Let’s Chat About It! The best of today’s #TL_Chat

It’s difficult to summarise all the great suggestions made by the many travel professionals who participated in today’s #TL_Chat coordinated by @TravlandLeisure and sponsored by @British_Airways, but I’m going to try.

Here is the rundown of what I learned during this very informative chat:

Question 1:  “What are essential apps and websites you use to #TravelBetter? “

Shane Mitchell @shanegoesforth replied “The CIA Factbook for international alerts.  And Google Translate…”

I have to agree.  The State Department also has a comprehensive list of current travel warnings which really merits a check before booking your trip, but the big advantage of the CIA Factbook is that it provides a wealth of knowledge about your destination country.  It really behooves the traveler to be educated on their destination country before heading out.  It’s important to remember that laws in the country you are visiting may be quite different from local laws, and it is always good to understand the culture.  Educated travellers have a better time at their destination.

Some other useful apps and websites also got special mention from various participants:

  • Instagram – for photo sharing.
  • Hipmunk – for finding competitive fares
  • Trip Advisor – for a wide variety of travel information
  • Google Maps – for location information

Hawkins International PR @HIPR provided a link to their favourite apps which is well worth a look.

Question 2: “What’s in your airport survival kit?”

This got loads of great answers, mainly focused on food, drinks, and comfort items.  Hand sanitiser was one of the most mentioned must-haves, and I have to admit it’s always in my #travellean bag.  Other items mentioned were iPhones and chargers.  I’m not sure what it means to the smartphone market that iPhones were mentioned so often, but it’s interesting that so many top travellers specified that phone or an iPad.  For the record, I travel with those two as well.

Question 3: “What are your best-kept packing secrets or tips?”

A few people mentioned rolling their clothes to avoid wrinkles.  I suppose that’s one way to do it, but I’ve found it quite useful to select clothes which are wrinkle resistant to begin with.  Pack a few items of clothing which mix and match to give you versatility.  This becomes especially important if your trip gets unexpectedly extended.  @HeritageTours mentioned buying locally when you need something extra instead of packing too much in advance.  If you can afford it, it’s worth doing, especially if a surprise occasion arises.  Sometimes just buying a colourful scarf or a new tie can extend an outfit with little investment, and you don’t end up with too much to carry in your luggage on the return.  Shoes were mentioned, and I suppose for some this is a big packing factor.  I discipline myself into packing no more than two pairs of shoes.  If you’re careful with your selection, you can get a lot of wear from your comfy flying day shoes, a pair of dress shoes, and maybe some sandals.

Plastic zip bags were popular among these frequent flyers, and they are great for protecting your clothes from any unexpected spills.

Those Who Wander @ThoseWW said “Using the proper luggage–waterproof, lightweight, on wheels, comfortable straps, etc.”

This really is a very important point.  If you travel often, investing in quality luggage pays off.

Question 4: “What’s the first thing you do when your flight’s delayed?”

Lots of people apparently head for the bar.  I think for many it was said tongue-in-cheek.  It’s certainly tempting to grab a drink at the airport, whether from an airport bar or the travel lounge, and I’ve seen a lot of travellers do this.  That said, over the years I’ve found that limiting alcohol is best.  You dehydrate quite quickly when travelling and alcohol aggravates this.  Heavy alcohol consumption can also make Jet Lag worse.  It also dulls your senses and you want to stay sharp while travelling.  I’m sure we’ve all been in the cabin with that one person who enjoyed one too many and keeps asking for more.  My heart goes out to flight attendants.

So, instead of heading for the bar, head out into the streets and see some sites, if your delay is long enough.  Or, for shorter delays, enjoy a spa experience at the lounge, window shop, put your feet up and relax with a good book or magazine.  The most important thing is to keep calm.  Passengers get understandably upset when a flight delay affects their plans.  After all, they may miss a critical connection, a time-sensitive meeting, or simply get home too late to read their child a bedtime story.  All of these are legitimate reasons to let your temperature rise when the delay is announced, but it’s really one of those situations out of everyone’s control.  The smartest thing is to acknowledge, accept, and adapt.

Serendipity Traveler @PeggyCoonley had a great suggestion:  “When flight is delayed [I] check my attitude, go with the flow & work to get on next available option”.  Jay Hawk @jayhawknj added “Patience, lots of patience!”

Question 5: “What’s your biggest pet-peeve committed by other travellers?”

As you might expect, there were quite a number and variety of pet-peeves, ranging from security line issues to barefoot passengers in the cabin, most of which we can all relate to.  Personally, I liked what Kristen Kellogg @BorderFreeProd had to say: “Yelling at the poor person behind the desk.  I still don’t know why people think this is okay.  #KeepCalm”.

Question 6: “What is the biggest tipping conundrum you’ve faced?”

I thought this was a great question for travellers, especially from the US where tipping generously is common practice.  I think I’ve always erred on the side of tipping too much, even when this was inappropriate to the country I was visiting.  Frankly, it’s a blurry issue and I’m never quite sure what to do.  That’s why I was grateful that On Call International @oncallintl shared their handy guide to tipping.  As they point out this is only a general guide, but it’s worth reading.  In this article they also provide a link to their post on etiquette challenges which also deserves a frequent traveler’s attention, especially for those travelling for business.  I’m glad I followed their link, as their website is chock full of great traveler information and I’ll be looking forward to their travel tips & advice newsletter in my inbox.

Question 7: “What are your best money-saving travel secrets or tips?”

@HeritageTours said “Turn off cell phone roaming,” and @marcellinho_nl said “Buying a local SIM card for my phone…”

@TripAdvisor recommended @TingoTeam who furnish price drop refunds.

@JohnnyJet added “Easy! Being FLEXIBLE”.

I find that you have to shop around.  No matter how urgent your trip is, the availability of a large resource of pricing websites makes it possible for today’s passenger to quickly evaluate and compare prices.  It just makes sense.

Question 9:  “Describe how to #TravelBetter in three words.”

Some of my favourites were:  @HeritageTours “Open Your Mind,” @SeatGuru “Sit back, relax,” @chic_travel “Always be kind.”

I know I’ve probably missed some great ones, and I hope I’ve credited all the right tweeters for all the right tweets.  Please forgive any omissions or mistakes.

I’m really glad I participated in this #TL_Chat.  I learned a lot, and met some great people who are passionate about travel and savvy to boot.  You can bet I’ll be following Travel and Leisure’s chats in future.  If you want to follow future Chats from Travel and Leisure, email “yes,” to TLSocial@timeinc.com.

Oh, and by the way…

I didn’t forget question eight, I just wanted to leave it for last.

Question 8:  “What was your biggest travel mishap and what did you learn?”

All the anecdotes shared in the chat were great, but I’d like to hear from you!

Use the comments space below to share your biggest mishap.

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