How to Learn Language Basics Before Your Holiday

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Ever arrived in a foreign country for work or play, and found that you wished you could have at least introduced yourself in the native tongue? You’re not alone!

Learning a language can be intimidating, but it’s worth it. We aren’t talking fluency, we’re just seeking to make a little effort to chat to locals and add a whole new wonderful dimension to your trip. People tend to be happy to hear someone attempting to speak their language – no matter how many mistakes you make. If you’re trying, then you will be rewarded with cool experiences and conversations. Plus, you’ll be able to ask where the toilet is without having to mime awkwardly. Everyone wins!

1- Set Reasonable Goals

Put down the grammar textbook, because the aim here is to make learning little but often and fun. Whether you have three months or three days until the flight, you can still learn enough if you are consistent. 2 hours a day might sound great, but if it doesn’t fit in your schedule then don’t push it – you’ll feel demotivated a lot faster.

As well as time goals, think about what you would reasonably like to achieve. If you only have a week, then keep it basic. Aspire to introduce yourself, to order food and to buy tickets and transport. If you have a few months, then maybe you could work towards a ten minute conversation in the target language.

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2- Select Relevant Vocab

Phrasebooks are great, but don’t waste time learning things you aren’t going to use. Make your own vocab list based on your interests and needs and learn those words, not necessarily the ones that the phrase book assumes you might need.

Imagine a conversation where you are introducing yourself. Learn the words for your nationality, your travel plans, your interests. If you don’t like a certain food, learn how to say so. If you can talk about your family dog til the cows come home, then you’d better make sure that ‘cute’ and ‘best friend’ are in your vocab list! You get the idea.

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3- Be Practical About What You Need to Learn

If you are looking for a quick fix, then ditch grammar in favour of learning phrases and sentences. Often, sentences like “where is the … “ can be reused with other nouns and will still make sense. If possible, ask someone to check.

If your target language uses a different alphabet, then you may also decide to devote your time to learning to speak rather than read. Most of the tips in this article are more geared towards being able to talk on your holiday, but factor in extra time for alphabet if that’s part of your goals.

4- Make it Fun

As well as using a variety of different resources (see next tip), taking the time to come up with clever ways of learning has been proven to really boost your ability to recall phrases in a foreign language. As a french speaker, I remember learning l’orge (barley) when I worked as a tour guide for a whisky distillery. I would visualize Shrek, the ogre, in a field of barley in order to remember the word as it sounded so different to the English. And it worked! Come up with mnemonics and your learning will stick.

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5- Use Different Resources

Phrasebook: Particularly useful in-country, but try and pick one up before you go as they will often have good suggestions for generic phrases to learn such as directions and ordering food.

Dictionary: Whether you prefer an old school paper dictionary or would rather just download one on your phone, this can be a great way to pick up words. Try setting a reminder once or twice a day to pause what you’re doing and look up the word for whatever you are doing, or for an object in the same room as you.

Flashcards: Once again, this can be paper or digital format. Take public transport to work? Flashcards. Waiting for dinner to cook? Flashcards. About to go to bed? Flashcards. The words will start to stick before you know it.

Radio: Online, you should be able to find radio channels from all over the world. Listening to the radio can be a great way to immerse yourself and get used to the way a language flows. Plus, you can listen pretty much whenever you have internet access. It can be a good way to keep your brain thinking about the target whilst still doing other things.

Youtube: There are lots of great youtubers out there who either film in your target language, or who blog about learning their language. Youtubers are great because they will often also give you cultural tips as well.

Movies: Watch Netflix with subtitles and add a few foreign language movies to your watch-list. You can learn and relax at the same time!

Apps: I’ve used Duolingo and Memrise to great effect, the former to brush up on some German before a trip to Berlin and the latter to tackle the Arabic alphabet to give myself more excuses to visit Morocco.

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6- Talk to Natives before you Go

This may seem impossible depending on where you live and the language you are learning, but it can be surprisingly straightforward to get experience of speaking and it will make a huge difference to your learning.

Have a look online for local language meetups first of all. No luck? Then the internet can help you out again. Sites such as iTalki allow you to connect with hundreds of teachers who have really reasonable prices for a skype lesson, or a language exchange if you can find someone with the complementary languages to your needs.

Now that the practicalities are sorted, you might feel that it’s going to be impossible to talk to somebody for half an hour. Perhaps it is, and that is precisely why it’s so important to get the first chat attempt out the way whilst you have internet access to hand and all of your vocab in front of you! Make good use of this time by noting down the gaps in your vocab as and when they arise, and just one or two short sessions will really boost your confidence ahead of talking the language in person.

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7- Once You Arrive

The most important thing is just to have a great time! Do not be scared in the slightest of making mistakes. It happens to us all and you are highly unlikely to really offend someone as they will know you are trying your best. I once chatted away about how lots of ready meals contained condoms. I was trying to say preservatives (conservateur in French) by saying preservatifs. It means condom in French. I figured out that mistake pretty quickly, and I’m still on good terms with the lovely French friend who corrected me. No harm done.

What do you think of these tips? Will you use any of them to learn some language basics before your next trip? Have you ever used any of them to great success? Let us know in the comments!

 

Bio: Global Language Services (http://www.globallanguageservices.co.uk/) is a Scotland-based translation and interpreting company committed to providing speedy, efficient and accurate service no matter what. Please get in touch or check out our website for more details.

How to Pack for a Destination Marathon

The post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on March 18, 2016 by TheHipmunk.

Traveling for a marathon? Great! Not only is training for and running a marathon its own reward, but choosing to attend a destination race is a great excuse to travel to new places.

There’s just one caveat: It can be easy to let pre-race jitters cause you to lose focus and forget critical gear. If you want to avoid feeling unprepared at the starting line, simply refer to this handy checklist whenever you’re preparing for a non-local race.

In addition to your usual running staples—including (but certainly not limited to) running shoes, a fuel belt, a GPS watch, hair ties or a headband, and so on—here’s what to keep in mind when packing for a destination marathon.

Squeeze it All in a Carry-On

You know the panic that sets in upon arriving at baggage claim and realizing your bag has been lost? Imagine how much worse it is when said bag contained your running shoes and marathon gear. Avoid this agony by packing everything into a carry-on. If you must check a bag with extra clothing and accessories, at the very least make sure that your race-day essentials stay with you at all times.

Pack Layers

No matter where you’re going, it’s smart to pack for all kinds of weather. Temperatures can swing wildly between the start of a race and its end, particularly when you’re starting out early in the morning or running at high elevations. And then, of course, there’s the ever-present risk of rain, wind, intense sun, and freak weather events. Prepare for it all by bringing along a variety of layers, a running hat, gloves, sunglasses, a racing jacket and tights, and so on. This is particularly important if you’re traveling to a climate that’s different from the one in which you’ve trained (say, from New York to Colorado or from Australia to NYC). Since your body won’t be adjusted to that climate, weather changes may feel more extreme. It’s important to have the right apparel on hand so you can be as comfortable as possible. While you’re at it, go ahead and pack a back-up base outfit for race day—that way you’ll be covered in case anything gets wet or ripped.

Dress to Compress

Regardless of whether you’re traveling via air or car, it’s a smart idea to wear compression socks during the trip. Doing so will help reduce swelling and prevent blood from pooling in your lower legs while you sit for extended time periods. (For the same reason, it’s also a good idea to stand up and walk around at least once every hour.) Helping your blood circulate properly in transit will ensure that your legs don’t feel like deadweights on race day.

Pack Healthy Snacks

Rest stops and airplanes aren’t exactly known for their healthy fare. If you’re concerned about pre-race nutrition (and you probably should be), it’s a good idea tobring along your own healthy snacks to consume in transit. Also pack your own energy gels and other snacks if you’re wedded to particular brands—if you’re traveling across state or country lines, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to find your favorite brand(s) once you reach your destination. And remember to bring along a water bottle—staying hydrated is critical if you want to feel energized on race day.

Be Kind to Your Skin

Marathons require runners to physically exert themselves outside for multiple hours—so it’s important to pack some sunscreen. Not only will it keep your skin healthier, but it will also spare you from having to add “sunburn” to your list of aches and pains the day after the race. Many runners also swear by Body Glide as a means of reducing skin friction during the race and minimizing pain and discomfort after it.

Stock a Post-Race Recovery Kit

While it’s most critical to pack essentials for the actual marathon, it’s also important to think about what you’ll need once the race is done. Put together a post-race kit that includes flip flops (or other comfy shoes), clean socks, an extra outfit, warm layers, snacks, face wipes and/or a towel, and a first aid kit.

Consider Entertainment

Before traveling, put together a playlist(s) that you can listen to both during your travels and before or during your race. Listening to music or podcasts is a great way to pass the time while you’re traveling and soothe any jitters leading up to the race.

Utilize Plastic Bags

Given all the gels and fluids that most marathoners are wont to carry with them, it’s a good idea to make plastic bags your new best friend for the duration of your trip. Store your cell phone in a sandwich bag, and bring along a few extras in case that one is the victim of exploding energy gels. It’s also a good idea to pack your post-race clothes in gallon-size Ziplocs—then, come race day, you can look forward to changing into a dry pair of clothes no matter the weather.

Plan to Recharge

These days, many runners choose to use a Garmin, GPS watch, iPod, smartphone, or other technological accoutrement while running. If you’re in this camp, then it’s important to remember to pack the respective chargers for all of this gear. If you’re traveling abroad, keep in mind that power sources and plugs will probably be different than in the US—stock up on adaptors prior to leaving the country.

Bring the Right Paperwork

If you’ve been issued a race form, waiver, bib, and/or chip in advance of the race, remember to stash these in your carry-on. You may also want to bring along proof of time (if you’re hoping to move up in the corrals), pace charts, and your travel itinerary. If you’re traveling internationally, don’t forget your passport and any necessary visas.

Once you’ve accounted for everything on this list, it’s time to sit back, breathe, and rest easy. You’ll have everything you need for your race. Now all you need to focus on is getting across the finish line.

Start Planning Your Marathon Travel

 

Generation Gap: What Your Age Says About How You Travel

The post below was originally published on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on March 9, 2016.

By Hipmunk Staff

For the third year in a row, we polled US travelers of all ages to find out more about the travel habits and trends of the coveted millennials as well as gen Xers and boomers. Last year, we reported that millennial travelers were “cheap, plugged in and always looking for pleasure“. Guess what, not much has changed.

Always-connected, highly-mobile millennials are forging new norms for leisure and business travel, making technology, in-the-know experiences, and adrenaline-rush adventures—not cookie-cutter vacation packages—some of the most striking hallmarks of the way they explore and enjoy their world.

When they do hit the road, millennials see themselves as explorers, not tourists. They disproportionately favor vacation rentals over hotels, cities over beaches, and grab travel opportunities whenever they can, such as topping off business trips with leisure travel.

Hipmunk is built by and for younger travelers, and we understand their travel patterns better than anyone else.  Our site and app attract people who are younger, on average, than other big online travel brands. Here are five key takeaways from this year’s study.

1) Mix Business With Pleasure, Please!

Millennials do more business travel than any other age group, and they take advantage while they can:

  • They work on the road. 38% of millennials travel for business, while just 23% of Gen Xers and 8% of boomers say they do.
  • And will do so even more. 80% are going to travel more for work in 2016 than 2015 (compared to 60% and 45% of Gen Xers and boomers respectively)
  • They stay in vacation rentals. Seventy-four percent of millennials have stayed at a vacation rental (such as those available through Airbnb) on a business trip, an experience shared by just 38% of Gen Xers and 20% of boomers.
  • They perfected bleisure. 81% will probably add extra time to a business trip (compared to 56% and 46% of Gen Xers and boomers respectively).

Millennials already dominate business travel, and they’re doing it in a different way than the previous generation. ‘Bleisure’ may sound like a contagious disease, but it’s a real phenomenon, and millennials are making vacation rentals a viable option for their business trips.

2) Cut the Cord, But Not the Tube

Millennials’ astute use of the Internet and social connectivity informs their travel preparation, and how they live when they’re on the road. They edge out other generations in their desire to be connected. This generation is connected 24-7, and that’s clear in the way they treat every stage of their travel.

  • They’re savvy with travel tricks and tools. One-half of millennials say they’re “travel hackers”, meaning they know all of the best sites and methods to get the best travel deals, while just 26% of Gen Xers and 12% of boomers share that sentiment.
  • They stay connected always, in all ways: Whether flying for business or pleasure, Wi-Fi is the coveted in-flight amenity (41% and 46% of millennials says it’s the most important amenity for leisure and business travel respectively, topping entertainment systems or premium economy). Fast, free Wi-Fi is the favorite hotel perk for leisure travel (cited by 28% of millennial respondents). And fully one in ten say Wi-Fi trouble is their worst travel nightmare, topping extreme turbulence, lost luggage or an emergency landing.
  • They get travel ideas from social media. Forty-four percent of millennials get travel inspiration from YouTube videos and 28% from Instagram.  While just 18% of Gen Xers and 6% of boomers turn to YouTube, and 7% and 1% of Gen Xers and boomers to Instagram respectively.
3) Skip the Agony (and the security line)

Millennials will go the extra mile – or pay a little more – to remove friction points that make travel frustrating.

  • They’re more likely to use pre-check services like TSA/Clear: 31% of millennials say they’ll do so this year, vs. 24% of Gen Xers and 23% of boomers.
  • They’d like to avoid the agony of a crying baby in flight. Half say they’d be willing to pay more for a child-free flight.
4) Bye-Bye Beach, Hello Bucket List!

The younger the traveler, the more likely he or she eschews the label of “tourist” when on the road, suggesting younger generations want to experience different cultures authentically, not just to observe them.  The study found that 38% of millennials surveyed consider themselves to be explorers rather than tourists, compared to 30% of Gen Xers and 24% of boomers.

And this year, millennials say they are planning monumental, remember-it-forever travel.

  • They’re ready for a big adventure. 65% of millennials claim they are checking something off their bucket list this year, compared to just 35% and 21% of Gen Xers and boomers respectively.
  • They crave nature. While beach vacations and theme parks remain popular destinations across generations (37% of all respondents say they’ll head to the shore this year and 23% to Disneyland and its ilk), millennials seek out outdoor and activity-based trips more frequently.
    • Thirty-four percent of millennials will enjoy Mother Nature’s company (e.g. camping or hiking), while only 27% and 16% of Gen Xers and boomers respectively will join them. And nearly one-in-five millennials (18%) will indulge in adventure sports like skydiving or snowboarding, a risk just 6% of Gen Xers and 1% of boomers plan to take.
  • They’re ready to go anywhere, anytime. 75% have a valid passport from the United States and/or another country vs. 49% of Gen Xers and 40% of boomers.
  • They cross the border. Sixty percent of millennials will take a vacation outside the United States this year, while just 33% of Gen Xers and 17% of boomers will go to another country.
5) 2016 Year of the Travel Optimist (and Airbnb)

This may well be the year of the travel optimist as more people report they plan to take their vacation days. Fifty-four percent of all generations say they are planning on traveling more this year than in 2015.  That percent hits a whopping 72 percent among just the millennial respondents, compared to 59% of Gen Xers and 40% of boomers.

It’s been widely reported that Americans don’t take enough vacation, and the Hipmunk survey confirmed that 30% of all people say they took no leisure trips last year. Nevertheless, 82% of millennials took time off for fun. Some seemed to have nothing but fun: 7% of millennials took 10+ leisure trips last year, compared to just 3% of the general population.

Millennials also lead the way in preferring vacation rentals over hotels. Forty-four percent of that generation would rather bunk down Airbnb-style on their leisure trips than drop anchor at a hotel; only 23% of Gen Xers and 11% of boomers agree. This preference extends to business travel.

These trends suggest that vacation rentals could eventually surpass hotel bookings amongst this age group, for both business and pleasure.

Survey Methodology: The survey was conducted on Hipmunk’s behalf by Market Cube between February 5 and 9, among 1650 adults (22% of respondents were aged 18 to 34)

The Best Apps for Productivity Across Time Zones

For many folks, travel is a way to escape from the daily grind, relax, and gain some much-needed rejuvenation. But for the world’s more than 480 million business travelers, travel too often involves worrying about missed emails, dropped expense reports, or scheduling meetings or keeping a project on track from across different time zones.

It can be tough to get work done far away from the office, but that’s where each of these apps comes in. Every entry on this list meets a specific need of the modern business traveler. Taken together, they offer business travelers a maximum-productivity package that will help ensure you’re able to get work done pretty much anywhere.

Asana

Asana is perfect for anyone who needs to tackle collaborative projects with a remote team. It’s developed by one of the co-founders of Facebook, and it’s just as on-trend as the behemoth social media platform. The app lets you lay out the steps necessary to complete a project, assign each task to a collaborator, track the project’s progress, and communicate with other team members—all without being in the same room or worrying about scheduling a phone call across time zones.

CamCard

Perfect for trips on which you anticipate doing lots of networking, CamCard allows you to digitally store business cards and contact information for new prospects or collaborators. So there’ll be no more panicking when you get home and realize you lost that potential new client’s contact info en route.

Docusign

For the executive on the go: Docusign makes it easy to digitally execute contracts, manage transactions, and issue legally binding electronic signatures across mobile devices. The service prides itself on being usable from virtually anywhere in the world (it’s already in use in 43 languages and 188 countries), and it’s secure as it is functional.

Dropbox

No matter where you are in the world, you can access all of your files from Dropbox. If you know you’ll need access to certain documents while traveling, simply upload them to the service ahead of your trip. Then you’ll be able to access them from any device, at any time. (It sure beats having to wait several hours until a coworker wakes up and can email you the documents you need.) You can also easily share files with simple links.

Expensify

Never worry about processing expense reports on the go again. Expensify allows users to quickly import card transactions, add cash expenses, record billable expenses, auto-categorize expenses, create custom invoices, ditch paper receipts, issue reimbursements, and more—and it will do it all while supporting more than 160 currencies and international taxes.

HipChat

For those times when you need to communicate with your team in real-time (but you’re in, say, Bangkok while the rest of your team is in NYC), turn to HipChat. The app offers a group chat service that’s available on desktops, tablets, or smartphones. The app will also deliver messages to your phone even when you’re signed off, so that you and your teammates will be able to reach each other at any time should a pressing issue arise.

Hipmunk

Sure, we’re shamelessly self-promoting. But it’s only because we think we’ve made the best travel app on the market. Hipmunk’s app eliminates wasted time in the planning stages of a trip by finding the best hotel and flight deals, providing free flight fare alerts, and offering instant booking. Business travelers can also use the app to coordinate group travel. Leave the trip planning to us so you can get back to work.

World Time Buddy

World Time Buddy is a world clock, time zone converter, and online meeting scheduler all in one convenient app. Need to plan a conference call with someone inSan Francisco while you’re in Dublin? Skip the math and simply plug in what time zone you’re in, what time zone they’re in, and bada boom: The app will provide you with a selection of compatible meeting times. The app also tracks market hours.

XE Currency

If your business travels take you to multiple countries in one go and you need to calculate currencies in a hurry, then XE Currency has you covered. The app allows users to view historical charts and current exchange rates and calculate prices from a mobile device. You can also create customized comparison charts for prices anywhere in the world.

The only downside to these apps? They’ll limit your excuses for not getting work done during your travels. Welcome to the great big mobile world!

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on February 18, 2016.

How To Make Hotel Wi-Fi Work For You

Adventures are exciting. When you’re in a new place, all the impressions are exciting and refreshing. At the end of the day, however, when it’s time to unwind, it can be necessary to recharge your batteries. Part of recharging in the modern era includes checking your email, social media, and the news. You need to catch up with friends and family, and also on work emails. Away from home, you’re already out of your comfort zone, but at least you have your devices with you.

Fortunately, in 2015, almost all hotels have internet — but unfortunately, many hotels still charge for Wi-Fi. How can this be? The United Nations declared already in 2011 that internet access is a basic human right. In this article, we will discuss how to hook up to Wi-Fi for free as often as possible, no matter where you are.

1. Consider Hotel Price Class

While some of the most expensive hotels charge for Wi-Fi, while some of the most basic hotels — read: cheapest hotels — offer it for free. But the world is a complicated place.

The logic generally seems to be that if a customer is already paying $300 to stay one night in New York, why wouldn’t they pay a few more bucks just to get online? On the other hand, budget hotels, where customers are known not to have a lot of money to spare, often don’t charge for Wi-Fi access. That might drive potential customers away. There are exceptions to this pattern, but popular options like Best Western can usually be relied upon for immediate gratification without any sneaky charges. Other basic hotels with free Wi-Fi include Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn, Econo Lodge, Holiday Inn Express, La Quinta, and Rodeway Inn.

 

Not all luxury hotels, however, charge for Wi-Fi. Especially among those catering to the younger, hipper crowd, Wi-Fi is known to be a necessity, not a luxury, and that’s reflected in the hotels’ values and pricing. In New York, a stay at the Ace Hotelincludes complimentary Wi-Fi; in San Francisco, the Sir Francis Drake Hotel on Union Square does the same.

 

2. Know the Loyalty Programs

The Sir Francis Drake Hotel is a member of the Kimpton family of hotels and restaurants, which offers rewards to its customers. If you want to stay in a luxury hotel, but you find out Wi-Fi is not provided free of charge at that property, consider joining the hotel’s loyalty program. For example, loyalty programs with the aforementioned Kimpton family, Fairmont, Joie de Vivre, the Wyndham hotel group, Club Carlson, or IHG Rewards all offer free Wi-Fi to members on their properties. On a slightly more exclusive scale are the programs for Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, and other hotel chains. These offer free Wi-Fi as rewards for numbers of stays to elite members. It can take some time to acquire the benefits — 50 nights for Marriott Gold members, for example — but their rewards are luxurious and available in many cities, from Las Vegas to Copenhagen.

 

3. Take Credit

Another way to access benefits from top brand hotels is to sign up for a credit card with them. The Ritz-Carlton rewards card from Chase comes with free Gold status with Ritz-Carlton during your first year of membership. These benefits include an increase in value by 25 percent on rewards points, complimentary room upgrades, and hotel credits in addition to free in-room internet. You can also earn travel credit and other membership benefits.

With the American Express Platinum Card or Business Card, you can get Gold status at Starwood hotels. Other benefits the American Express Platinum card offers include an additional 40,000 points upon sign up, airport lounge access, airline credit, priority airport screening in certain locations if you are qualified and accepted to select programs, airline ticket savings, and access to unlimited Wi-Fi at over a million hotspots internationally. Knowing potential credit card benefits and utilizing their assets can add up to a lot more than just deals on gas and groceries. You can even use these benefits to streamline a globetrotting life.

4. Look Other Places

No matter where you are and your level of familiarity with your destination, with a few simple tricks, you can almost always find an internet connection. No one wants to get stuck paying for Wi-Fi in the comfort of their own hotel room. Also keep in mind that if you’re rushing to your hotel in Las Vegas, you can usually stop at a cafe, restaurant, or library to access internet for free. As Wi-Fi is increasingly viewed as a common good and social necessity, you’ll soon be able to engage your platforms from wherever you find yourself — whether you anticipated the destination or not.

One of the most exciting parts of living in this era is the spontaneity of everyday life. When you know how to find Wi-Fi hotspots, you can make anywhere your base for as long as you end up staying there. Familiarizing yourself with local cultures and trying specialties, whether it’s barbecue in Memphis or a European duvet in Venice, during downtime is all part of the adventure.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on January 14, 2016.

How to Stay Comfortable on the World’s Longest Flights

Emirates Airline recently announced the creation of the world’s longest direct flight, a daunting 17.5 hour trip that will fly from Dubai to Panama City starting February 1st. That long flight time might sound daunting, especially when seated in economy. But a little effort and attention can go a long way in taking a flight from unbearable to relaxing, whether travelers are braving the new route from Dubai to Panama City, or just looking to make a transatlantic or transpacific flight more comfortable. Here’s a step by step guide for making the most of a long plane trip.

Step 1: Choosing a Seat

First of all, try to avoid economy if at all possible. The seats, the food, and the amenities will all improve, as will the enjoyment factor of the trip. If booking a ticket in first class or business class just isn’t budget-friendly, consider using miles to upgrade. To make the next trip easier and start earning miles for the future, enroll in the airline’s frequent flier program or search out credit cards with airline-redeemable points.

If economy is unavoidable, however, the seat can make all the difference. There are a wide variety of websites where travelers can view seating plans based on flights and carriers, such as SeatGuru, SeatExpert, SeatMaestro, and SeatPlans. Think carefully about what type of seat you want. No one likes the middle seat of course, but also there are other things to keep in mind as well.. Certain travelers may prefer the aisle seat if they like to get up and stretch or use the bathroom frequently, whereas the window seat may be preferable for those trying to sleep on night time flights. To avoid engine noise, try to stay close to the front of the plane.

There may even be some possible seating improvements at the airport itself. Check with the desk attendant at the gate to see if there’s an empty row or set of seats on the plane that could provide more stretching room. Be sure to scope out the seats on the plane itself as well in case someone has missed their flight and there’s a better seat open.

Step 2: Packing the Carry-on

Think of a carry-on bag as the toolbox for hacking a long flight. Packing smart can elevate a trip from boring and uncomfortable to productive and relaxing. Here’s a checklist for the essentials.

  • Before leaving, make sure all devices are charged and loaded with movies, books, and music. It’s best not to rely on a functioning entertainment system on board the plane.
  • Pack things that will help with sleep, such as an eye mask, ear plugs, or sleeping pills. Think twice about cumbersome items like neck pillows unless they’re inflatable.
  • For snacks, bring foods that are high in protein and fiber, since those are often lacking in airline meals. It’s also helpful to treat yourself to something nice on a long flight, so
  • A blanket and a good pair of socks to wear instead of shoes on the plane will make the trip much more comfortable.
  • For the all-important TSA liquid allowance, bring the essentials to stay moisturized and hydrated, such as a facial spritz, moisturizer, lip balm, and nasal spray.
  • Hand sanitizer is also a must on flights to kill bacteria and prevent colds that might be picked up from seatmates.
  • Deodorant, toothpaste, and a toothbrush can also refresh and revitalize travelers on a long journey.

Step 3: Settling In

First things first: do some seat-side carry-on rearranging. Take out the essentials (headphones, liquids, reading material or devices, socks) and put them in a smaller tote bag or nylon bag to put under the seat. Leave the rest in the carry-on and stow it away. This will allow for much more legroom and better sleep, and the rest of the supplies will still be accessible once the flight begins.

Airplanes can be very cold, so take off your shoes and replace them with a comfy pair of socks. This will also help simulate bed conditions for a restful sleep. Remember to put shoes back on for trips to the bathroom though!

If the flight will cross time zones, the wait for take-off is a great time to set all watches and devices to the destination’s time to help combat jet lag on arrival.

Step 4: Passing the Time

Now for the flight itself. If it’s an overnight trip, try to get to sleep at what would be a normal hour in the arrival timezone to avoid being groggy on landing. For a daytime flight, many travelers find it helpful to break up a long trip into smaller, more manageable chunks.  Set a phone or watch alarm to go off at hour or two hour intervals and use those benchmarks to divide the trip. This can make a trip both more productive and keep travelers healthy. When the alarm goes off, take the opportunity to get up and do some stretching, which can prevent stiffness and more serious conditions brought on by long flights. Try twisting, folding over, and rolling the head and neck to stay limber. If there’s work to be done, schedule it for the beginning of the flight, and make time for movies, naps, games, or reading later on.

Not to spoil the party, but it’s best to lay off the alcohol and caffeine on long flights. They’re both dehydrating, and the plane is doing enough of that on its own. Stick to water or drinks with electrolytes, such as Gatorade or coconut water. Remember that hand sanitizer as well — those tray tables probably aren’t cleaned with regularity. Armed with the right resources and tools, even 17.5 hours can become bearable. Sit back, relax, and find a little enjoyment between takeoff and landing.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on November 10, 2015.

A definitive guide to outlets around the world and how to use adapters without frying your electronics

These days, most of us want to travel with our electrical gadgets, whether that be a cell phone, tablet or similar mobile device, laptop, camera, music player or hairdryer. But not using the right power adapter when you are traveling can be worse than an inconvenience–it can damage equipment and lead to electrical failures. What’s more, it can be hard to find the adapter you need in some parts of the world, so it’s always best to travel prepared.

While most modern electronics are able to take 220 or 110 volt (V) power, many devices still need adapters even if you don’t have to convert the voltage. An adapter will allow you to connect to the power supply for the country you are in.

Whether you are staying in the fanciest hotels in New York or the best Las Vegas hotels, it’s always worth asking, as they may be able to offer you advice or lend you an adapter–find out before you travel.

And while many hotels provide some of the actual gadgets you may need, not all will. Most cheap hotels in London, for example, won’t be able to supply hair dryers in rooms or computers in a business center. (Though they may have one if you ask.) Therefore, it’s important to understand the various types of power adapterson the market as you travel, and be able to read the voltages labels on your gadgets so you choose the right equipment you need.

Reading Power Labels Properly

You can find information regarding your gadget’s power supply requirements on a label stuck to the back of it, on the plug or on the transformer box. The input will mostly be AC100-240 V 50-60Hz 14W with an output of DC 1.2V 23A. The input line reveals whether a gadget is single, dual or multi-voltage.

In the U.S., power supplies use between 110 and 120 V; in Europe it’s more likely to be between 220 and 240 V. Other parts of the world will have other variations. Again, check before you travel.

Power adapters are usually 110-120 V to 220-240 V or 220-240 V to 110-120 V. They convert incoming voltage into an output your gadget can operate on. But in addition to the right power adapter, you will need the right plug adapter as well, as follows:

  • The UK standard has three rectangular pins in a triangle.
  • The EU standard has two circular prongs.
  • The U.S. standard has two parallel prongs of different sizes.

Some countries will be different, and, again, some may use different plug types for varying devices.

Finally, consider a universal adapter, which combines a power adapter with a plug that fits into varying socket types. (Expect to pay more for these, however.)

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on September 10, 2015