Wanderlust Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Travel Tips’

Here at Amazing Journeys, we're lucky have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it's chock full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.

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Hanukkah Shopping Guide: Travelers Edition 2018

Monday, November 19th, 2018

With Hanukkah coming early this year, the holiday will sneak up on you before you know it! Rather than racking your brain trying to find that perfect gift for friends and family (or telling others what we want), Amazing Journeys to the rescue! Here is our 8 Nights of Hanukkah Travel Gift Idea list! Buy for others or share the list as a hint to what you want!

Scratch-Off World Map Poster

Most travelers fancy themselves explorers, even though they’re most likely not staking claims and charting maps anymore. But that doesn’t mean crossing countries off bucket lists doesn’t offer the same winning feeling. Give something that reminds someone of what they’ve conquered. They will soon be saying, “been there, scratched that!” Available here.


Selfie Remote Shutter

Selfie sticks are so last season. Or two seasons ago. In fact, some places have even taken to banning them altogether (Milan, Disney World, the Colosseum). Thankfully for solo travelers the world over, there’s a discreet alternative that doesn’t simultaneously scream “tourist.” Mooni’s selfie remote shutter uses Bluetooth to sync with smartphones so photo takers can get shots without holding their phones at all. With Mooni, users can set their phones on something, step back as much as 30 feet and press the little shutter button to take a picture. It’s the end of the awkward photos with arms in the forefront. Available here.


Translating Earbuds

Blank stares in the face of foreign languages will soon be a thing of the past. Google’s Bluetooth Pixel Buds headphones offer a real-time translation feature that’s like an on-hand personal interpreter. A touch of the right ear bud activates Google Assistant on the phone, and the user can say, “Google, help me speak Mandarin.” All it takes from there is talking into the phone in English and the app will transcribe the sentence in Chinese and say it out loud. The Chinese speaker in the conversation can also talk into the phone and the buds will translate that back to English. There are 40 languages that this whole exchange could work with. Available here.


‘I Was Here’ Travel Journal

For the creative traveler, this unconventional journal has far more to it than blank pages waiting to be filled. It’s beautifully illustrated from cover to cover and offers fun challenges and prompts that encourage users to explore the world in a more whimsical way. Available here.


4-in-1 Adapter

This compact converter enables travelers to plug in in 150 countries, and it comes with a color-coded map to make it easy to determine which prong situation accompanies their destination.  Available here.


Instant Camera

There will always be something that feels more authentic about holding a photograph in your hand over saving it into a digital roll. This stylish instant camera is a step above others on the market, offering shooting modes for different environments and a smart flash that calculates exposure based on the distance of the subject for a just-right brightness. Available here.


How to Pack

A must-read for anyone who hopes to master packing, this gorgeously illustrated book by Hitha Palepu of the lifestyle blog Hitha on the Go offers advice on not just what to bring, but the best way to bring it, too. Available here.


Amazing Journeys Gift Certificates

Not sure where you want to go next but itching to travel? Gift certificates help to get you on your next life changing vacation. Available here.

 

Looking for more ideas?  Check out our suggestions from 2014, 20152016 and 2017!

Enjoy your holiday shopping, happy Hanukkah and hope to travel with you soon!

Screenshot Your Travel Documents

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

 

Your mobile boarding pass should always be a tap or two away from your home screen. You’ve got a link to it in your email or your texts, or you’re sure you put it into Apple Wallet. But should isn’t always good enough when you get up to the TSA desk and the airport’s wifi is flaking out. Always take a screenshot.

Screenshotting everything is an indispensable travel hack. (On iPhone, hold down the power and home buttons at the same time; on Android, it’s usually the power and volume-down buttons.) This way, the information you should have available will always be in your photos app. That said, your photos aren’t super private, say if you were to hand your phone over to somebody, so consider whether you want to keep that information in your camera roll long-term.

While you’re traveling, consider screenshotting:

– Any emails with a confirmation number (like your hotel booking)
– The addresses and phone numbers of any person or place you plan to visit
– Maps and directions, even if your map app should have that data available offline – you know better than to rely on should.
– Any important information that came to you in an email or text, or that requires a special app (even something as simple as a PDF reader) to view.

This is, of course, in addition to taking snapshots of street maps, signs, and any important piece of paper that crosses your path. Have everything in your photos app, and it will be right there when you need it.

 

Edited from lifehacker

Tips on Saving Money When Traveling Abroad

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

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Did you know that over 72 million Americans traveled outside the country in 2016, where they spent more than $140 billion? While much of that money was used to create memories that will last a lifetime, a portion of it went to financial fees that might well have been avoided.

Here are five tips for keeping costs low and managing your money during your next trip abroad.

Steer clear of transaction costs

Most credit and debit card issuers charge foreign-transaction fees, which typically run between 2% and 3% of the purchase price, as well as ATM fees. That might seem like a minor expense per transaction, but all those extra charges can really add up.

Look into the fees imposed by your banks and credit card companies. (The overall fee is often a combination of two fees, one from the issuing bank and one from the card company.) And note that even if you have a fee-free card, there may still be circumstances in which ATMs or merchants themselves charge a fee. Always check your card’s terms and conditions to find out exactly what fees you’re responsible for.

Find the best exchange rate

Airport currency kiosks may be convenient, but they also tend to be pricey, often charging as much as $10 for exchanging any amount under $500. Even so-called no-fee exchanges tend to make a profit off their highly unfavorable exchange rates. All told, Fodor’s estimates that travelers pay an extra 4% to 9% when exchanging currencies at such convenient but costly locations.

Cash withdrawals from ATMs are generally the best choice for day-to-day funds—but, again, beware transaction fees. Some banks impose a flat fee per withdrawal, while others do not and may even refund those levied by others.

money 1Watch out for “dynamic currency conversion”

Many travelers are enticed by the convenience and familiarity of receiving bills – at restaurants, for instance – in U.S. dollars. But this new trend, called dynamic currency conversion, often comes with an unfavorable exchange rate, transaction fees or both. So when asked if you want to pay a bill in the local currency or in dollars, go with the local option – unless you can verify that the cost is negligible and worth it, to you, for the familiarity factor.

Secure your information

Nothing ruins a trip like a lost or stolen wallet, so take a picture of the contents of your wallet, including the fronts and backs of credit and insurance cards so you can find all those important phone numbers to call in case of emergency. Keep a copy on your phone – or better yet, in the cloud – along with pictures of your passport and any other important documentation.

Also, be sure to activate fraud alerts for all accounts that offer them so you’re notified right away of suspicious activity. Sophisticated cybercriminals are often able to capture your financial information even if your cards stay in your possession.

Take advantage of built-in benefits

Before you book your trip, see if your credit or debit cards offer travel-related perks that can save you money or ease your journey. For example, many offer help with hotel and restaurant reservations, free Wi-Fi access on eligible flights, and even discounts on certain types of accommodation and transportation. Review your cards’ benefit terms or call your providers for full details.

 

Edited from Charles Schwab

Hanukkah Shopping Guide: Travelers Edition 2017

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

With Hanukkah right around the corner, we’re all racking our brains, trying to find that perfect gift for friends, family, or what to tell others we want… Amazing Journeys to the rescue! Here is our 8 Nights of Hanukkah Travel Gift Idea list! Buy for others or share the list to hint at what you want!

Flight Bag

Flight bag

Hang this handy organizer on the airline seat in front of you for convenient access to your phone, tablet, charger, headphones, and reading material. Just stash it back in your carry-on when you leave – no items left in the seat pocket. Available here.

Cross-body Travel Bag

Travelon bag

Travel safe with your everyday essentials organized. This handbag is designed for security with RFID protection, slash resistant body and shoulder straps. Available here.


Travel Jacket

Travel jacket

An all-weather, sleek water-repellent windbreaker jacket with 15 features like built-in sleep mask, passport pocket, stylus and more. Available here.


Portable CPAP Machine

CPAP

If you don’t travel because you need your CPAP machine, now you don’t have any excuses. Sleep well even on the road. Available here.


Travel Pillow

Travel Pillow

So small that it’s essentially a padded scarf, this travel pillow made with hypoallergenic fleece holds your head almost completely upright. You can even place it beneath your chin to keep your head from drooping.  Available here.


Portable Charger

Portable charger

There are few things that can make a person more anxious than being on the go when their phone’s about to die. This keychain comes with a built-in USB to charge your phone. Available here.


Airport Toy

Shuttlecock

Lightweight and easy to learn, the Chinese equivalent of Hacky Sack is the travel game that’ll keep you occupied no matter how long your flight’s delayed. We dare you to be THAT person at the gate! Available here.

Amazing Journeys Gift Certificates

Not sure where you want to go next but itching to travel? Gift certificates help to get you on your next life changing vacation. Available here.

Looking for more ideas?  Check out our suggestions from 2014, 2015 or 2016!

Enjoy your holiday shopping, happy Hanukkah and hope to travel with you soon!

Close to Home Summer Getaways

Monday, July 24th, 2017

There’s nothing like a weekend spent in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  For our family, it had always meant the beginning of summer.  A few happy June days were spent at the hotel pool, HersheyPark amusement park and gorging on chocolate.  In Hershey, chocolate is available everywhere.  Upon arrival at the Mediterranean style 1930’s designed Hotel Hershey, you are checked in and greeted with one large chocolate bar for each member of your family.  Being handed five chocolate bars upon check in is a kid’s dream come true.  OK, I confess, it was a dream come true for me as well.

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The stunning pink resort sits proudly upon the highest hill in the otherwise mostly flat farmland surrounding this city.  It can be seen from nearly everywhere in the city.  It boasts one of the finest restaurant in the state, the Circular Dining Room, which serves an amazing Sunday Brunch with all of the yummy items that make up for best brunches, but what’s different here is that the waffles have chocolate chips, the pancakes are served with chocolate syrup, pancakes topped with chocolate shavings and there are chocolate desserts galore!

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Did I mention the spa at the resort?  Have you ever had a chocolate facial?  What about an almond scrub?  They’re not only delicious but so relaxing as well.

The town of Hershey is adorable with “kisses” for street lamps and wonderful little cafes and restaurants lining the main street.

The town of Hershey is about four hours from New York City, New Jersey and Pittsburgh.  It’s only 1.5 hours from Philadelphia and Washington, DC making it an ideal location for weekend travel.  If you’re looking for something to do this summer (or any weekend year round), this should be on your short list.  It’s one of my top picks for quick summer getaways!

A Weekend Trip to Pittsburgh

Friday, July 14th, 2017

Sometimes you don’t have to go far to be on vacation.  It could be as close as your own backyard.  That’s literally what we did when we brought 40 past, present and future travelers together for our Pittsburgh Summer Weekend.  Our travelers came in from near and far – from Denver and Reno, Houston and Toronto, New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  Yes, many who joined us live right here!  They all came together to enjoy our fun city.  Pittsburgh is a city to be seen and experienced and has recently enjoyed many accolades including one of the “Best Places to Travel in 2016” by Travel + Leisure, the nation’s “No. 1 Food City” by Zagat and named among the “Top Destinations on the Rise” by TripAdvisor

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Pittsburgh shows itself off right from the ride from the airport when you exit the tunnel and you see the city in full view including the skyline, The Golden Triangle, the stadiums and the fountain marking the confluence of the three rivers that run through Pittsburgh.

Our boutique hotel was a fan favorite.  Kimpton Hotels has always been a favorite of our Amazing Journeys staff and the Hotel Monaco of Pittsburgh was a big hit.  From the stylish yet quirky interior design to the rooftop bar and amply sized and decorative rooms, our group loved this hotel and its location in the city center. A hotel highlight, and were we got our weekend started was at the nightly Wine Hour in the Living Room of the hotel.

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We highlighted Pittsburgh beginning with a sumptuous dinner at Nine On Nine.  With the help of Joe, its manager, we crafted the perfect menu for our group. Friday night ended with drinks and “large games” such as Jenja and Connect Four up at the rooftop bar at the Hotel Monaco.  If you get up there, Jason will take good care of you.  He was always ready with drink in hand and a smile on his face.

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Saturday was filled with lots to see and do in the city.  Beginning with a walk to Pittsburgh’s Strip District, what began as the produce market of the city years ago has become a showcase of restaurants, local food stores including fish, cheeses, olive oils and sports paraphernalia from award winning teams who make Pittsburgh “The City of Champions”. One new restaurant concept housed in one of the old warehouses is Smallman Galley, a “restaurant incubator” where each year, four brand new restaurant concepts are selected from hundreds of entries as a “start up” and given an opportunity to try out their concept in this space.

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Our next stop was an area called Lawrenceville, a recently regentrified area which housed a munitions factory during the Civil War, and now filled with funky shops, craft beer bars, a retro bowling alley and 1950’s movie theater.  There, we enjoyed a Foodie Tour where we sampled ‘Burgh Bits and Bites.  Owner Sylvia and her guides took us to a series of restaurants and stores that offered up a collection of the foods that make up the eclectic population living in “The Burgh”.  From pierogies to spanakopita and from pasta to french dip sandwiches, we sampled our way through the area.

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A walk to Market Square where a band was playing and the Summer Saturday Night Market was in full swing rounded out our day.  In the evening, we enjoyed a taste of local theater and saw Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage a fun look at ourselves and others that had us all laughing. A walk down to the river by night highlighted our colorful city.

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Our weekend came to a close with a local favorite past time in the Squirrel Hill section of the city called Bach, Beethoven and Brunch.  Amazing Journeys provided the picnic while the orchestra provided the lovely background music.  Our AJ participants enjoyed a relaxing morning of coffee, bagels, music and conversation.  All too soon, our amazing weekend in Pittsburgh came to an end.  Soon it was time to say good-bye.  We hope to have you back in Pittsburgh soon so you can see more of our incredible city!

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Reading the fine print

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

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When purchasing a vacation, it’s not just about glancing at the advertised price.  It’s knowing what costs are included, and what are considered “extras” that you may have to pay for above and beyond the posted rate.  Most tours don’t include the taxes.  Amazing Journeys does.  Most tours don’t include the gratuities as part of the advertised costs.  Amazing Journeys has it included.  How many meals are included on your tour?  It’s important to know because if there are few included, you will be paying additionally while on tour.  Is your hotel a quality property?  Is it located in the city center or does it require a taxi ride or train to get to the sights you want to see?  Are the sightseeing tours included, or are you going to have to pay additionally for each sight you want to see?  While the vast majority of cruise don’t include optional excursions, land tours that you have to pay additionally for tours will soon add up, often times above and beyond the original cost of the tour price!  Most tours don’t include an onboard group travel coordinator who is traveling with you to insure your vacation is going according to plan and organizing the social aspect of the tour as well, so that you see all the sights you have come to see as well as make many friends along the way.

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Here at Amazing Journeys, we try to make your vacation as hassle-free and amazing as possible.  You want to go into a trip knowing that everything is taken care of, you don’t have to worry about the little things and that you are in the right hands. For those of you who have traveled with us before, you know that great care and planning goes into each trip and that we have considered each delightful detail in order to present you the perfect vacation.

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When looking for a vacation package we encourage you to keep in mind that not all travel companies are created equal and that there are not always apple-to-apple comparisons.  Keep a careful eye on what is actually included in the price and what you will be paying extra for. The last thing you want is to be surprised with the final cost of your vacation.

Looking forward to traveling with you soon!

Americans Won’t Need a Visa to Visit Europe After All

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

Posted from Conde Nast Traveler

Tips for Sleeping Well on a Plane

Friday, April 28th, 2017

So now that you have one less thing to worry about, let’s just be excited!

 

Edited from Conde Nast Traveler

Hanukkah Shopping Guide: Travelers Edition 2016

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

With Hanukkah right around the corner, we’re all racking our brains, trying to find that perfect gift for friends, family, or what to tell others we want… Amazing Journeys to the rescue! Here is our 8 Nights of Hanukkah Travel Gift Idea list! Buy for others or share the list to hint at what you want!

Cross Body Bag

This is a stylish travel purse that’s not overly large or bulky, proving it’s possible to look fashionable even when you’re on the go. Comfortable, the perfect size and RFID protected. Available here.


Two Time Zone Watch

Functional, stylish, classy – this Philip Stein two time zone watch allows you to know the time wherever you are, plus the time back home (so you don’t call to check in at 2am). Available here.


Bluetooth Item Finder

Always losing your keys, your wallet, your mind?  Just attach, drop or stick Chipolo to the things you care about and make them ring when you get close. Available here.


Bug Protection Jacket

With insect-borne viruses causing traveler anxiety, apparel treated with Insect Shield can help keep globe-trotters protected.  Available here.


Kids Travel Tray

Taking car rides with kids soon? The Kids Portable Play Travel Tray provides a sturdy surface for travel treats and toys. Available here.


Interchangeable Heel Shoe

Don’t have room for multiple pairs of shoes in your suitcase? How about shoes that you can swap out the the heel bringing it from flats to heels? Available here.


Travel Scarf with Secret Pocket

Infinity scarf with a built in pocket to be super versatile and incredibly stylish. Not only can you use the hidden pocket to stash your stuff, but you can also wear it in a variety of ways. Available here.

Amazing Journeys Gift Certificates

Not sure where you want to go next but itching to travel? Gift certificates help to get you on your next life changing vacation. Available here.

Looking for more ideas?  Click here to see last years list of gift suggestions.

Enjoy your holiday shopping, happy Hanukkah and hope to travel with you soon!