Trick: England is known to be on the pricey side as the pound nearly doubles the U.S. Dollar. If you’re crossing the pond for the holidays, I hope you shopped well in advance for airline tickets and hotels. With that being said, make sure you’re leveraging your travel rewards to maximize your travel spending. For instance, Venture Card from Capital One enables cardholders to redeem their miles on any travel-related expense, which can be crucial for curbing those outrageous, last minute costs.
Trick: Don’t be offended when no one says ‘thank you’, ‘you’re welcome’, ‘please’, or ‘excuse me’ back to you. Just chalk it up to cultural differences. Also, dress warmly. Even during summer.
Trick: Danish weather can be frightful or fantastic – and usually everything in between. Be prepared for all seasons in one day. All before lunchtime. As the Danes say, there’s no such thing as bad weather…just the wrong clothing. Also, rent a Go Bike. Nothing will allow better exploration of this particular city.
Trick: Sweden has its own currency, so expect to pay more due to this very reason. Traveling during off-peak times can help curb the costs.
Trick: Learn how to say “Thank You Very Much” in all four official Swiss languages: Merci Vilmau (Swiss German), Merci Beaucoup (French), Grazie Mille (Italian), Gratscha Fitg (Romansh). Also, buy a Swiss Travel Pass as you’ll have unlimited access on the network of trains during your allotted days.
Trick: This is a general tip for any foreign country, but try to learn a little bit of the language before traveling. A few rusty words in French is better than perfect English. The French take pride in their language so go the extra mile – many French people will then come to your rescue in English.
Trick: Don’t forget to pay and print out your reciprocity fee before heading to the airport. It may sound like a no-brainer, but I know many people who have showed up to check-in and missed their flight because they didn’t have it.
Trick: Get your hands on some coca leaves. Peru is located at high elevations and many travelers become ill with altitude sickness. Coca leaves are known to cure the sickness, so dunk some in hot water to make coca tea. It works. I can tell you from experience!
Trick: If there’s a location you desperately want to go visit, like how I was dying to go to a hotel opening in Rio de Janeiro this year, consider using travel rewards – like the Venture Card from Capital One. Cardholders receive double miles on every purchase.
Trick: Ecuador is a small country and easily traversed. You’ll want to do some exploring here, so pack light. Try to include pieces that can be worn again to save space.
Trick: There’s always an adventure close by. Valparaíso is an hour drive away from Santiago. Snow skiing too. Vineyards as well. That’s coastline, mountains and wine all in a day’s work. I’d also suggest seeing everything from the Atacama Desert up north to Patagonia down south. Say hello to the land of extremes.
Trick: You’ll need a visa in order to gain entry into Bolivia, however, you must be ready to present all necessary documents to do so. Have a hard copy of your hotel reservations and outgoing flight arrangements in hand.
Trick: Cuba is a cash-only nation. Crazy, I know, but make sure to bring plenty of dollars to exchange into local currency for the rum and cigars you’ll most likely buy. Only $100 worth of tobacco products is allowed to be brought into the U.S., so don’t go promising Cubans to all your brothers, boyfriends, dad and uncles. Pick and choose!
Trip: St. John
Trick: Out of the 7,000 acres that make up St. John, a good majority is considered National Park land. Numerous beaches exist on the island, but many become crowded as tourists come out to play. Head to Oppenheimer beach where you’ll be all alone with a palm tree swing and crystal clear water.
Trip: Playa del Carmen
Trick: It’s not all about la playa. Escape to the ancient ruins that make up Tulum or the complex of Chichén Itzá. Your skin most likely needs a break from all that sun soaking anyhow.
Trick: The classic error first-time visitors make is trying to ‘do’ Australia in two or three weeks, forgetting that it’s a continent as well as a country. It’s far better to pick two or three areas to tackle well than attempt to tick off the highlights in one visit.
Trip: New Zealand
Trick: Rent a car. New Zealand is a small country and easily traversed. You can see so much of it by driving. Just remember: Like Australia, keep left. Oh, and always carry an umbrella.
Trick: You’ll sweat like there’s no tomorrow. Forget your jeans and that heavy jacket, or any jacket at all for that matter. Bali is hot year-round with an average temperature of around 85 degrees.
Trick: Mosquitoes are everywhere. Use a spray-on repellent with at least 50% deet during the day (100% at night). Repel the enemy! Also, I suggest visiting both the north and the south. The varying landscapes will have you and your camera busy for hours.
Trick: I didn’t have a lot of cash on hand here, and I thought all of the small foreign transaction fees from a credit card wouldn’t be a huge deal. As it turns out, they add up! I spent $75 in unnecessary fees when I could’ve used the Capital One Venture Card to save that money, since it doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees. Also, don’t miss the free movie theater, reclining chairs, super slide and indoor zen gardens when flying into Changi International Airport.
Trip: Hong Kong
Tip: The city’s MTR (Mass Transit Railway) is impressively efficient, clean, easy to navigate, and gets you to many destinations easily and comfortably. It consistently achieves a 99.9% on-time rate on its train journeys. Count me on-board.
Trick: Don’t forget your passport. Visitors are required to obtain a visa for entry with valid passports and tourist credentials. Macau has a somewhat complicated arrangement with China, but it is part of China under their one country two systems principle with a high degree of autonomy.
Trick: Internet censorship is real in China ever since the government started blocking all the fun websites such as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, etc, etc. Unless you have a VPN service (virtual private network), you won’t be able do research anything such as the best cuisine in Beijing (peking duck!). Download VPN Express app before traveling.
Trick: Find a local to stick with. They’ll know the language, the cool spots to hang out at, and the best cheap eats.
Trick: Do your research and heed travel warnings, but don’t believe everything the media feeds you. I found Israel to feel very safe during my trip in May through Tel Aviv, Haifa, Caesarea, Akko, Tiberias, Masada, the Dead Sea and Jerusalem.