The 25 Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions—Answered

By March 31, 2018 No Comments

I found the following article on Conde Nast Traveler about travel questions. While I don’t agree with everything, I thought I would share it with you today. The original article can be found at

At Condé Nast Traveler, some reader questions crop up repeatedly, and we wanted to address those tried and tested travel queries in one place. Here are our answers to your 25 most frequently asked questions.

What are the most surreal places to visit?

Some of the strangest places on earth are also the most sublime: from the UFO-like dragon’s blood trees in Yemen to a rainbow-colored hot spring in Yellowstone to a bridge in Germany that looks like a leftover prop from Lord of the Rings.

Why do you need to turn off all your electronic devices before an airplane takes off and lands?

We’ve been taught to fear the interference of our portable devices and an airplane’s sensitive electronic systems. And despite being told to turn off our darn phones, four out of ten passengers, it seems, disregard these warnings, since there’s little hard evidence behind claims that electromagnetic emissions from devices can muddle airplane computers. Still, there’s ample anecdotal corroboration, like the flight where a 30-degree navigation error was rectified simply by asking a passenger to turn off a portable DVD player. The issue is still being debated, so if in doubt, flick that Off switch. We might, eventually, long for the days when a chatty seatmate couldn’t make an hour-long phone call.

Do you have to be rich to travel the world?

The beauty of travel is that it’s accessible to everyone, in some form. You don’t have to go far to experience a new culture. Plus there are several ways to make most flights affordable, whether by being flexible, searching on new websites like Skypicker and Fareness, or just by planning ahead. Know the best time to book a flight: 57 days in advance for domestic flights, 117 for international. Then again, you could just make traveling the world your 9-to-5.

What are some common items savvy travelers bring with them (that less-savvy travelers don’t)?

Don’t forget a small power strip—ideal for sharing a crowded outlet in an airport, and a simple way to keep all devices close by once at a hotel. (Combine that with a Zolt—which powers a laptop and two devices with a charger the size of a lipstick—and it’s even handier.) Keep a photograph of your luggage and passport on your smartphone; lose either of them, and you’ll be grateful for the reference. Pack a scarf—always. And since calling Nespresso coffee is an insult to baristas everywhere, the best in-room alternate is the Aeropress, a nifty gizmo that’s portable, light, and makes killer morning joe almost anywhere.

What’s it really like to be a travel writer?

“For every beautiful beach hideaway, there’s been a missed flight or delay; for every delicious meal, a nasty case of ‘Delhi belly,” says Traveler contributing editor Krisanne Fordham in her story on this very topic. In short: Traveling for a living is equal parts rewarding and challenging, satisfying and smelly. It teaches you to live—not linger, but really live—outside your comfort zone, to always pack a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, and to never check your bag again.

What are some things airline pilots won’t tell you?

There’s no better Bible of in-flight secrets than Air Babylon, a rollicking romp through 24 hours at an airport compiling anonymous tell-alls from a raft of staff. One sample tidbit: Aviation law decrees that after an onboard death (more common than you’d imagine), planes must land at the nearest airport. No airline wants to pay fines for being delayed, so no one is officially declared dead on board until the plane is landing at its destination.

Where are the best places to travel alone?

Well, we certainly don’t recommend Tahiti, where there’s an all-but-constant reminder at every juncture that you are alone, a sad friendless figure lurking amid the glowing honeymooners. There are a few places, though, where visiting solo is a bonus, not a burden: notably cruises, yoga retreats, and treks across Europe.

Who makes the best travel bags?

There’s more to in-flight baggage than a boring black rollaboard. Here are some ideas for every kind of trip, including a dapper retro case from Globetrotter worthy of David Livingstone.

Is India a good travel destination?

One of the best in the world, with a vast variety of destinations clustered together in a single country, from the Miami-esque glitz of Mumbai to the Raj-era holdovers in Kolkata, the parched landscapes and Tuscany-like city states in Rajasthan or the quiet backwaters of Kerala. Here’s some inspiration for planning the perfect first-timer’s trip, or you can pore over the site for our India-based sister magazine.

How do you pack a suit?

Don’t wear that suit if you want it to arrive wrinkle-free. Instead, heed the advice of our style editor, Jayna Maleri: “Hold your jacket in front of you, with the front facing you, and fold length-wise in half away from you (so the buttons are on the fold and the shoulders are touching). Then carefully turn one shoulder inside out, and wrap it over the other shoulder (you’ll know you’re on the right track if the lining is now on the outside). Then fold the jacket one more time, in half width-wise. Fold your trousers carefully in half (use their natural crease as your guide), then place the folded jacket on top of them, near the knees. Fold the pants carefully around the jacket, and pack the bundle in the bottom of your luggage. Follow these steps and we promise, it won’t need a frantic steaming in the hotel shower.”

What’s the best way to sleep on a plane?

Some seasoned travelers might swear by that knockout cocktail known as an Ambientini (a sleeping pill with a vodka chaser). There are better, safer ways, though—including pre-flight exercise and a few drops of lavender essential oil.

What are some of the best travel locations that most people have not heard of?

We’re all keen to explore countries and destinations that are unspoiled or unexpected, even if we’re probably still subconsciously following trends. (This year, Myanmar, Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago, and Sri Lanka are some of our planned far-flung getaways.) But we’d also like to reframe this question: What are some of the best destinations you haven’t heard of in well-known, heavily trafficked cities? Paris, perhaps, or London? Consider somewhere reasonably central, but slightly under the radar—say, Canal St. Martin in Paris and Shoreditch in London. They’re easy to reach and a offer a wonderful “wow”moment of discovery.

What are the best airport hacks?

Download the GateGuru app before your next trip: It shows maps and amenities for any terminal, so you can better plan where to eat lunch or whether you can arrive early for a quick manicure. Don’t forget that Zolt charger we mentioned earlier, so your phone doesn’t die before takeoff. And, of course, sign up for Global Entry.

If I visit your country, what’s the one meal I shouldn’t miss?

It’s the same answer everywhere: breakfast. No meal is more distinctive or diverse. While sandwiches for lunch might be a global go-to, breakfast is still gloriously localized, whether you’re eating bird’s nest–like pancakes filled with spicy curry in Sri Lanka or flaky, just-baked croissants in France. In Russia, however, it’s probably best just to skip it.

How do you get a flight upgrade?

The days of relying on an amenable attitude and a smile to score a cushy seat are, sadly, over. But some strategies still work: First, fly often and use miles whenever you can. And never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned complaint when an airline overbooks your flight.

What’s it like to quit your job, grab a backpack, and travel the world?

Tons of people dream about leaving their jobs to travel, and while that semi-permanent vacation can often be exactly what you’ve imagined, you’re guaranteed to encounter a few surprises—not all of them pleasant. Here’s the truth—and the best way to prepare yourself—from a woman who did it.

NYC or San Fran?

As New Yorkers, we’re biased in favor of bagels, de Blasio and the Bronx (and it seems like our readers agree). We’ll admit it, though: You can spend a killer long weekend in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

Who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever met on a plane?

We can’t match the experience of a guy who met his wife on a plane, but we’ve encountered chatty ex-congressmen keen to tell the real-life story behind a blockbuster movie. And if you’re lucky, you get to sit next to Bill Murray. Then again, the most interesting people aren’t necessarily fellow passengers but the crew: wedged onto a jump seat, staring straight at you, it’s easy enough to strike up casual chatter. We’ll never forget the veteran ex-Pan Ammer who regaled us on and off for an entire flight with stories. It was like a trip to aviation’s Golden Age rather than to California.

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck?

They’re both a boon to frequent travelers but we’re firm fans of Global Entry, which costs only $15 more than TSA PreCheck and will likely automatically generate the latter most times you check in for a domestic flight.

What’s the best city in the world?

We’ll defer to the best experts—our readers. In this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards, the best cities in the world include Budapest and Florence, while stateside, New York is the top big city and the best small city is Charleston, S.C., a long-time favorite.

Which airline is best?

According to our readers, internationally, it remains the perennially beloved Singapore Airlines.Meanwhile, Virgin America has been deemed the best domestic carrier ever since it launched in 2007.

What are the most beautiful beaches in the world?

Antigua may claim to have 365 beaches, one each for every day of the year, but other strips of sand rival the Caribbean island for sheer beauty (we’ll take quality over quantity any time). Here are some suggestions, from an overlooked island in the Philippines to a beach made up of jet black sand in Hawaii.

What are the most beautiful places in the world?

Beauty may be subjective, but who would argue against any of these 50 choices, whether Yemen’s futuristic forest of dragon’s blood trees or the Blue City of Jodhpur?

What are the best apps for travel?

By far the best transit guide (RIP HopStop) is CityMapper. It’s free, and offers real-time directions via public transport, on foot, or by car plus a plethora of nifty bonuses for a selection of major world cities, from Tokyo to London, New York and even Hamburg. Even if you’re not wondering whether the inbound aircraft will make it on time for your flight, there’s a wondrous joy to watching the crowded skies via another free app, FlightRadar24LoungeBuddy (also free) helps with trips to unfamiliar destinations, allowing you to verify what status or access you might have to a refreshment oasis at the airport. We’ve used Postagram several times to send cards from places, like Russia, where they’re hard to find—the app is free and stateside delivery of that personalized keepsake costs just 99 cents apiece.

Where should I go now?

Year-end is full of listicles recommending must-sees for the year ahead—and we’re no exception. Head to Sri Lanka, Colombia, Miami, and yes, back to Paris.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: