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    • I recently read this very interesting piece in the NYTimes on strategic luxury, aka the art of stretching your travel funds further.

      While each traveler's tips may vary, I thought there were some great key takeaways from the piece:

      - BOOKING DIRECT FLIGHTS. The quote from the article: "Ashley Muir Bruhn, who lives in Davis, Calif., recommends paying extra for a direct flight. The mother of two and author of the blog Hither & Thither argues that whatever money you save on connecting flights is negated by the added risks. Missing your next flight or losing your bags is a terrific way to ruin a trip. Two shorter legs could mean less in-flight service, and how much more would you pay for those extra hours at the pool where you are headed?" So wise! This is probably my favorite piece of advice (and not just because trying to make transfers is incredibly stressful). With resources like these, you can book bargain flights that are (hopefully) direct to maximize your experience, and leave you less frazzled when you get there.

      - MAKING ARRIVAL EASIER. The quote from the article: "Some travelers splurge on making their first moments hassle free. Tina Leung, a stylist and blogger who splits her time between New York and Hong Kong, always hires a black car to pick her up from the airport. “I’m so happy to see someone holding a sign with my name,” Ms. Leung said. “You don’t have to think about it, right when you get off the plane and you’re already frazzled.” In my case, the only time I ever booked a car to pick me up from the airport was when I went to Belize, which I'm pretty sure did not have Uber those few years back when I went. Knowing that I had a trusted guide ready to welcome me from a very long and turbulent flight was amazing! This travel tip can be a lifesaver if you're traveling somewhere unfamiliar or need that extra support with luggage or a stressful trip.

      - STAYING IN A PLACE THAT BRINGS YOU JOY. The quote from the article: "Lodging is a much more common splurge, whether on a carefully situated (and decorated) AirBnb or a four-star hotel. “I want to wake up in a place that brings me joy,” said Ukonwa Ojo, a New York-based marketing executive. “I’m inelastic when it comes to cost on that.” She researches heavily before booking, reading reviews everywhere she can find them and making sure the accommodations are known for their high-touch service. " I tend to be more budget-conscious than the person quoted in the article - for example, the Premier Inn in the UK has a "good sleep guarantee" which is really all you can ask for when you're on the road - but if there's a particular location you know you want to stay in, whether a luxurious resort for a special experience or just saving yourself the time and aggravation of being based elsewhere can be very worthwhile.

      - SPLURGING ON A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME MEAL. The quote from the article: "Mr. Frommer, founder of a new online publication called The New Consumer, is willing to pay for the possibility of a “life-altering meal,” he said. He had just eaten at Inua, the new Tokyo restaurant from Noma-trained Thomas Frebel, with friends (his share of the tab: $333.41) and was still processing the dish made from nasturtium leaf and enoki mushroom. And he was more than happy to eat hard-boiled eggs and salmon onigiri rice balls from the corner store some days as a trade off." This is fascinating to me because I try to find the most delicious value-oriented food ever (spoiler alert: best meal of all time is Il Cinghiale Bianco in Florence) but I completely respect the passion for elevated dining, so if it's your cup of tea, by all means you should experience it! Otherwise I think that researching and finding amazing local restaurants is one of the joys of travel.

      What are your travel strategic luxury tips, tricks, and lifehacks?

    • I have been in the midst of flight planning for a trip to Scotland this fall - I have been to Scotland previously a couple times, and had always been able to get a direct flight from Newark to Glascow, but this year, for some strange reason, I could not find hardly any direct flights from the east coast of the US direct to Glascow - Orbitz, Google, Kayak - they all wanted me to bounce in Amsterdam, or land and go through Customs and Immigration at Heathrowe and then fly domestic to Glascow, or bounce in Paris, or somewhere - which meant I was going to bounce 2 or 3 times to get to Glascow - A VERY BAD travel plan.

      Talking with a friend, about my dissatisfaction, they recommended we look into flying direct to Edinburgh and have a private car meet us at the airport to take us to our meeting in Glascow. I found a direct flight from JFK to Edingburgh and a private car to meet us at the Edinburgh airport and drive us for the 1 hour drive to Glascow. A MUCH BETTER plan, and it was cheaper too!!

      I wholeheartedly suport direct flights - bouncing always has bunches of risks - the connecting fight might be too late, or may be cancelled ( I've experienced both ) or your bags may get lost or sent to Swaziland. And the more times you bounce the greater the risks of misadventure. Fly Direct!!

      One other tip - try to make sure your cash you are bringing with you is valid. Nothing like landing in London on a Sunday morning and finding the currency you have brought with you from a previous trip a few years back is no longer accepted by any merchants. It can happen DAMHIK. You get to spend Monday talking a local banker into swapping your currency for newer issue. It is funny a few weeks later in a bar over drinks. Not funny unable to buy water on a Sunday morning in London.

      Bring more than one credit card too - you can never be certain which one will be preferred, I always call my credit card vendors and tell them my travel plans so that they will know where I plan to be and when.

      Make sure your cell phone plan is good for international travel, My carrier is Verizon, and they offer a plan called PassPort which means that your cell phone plan you have at home in the USA will be the plan you have in the country you have just landed in for the price of $10 a day ( for most countries - see Verizon's website for a list of countries ) - you will receive a text asking if you want to use your passport plan for moble and data coverage each day - if you respond with a text yes, you will be charged $10 bucks for that 24 hour period, but if you have a high data plan at home you will have a high data plan as you travel, If you don't respond, you will not access the plan and not be charged, but if you use your phone you may get a much higher bill due to the way cell coverage is charged to international travellers. You do not have to do anything when you return home - things go back to normal. Being able to use your cell phone when your travel outside the USA, like you do at home, is easliy worth the 10 bucks a day when you need it. I once landed in Iceland and didn't get the text asking me if I wanted to use my Passport plan, so I called Verizon and within 10 minutes got the plan connected and was able to use my phone. It does work in Greenland, Norway, Iceland, Canada, and the UK based on my experience, but also many more.

      Bring an inflatable pillow - they weigh nothing and are a great place to rest your head as you travel.

      Consider if you might need evacuation for a medical emergency or injury. There are several firms which offer evacuation from primitive terrain. RipCord is the plan I currently subscribe too. I have never been seriously injured in my travels but stuff does happen, and I have folks I know who had to be evacuated from the South Atlantic on the way to Antarctica. Ya just can't call Uber for that. An annual subscription to Ripcord helps me sleep at night knowing I can get home again if I am injured or ill, whether in the USA or overseas.

      They offer plans to evacuate you from Security issues as well, but that costs significantly more I am certain. I try to limit my travel to areas I feel are secure from political misadventure.

      I may think of some more later - that's enough for now...

    • +1 for direct flights over connections.. well worth the extra $.

      Also if flying Delta overseas they offer extra leg room seats for little more (was 200$ for me round trip iirc).

      I prefer an unlocked phone, but even if yours is locked you too could call into your provider to get it unlocked prior the trip. Just don't expect that will happen in few days. That way real cheap, almost global coverage Orange SIM cards can be purchased ahead of time from Amazon.

      Great topic, I'll post up if I think of more...

    • Thank you @Dracula and @Pathfinder for sharing your wisdom! I personally have Verizon as a cellular carrier and I find that my Android device doesn't work well internationally. When I was traveling much more, I was seriously contemplating getting an iPhone as my friends who had iPhones always seemed to be able to access data and calling internationally when I was stuck with a brick that didn't work.

      Thought there might be some interesting nuggets of wisdom in here (I use plastic bags to wrap each shoe if I'm packing shoes, but now I might switch to shower caps)?

    • You are quite welcome. Asheville hotels run as high as $500 / night this weekend but most are already booked! I just booked two nights for this crazy overbooked weekend, in Johnson City TN for what I think was a great price and a great find, about almost half the above! Not too far from some of the best riding roads around East coast here. And I always love staying at Holiday Inn Express ☺️