess I do travel more than the average person. Traveling is ingrained in me now, and I can’t get enough. It provides an outlet to explore and learn things outside of my full-time job, which can monopolize so much of my time.

As much as I lose sight of what’s important to me during the desolate times of busy seasons, my desire to travel and to explore has stayed strong, if not grown more urgent. Helps a lot too that my boyfriend (have been calling him N on here) has taken interest, or obsession rather, into the travel hacking world.

The past two years have been sprinkled with trips throughout mine and N’s down time. Within the past year, our trips have increased due to the discovery of travel hacks. Despite that, we have both said that even without the travel perks, we would still spend on traveling because it’s worth it to us. I believe that if traveling is a passion of yours, you can make it happen as long as you plan ahead and take action.

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Reusing Your (Pretty) Candle Holders

While working on my longer travel posts, I would still like to sprinkle my blog with mini posts on my daily musings. There is so much that I want to share about my trips that it’ll take a bit more time. Meanwhile, I’ll share with you what I do on my weekends with little chunks of wasteful time. 😀

So, candles. My favorite things ever. I can’t help but sniff each one as I pass by them in a store and will probably exit the store with one in my bag. There are about 8-10 candles around our apartment with varying scents. I tend to gravitate towards cool, fresh scents or anything lavender. I don’t have a big nose (ha) for sweet scents.

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