Travel Tips


Happy Tuesday everybody. Well, I guess it’s more of a happy Tuesday if you’re getting ready for a trip this weekend. I’m not traveling this weekend, but I just returned from a trip (which you’ll hear more about on Saturday) and I’ve already got my next trip planned.

As we all know, travel is fun and exciting, but it can be a little less than fun when things go wrong. So, to kick things off for my new site, I collaborated with freelance travel writer and International Living magazine/website contributor, Bel Woodhouse , to give you some things to think about before you leave home.

10. Have a “Go-bag” You know who has go-bags? Criminals & smart travelers. (One of those two are my target audience. Which are you?) What I mean by a Go-Bag, is when you travel, don’t take your home phone charger. Don’t take your entire medicine bottle from the cabinet, and for cripes sake, don’t take your toothbrush from home! Buy an extra phone charger, travel toothbrush, tiny tubes of toothpaste, and a weeks worth of your meds. Put them in your suitcase and leave them there! ALL. THE. TIME. That way, you’ll have less things to remember to pack, and if you leave those things behind at your hotel when you’re heading home, you won’t be out of luck until you can replace those items. As a man that has bought and lost my fair share and your fair share of phone chargers, having a Go-bag is a smart move.

9. (From Bel) Always have a good old fashioned paper map. Don’t rely on technology. Batteries go flat, coverage gets spotty, phones are stolen. Paper doesn’t let you down. I’ve had one in 30+ countries and have never been lost, mugged or had anything bad happen. EVER.

8. Count your kids: Traveling as a family? This ain’t your local shopping mall. Don’t take your eyes off your little ones. If there’s anything Home Alone taught us, it’s that you need to count your kids wherever you go. MacCaulay Culkin was left home alone and look how he turned out:

7. (From Bel) Know where you are, where you shouldn’t go and how to get back to your hotel, accommodation or nearest taxi.

6. Do the Math! Growing up, I hated mathematics. When you travel, it comes in handy. Just because it seems like you have plenty of time to get to your gate, don’t be fooled. If you show up at the airport Friday through Monday, four days of the week, you need to factor in extra drop off luggage line time and extra security line time. On those four days there’s a higher volume of travelers and lines will be longer and slower. Also, if you have connecting flights, book your flights with at least a one hour and ten minute window between the first flight landing and the second flight taking off.  Trust me on that one.

5. (From Bel) Keep the majority of your money on your person, not in your wallet in case someone lifts it.

4. How to tip the housekeeping staff: If you’re staying in a hotel or resort with daily housekeeping, tipping them is customary, but how and when you tip makes a difference. $5 a day American is pretty standard, but should vary depending on the hotel you’re at. Let’s say you’re staying five days, do you dole out that $5 each day or wait until the end of your stay? Don’t wait until the end of the stay. Leave at least a $10 tip the first morning and spread the rest out over the week. My reason? Sometimes if you tip well early, you get better service, like a few extra coffee pods, extra towels, chocolates on the pillow, or just a generally better room cleaning. These folks work hard. Don’t be stingy!

3. (From Bel) Have situational awareness. Take note of what and who is around you. I was in a market in Nicaragua and made eye contact with a guy, then held my camera close until he moved past me only to push over another young woman and steal her camera. Know who and what is around you and keep an eye on your stuff.

2. Talk to the hotel/resort staff before going out: Not every hotel has a concierge, but the staff at every hotel is knowledgeable about the surrounding area and they always have tips and tricks to make your adventures safer, less costly, and more fun. Ask them if there’s some not so well known restaurants that are secret gems.

1. (From Bel) The biggest thing -Always be polite, manners get you everywhere in every country. Show respect. You are a guest and you’re not entitled to everything you want. I have seen many tourists be invited by locals on free tours and into their homes for a meal just by being polite. It opens doors and means the world to people no matter what country you’re in. It is the difference between a traveler and a tourist.

Thank you Bel for visiting #ThePhilFactor and thank you for being part of my Philliver’s Travels blog launch this coming Saturday.

Bel: “I love helping any way I can when someone has the courage to reach for the stars and try to achieve a new dream, project or just have a creative outlet. If you have the courage to try, you can enrich your life in so many ways. I used to be in the Navy, now I’m living my dream life in the Caribbean. Anything is possible when you have the courage to try.”

I couldn’t have been luckier to find Bel on IG (@thetravelbag.guru) and she couldn’t be any nicer. Come back on Saturday for the Philliver’s Travels blog launch and my interview with Bel. Have a great Tuesday! ~Phil

Lisa and Dave enjoying a beautiful night in Singapore. Read about it HERE

Dave and Lisa may call themselves the Basic Travel Couple, but there’s nothing basic about what they do to get incredible trips all over the world without breaking the bank. I’ve been following them for over two years and it just blows me away every time they post pictures, like the one above, and then tell how they got there at a fraction of what you’d expect to pay. And to top it off, they’re western New Yorkers like me, which explains why we want to travel to warm, sunny places so often. If you want to learn how they travel hacked any of the trips mentioned, just click on the live links throughout.

Philliver: How did you both get into using miles, points, loyalty programs and travel bonus credit cards?

Lisa & Dave: We actually started as extreme couponers and then realized having shelves full of shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, and toilet bowl cleaner wasn’t that appealing to us. In a random ‘date night’ class we went to we heard about travel hacking. Dave googled it, found a free guidebook and we never looked back.  We spend a lot of time researching programs, credit cards, as well as other ways to make some extra cash like bank account bonuses.

Dave proposing to Lisa in Egypt on a trip that probably didn’t cost very much.

Philliver: What has been the best trip that you’ve gotten for free or very inexpensively? And how did you do that?

Dave & Lisa: There have been so many great trips! One of our most recent trips was to Grand Cayman Island for 5 days where we only spent $290 on flights and hotel! Sometimes a quick getaway is all you need to have a little refresh. For this trip we utilized the Southwest Companion Pass which gives you buy one get one free flights, as well as a combination of some hotel certificates/credit card points with the IHG card. I think the Southwest Companion Pass has to be one of my favorite travel hacks as it really cuts down the amount of points needed when your companion flies for free for almost 2 years. From there, we have expanded our trips to try First class flying to Japan for only about $270 per person, which was the best experience in-flight experience so far.

I love this picture. Dave & Lisa went to the last Blockbuster in the world in Bend, Oregon. This is something I would do. Read about it HERE

Philliver: Lisa, you like to travel so much that you became a flight attendant. Dave, do you work in the travel industry or have plans to join it as well?

Dave: I’ve definitely been considering it a more and more lately. It seems that every day in the office is one more day closer to flying. We’ve also talked about being full time Real Estate Investors and Travel Bloggers for Basic Travel Couple, that is our ultimate goal. We currently own one rental property and are working on obtaining more.

Not only do they travel hack their final destinations, they know how to get there in style. Don’t forget those airport lounges!

Philliver: Do you two offer any classes on how to become pro travelers like you?

Lisa & Dave: We actually are working on a Basic Travel 101 course to learn how to travel hack. That should be launching June 1st- so stay tuned on that. We also are pretty active in our Facebook group- Basic Travel 101~ points, miles and more. Lastly, we have in the past spoken at events in WNY (Western New York) and plan to hold some more in the future to teach fellow Buffalonians about travel hacking.


There was that one time Lisa broke her leg, and I’m sure they travel hacked their hospital bill! Read about it HERE

Philliver: If one of my readers could do one thing to start saving on travel, aside from following you on Facebook and IG, what would you recommend?

Dave & Lisa: Definitely look into credit card reward points! We would suggest the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Right now they are offering 80,000 points after spending $4,000 in 3 months. The normal offer is 50,000-60,000 points. The 80,000 points can be turned into over $1,000 of free travel. This is one of the top travel cards because of the high welcome offer, as well as other travel perks and protections such as travel insurance, lost luggage insurance, Car rental insurance, and so on. (We do have affiliate links with banks on our website, and get a small commission for recommending others to utilize them. We appreciate if anyone was interested in using our links to learn more about applying, they could go to our Top Credit Cards Page – https://basictravelcouple.com/top-credit-cards/ )

Honestly though, we are always willing to answer any questions anyone has. Travel hacking has changed our lives and we love sharing our knowledge with others to help them too.

Philliver: Lisa and Dave, I want to thank you for not just doing a great interview for the launch of my travel blog, but for also making me a smarter traveler as well. Hopefully I’ll get to run into you at one of your events somewhere in western New York. You’re always welcome to come back here to promote anything you’re doing!

Thank you to everyone who’s here today supporting the launch of my new travel blog. Please click the links below to follow Lisa and Dave, the Basic Travel Couple, everywhere you can find them online!