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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2016 Travels Recap: A Redefining Year

What a Year of Travels!

2016 turned out to be the year where I did the most traveling and created some of my favorite travel memories.

To start off, I’ve just rebranded my blog, so welcome to the new site! 🙂 Thanks for joining me on this recap of the trips I took in 2016. Not only is this site a representation of my passion for travel, it symbolizes a refreshing start to living a more intentional life.

For the past three and a half years, I’ve been cranking away at my accounting job and getting lost in the whirlwind of attaining a “successful” life. Although I love a fast-paced and challenging environment, mid-way through 2016, I asked myself, what am I doing? View Post

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Our Stay at the Aloft Abu Dhabi

I realized, now that I’m not a broke college student anymore, that it’s hard to settle for a less than decent accommodation when traveling. Although I’m still not the type to splurge on hotels, I do value comfort and cleanliness much, much more now. Now that I’m also traveling more, it’s nice to come back to a quality hotel and not have to worry about a thang!

When searching for hotels, I’m still usually the budget friendly one, and N prefers to pay a small premium to have peace of mind that nothing weird pops up when we arrive at the hotel. With that said, we usually meet somewhere in the middle.

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Part 2: Timeless Kyoto vs. Modern Osaka

Trip date: June 24 – July 10, 2016

Part 2 of 3 will cover the second part of our trip in Japan – Osaka and Kyoto. 

After spending four days surrounded by nature’s beauty in Yakushima (see Part 1), we made our way back to civilization. The next three days were spent in Osaka and Kyoto. Because we had hotel points to stay at Crowne Plaza, we stayed at the one in Osaka since Kyoto had no availability. Hence, we took the train from Osaka to Kyoto for day trips, which takes about 30 minutes each way.

Now, every city is special in its own way. By experiencing Osaka and Kyoto, I saw two cities that starkly contrasted each other.

Related posts:

Part 1: The Beauty of Yakushima
My first time visiting Japan in 2015: What To Do: 3 Days in Tokyo
Destination planning for Japan trip in 2016: Where will we be in Japan?

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