Posts in category

Travel Prep

We’ve finally put our decades of travel to use! In these articles we give our wisdom on preparing for trips as well as advice from pros, including trip leaders. We look at what to pack, how to best book tickets, and more.

Can I Take Fido? Top Tips for Riding European Trains With Dogs

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Study Abroad Packing: What to Bring, What to Leave Behind

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What to Pack for Brazil: The Checklist for Smoother Travel

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The Cheapest USA Shopping Trip: Prepare Online Before You Go

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I’ve been whizzing around France on TGV and other trains as cheaply as possible for over a decade. Riding the French rails is nearly always a joy, and if you know when to book and how to work the discount cards, sales, and special offers, you can bop around the French train system without shedding …

I’ve been an avid train rider in France for the past 16 years, but just a year ago I discovered an easier to book my tickets than the error-prone SNCF (official French national railway) websites. There are two great private alternatives for booking train tickets that cost exactly the same as the official OUI.sncf (as …

For over two years I’ve been crisscrossing Europe by train with a dog. I am a digital nomad and the dog in question is actually my daughter’s, but is with me while my daughter finishes her degree. So where I go, the dog goes. Traveling around Europe may seem like a carefree life, but it …

We’ve spent weeks testing websites to find out how to efficiently book the cheapest tickets for Italian train travel. We tested all kinds of routes and options, and looked at overall end purchase prices as well as the complaints about and defects with the national operator’s website, Trenitalia. We compared it to various private systems. There …

I’ve interviewed former students and a long-time trip leader about what you should pack — and, just as importantly, not pack — for study abroad trips. Add to that my own two study abroad experiences and a decade of living in all sorts of countries for extended periods. The result: some quite strong opinions and …

I’ve been booking trains in Italy for many years, and oh, the problems. Trenitalia’s official website is buggy to say the least, and the ticket machines in train stations are as confusing as the humans at the ticket counters. Worse, using foreign (American, French, etc.) credit cards can cause even more headaches. Italians have these problems …

Oh the problems with Renfe.com! I’m fluent in Spanish and have used the site for years, but I still get plenty of error messages myself. We’ve put together some of the major problems and what to do about them in this article, but basically the solutions boil down to one simple thing: buy your tickets …

Over a few days we ran dozens of searches on our two favorite European train booking platforms,  Loco2 and Trainline, and compared the results. The goal: determine which booking experience is smoother and results in better and cheaper routes. We have found that both of these platforms are better than booking directly from mainland Europe’s …

We’ve been taking long trips around Brazil for years, and boy, the dumb things we’ve seen our fellow gringos carrying. I suppose it’s hard to know what to pack for Brazil, but heavy clothes, wheeled oversize plastic suitcases, fancy watches — these are all asking for trouble in various ways. The ideal packing checklist for …

The French train operator’s websites OUI.sncf and Ouigo.com are notorious about rejecting bank and credit cards from outside of France. Users with cards from the United States, Australia, and Canada in particular report problems with payments not going through or getting rejected. We’ve been carefully researching the best alternatives for foreigners looking to purchase French train tickets …