Tips

Tipping

While there aren’t any official guidelines for tipping in the USA, there are some common beliefs among many Americans. Tipping is not mandatory anywhere in the United States but some restaurants automatically include your tip in the bill (it should be clearly displayed and listed as “Service Charge”), usually for parties of eight or more. In the USA, there is no legal requirement to tip unless it is stated in writing, so don’t feel like you’re under any pressure to tip if you have received really bad service (always inform the manager of bad experiences).

Remember that many waitstaff and bartenders are paid below minimum wage because employees are expected to make up the difference in tips. Servers are even expected to pay income tax on your tip so your tip really is part of their normal wage. Always leave tips in cash and hand it directly to the person you are tipping to ensure it goes to its rightful new owner.  >>>Read More

Budgeting

Traveling can be very expensive, that’s why many people only take one or two trips a year.    I reached out to the biggest A-list travel bloggers to ask what their favorite travel savings tip was and here is what they had to say. I also interviewed the New York Times’ Frugal Traveler and I had author Tim Leffel on my podcast, both of which I highly recommend checking out. Here’s a few of my favorite ways to get the most bang for your buck, without taking away from the over all experience:

Coupons - Our other favorite way to cut down the costs is to buy and print off a few restaurant.com gift certificates before we go. Their customers have saved over $500 million. You will find a choice of over 18,000 restaurants to choose from. You may have particular restaurants in mind, but it’s worth a look to see if they’re on restaurant.com. >>>Read More

Packing

How annoying is it when you get an hour into your trip and realize you forgot something important? It’s awful, that’s why I always try to start packing at least a few days prior to my trip. Make an actual list of everything you need to bring and mark each item off as you put it in your suitcase. There are a number of great packing iPhone apps such as Packing Pro or you can even make a list in Evernote.

Packing is a very essential part of going on a fun and relaxing vacation, but can prove to be the most stressful. Many people dread packing and often wonder if they are going to have enough room in their suitcase. The worst thing is to get to your motel ready to change into your pjs and get a good night’s sleep, when you realize you forgot your toothbrush! A late night run to the store is never fun! Here are some tips to help you remember the essentials of packing, and how to make sure you have enough room in your suitcase!  >>>Read More

 

Photography

More and more people are taking up photography as a hobby. If you happen to be one of them, or you would just like to improve the photos you do shoot, then you just might find the photographic tips below quite helpful.

Tip # 1 – Novices Should Not Buy the Most Expensive Equipment – If you are just starting out, it is possible get some really nice photos using inexpensive point and shoot cameras. The companies that produce these items are always introducing new products. The easiest way to know which one will meet your needs and is the best value is to read the unbiased reviews that can be found on the internet. However, I highly recommend using a camera other than the one on your phone. Take a look at how bad some of my iPhone pictures turned out.

Tip # 2 – Consider Getting a Tripod – If you are a little bit older now and your hands are not as steady as they once were, or you are not happy with the photos you are shooting, think about getting a tripod. A tripod provides a very stable base which at the very least will ensure you do not end up blurry photos. These days, tripods are even being made for iPhones, Google it or check out your local camera store and you’ll find a decent tripod for under $20.  >>>Read More

Safety/Healthy

Traveling is an activity that the entire family can enjoy together that provides an opportunity to see and experience places that are usually quite different from the ones they are accustomed to. If you are planning on taking a vacation in the near future then you just might find the health and safety travel tips below quite useful.

Tip # 1 – Buy Travel Insurance if you are Leaving the US – Hopefully, you will never require medical care while you are on your vacation. But, if you have an accident and need emergency treatment in quite a few countries around the world the hospitals will not take care of you unless they are 100% guaranteed they will be fully compensated.

The advantage travel insurance has over medical insurance is that in most cases they will authorize payment on the first phone call. Most medical insurance policies require extensive documentation and for that information to be reviewed by a specialist before they will agree to pay for treatment. In an emergency situation, the time difference between travel and medical insurance to approve treatment can make it a life or death proposition.

Tip # 2 – Know and Follow the Laws – If you plan on leaving the US, you need to know and follow the country’s laws you will be vacation in. In many places in the US being caught smoking a joint is nothing more than a slap on the wrist, or even legal now in certain states. In some countries, that type of behavior could lead to a very long prison sentence that will be served in a jail that makes America’s prisons look like 5 star hotels.  >>>Read More

Theft/Scams

While there’s no doubt in ones mind that there’s plenty of fun to be had on vacation, there’s also a lot that could potentially go wrong for those of us who tend to be gullible. Just remain cautious and don’t be overly trusting and then the odds shall be with you. And if it does happen, just don’t let it ruin your vacation that you’ve spent all these months saving up for. Life is just too short to let some greedy individual take the fun out of your vacay, as material things are always replaceable–and you may even have some sort of insurance to cover the deed. Life is just too short for pity. Now here’s how to avoid these scams and thieves to begin with and keep your vulnerability to a minimum.  >>>Read More

Phones/Technology

 

Technology can be a travelers dream come true–or even their worst nightmare if things don’t go quite as planned or initially desired. It’s important to not let these gadgets ruin your family time or girls night out, as it can often be best to tell everyone to just leave the phones off. Odds are that your problems back home can wait a few hours, eh? One thing I always try to do is to bring as few gadgets as possible, as they are typically just more to have to keep up with and worry about getting broken, lost or stolen and being more trouble than they are really worth. But on the other hand, if I’m anticipating a lengthy flight or bus ride, I will seriously consider bringing my laptop on the journey to keep me entertained and keep my mind situated and distracted from what’s at hand–that is, unless I’m traveling with someone who I’d rather spend that time conversing with! For starters, here’s a post on the 28 Best Travel Apps.  >>>Read More

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Taylor Goldblatt

After years of research, travel, and dreams, I have created this website for people like you who want to experience the things that only America can offer. My passion is to explore and share America's greatest destinations and attractions. Follow me on Twitter @USCityTraveler for additional travel tips and ideas.

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