international travel tips

Top 15 Travel Tips That You Need to Know

Travel tips from a personal trainer in Chicago? You bet! I've personal trained clients from all over the world for nearly ten years, and I've learned quite a bit. Keep in mind these tips for a trip of a lifetime!

1.) Offline city guides for your phone: Download the free Tripadvisor and Ulmon phone apps for offline GPS with city maps from across the world. Both apps provide reliable reviews for restaurants, too.

2.) Cheaper roundtrip flights based on seasons: Book flights a week before your destination’s typical tourist season. If you’re willing to settle for a 3-5 degree temperature difference, you can save as much as 40% on airfare and lodging expenses by booking your trip a week earlier than the start of the tourist season. Recently, I booked a trip to Ireland for $500 roundtrip on April 30th. The same flight was $900 seven days later!

First, you’ll want to investigate the monthly weather and events in the destinations you choose. Next, visit to select your estimated arrival and departure dates. Once you reach a list of prices for a roundtrip ticket, click on your departing city date again. You’ll find a calendar with a lowest fare price on each date for the next 6-9 months. Choose the appropriate date and price for travel and examine the new list of roundtrip flights. Continue this process until you find the flight plan most ideal for you.

3.) Cheaper roundtrip flights based on proximity: While we wanted to visit Ireland, the focus of our trip was Spain. The airfare to Barcelona was $1300 on April 30th. We chose to purchase $500 roundtrip tickets to Ireland and booked another flight to Barcelona for the following day. The total cost for a roundtrip ticket to Spain from Dublin? $320 (taxes and baggage fees included). Overall, our total cost for the airfare was $820! We saved nearly $500 and will visit two countries in one trip! Learn the most efficient way to do this by reading the recent Huffington Post article 6 Google Flights Tricks That Are Better Than Any Travel Agent - You’ll need to read their other Google Flights tips too!

4.) Discount lodging: Book your next stay at an apartment instead of a hotel. On average, you can save up to 50% by renting an apartment instead. Choose an apartment with at least seven reviews in a neighborhood you desire for a complete cultural experience. You should ask yourself the following questions when you book an apartment based on the reviews:

*Does a reviewer mention that the location is central or close to any landmarks? If not, it probably isn’t. Determine the area that’s best for you based on travel time and access to public transportation.

*Does a reviewer mention street or neighbor noise? Even if only one person says it, you’ll probably need earplugs.

*Does more than one reviewer mention dirtiness? Most renters will treat the apartments like their homes (which could mean a number of things). If more than one person mentions that the apartment was unkempt when they arrived, you should probably question whether or not the owner truly cleans it (despite the fee).

One last you want a $25 credit towards your next booking on Go to and signup today.

5.) Credit cards with no foreign transaction fees: Typically, you’re charged a 3% foreign transaction fee on your international credit card purchases. Avoid this by using one of the following credit cards:

- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
- BankAmericard Travel Rewards Credit Card
- Discover It
- Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business
- Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

6.) Basic international plans for your cell phone: At one time in the world, pay phones were scattered throughout cities. Now, you’re reliant on your cell phone. If you’re like most travelers, you may decide against an international plan and rely on wireless internet access in random cafes. Through experience, finding this access isn’t as easy as it sounds. In the United States, you’ll find internet access in most coffee shops. In Europe, you’re lucky if you find the same access. Once you do, it isn’t always free either. With this being said, save yourself the stress and purchase the most basic international plan from your phone carrier. Although the minutes and data package won’t offer you much, it will be useful when you can’t find your travel partner or wireless internet access.

7.) European Union Value-Added Tax: Did you know that you can get a 15-25% refund when your international purchase is above a particular amount? Check out Rick Steves article How to Claim VAT Refunds to find out how (

8.) Free international phone calls and text messages: Download the Whatsapp and Viber phone apps for free international phone calls and text messages. Only two requirements:

- You need wireless internet access.
- The person you are texting or calling must have the same phone app.

9.) Schedule a food or bike tour for your first day in a city: What’s the best way to capture a glimpse of the major sites or culture of your destination? Schedule a food or bike tour. During these four-hour tours, you’ll get a great taste of the city (pun intended). Sammy and I can’t say enough about our bike tours in Paris and Rome. Not only did we see the major sites, but we traveled down interesting streets that we most likely would’ve avoided. At the closing of each tour, we reviewed our stops and chose the sites we wanted to revisit for an extended stay. This is an excellent way to help you decide on how to spend the remainder of your trip. Visit for tour reviews in your destination city.

10.) Renew your passport six months before the expiration date: Have you seen the lines at the post office lately? If you have, you probably know that those people are submitting their passport applications. Most likely, they need their passport as soon as possible. While you can expedite the application process of your passport, the post office doesn’t guarantee it’ll arrive before your departure date. Save the time and stress by renewing your passport six months before its expiration date. You won’t need to spend the extra $60 to expedite the passport, and you can choose a day and time to visit the post office without lines. By the way, the best time to visit the post office is thirty minutes after they open and between two and four o’clock.

11.) Use the name on your state issued id or passport when booking your airfare: You’ll need an exact name match on your airline tickets and state issued id or passport at the airport. Nicknames aren’t accepted (i.e. Sammy instead of Samantha). If rejected at the gate, it may cost you up to $200 to change the name on the airline ticket.

12.) Sign-up for airline newsletters: Airlines offer multiple one-day specials throughout the month that you can’t pass up. Frontier Airlines is notorious for their $29 one-way flight specials. If you have flexible travel plans, you can take advantage of cheap flights. Sign-up for the following airline newsletters:

- Frontier Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Virgin Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Norwegian Air
- Lufthansa
- British Airways
- Virgin Airlines

13.) Book tours ahead of time: You should allow enough freedom in your travel plans to explore your destination. Embrace the unknowns and indulge in the local culture. If you wish to see the most popular tourist sites, though, book your tours ahead of time. You’ll avoid waiting 1-2 hours in line by purchasing in advance. Visit the websites of the museums and historic sites you want to see 2-4 weeks before your arrival and choose the time and day that’s best for you. It’s worth it!

14.) Avoid many of the international ATM fees: Considering that most businesses accept credit cards, a traveler doesn’t need to carry a lot of cash. Nevertheless, it may still be necessary, and you’ll most likely need an ATM. Typically, your bank will charge you a $2-5 ATM fee plus 1-3% foreign transaction fee. How do you avoid this? Check out They offer a high yield checking account with no ATM or foreign transaction fees and up to 6 monthly withdraws.

15.) Choose your airline seats wisely: Do you always book your seat next to a continuously flushing toilet on your international flights? Visit and choose your seats based on proximately to the bathrooms. Also, avoid sitting in the last row (the seats don’t recline).

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Article Credit:
Author: Michael Moody Fitness
Top 15 Travel Tips That You Need to Know
Learn budget-friendly travel tips from a personal trainer in Chicago.