General Travel Tips

Travel Tips from the New York Times Travel Show

New York Times Travel Show 2016

New York Times Travel Show, 2016 at the Javits Center in NYC

Over the weekend, the New York Times hosted its annual Travel Show in New York City. A conference of sorts for the public and trade professionals (such as agents, bloggers and press), where travel specialists—over 500 in total—set up booths to wax poetic about the countries or cities they represent, tours they lead or the products they sell.

The Times also hosted seminars on a variety of topics from top new destinations, solo travel and social media, to travel writing and photography, maximizing awards points and other tips and tricks.

I wasn’t able to see them all (way too many choices and far to few of me) but here are some tidbits that I found worth sharing.

You may have your 15 minutes of fame whether you want it or not

Sree Sreenivasan, the chief digital officer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and an expert on all things social media, spoke about how apps like Periscope and Meerkat and Facebook’s new live streaming capabilities, means that you could be part of any number of live broadcasts while on the road. Remember that next time you’re traveling in a group or find yourself in a crowd when the smart phones come out. If you’re engaged in anything clandestine, in witness protection or just don’t have your best face forward, you may want to have an escape plan ready, you never know who could be watching.

Sree Sreenivasan

Sree Sreenivasan mulls over a question from the audience during his social media presentation

Speaking of Periscope and Meerkat, if you plan on broadcasting but you’re frustrated by the ephemeral quality of the video, Sree suggests adding #Katch to the title of your scope. Katch, a video sharing platform, will upload your video to the cloud and automatically open an account for you that will look like this: http://www.Katch.me/yourhandle.  All your social media data is saved for your review, plus you’ll have access to privacy controls as well as the ability to share to Twitter, Facebook, and RSS feeds. For more on how it works, check out this video. To make it even easier, sign in to Katch.me, you can turn on “auto-Katch” which will save all your broadcasts without having to use the hashtag.

Family travel is getting easier

I have a ton of friends that have children and have heard about the struggles parents endure when traveling with their kids. Frankly, it seems completely overwhelming, but I learned from family travel expert Amy Tara Koch, that companies are making it easier for families to enjoy journeys with the little ones.

Case in point, a program by Thompson Family Adventures that pairs your child with a pen pal from the country you’re visiting before your departure and then brings them together during the trip. I love this concept. It’s a fantastic way to learn about how other people live, inspire curiosity and heighten the excitement of the adventure, all at the same time.

On the practical side, Koch mentioned two companies, Jetset Babies and Babies Away, that deliver a range of baby supplies and toys to your destination and picks them up when you leave. Imagine having diapers, baby formula or a stroller at your disposal without having to lug one bit of it with you! This service would be on speed dial if I were a mom.

The importance of preparing for the worst

I know the title sounds rather ominous but the reality is, bad things can happen on vacation and it doesn’t take a lot of effort up front to minimize the fallout. During a panel discussion entitled, “Avoiding Travel Fails: Practical Tips for Worry-Free Adventures,” fellow bloggers, Dave and Deb from The Planet D, described a horrible day where Dave broke his back while they toured the Amazon. He wasn’t doing anything exotic, he just slipped on some steps, fell backwards and, BOOM, the nightmare began.

I won’t get into the 10-hour ordeal that followed to get him to a hospital in Quito, the point is, if they hadn’t invested in trip insurance with medical evacuation coverage (“make sure to read the fine print”), they would have paid an excruciating amount of money. The air ambulance alone was 50 thousand dollars. Another recommendation from the duo: make sure to keep receipts for any and all tests and medications, you’ll need them for reimbursement purposes. UPDATE: By the way, if you’re thinking that your U.S. Health Insurance will cover your bills, think again. Sad but true.

New York Times Panel: Travel Editor Monica Drake at the podium

New York Times Panel: Travel Editor Monica Drake at the podium

Great tips for avoiding trouble when traveling abroad include:  

  • Bypass long lines at customs by investing in Global Entry, which also entitles you to TSA pre-check. It’s worth the $100 and minor hassle required to get signed up.  I can’t tell you how happy I am to have mine. After 20+ hours flying back home from Africa, breezing by a line of 300 in customs makes me a very happy camper.
  • Make sure your credit card has a security chip as most other countries honor them exclusively.
  • Don’t use an ATM anywhere but in a bank. Don’t trust the safety of a local business like a bar or a supermarket.
  • Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, twice: The first time weeks before your trip to learn about any required vaccinations. The second, just before you leave, to see if any important alerts have been posted.

For more travel tips visit https://theinsatiabletraveler.com/category/travel-tips/

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