TIPPING ETIQUETTE AROUND THE GLOBE

TIPPING ETIQUETTE AROUND THE GLOBE

There’s no one-size-fits-all mantra when it comes to tipping. The art of tipping is entangled in the local culture of the destination, so it varies from country to country. It’s one part of traveling that I’m always scratching my head about. But when in doubt, I’ve found giving a little extra is the best way to go. But to make things simpler, here’s a guide to understanding tipping etiquette when you travel to any corner of the world.

Global Tipping Etiquette

The Logistics You Need to Know Before You Travel With Little Kids

Traveling with little kids is an art form.  Really, there should be a PHD course because there are so many things you need to remember to have a smooth trip.  The first time we traveled, we quickly realized there was so much we didn’t know, including that babies need a lap pass to travel with Mom!  I wished someone would just make me a manual on everything I needed to know and remember.  Of course, there are no guarantees.  You never know when there might be delays, bad weather, etc, and some things you can only learn through experience.  If you are planning to travel with your little kids, here is the manual I wish I’d had: 14 things you need to know before you travel with little kids:

Logistics for the plane:

    1. If you are taking a lap child, have you called ahead for your lap child pass?  Most airlines will require this so calling ahead will save you time at the airport.  They just need to know the name and date of birth of your child.  Most airlines allow children to travel free if they are under 2.  Keep in mind that if the flight isn’t full, Southwest Airlines will sometimes allow you to bring the infant carrier on the plane, even for a lap child, so it might be worth it to bring the carrier to the gate and ask if it’s a full flight so that your little one can just sleep in their carseat next to you if possible.
    2. Do you have copies of birth certificates?  Not every airline requires this, but some do.  It’s better to be prepared.
    3. If your child is over 2, consider taking their car seat on the plane with you.  I highly recommend this, especially for children between 2 and 4, because it forces them to stay strapped in and you won’t be fighting them the whole time.  Trust me, they will want to get down on the floor and play around and bump into the seat in front of them.  If they are contained, you will have a much more peaceful flight.  However, keep in mind that carseats need to be approved for air travel.  There is usually a small sticker behind the car seat that says that it is FAA approved.  Also, keep in mind that if your car seat is extra wide and large, it might not fit very well.  We used an Evenflo Tribute 5 Convertible Car Seat, Saturn, and it fit just perfectly, but if your car seat looks much bigger than this, that could be a problem.
    4. Consider bringing a carry-on bag that contains everything you can’t live without or easily replace, such as: Your baby monitor (You will feel much more comfortable sitting on your patio at night while your kids are asleep in a strange place if you brought your baby monitor), the chargers for the baby monitor, any DVD chargers you might need, your child’s blankies and special sleeping buddies, etc.  It might seem like a pain to have to carry this through the airport, but we’ve had our luggage lost more than once.
    5. Take empty kid-friendly water bottles in your carry-on bag that your child is already used to sipping from.  If you have any liquid, it has to go through special screening at security, which takes extra time.  If you put empty bottles from home in your bag, it won’t delay you, and then you can buy water bottles once you get through security and fill up your child’s water bottle.  If you don’t bring their special cup, you’re stuck with the water bottles you buy, which can very easily leak and a wet kid is never a happy kid.
    6. Even if your child only uses a pacifer in bed, consider bringing one on the plane.  They will be more likely to doze with their paci, and it might also help with the discomfort in the ears caused by the altitude of the flight.
    7. Find a way for them to watch TV.  Buy a small DVD player.  Or, if you have an iPad, download their favorite shows and movies.  Even an old iPod might work.  This is one time where watching TV won’t hurt them and it could make it much more pleasant for you and the people around you.
    8. If you do choose to bring a car seat, consider getting this snazzy little device for it.

       Our is a

GoGo Babyz Kidz Travelmate.

       and it literally turns your kids into a roller suitcase.  It’s a great way to get them around the airport without a stroller.  Our daughter loves riding in her car seat around the airport!  If you just want to check your car seat and not have to mess with it through the airport, the

J.L. Childress Ultimate Car Seat Travel Bag

     is a good option.

Logistics for when you Get There

  1. Make sure you do some research before you leave so that you can get your bed/crib rented.  Almost any tourist destination will have companies that specialize in renting any baby equipment you could need, such as full cribs, high-chairs, and even baskets of toys so that your kids aren’t stuck playing with the expensive, break-able coasters in your rented condo.  Most of the these companies will deliver the cribs and set them up before you even arrive. Some hotels also offer Pack and Plays, but if you want a full crib, you’re better off renting one.
  2. Another option is a toddler travel bed, which a small mattress that inflates and can be placed on the floor.  We have a Tuck-Me-In Travel Bed with Removable Mattress KIDS – $99.95 made by One Step Ahead and it has worked really well for us.
  3. If you decide to bring your baby monitor, don’t forget a thumb-tack.  Sometimes it’s hard to find a place to hang up the baby monitor in your hotel or condo.  Obviously, it’s important to make sure that all the cords are tucked away and it’s up high enough so they can’t reach it.  Having a thumb-tack allows you to hang your monitor on the wall and tuck the cords away from your kids.
  4. If you don’t bring your car seat on the plane and plan to rent one from the rental car company, make sure you call and reserve it in advance since they do run out occasionally.
  5. When you get there, make a quick lap around the place and put away anything breakable.  We have even moved the coffee table when it’s sharp and glass and looks like a prime target for head-splitting.  Make the condo as comfortable and safe as you can for while you are there.  You can move everything back later.
  6. Does your rental place have stairs?  Make sure you find that out before-hand, and if needed, try to rent a baby gate if your kids are at that age.  Sometimes the rental place will even provide one for you.

I hope you have a great trip and if you can think of anything I forgot, please add it for me!!

Sourced from http://www.mommywithselectivememory.com

Planning your RTW trip.

The idea of round-the-world travel has been gaining traction in recent years, with more and more people, from a widening variety of age ranges and backgrounds, deciding it’s not only possible to add a big trip to their life-plan but to do it with an economy that doesn’t force them to struggle for survival when the trip comes to a close.

I’m going give you a few tips (seven to be exact) to help you better arrange your planning, to you show you how to kickstart your RTW trip with an ease you may not have recognized.

To more easily break it down, I’ll put the process into chronological stepsyou can tick off one by one.

 

Step 1: Finalize where you’re going.

This process of deciding where to go may have started when you first discovered there was a world out there to travel to, when you first saw images of places like the Great Pyramids and Machu Picchu, when words like Burma, Bali and Buenos Aires only just began to capture your imagination.

The final decisions about destinations should take place about six to eight months before you want to leave. This way you’ll still have a couple months before you lock down your route by buying plane tickets.

If you need to, hang a world map on your wall, put some pins or stickers on it, and reinforce the idea that you’ll actually be in these places soon. Adjust them if your itinerary strategy or motivation changes. If anything, this process will serve to coalesce your vision, not to mention sharpen you geography skills – which is great since you’ll be needing them later on.

 

Step 2: Create your budget (and stick to it).

The financial aspect of round-the-world travel planning may be the most challenging and least fun part but someone’s going to have to pay for the trip, and if it’s you, set a budget. It could be the one thing that keeps you on the road when others are running out of money.

There are ways to determine how much things are going to cost; the Internet is rife with information about the costs associated with round-the-world travel, so use the resource to formally assign some costs to your budget plan.

Make yourself comfortable and physically write down your numbers based on your personal traveling style. Use a spreadsheet if necessary, some expensive budgeting software, an abacus, whatever works best for you because you’ll want to be able get a complete overview as you work your way through the process. Here are some categories to get you started:

  • Plane tickets – see step 4.
  • Accommodations – you’ll need a place to stay every night, but this doesn’t have to be expensive. If this is a concern, extend your stay in countries where the cost of living is cheaper, and lower your room standards in countries that are more expensive. Look to homestays, couchsurfing, long-term rentals to keep costs down.
  • Food – if you’re a self-proclaimed epicurean, budget for lots of restaurants, otherwise set you food budget lower by vowing to eat cheaply.
  • Entertainment – i.e. tours, shows, activities. Things like white water rafting, ziplinging, Zorbing come up via circumstance and you might not want to miss out. Keep money in this category so you can actually thrill yourself once in a while, perhaps with a jetboat ride around the fjords of New Zealand.
  • Transportation – trains, cars, taxis, ferries, tuk-tuks, bike rickshaws. This is absolutely essential to have in the budget; you’re going to be covering a lot of ground outside the plane, make sure you have money to get places.
  • Purchases – things like souvenirs, specialty items. Keep this small since you’ll quickly grow weary of carrying things around or else shipping them home.
  • Minor incidentals – give yourself a big buffer on this because things come up, many things and you don’t know quite how things will be on the road. You can adjust it a few weeks after your trip starts to see how you’re doing resisting overspending.

 

Here’s a read on ways to avoid what I call the Great Traveling Money Bleed. It has a number of unexpected items to keep in mind when planning the incidental budget category.

 

Step 3: Plan what you’ll be doing when abroad.

Even at this point you should have a pretty good idea about how you’ll be spending your time while you’re on the road. This helps dramatically when alloting how much time to spend in each place. Take it from me, a place can get pretty dull when idly passing each day by.

Will you be:

  • Sightseeing
  • Volunteering
  • Relaxing
  • Working
  • Taking part in adventure activities

Each of these requires different time commitments. You’ll also need to know how long for reasons such as visa stays, setting dates for departing flights, aligning dates for planned events down the road.

Revisit your budget to include these details.

 

Step 4: Pick up your tickets.

There are a variety of places to purchase round-the-world plane tickets. I won’t go into them here suffice it to say some are better than others. But certainly don’t stop at the first place you see. Also know that the airlines are not the only game in town. As a matter of fact, my recommendation is unless you’re using airline miles, look elsewhere. The Alliances’ websites may be slick and easy on the eyes but it doesn’t mean you’re doing yourself a favor by using them to buy your tickets. There are numerous rules, restrictions and pigeonholes that aren’t immediately clear but that force into traveling a certain way, and quite unnecessarily. Perhaps get a price from the airlines to set the bar and buy the trip elsewhere.

It’s actually possible to have the ticket purchasing process be fun, not riddled with frustrations, headaches and uncertainties. Choose your patronage based on the following:

  • Value
  • Service
  • Pleasure of experience
  • Gut instinct

Do-it-yourselfers, remember: a couple hundred dollars more spent to have someone else book your tickets may be the difference between unsolveable logistical road snafu and an effortless journey around the world. The choice is up to you.

The best time to buy plane tickets is 4 – 6 months before your departure.

 

Step 5: Organize your life.

You’re taking the trip, you’ve already decided that. In order to keep everything on track, you’ll need to make sure the time leading up to your departure is spent making smooth transition into your traveling life. I’ll call this your “exit strategy”.

Think of this strategy as a straight line to your departure day, and then think of a puppy trying to walk that line. Every time the puppy strays off the line (due to sparkly objects, the smell of cooking steak, someone trying to make him do tricks) pick him up and put him back on. Always remember, at the end of the line is you getting on the plane!

Your exit strategy will function best if you write down a timeline of when you need to do things to get done by the time you leave. A written timeline will make it 100% easier to remember what you’ve forgotten. If you need help putting a timeline together, there are options online.

Some major parts:

  • Set up your job sabbatical
  • Deal with your pets, house and car.
  • Get passports/visas
  • Buy plane tickets

 

Step 6: Book a couple nights of accommodation in the first few cities you’ll be traveling too.

Give yourself smooth arrivals in foreign cities by knowing where you’ll be going when you get off the plane. Book a couple nights accommodations before you leave for the first few cities (you can always extend the stay if the location and price were right) then book accommodations further along as you get better at predicting your needs. It’s probably not a good idea to book stays more than a month or two ahead since things may change dramatically on your itinerary and canceling or changing reservations is often trickier than booking them.

 

Step 7: Get ready to leave.

This may arguably be the most angst-ridden time you’ve ever known. There are a million things left to do, and that’s okay. You can’t change that. What you can change is your approach to them. If you’ve been using a planning timeline, you should be perfectly set up to slide right into traveling. You’ll have purchased all the items you need to buy, you’ll have set up your vitals for your absence, you’ll have kissed the dog goodbye.

Organization is key, make it a habit and it will help you dramatically once you’re on the road.

That should do it. Seven steps to get you juiced to start achieving your travel dreams!

AirTreks Nico
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Mobile reception signals.

How to get the Best Reception Signals while travelling
HELLO ! HELLO !… Can You Hear Me Now?
Getting reception and signals is hard enough at home. What do you do when you are traveling abroad? Many traditional travelers will argue that the point of traveling is to get away from your own culture and friends and to completely immerse yourself in another world, subsequently leaving your ‘Mobile’ / ‘Tab’ at home.

But as the capabilities of cell phones and other communication devices continues to improve, an increasing number of travelers are beginning to see the advantage of having a mobile communication device while traveling abroad. And as the tourism industry takes note of this trend, they are making it easier to communicate using mobile devices, especially in European countries like France, Spain, England, Sweden and others quickly catching up.

There are two recommended ways of using your cell phone when traveling abroad. Consider your needs and choose what best fits you:

SIM Cards Abroad- some travelers find that simply leaving their usual SIM card at home and purchasing a new SIM card at their foreign destination is much easier. This works best with an old cell phone that has been turned on, that is, not the phone you use every day. If you use your primary phone, you are at risk for accruing astronomical roaming rates since most phone carriers will charge you just to have the power turned on. By unlocking an old phone and inserting a SIM card from the country you are visiting, the temptation to whip out your cell phone to call your best friend, aunt, or neighbor to tell them about your latest European adventure while paying an exorbitant amount in roaming charges becomes a non- issue.
Using a new SIM card purchased in the country you are visiting will help you to avoid roaming charges. Since there is typically a fixed rate, you will know how to budget your expected mobile expense for the trip. Leaving more money for that extra cocktail on the beach.
Phone Cards- Kiosks in most European cities sell phone cards. They are relatively inexpensive at just cents per minute. The catch is that these phone cards could have limited locations where they actually work. Most phone cards will work in hotel rooms or phone booths, so it does limit your communication capabilities. However, the process for using one is quite simple. Just call the local access code printed on the card, enter in the PIN # also found on the card, and make your call.
Both of these options will allow you to stay in touch during your travels, but a SIM card can give you more choices. Using an international SIM card on a phone with internet access can do everything from supply you with maps if you get lost, or make dinner reservations on the go. The most important part is to be able to tell everyone your experiences on your trip as you go along.