Travel can mean the exhilaration of seeing new places or the nightmare of not having the comforts and security of home. Like anything, travel goes much more smoothly with a little bit of knowledge and preparation. Keep reading for some sound advice from seasoned travelers on making your journeys pleasant memories.

If the hotel chain you will be staying at offers a loyalty program, join up. Even if you’re only planning on staying one or two nights, there are many perks to these programs. On the top of the list, is the fact that loyalty members are less likely to get bumped, if the hotel overbooks.

Don’t judge a hotel by its name alone. Look for the year it was built or last renovated, which can be very telling. Hotels can take a beating and a newly built budget hotel, may be much nicer than a luxury brand that is showing a lot of wear and tear from not being renovated in years.

It’s always time well spent to insure you have critical items with you on your trip. Make a list and check it twice! If the item that you have forgotten in your irreplaceable medicine or perhaps some critical piece of electronics, however, you’re in trouble! Plan ahead to insure this doesn’t happen to you!

If you’re planning on taking a cell phone with you on your trip, make sure to call your cell phone provider to ask them about roaming charges. The familiarity of your cell phone may make you feel better, but it may cost you a lot more to use it on foreign soil. A good alternative is buying a local SIM card and using it while you’re there.

Check out international fast food chains when you travel abroad! At first this sounds like a silly suggestion that will make you miss out on authentic local cuisine. However, the restaurants of international chains are often localized to cater to the palate of the natives. You may be surprised and interested to see the novelties on the menu at a restaurant you thought was familiar!

It’s easy to get bored while waiting in airports or at bus stations. One of the best items you can carry along is a small hand held computer or a smart phone. Before the trip you can pack it with games and even books so that you will always have something to do while waiting on your ride.

Use noise-cancelling headphones. Because of all the engine and background noise on an airplane, you have to crank the volume on your headphones up dangerously high just to hear the music. Invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, which cancel out the background noise and let you clearly hear your music at a reasonable volume. Even if you don’t listen to music, they are great for just reducing the noise.

If you are traveling by airplane, be sure to bring along your own headphones. Most in-flight entertainment systems today require that you wear headphones. You may be able to buy them in-flight, but it will be at a greatly inflated cost. Headphones are also a great way to create ‘white noise’ to block out your neighbors and/or the plane noise.

If you need to travel across the country but are on a limited budget, consider traveling by bus. In the past, bus travel was viewed somewhat unfavorably, but today major players like Greyhound, have made major improvements to attract the growing number of travelers who can’t afford plane tickets. Today bus lines are a more civil experience. Cleaner, newer buses are the norm and most stations offer free wireless internet access and sundries.

Avoid getting bumped when you are using an airplane to travel. First, be sure you get an advanced seat assignment. With seat assignments, you only get bumped if you are late. Next, you can check-in online. You can do this twenty-four hours before your departure and this will help save you a seat. Last, do not be late.

Before hitting the road on a road trip, taking a few safety precautions is essential. If you are going a long distance, make sure to get a tune up on the car. Pack an emergency kit including road flares, maps, water, blankets and food. While on the road, make sure to check your fluid levels and tire pressure every time you fuel up to ensure a smooth ride.

Pay extra for the balcony when traveling on a cruise ship. Not only does it give you and your partner a little retreat, but it also provides you with an incredible view of the ocean. A balcony can add just the touch of romance that you might have been craving on your vacation.

When traveling, carry your own GPS unit and program it for all of the stops you will be making. Doing this can save you the time it takes to constantly look up addresses and review maps. You also won’t find yourself stopping to ask for directions nearly as often.

Always carry a little cash when you’re traveling in Bali. Credit cards and travelers checks can be very useful, but you will find that some places don’t accept them. You might not be able to purchase a meal on the airline with plastic and that little, out of the way restaurant that you find, likely won’t take it either. Cash is always accepted, no matter where you are.

Prepare a personal hygiene kit and put it in your carry on bag. This is especially important if your luggage happens to get lost. At least you will be equipped with necessary, everyday items. In this bag, include razors, soap, travel sized shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, a toothbrush and whatever else you may need.

Talk to any road warrior and they can tell you both stories of great trips and disaster journeys. Some of the things they have learned have been shared in this article. Keep these tips in mind in preparing for your future travels, and you are sure to come home with great memories rather than headaches.

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