I love the San Diego Travel & Adventure Show. My home town is one of 8 major U.S. cities visited by this popular travel expo each year. Our convention center is filled with thousands of happy people searching for their next adventure, visiting hundreds of booths seductively promoting exciting destinations and travel experiences from around the U.S. & the world.
The expo is definitely a legal form of “crack” to all us travel lovers (or is that addicts?). Besides food & cultural entertainment, the Travel & Adventure Show provides the chance to listen to a variety of travel experts giving helpful insider tips. Speakers always include celebrity “travel gurus” on the main stage – people like Rick Steves and Travel Channel host Samantha Brown.
Last year, I spent my entire Saturday at the Expo. I wanted to hear all 4 presentations by the big-name speakers – Pauline Frommer, Samantha Brown, Patricia Schultz and Peter Greenberg. All are long-time icons in the travel world and strong advocates for us travelers! All were excellent speakers, sharing great wisdom – and, of course, I took copious notes.
Unfortunately, I had to miss the San Diego travel show this year (held March 4 & 5) because I was on my Antarctica trip – so for a happy reason! In today’s post, I am sharing with you some of my favorite “words of wisdom” and travel tips from these four Travel Gurus. The information is still very current & relevant. I hope you will find some gems to help you in your own travel planning so that you can become an even savvier traveler!
(Editorial Director of The Frommer Guides & Publisher of Frommers.com)
- You always find the best things when you’re lost – including parts of the current culture.
- The US Dollar is our best travel friend – the galloping exchange rate the past few years.
- The Euro has gone from $1.45 to $1.07 (from 2012 to 2017) / (1 Euro = $1.07)
- The Canadian dollar (CAD) has gone from $1.00 to ~$1.33 / (1 USD = 1.33 CAD)
Saving Money on Airline Travel
- Cheapest days to fly – Saturdays / Tuesday / Wednesdays
- Timing is Everything! Here are some ways to save some money (from 5-24%):
- Book on a Weekend
- Book 57 days before travel for Domestic Tickets
- Book 176 days before travel to Europe
- Book 77 days before travel to the Caribbean
- Book 160 days before travel to Asia / The Pacific
- Book 144 days before travel to the Middle East / Africa
- Book 90 days before travel to Central / South America
Best Websites for Finding Good Airfares (per her survey)
- Momondo.com – the BEST!
- Kayak.com – popular site but only middle of the pack in her survey
Favorite Hotel Search Sites (they don’t sell the hotel booking)
Hotel Search Sites That Sell Bookings
- Booking.com – did the best of these sites
- Agoda – the best for Asia
- Note: Expedia owns Orbitz & Travelocity & HomeAway
- Note: Home rentals – you need travel insurance / can’t get your money back with rentals
- Highly recommends the following companies:
- Never buy travel insurance from the company you travel with – they get a kickback and may not cover as much as regular travel insurance.
- Grand Circle tour operator – has an excellent reputation but it has a “draconian” cancellation policy compared to others in the business. So, it’s important to get travel insurance.
- River Cruises have been expensive in the past. However, there are many more ships – 40 debuted in 2015. So, prices are likely to become more competitive.
- RiverCruising.com – might offer discounts
- European Cruise.com – might offer special deals to Americans
- Cruises – always book with a travel agency specializing in cruises. They get good perks and their cruise counselors are usually very knowledgeable.
(Emmy-Award Winning Investigative Reporter & Producer & CBS News Travel Editor)
Making Airline Travel Reservations
- He recommends you talk to a human being (airline reservation agent or travel agent) – after doing your research online.
- Only 51% of “available inventory” (of seats) is online.
- So, if you go back online to check on a particular fare, he recommends that you use a different computer or clear out the cookies.
- Like all of us, he resents the $7 bottled water in the room. So, he will have his cab stop at a supermarket en route to the hotel to buy cheaper water for the room!
- He says that if a hotel fails to disclose a charge (such as a mandatory bellmen tip), you don’t need to pay it.
- He recommends the night before you check out, ask the hotel for a print out of the current bill so you can check it in advance (and make any protests, if needed).
- Careful with cruises. Never buy insurance from the travel services provider themselves.
- Medical Evacuation – travelers need a policy for overseas. Read the language carefully.
- InsureMyTrip.com – the website can help with understanding the language of travel insurance.
- PJT Note: This is a very complex topic. I’ll write a future post on just this subject.
- Airline thieves (baggage handlers within the airport system) steal individual items from bags – not the whole bags. (PJT note: I agree – it has happened to some travel mates, including two different people heading to Africa that had long connection times in JFK!)
- He recommends opening your bags at the conveyor belts to make sure all is there.
- If you wait until later, it’s your word vs the airline – and you lose!
- PJT Note: It certainly may be awkward to do this in the middle of a busy baggage claim area but it’s worth a check if you have some more desirable items in the bag. Of course, any items of real value (money, jewelry, cameras, medications, etc.) should be in your carry-on bags.
Other Good Tips
- Personal Advocacy: Never take a “no” from someone who can’t give you a “yes”!!
- If you want to learn more about a place you are visiting, talk to the hotel maids and other staff that work there (for good local insights).
- It’s more important to be interested, than interesting! Have conversations with people.
(Best-selling author of “1000 Places To See Before You Die”)
General Tips/Travel Philosophy
- We should live life to its maximum – because we don’t know how long we have.
- Our knees have “expiration dates”!
- Unfortunately, some places in the world also have expiration dates.
- Sadly, Syria is an example.
- Great to have a travel wish list but we need to act on it.
- Nothing we can buy will make us as rich as travel!
- It’s the people we meet along the way we’ll remember the most. She has friends all over the world.
- Some special trips are more arduous & more expensive, but they provide really special moments! (PJT Note: My Antarctica trip is a classic example of this!)
- River cruising is really taking off.
- Viking River Cruises is not the only company anymore. They’re most well-known because of their strong advertising. Their ships have smaller rooms vs. some of the newer ships.
- Here are 3 companies that she recommends with the finest ships:
Her Travel Destination Remarks
The bulk of Patricia’s lovely slide show presentation was a photo romp around much of the world, along with insightful personal remarks on places she particularly loved. I could have listened to her speak FOR HOURS! (unfortunately, it was just one short hour).
Here’s the places she highlighted during her talk just to whet your & my appetite (I’ve visited about half the places on this list and the rest are on my travel wish list, including wanting to return to Prague):
- Paris / Norway / Denmark
- Prague (now one of the 4 most visited cities in Europe!)
- Romania / Venice / St. Petersburg, Russia
- Morocco / Ethiopia
- An African Safari (one of the top 3 travel experiences!)
- Cape Town (where Europe & Africa meet) / Israel & Palestine
(Travel Host on the Travel Channel / 15 years of travel / 64+ countries / mother of 4 yo twins!)
Internet & Travel
- 15 years ago, we barely used the Internet. It’s a whole new world now for travel!
- We can get all the info – but it’s overwhelming because there is so much.
- Leads to “Decision Fatigue” – so much research and we still can’t decide!
Advice for Women / Independent / Solo Travelers
- She loves Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree – a free forum by travelers for travelers which covers every place on the planet. Great advice, the freshest advice, often for travel going off the beaten path. (20 years & going strong).
- Matador – good advice for independent travel
- SoloTravel.org – good advice for solo travel
Her Travel Philosophy (Shared By Many, Including Me!)
- We don’t want to just visit a destination – we want to BELONG to it!
- We want to connect with local people – hear real stories and experience everyday life.
- Don’t spend all your time “in the past”– learning about the history, visiting museums.
- Just as important to understand people & their life experience now!
Her Favorite Travel Advice – Go For a Walk!
- She recommends spending 2 hours to Take A Walk!
- Wander with no expectations or plan – go where your curiosity takes you. No maps. No apps.
- No Yelp. No searching out a café or restaurant with a 4-star rating. Let your intuition guide you to finding a place to eat that looks interesting.
- Go to where the people live. Sit in their local cafes or on a park bench and take it all in.
- Once you’ve visited the tourist “must sees,” use one of the locations as a jumping off place to go explore. You could walk just 10 minutes away – off the beaten tourist track – and find a nice piazza (like in Venice) filled with locals and no tourists.
- (PJT Note: I also love this one. Of course, you always want to first check with trusted locals to make sure the areas where you’ll be wandering are safe!)
Happy & Savvy Travel Planning!
COMMENTS: Have you also attended one of the Travel & Adventure Shows? What did you love most about it? Which of the travel tips above did you particularly like or resonate with? Other travel tips you’d like to share?