Is AirBnB a good choice for lodging deals? Are there any precautions one should take when booking through AirBnB? Any other recommendations for lodging sites?
Dear Hotel Harry,
Wow! AirBnB is probably my new favorite travel thing, so yes, absolutely it is a good choice for lodging deals! In fact, I pretty much only check two or three places for lodging when I am researching travel, and AirBnB usually is where I check first!
If you don’t find anything you like, you can always check out Hotels.com here or Booking.com as well!
Here is an article I wrote about Tips for AirBnB beginners, which should help you understand more about the service and about my experience with AirBnB!
I hope this helps! 🙂
What pieces of clothing are essential to bring on a trip to Europe?
Dear Travel Help,
Well, that depends on the time of year, your gender, and what type of activities you’ll be doing. For example, women’s luxury travel in Europe during the summer months would require different clothes than in the winter months, and adventure backpacking clothing for men during the summer would be different than luxury travel for men. With that being said, twice now I have visited Europe during the summer and have chosen to wear dresses. Check out my blog post here to see what I brought, and why I chose the dresses I did!
I love your posts, particularly the one about Venice and how you have gone about planning for your day there. My question is how do you plan your feeding stop (for want of a better word/phrase!). Do you research restaurants beforehand, or play things by ear/stomach and look at options close by when you are starting to get hungry. We tend to fall back on TripAdvisor but most restaurants have their share of good and not-so-good reviews so sometimes TripAdvisor just further complicates things and if you are in a group (small or large), people just get grumpy (as they’re hungry!!) and we end up pretty much walking into the first place that does at least look clean! So all that time on TripAdvisor ends up wasted anyway!
Dear Too TripAdvised,
Thanks so much for the good vibes! 🙂
Food is definitely a complicated issue, based partially on how much you want to spend, what time of day it is, and everyone involved needs and preferences.
TripAdvisor is definitely a great way to find restaurants when traveling, but, definitely reading too many reviews can lead you away from good experiences because someone was hangry and had to wait too long for their food. As such, I tend to read reviews and use TripAdvisor for food only when planning very special meals in advance that may require reservations.
I would not underestimate your current method of walking around and finding a good looking place! There is a lot of value in convenience, and having a restaurant close by while you’re wandering around a new city is incredibly helpful. Most restaurants post their menus outside, so you can see if the price is too high or if you like their offerings. You also immediately know if there will be a wait! And honestly, unless you’re looking for a specific restaurant that you already had in mind, you’re in a new city, so every place you eat will be new and exciting!
One word of caution about wandering around for food: avoid the high-traffic tourist spots at all cost! Some of them don’t even have real kitchens in the back (!!!!!), and they typically are vastly overpriced. Even just going one or two blocks away from an attraction can put you back into the “locals” area of town, where reasonably priced food can be found. And remember, those places are open because the locals support them, so the food probably is pretty good, too.
What do I need if I am traveling to Madagascar?
Giant Turtles Or Bust
Dear Giant Turtles or Bust,
This is quite a question! I’ve never gone to Madagascar, but I’m sure plenty of people have.
For any trip, I’d start by following my 10 Steps to Planning a Flawless Trip (which will be available soon for free by signing up for the newsletter). That formula pretty much takes you all the way through the process of planning any trip, from a short local weekend getaway to a multiple-month, globe-hopping adventure!
In the meantime, though, I’d start by figuring out when you want to travel. Madagascar is, of course, renown for its wildlife, so before deciding when you’re going to go or where, I’d check with the critters first. Is there a mating season to avoid? (I live in Florida, and you DO NOT want to go looking for alligators during mating or nesting season!) Do most of the animals you want to see exist on the south end of the island? These are huge questions to consider that are essential to such a unique trip. No one wants to go observe bears in their natural habitat, for example, during hibernation season.
After all that research, I’d suggest that you be prepared to acknowledge that you’ll likely be there at the height of their tourist season, and that you’ll probably be paying a premium for the tickets!
Check out skyscanner.com, though, or download their app. You can play around with different departure cities and maybe find yourself a better price that way (but please consider that you have to get to the departure city, too). Either way, you can set up an alert for price drops.
As far as what you need, I’d suggest some wet weather gear like a hearty poncho, good camera equipment, comfortable, loose clothing, and an excellent pair of hiking shoes.
Let us know how the trip goes!
For a trip to Europe, how far in advance should plane tickets and lodging be arranged?
Dear Euro Zoned,
My instinct is to say, “as far in advance as possible,” but that isn’t really a helpful response. If you’re going in the offseason, then there is less of a rush as the prices will be relatively cheap for airlines and lodging alike. For the high season, the price is going to be high no matter what, but I’d suggest booking around September or October for the following summer. While your prices won’t be stellar for the high season, at least you’ll avoid having all the plane ticket prices creeping up a few hundred dollars over the next few months.
If you’re in no rush, set up alerts on sites like Skyscanner.com, and contact your hotels directly to see if they have a schedule of lowest prices. Then just go with the flow! 🙂
Don’t forget to always have your passport handy and up to date, and to check and see if any visas are needed. Right now it looks like for travel to Europe from the USA 2021 and beyond, you’ll need a visa, so those last-minute spontaneous flights will end and booking ahead will become a necessity. The visa is good for multiple trips and for 3 years.