Tag Archives: travel tips

How To Beat Boredom And Anxiety During Solo Traveling

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Traveling solo can elicit a mixed bag of emotions: Excitement, happiness, fear, boredom, stress… the whole gamut. Still, traveling alone is well worth it. Don’t let the fear of boredom or anxiety prevent you from reaping these benefits. Instead, follow our tips for coping with stress and getting the most out of your solo adventure.

Nix Anxiety

  • Create an itinerary. Detailed trip planning can create a sense of security. If nothing else, consider booking accommodations in advance—it’s a huge stress reliever to know there will be a roof over your head come nightfall. Also read up on how to pass through customs and the rules for duty-free shopping. Knowing the regulations for your destination(s) will help you arrive prepared.
  • Make new friends. Nothing beats loneliness like not being alone. It’s easy to meet new people on organized tours, in internet cafes, or through volunteer activities. Get a head start by connecting with fellow travelers on travel forums prior to the trip.
  • Designate an emergency contact. Keep their contact info handy at all times. Also be sure to let someone know your general whereabouts each day. The knowledge that someone is looking out for you can do a lot to ease anxiety.
  • Reach out to loved ones. Skype, write an email or postcard, or make a quick international call to a friend or family member. Hearing a familiar voice can be grounding and will help settle any nerves that arise during travel.
  • Bring a memento. Create a tangible connection to home by bringing along something comforting, whether that’s a playlist of favorite songs, photos of friends and family, a favorite item of clothing, or a lucky pebble.
  • Practice self-care. Travel can disrupt normal routines (and that’s often a good thing). But don’t let self-care slip through the cracks. Get enough sleep, eat well and exercise, and seek out comfort if anxiety flares up. Taking good care of yourself will make it that much easier to cope with any stressors that arise during travel.

Beat Boredom

  • Make a list. Research the destination in advance to learn what kinds of exciting opportunities are available to tourists, from amazing hotel breakfasts to city-wide scavenger hunts. Outline everything you want to see and accomplish during a trip, and focus on crossing off each of the items on the list. Staying busy is a sure-fire way to fend off boredom.
  • Ask questions. Take an interest in other people’s stories, whether you’re talking to an airplane seatmate, fellow travelers in a café, or locals at market. Conversation is a great way to gain exposure to new people and ideas, learn about a destination, and pass the time.
  • Invest in gadgets. It’s okay to take the easy way out sometimes. A book, a deck of cards, a Gameboy, or an iPad queued up with a favorite TV show are all simple ways to kick boredom to the curb. And of course, take advantage of in-flight entertainment whenever it’s available.
  • Plan for evenings. Nighttime can be hard on solo travelers because many sites are closed, other travelers have gone to bed, and there are fewer distractions. Expect that evenings may bring on boredom and plan accordingly. Consider going to theater or film events, get absorbed in a book, or take care of housekeeping like doing laundry or repacking a messy suitcase.
  • Assign a project. This great idea comes from The One Percent Club: Assign yourself a project for the trip, whether it’s keeping a travel journal, taking five high-quality photographs every day, reading a certain number of books, blogging, etc. Having a sense of purpose will keep you focused and keep boredom at bay.

The Silver Lining

Believe it or not, anxiety and boredom come with some real benefits. While traveling alone might be a bit stressful, focus on the fact that it allows an almost unheard-of amount of freedom. It affords the opportunity to rediscover what makes you tick—you get to decide what to do, where to go, and when to do any and everything. Similarly, research shows that a little boredom is actually a good thing: It can boost creativity, encourage daydreaming, and foster the growth of new goals.

Instead of viewing anxiety and boredom as negative states to be avoided at all costs, look for the positives. Keeping an open mind and practicing the strategies outlined above will ensure that any solo traveler can cope with boredom and anxiety in constructive ways. And just think of the stories you’ll be able to tell upon your return!


Here’s Where Luggage Goes After You Check It

As you queue up in security with a carry-on and contemplate the trip ahead, your checked luggage is embarking on a journey of its own.

Thanks to Amsterdam’s Airport Schiphol, you can now witness this voyage from the comfort of your own home. The airport recently released behind-the-scenes footage that reveals exactly what happens to bags after you hand them over at check-in and hope for the best. Check out the 360-degree video here.

While practices vary by country and airport, here’s a breakdown of the process as it’s commonly implemented in the U.S.:

  • After you leave a bag at check-in, it’s scanned by a laser barcode reader that transmits the bag’s tag number to a computer, which also keeps track of the bag’s destination. The bag is then sent off along a labyrinthine system of conveyor belts.
  • Once it reaches the main luggage facility, the bag is screened by security. If security administrators have any concerns about a bag, they’ll open it to scope things out (If a bag is opened, the TSA will leave a note inside stating as much).
  • If the bag makes it through security, the computer communicates with the baggage conveyor system to direct the bag to the right airline.
  • Once the bag has reached its stop, a baggage handler removes it from the conveyor belt and loads it onto a cart along with the luggage of your fellow travelers. Baggage handlers then drive the cart to the plane and load the luggage onto the aircraft.

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When a Bag Goes Missing

While missing luggage is at the top of the list of travel nightmares, the good news is that statistically, it’s very rare: There’s only a 1 percent chance your bag won’t arrive at a destination along with you.

What unfortunate circumstances must align for the worst to happen? The explanation could lie with any of a number of factors:

  • Needing to be unloaded and transferred to a connecting flight in one hour or less.
  • High volume of luggage, which ups the chances of things going wrong.
  • Slipping off the conveyor belt or into the wrong chute (This is more likely to happen when bags are placed on the conveyor wheels-down).
  • Human error. If the check-in clerk inaccurately labels the destination code, your bag doesn’t stand a chance. Likewise, the bag may get loaded onto the wrong wagon (and therefore the wrong plane).
  • Having multiple connections. The more often a bag needs to be unloaded, redirected, and loaded onto a new plane, the higher the chances of things going awry.

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How to Decrease the Odds of a Bag Getting Lost

While you may not be able to control everything that happens to a bag after check-in, take these steps to up the chances of luggage finding its way back to you:

  • Clearly label the bag with your name, address, and destination—both inside and out. Also apply some kind of visual identifier to the outside of the bag so it’s easy to describe to agents if it goes missing. Even better? Take a picture of the bag, including its ID tag and barcode, before it rolls off down the conveyor.
  • Get to the airport on time. Proper trip planning can help ensure there’s enough time between connections for bags to make it onto the plane along with you.
  • Know the rules regarding prohibited items, TSA-approved locks, and the like—and then follow them.
  • Tie up (or tuck in) all straps. Bag straps can get stuck in conveyors, creating delays in the sorting process (Depending on the length of said delays, this could mean that a bag won’t make it onto its flight).
  • Keep the essentials on hand at all times. Don’t check anything you can’t live without. Stash prescriptions, valuables, electronics, money, and an extra change of clothes in your carry-on, just in case. Be sure to follow all regulations so you don’t spend a ton of time in security.

If nothing else, perhaps learning about the wild adventures of checked luggage will make us all a little more grateful for the human way of flying. While babies may cry and people may recline their seats into your lap, it still beats sitting in the cargo hold.  

Hacking The Budget Airline

Buying tickets on a budget airline can be a great way to save, literally, hundreds of dollars on airplane tickets. However, while most people will be dazzled by the low, low ticket prices, they’ll fail to notice the dozens of quirks that can make budget airline travel challenging.

For starters, travelers will encounter hefty baggage fees. Most budget airlines allow only one (very small) carry on bag with no complimentary checked bag. Fees vary from airline to airline, but are often upwards of $50 for each checked piece of luggage! Plus, many budget airlines charge by weight, so going over the allotted limit will result in extra fees as well. Curtail this problem by packing everything into your carry on. It’ll be tight, but if you minimize clothing to essentials and opt to buy toiletries at your destination, you’ll be able to make it work.

Another annoying surprise that many travelers discover on budget airlines is that there generally aren’t any complimentary food or drinks, which means that packing your own will be essential. It’s especially important to bring water, which most likely won’t be provided on the flight (or will cost you a few dollars.) Other creature comforts that definitely won’t be provided: pillows or blankets. Thankfully there are a plethora of compact blankets and pillows available that roll up tightly and pack well in carry ons.

Don’t expect TVs or in-flight movies, either. While this may not be a problem if you’re taking a quick local flight, it can make for some serious boredom if you’re going to be traveling for three or more hours. Make sure to download a movie on your smartphone and take a look at how to fashion a first-class entertainment experience with nothing more than a phone and a ziploc bag.

But while you’re enjoying your state of the art entertainment center, do be mindful of your seatmates as space is limited. Space is tight on budget airlines because they’re attempting to fill the plane with as many seats as possible in order to reduce costs, which is also why there are no upgrades available and why most customers will be assigned seating once they arrive at the gate. To give yourself a sense of privacy amongst all the other passengers, plug in some noise-cancelling earbuds and throw on an eye mask. You’ll still be surrounded by a lot of people, but it’ll help you to relax and feel more centered.

Once you arrive at your destination, you may find that the airport is located miles from the city center, often in a small rural community. Though airlines will provide transportation to and from the city, the added time can be a big detractor for some customers. Check to see if this will negatively affect travel before booking because most budget airlines do not allow customers to change flights.

At the end of the day, though the inconveniences of the budget flight can add up to some real frustration, careful planning can help to ensure that your travel experience will be a pleasant, peaceful, and affordable one!


How To Be A Respectful Tourist Anywhere In The World

One might think carving your name on the Colosseum or posting graffiti in America’s national parks might be inappropriate vacation activities, but these are real things that real tourists have done—and they’re hardly the end of the list of egregious decisions tourists have made over the years. Indeed, tourists have come a long way since the United Nations declared 1967 the International Year of the Tourist—and not always for the better.

With approximately a billion tourists traversing the globe, many natural, cultural, and historical sites have become threatened by frequent—and at times destructive—visitation. While recent trends suggest today’s tourists are more likely to prioritize environmental sustainability and social responsibility (and that’s good news), the future of tourism lies with the choices we all make as individual travelers. Here’s how to be respectful everywhere you go.

Do some research.

Before traveling anywhere, read up on local customs including expectations for dress, bargaining, tipping, public displays of affection, and offensive gestures. Also develop a sense for the area’s geography, currency, language and dialects, and major cities and towns. Not only will it be easier to navigate a new place, but it’ll demonstrate that you cared enough to invest in learning about the region.

Go local.

Don’t be the person ordering room service or grabbing a Big Mac when there’s a new world of culinary adventures to be explored. Presumably, you traveled to a place for a reason—so get out there and see what it has to offer. Whether savoring Scottish cuisine or eating out in Shanghai, valuing local foods (and arts, crafts, and customs) is a great way to express appreciation for a foreign land. As an added bonus, your money will go directly toward sustaining local people and establishments.

Remember that people are people.

Sure, some people may not look, dress, talk, or act exactly the same as you—but humans are humans everywhere in the world. That means it’s inappropriate to treat anyone like a sightseeing object or fodder for Instagram. Don’t stare at locals, don’t take photos without people’s consent, and try to keep an open mind.

Take the “sustainable tourism pledge.”

Created by the World Monuments Fund, the pledge asks travelers to commit to responsible tourism through actions such as conserving natural resources, visiting lesser-known attractions, offsetting their carbon footprints, leaving things as they’re found, volunteering, and educating friends and family about responsible tourism.

Learn some of the local language.

Even knowing a few basic words or questions (“Where is the nearest bathroom?” is always handy) can signal that you care enough to make an effort to meet people where they are. When talking in any language, be sure to speak quietly, kindly, and without judgment.

Mind your surroundings.

Don’t peruse a city map in the middle of a crowded sidewalk, don’t block a street vendor loaded up with fruit, and don’t take 15 minutes to place a food order in front of a line of hungry locals on their lunch break. Be mindful of other people and try to stay out of the way of people going about their daily routines.

Keep politics at home.

While our travel habits may say something about our political affiliations, it’s best to be subtle about politics abroad. You may not agree with local customs or religious beliefs, and that’s fine. But remember these things may be very important to people, and it’s worth showing respect for that reason alone. This goes doubly at holy sites—turn cell phones off, speak quietly (or not at all), and aim to be as discreet as possible.

Own that you’re a tourist.

There’s no need to pretend to be a seasoned expat when you’re just passing through. It’s perfectly okay to be a tourist. Acknowledging that you don’t know everything about a place and seeking input from people who live there can open up opportunities for connections and give the inside scoop on what places to visit when. Humility may also save you from being pranked by locals, as in these lies Londoners tell tourists.

Don’t assume that merely possessing a modicum of common sense automatically makes for a respectful tourist (although it certainly helps). Instead, keep these strategies front of mind while planning a trip and adventuring around the world. We all have a part to play in preserving environmental, cultural, and historical heritage for generations to come. Take responsibility for yours.

The Takeaways


  •      Research your destination before you go
  •      Support local restaurants, artists, craftspeople, and shops
  •      Learn some of the local language
  •      Keep an open mind
  •      Take the Sustainable Tourism Pledge (and stick to it)


  •      Bring politics abroad
  •      Treat locals like sightseeing objects
  •      Pretend to be an expert on a place that’s new to you
  •      Interfere with locals’ comings and goings
  •      Leave behind trash, graffiti, or other evidence of your stay

8 Hotels That Are Excellent for Last Minute Booking

Sometimes, it’s not the early bird that catches the worm–it’s the late one! The days of super advanced booking are over, which is great for travelers who prefer spontaneity over early planning. Many hotels offer generous deals for day before or same day reservations; check out our list below to see some of the great hotels that are excellent for last minute booking!

1. Hotel Nikko  — San Francisco, CA

Just steps from Union Square in San Francisco sits Hotel Nikko, a sleek and cutting-edge hotel that offers 532 spacious rooms, a 10,000 square foot health club, and a top-tier nightclub theater, Feinstein’s at the Nikko. Though a night at the Hotel Nikko is certainly not cheap, they’ve got great last minute deals where upwards of $100 can be slashed from the normal price.

2. Aloft — Brooklyn, NY

Located in the heart of downtown Brooklyn, Aloft Hotel is a cool spot for vacationers looking for a twist on the typical New York holiday. Offering premium loft spaces, an amazing rooftop bar, and easy access to the best offerings in Brooklyn, the Aloft is also great for last minute booking because of it’s removed location from the over-packed touristy areas of Manhattan.

3. Casulo Hotel — Austin, TX

Known for its effortless blend of urban chic and zen simplicity, the Casulo Hotel is a popular spot for Austin-bound vacationers. Situated between downtown and the Austin airport, the Casulo is not only hip and trendy, but also conveniently-located. Plus, last minute bookings here are easy to finagle and can often be cheaper than an advanced booking.

4. Hotel Lincoln — Chicago, IL

Set on a gorgeous tree-lined street near Lake Michigan, the Hotel Lincoln offers its patrons a hotel that is in parts hip, trendy, vintage and wholly Chicagoan. With great amenities and a large rooftop bar with a view of the leafy Lincoln Park, it’s no wonder this hotel is a dream for tourists, whether booking in advance or snagging a last minute deal the day before.

5. Motif Seattle — Seattle, WA

Located just minutes away from some of Seattle’s best tourist sites, the Motif Hotel embodies the spirit of the Emerald City. Offering a plethora of packages to its guests, such as a Romantic Getaway Package and a Style Package, the Motif is also great at offering last minute deals for travelers who can sometimes save up to $75 on day-before bookings.

6. Portofino Hotel & Marina — Los Angeles, CA

With a laid back SoCal vibe and a nautical aesthetic sure to please sea-lovers as well as land-lovers, the Portofino Hotel & Marina in Los Angeles is the perfect spot for a relaxing beach vacation. Known for its breathtaking sunset views over the sea and the dolphins that dip in and out of the marina, the Portofino is also known to leave rooms vacant for same-day booking.

7. Hudson Hotel — New York, NY

Energetic, dynamic, and unconventional are a few words vacationers use to describe the Hudson Hotel, a new hotel that has sprung up near Central Park in New York City. Complete with a lounge, rooftop garden, and some seriously spacious rooms, the Hudson is a great place to stay while taking a bite out of the Big Apple. It’s also great with last minute deals, where quick travelers can save up to $50 on same day booking.

8. Le Pavillon Hotel — New Orleans, LA

Sitting adjacent to the French Quarter in the heart of New Orleans, Le Pavillon Hotel is a classy, historic landmark in the city. Grand in scale and refreshingly un-modern, the Pavillon provides its guests with a traditional stay with all the trappings of an old world Parisian hotel. Plus, they accept last minute booking and even sometimes offer reduced prices on their otherwise expensive rooms.