Tour Advisor Liv visited Portugal in May 2019 and experienced a taste of the Castles and Wines of Portugal tour. She had a wonderful time (more on that soon!) and wanted to share some of her top tips and travel must-haves.
To prepare for my trip, I like to research the culture and customs of my destination. If time allows, I will also hop on one of the free language learning apps, like Duolingo, to learn the bare necessities.
Google translate app
I download the Google translate app and the local language for offline use. I don’t regularly use this for conversations, but I use the camera mode for reading food menus quickly. If you have not used this app before to quickly translate text, prepare to be amazed!
To download: search “Google Translate” in your smartphones’ app store. Do this in advance of your travel to avoid data fees from your service provider.
I love to use packing cubes so that I can pack and unpack quickly and have all of my stuff stay organized. And, since everything has a place, I don’t leave or lose anything in the hotel room. These are especially helpful with toiletries. There are even options where the 3-1-1 security bag zips off the bottom! And while we are on the topic of organizing, my quick and cheap travel tip is to use rubber bands to corral electronic cord messes.
Get travel insurance!
I began my travels to Europe as many of us do, with a flight (or two). I flew uneventfully from Chattanooga to Charlotte; however, once in Charlotte, there were mechanical issues followed by bad weather resulting in delayed, then canceled flights, culminating in a missed connection. Before I knew it, I had spent almost 18 hours in the Charlotte airport. Realizing I wouldn’t be able to get a flight to New York until the following day, I booked a hotel to try and get some rest.
In the morning, I returned to the airport to secure a flight to New York. I was able to fly standby and made it to New York where I spent another unplanned overnight. The following day, my red-eye flight to Lisbon was uneventful. I arrived in Portugal bright and early, ready to explore the city (and maybe take a nap).
During my first few days of travel, I racked up a lot of unexpected expenses (food, coffee, and additional hotel nights) in addition to the unused services in Portugal that had already been booked and paid for. Since I had travel insurance I was able to recoup most of the additional costs as well as the costs of the unused services. Travel insurance is a great way to prepare yourself for the unexpected. It can give you the confidence to make decisions during a stressful situation.
And, just remember, the end destination is worth it!
Bring a book
One thing I always bring with me when I travel is a book. I read in bed to relax my mind after a day of amazing new experiences.
Bring a cozy pair of socks. After a long day of traveling, walking, and cycling, nothing feels better than putting on a clean pair of my favorite socks (after a shower of course). I normally slide into my purple Smartwool socks, grab the aforementioned book, and if there is tea in the room, you’d better believe I’m having a mug!
Earplugs and eye mask
I never understood the hype until traveling abroad. Nothing helps you sleep better on a redeye when there is a baby crying three aisles back or when there is a wedding party in your hotel’s lobby.
Eat like the locals
On tour, when you’re looking for a restaurant or cafe, go a few blocks away from the main tourist area to find a meal. I also make it a point to get snacks or meals from the mercado (market). Or even better – the local padaria (bakery) and talhos (butcher).
We’ll follow up with more details from Liv’s tour next week.