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35 Travel Tips Revealed: Top Secrets of Travel Writers

hotel sign"Book your accommodations directly on the hotel's own website. Join the hotel's mailing list and reward program. You'll get the guaranteed lowest rates without booking fees and burdensome cancellation polices. The only time that I book travel with a third-party travel site (such as Orbitz) is if I'm booking a package with airfare. When booking packages, you can sometimes save a few hundred bucks by using a travel agency website." -- Pamela Jones, Travel Site Critic

"Place a plastic bag under the screw caps of soaps and shampoos and tie the bag around the bottle. This way if the cap opens, the bottle spills into the bag, not on your clothes." -- Annemarie Dooling, TravelingAnna

"If you have paper copies of your itinerary, hotel or tour reservations, or anything else you need, be sure to take a photo of them with your smartphone. That way you can access the information without having to pull the papers out. Nor will you need to access the Internet to get to the email version of the documents. Plus, if you lose the papers, you've still got all the info." -- Dori Saltzman, IndependentTraveler.com

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"Do away with bringing loads of money on European trips and simply pack your debit card. ATM machines are all over the place in major cities and work the same way as they do here in America. I tend to carry as little cash as possible when I travel overseas. Obviously you don't want to be walking the streets of Rome or Paris with nothing in your wallet, so always bring a little to exchange at the airport and use your plastic the rest of the way. ATM machines offer better exchange rates than the airport or your hotel. Just be cautious of ATM fees as they can add up, and avoid using a credit card. Remember it's much easier to replace a lost debit card than it is a wallet full of cash." -- Andrew Hickey, The Brooklyn Nomad

"I'm a huge overpacker, so I find that limiting myself to just a carry-on (no matter how long the trip is) forces me to keep the amount of stuff I take to a minimum. Even if I have to do laundry while I'm on a trip, the cost is negligible compared to what I'd have to pay to check a bag with certain airlines, and I never have to worry about them losing my stuff!" -- Ashley Kosciolek, Cruise Critic

"To prevent leaving your phone charger in your hotel room when you check out (which, alas, happened to me once), unplug the charger every time you remove your phone and put it back in your luggage. On a similar note, ensure that you don't leave anything in your room safe when you check out by putting something essential for your day of travel (purse, coat, shoe) on top of the safe." -- Veronica Stoddart, VeronicaStoddart.com

"Two things I think of as my strengths are to pack light and to engage with local people. These two things go hand in hand if you shop locally for your basics; you can learn a surprising amount in supermarkets." -- Rachel Cotterill, RachelCotterill.com

"For girls, women and all travelers to Paris: Don't be safe, be dangerous! (No, we don't mean walk in dark, unsafe areas.) But try to use your high school French, talk to strangers in restaurants, walk in the rain and enjoy being in the most beautiful city in the world." -- Doni Belau, Girls' Guide to Paris

"A TSA checkpoint-friendly laptop bag is the best way to put your laptop on the conveyor belt through airport security. I always hated sending it naked in a plastic bin through the X-ray; now it stays safe in a cushioned pocket. I've heard horror stories of laptops crashing to the floor or even being stolen at security checkpoints -- chances of this happening decrease when it stays in its own bag." -- Kara Williams, The Vacation Gals

Airport Security: Your Questions Answered

"I like to bring a little bit of each trip home with me -- and not just with postcards. After I return from a foreign country, I always try to recreate a local dish in my own kitchen, like Moroccan couscous or Belizean stewed chicken. The smell of the meal will often transport me right back to the place I just left." -- Sarah Schlichter, IndependentTraveler.com

venice san marco st marks square pigeons woman"When we look back on a trip, our lasting memories are rarely of the many famous attractions we've visited or the places we've rushed through to snap a picture of that well-known monument. We are far more likely to remember that uncomfortable and scary journey across the mountains or the strangers we met in the one-horse town who became our good friends. So take the time to get to know the little places you visit and don't worry if you don't get to every place in the guidebook. We've learned this the hard way, and our itineraries now contain less than half of the stops that they did several years ago." -- Andy Jarosz, 501 Places

"Be ruthless with your shoes. It's no secret that shoes are a major space hog, and with outdoor and sporting stores suggesting a different shoe for each activity, it's easy to believe you need an arsenal of footwear. Trust me, you don't. One pair of broken-in walking shoes and a street-friendly sandal are usually all you need. And forget about heels. Unless you are going to a wedding, you aren't going to wear them." -- Chris Gray Faust, Cruise Critic

"Low-cost airlines aren't always the cheapest. The ticket price may appear to be a bargain, but take a minute to tally the additional expenses. These include items such as booking fees, check-in baggage fees, advance seat reservation fees, and food and drinks on board. In addition, low-cost airlines often fly to secondary airports that are much further from the final destination than the main airports (i.e., Frankfurt Hahn Airport is situated 75 miles from Frankfurt!). This adds an extra transport cost, not to mention the inconvenience. Take the time to do a bit more research, as there may be a better deal out there." -- Keith Jenkins, Velvet Escape

"If you have street smarts, don't be afraid to get lost in a foreign land. It might be the most rewarding experience." -- Peter Jeffrey, Traveling New Yorker

"Remain FLEXIBLE and have BACK-UP PLANS. Expect things to go wrong -- the rental agent not to answer his phone; delays that keep you from getting to town before the restaurants close; your wallet to be stolen; your passport to be lost. That way you won't spend precious hours freaking out ... you can simply move to Plan B. (My Plan Bs for the above: cell phone number too; cans of soup/nutrition bars; documents copied at home for quick resolution.) If you don't already have a Plan B, take a deep breath (or 10) and figure it out." -- Lisa Bergren, The World is Calling

"I never check luggage when I'm traveling, even if it's for 6+ weeks. Among my tricks is to carry items that double and triple as other items. For example, I bring along a scarf that doubles as my purse because this is no ordinary scarf: It has concealed zippered and snap pockets where I can stash credit cards, my hotel key, cell phone and more. When I'm in a big city, this scarf is oh-so-practical because, after all, who would steal a scarf? I also bring along a multi-purpose Buff that can be used as a hat, headband, scarf, bandana and much more." -- Jeanine Barone, J the Travel Authority

The Carry-On Challenge: How to Pack Light Every Time

"Never forget that it's your vacation and there's no wrong way to do it. There's no such thing as a must-see attraction. If you want to travel all the way to Paris and order room service, that's your business. Do what feels fun to you." -- Jamie Pearson, Travel Savvy Mom

"10 Essentials for Traveling Well:
1. Smiles
2. An open mind
3. Tolerance
4. Laughter
5. Flexibility
6. Mindfulness
7. Curiosity
8. Manners
9. Gratitude
10. Serendipity" -- Peggy Coonley, Serendipity Traveler

What's your top travel secret? Share it in the comments below!

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--written and compiled by Sarah Schlichter


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