Saturday, May 20, 2017

Weekend Travel Tips



Remember that episode of Friends where Chandler and Joey are in London and Joey goes "into" the map? Nobody wants to be Joey when they travel. A take charge kind of friend once got us stranded on a deserted street late at night in an unfamiliar city because she hadn't done any research on the transportation system. Not fun.

I'm big on researching the transportation options before I ever get to my destination. When traveling overseas, I can't rely on my phone and data to get me around so I've literally Google Street viewed the places I needed to go so I would know what they look like. Being in a new place is exciting and sometimes a bit scary. Here are so tips to help you get around with ease.

If you're planning to use Uber or Lyft, budget your routes in advance to help you figure out how much you'll be spending on your rides. I've done this a number of times and it helps me set aside money accordingly.

See if your hotel offers any transportation services. I've stayed in a number of hotels that offer free car service within a certain mile radius or have discounted shuttle or car service from the airport. If you're at a loss for trying to find transportation and they don't offer it, they usually can point you in the direction of reputable shuttle companies so you don't have to risk booking Billy Bob's Airport shuttle only to find it's a chicken truck. I hope that has not ever happened to anyone.

Save some cab companies' numbers in your phone in advance. It helps to not have to look those up in a hurry and figuring out which companies have better reviews will make for a more pleasant ride. I once had a driver in Texas claim the ride would be $30 upfront when I knew it wouldn't be and had to literally GPS the quickest way there to make sure he didn't take any weird detours to jack up the price. Looking back, I wish I'd had more options but we were in a hurry and I hadn't saved the information in advance.

If there is a train, subway, or light rail system, see if you can buy your tourist passes in advance. Or at least find out where you go to buy them and whether you need exact change. If it's a city like San Francisco and you're getting a Muni passport, find out where the closest booth is to your hotel. It helps to not have to run across town on your first day. Some passes require you to upload a certain deposit or minimum amount onto your card upon purchase and sometimes the cards cost money as well. It's definitely useful to find out before you get there.

If you're renting a car, research the parking situation. Does the hotel offer free parking? Is it self or valet? How is public parking in that city? Don't be the girls who get their car towed in Beverly Hills and spend their midnight hour at the tow lot (yes this has happened). It sucks. If there are lots of meters, plan to get a roll of quarters at a bank when you get to your destination.

Look up gas prices for your destination if you're renting a car. GasBuddy can be a huge help with finding the cheapest gas stations around your vacation locale and it helps you avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Last, if you're visiting somewhere that's a bit spread out and you aren't renting a car but plan to visit a lot of attractions, contact the attractions in regards to shuttle service. When we went to Hawaii, we didn't get a car; however, most of the major attractions we visited offered shuttles for a small fee. It sure beat driving around!

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