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Top Five Tips for Traveling Like a Pro

Mindy Joyce, Experiences Curator, Lot18

1. Fly international: With so many choices of air carriers, I always try to opt for the international airlines instead of US carriers when flying abroad. Here’s why: your trip starts the minute you get on the plane. I love it when I hear the accents and languages of the crew, normally the food tends to be better, and often these carriers have newer planes and get preferred slots at their home base airports. 

2. Hunt down the top hotels, even if you can’t afford them: You can find great deals at luxury, boutique hotels if you do some digging. I always try to look for top properties that are well located and see how I can get the cheapest room. One of my friends swears by finding out where the nearest 5-star hotel is as an indicator of the best (and safest) area to stay in. 

3. Go where the locals go: The best experiences I’ve had are things you don’t even need to pay for. Things like local farmer’s markets, festivals and events are a must! To really learn about a place you have to get off the beaten path. Find out what local events are going on in the area you are visiting. If your dates are flexible, it is even worth planning your trip around an event. I was recently at the Haro wine festival in Rioja – an incredible treat to see all of the locals celebrating the harvest.

4. It IS worth having a GPS: The last thing you want to do is waste time trying to find places and get frustrated because you are lost. It can be stressful enough reading signs in other languages. Either get a GPS in your rental or take one with you from the US. Make sure you download the country maps you need before you leave – a lesson I learned on my last trip!

5. Hire a local guide: I can’t stress this enough, especially when you’re traveling to a country where your language skills will be limited. Local guides can show you places you would never have found on your own, they can translate, explain the history and introduce you to local artisans. Wine friends, believe me, you want a guide that knows about wine, who can take you to the right wineries and help you communicate with the winemaker. My trip to Rioja last month would have been very different if it wasn’t for my fabulous guide, translator and wine expert, Jenny Siddall.