What We Learned About Traveling in 2012: Tips from writers around the Web
There are many things we love about the end of the year. Eggnog, HD yule log apps and the subtle but certain scent of travel plans in the new year to name a few.
But what we really love are lists. Big honking end-of-the-year recapapaloozas that rehash what we learned in the past 12 months and what we’re hoping for in the year ahead.
So we thought we’d reach out to our travel industry friends to ask them what they learned about travel in 2012, and to see if they had any tips for traveling in the coming year. Here’s what they told us:
Choosing a destination
“You really can have fun anywhere. I went to some awesome places this year—Dubai and Oman come to mind—but one of my best memories from the road in 2012 was having a steak dinner in Bentonville, Arkansas. It’s definitely not the most glamorous destination, but the trip reminded me that travel’s about the experience not the passport stamp.”
“I didn’t need to hire a security detail to safely visit Afghanistan”
Matthew Klint has traveled over 200,000 miles and visited over 90 countries the last five years. He writes for UPGRD.com and has been featured in the New York Times, USA Today and on NPR.
“In my mind the must visit destination is always Paris… but if you are looking for something different, then go to Wales. It is beautiful, easy to get to and the people are very friendly.”
“Tourist infrastructure is expanding very quickly right now in Haiti. There are new hotels and exciting initiatives in the works, with a very dynamic young tourism minister directing traffic. Bradt has just published a Haiti guide by Paul Clammer, which should get more people excited about the country.”
Alex Robertson Textor is a London-based travel writer and editor with a developing interest in destination branding. He endorses local culture, independent travel, modern design, and good food with unbridled enthusiasm. Follow him on Twitter @textorian
“I don’t think countries currently in turmoil in North Africa or the Middle East are going to be truly ready for floods of tourists by the end of 2013, but I’d like for travelers to be poised to visit as soon as they are ready. There’s nothing like an influx of tourism money to help rebuild a place, not to mention the ‘humanizing the unfamiliar’ factor, which is always a huge bonus.”
Jessica Spiegel is a freelance travel writer, social media consultant, and TBEX Community Manager with a soft spot for Sazeracs, footy, anything Italy-related, and cities with bad reputations. Read more at JessicaTravels.com.
Paul Bennett is the Founder of Context Travel, a network of scholars and specialists who lead walking seminars for small groups in Europe, Asia and N. America.
“Try and build some spare downtime days into a trip. Plan it so that you’re doing something big every day and you’ll end up resenting it. The ‘mooch around, do some laundry, sit in a park and read a book day’ is a key part of making the ‘all-action, world class experiences’ day special.”
David Whitley is a UK-based travel journalist who has written for the National Geographic Traveller, the Guardian, Telegraph, Independent and the Sunday Times. Follow him on Twitter @mrdavidwhitley.
“Stop worrying, just travel. Whether I’ve been traveling as a blogger or for my day job, I have the bad habit of being ‘on’ constantly. Interviewing people, taking cards and information, looking for a deeper story. When I went on my honeymoon in September, my husband made it clear that there would be none of that happening in New Zealand. It was a valuable lesson in just being in that place at that time without worrying about a story.”
“There were a few [things I learned this year]: that the profession of ‘travel writer’ probably won’t exist by the time I’m a grandpa age; that I really prefer traveling alone; that I’m glad I don’t give a [expletive] about—or really have much of an opinion about—’brands’ like hotels and such but that the destination and people in that destination make the story; and that I’m afraid of elephants.”
David Farley is the author of “An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town” and Contributing Editor at AFAR magazine. Read his personal blog at www.dfarley.com.
“A sense of urgency when booking is not always needed. I mean, round-trip fares to Hawaii from the East Coast have been below $500 since the end of summer (which is, frankly, insane). While you do sometimes have to ‘ACT NOW!’ on a deal, you can often find airfare sales lingering for a stretch.”
“Once you reach 30, the weekend trip to Europe is much harder than you think it is. Also, second visits can be much more rewarding than first visits.”
Grant Martin is the editor in chief of Gadling.com. Specializing in consumer travel, the airline industry and logistics, his travels have taken him far and wide around the world and he now contributes to Gadling from Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @grantkmartin.
“I am evermore enamored with Ziploc bags when I realized how great they are for consolidating (and shrinking my packing). I’ve started leaving them in my suitcases so they’re readily available for socks, bathing suits and even workout gear.”
Suzanne Russo is EuroCheapo’s Listings Editor and frequently blogs for our guide to NYC. She’s also a freelance writer, director of the San Francisco-sponsored, New York literary pub crawl, Lit Crawl, and constant wanderer.
“Always carry an antibiotic. I was just sick in Panama and couldn’t get one without going to a doctor.”
Johnny Jet travels over 150,000 miles and visits 20 countries each year. He and his website have been featured in the USA Today, The New York Times and other publications and he recently hosted “Hot Spots 2012” on the Travel Channel.
“Pack light and take only cabin luggage. Not only do you save a small fortune from not paying the airlines’ checked bag fees, but you also reduce your check-in time (most often just check-in online) and you also remove the stress and the time wasting of having to wait for your luggage after the flight.”
Preparing for a trip
“There’s still place in this world for decent travel agents. Trying to independently sort flights, transfers and hotels can take up a lot of time, and travel agents have access to clever systems that can often do all this stuff for less than you would pay for separate online bookings.”
Laura Porter is the About.com London Guide and can be followed on Twitter @AboutLondon.
“Learn how to count in the local language! It makes it much easier to purchase things like food and drink, and the locals are often friendlier and more willing to help if you can show a willingness to speak their language, no matter how rusty you are!”
Ian Cumming is the Co-Founder of Travel Massive, the biggest travel industry meetup in the world. Learn more about him at AussieIan.net.
“Ask for details about ‘free Wi-Fi.’ My wife and I stayed in an apartment where the Wi-Fi signal barely reached us from a router across the street.”
Durant Imboden is the founder of EuropeForVisitors.com, a resource for unbiased information about European travel and cruising.
“[Take] a class. I like to incorporate travel with classes in general, which gives an energetic sense of purpose in a place, and an immediate social outlet if traveling alone. Me? I want to take harmonica or dulcimer lessons in Appalachia, like the Campbell Folk School in North Carolina.”
“Forcing the TSA to give you a hand pat-down is not only your legal right, but it’s also a fun way to get back at them for all the indignities they cause you. Under certain circumstances, it’s also a decent surrogate for a sex life.”
Jason Cochran has worked at Budget Travel, AOL, and the New York Post and was awarded Guidebook of the Year by the Lowell Thomas Awards. Read more at www.jasoncochran.com.
“Always make sure you have a few films downloaded to your iPad for when the inflight entertainment conks out, there is nothing available that your kids understand or there isn’t anything good on.”
“Flying business or first class is better than flying coach, but all business/first class isn’t created equal. Save your pennies, miles, or upgrade credit for when it really counts—and that’s not a couple hour flight up and down the coast.”
Mary Jo Manzanares is the Conference Director of TBEX. Follow her on Twitter @MJManzanares.
On the rails
“I didn’t know about this because I often wait to finalize my travel plans until right before departure, but Czech Railways offers significant discounts — about 25% off — if you buy tickets at least three days in advance. For a quick $50, I think I can get organized.”
Family on the road
“Travel more with family. I often times travel for work and that means solo. I’d like to get my wife, son and newborn (due in May) on a few trips. With two kids that might mean day trips to the Jersey Shore or Long Island.”
“My wife and I just had identical twin daughters a few weeks ago. I am a father with three kids under the age of three. With that in mind, my travel resolution for 2013 is to spend at least six months out of the country.”
Sean Keener is the founder and CEO of Bootsnall.com, the one-stop indie travel guide.
“The best travel lesson I learned in 2012 is that against my better judgement, I actually do need sleep!”
Lee Abbamonte is the youngest American to visit every country in the world. He is a travel writer who appears regularly on TV, web and the radio and can be followed on Twitter @leeabbamonte.
“However hard I try to stop it, I will always be one of life’s very grumpy victims of jetlag. Stop fighting it and just let it be.”
Kevin May is the Co-Founder and Editor in Chief of Tnooz, a global provider of news and analysis for the travel industry.
“I’m going to return to my expat mode, and enjoy staying still for the first part of the year. Living in a foreign country offers a wonderful balance between discovering new customs and cultures, while still maintaining a sense of stability.”
David Lee is the Founder and Editor in Chief of GoBackpacking.com, an online guide to independent travel.
“Since it’s been a year and a half since I last left the United States, my travel resolution for the new year is to use my passport.”
Brendan Linard is an intern at EuroCheapo.com and for some reason an avid fan of the Golden State Warriors.
“Take my work to another city. I’d like to move to another city – whether it’s somewhere complementary to New York like (San Francisco), or a completely differently lifestyle (like Spain), and essentially keep doing the work I do. I just need a break from New York!”
“Instagram is fun, but if I’m uploading photos of my cats, I’m not traveling. I need to be more familiar with ‘Valencia’ the city than the filter.”
Tom Meyers is the editor of EuroCheapo.com.
What did you learn?
Share your travel lessons from 2012 and resolutions for the new year in our comments section.