Last week I attended the NYT Travel Show which offered lots of travel information to both travel professionals and to consumers. I was impressed by the amount of advice and tips being shared, so I wanted to share it with you. Below are my top takeaways from the show!

“Travel is far more possible than you think!”

Nomadic Matt talked about adjusting your mindset to acknowledge it is possible and that you can travel on nearly any budget. Peter Greenberg discussed the trend of increasing flight options and suggested the tip of booking directly through hotels and airlines (it’s a buyers’ market right now). The consensus was the same: you CAN travel, so don’t wait, go! Everyone agrees that travel is an excellent investment in yourself, so start investing. From budget travel to easier ways of getting around, if you do your research, you can make it happen. Also, budget doesn’t necessarily have to mean you have to rough it. Hostels, for example, are really different than what they used to be, providing a reasonable new standard for minimal comfort. So think and investigate outside the box.

“Frequent Flier Miles aren’t what they used to be… sadly.”

Unfortunately all the frequent flier miles programs have changed so much that it has become increasingly more difficult to earn miles, and then, the number of miles you have use has increased—even for a basic round trip ticket! This means you have to be smarter about it and really explore a variety of credit cards offering mileage. The Chase Sapphire is the best as echoed by a number of speakers. Point is, put yourself in the position to always earn miles when you buy anything. Just know that it’ll take more miles to get those free tickets of upgrades.

“Seek VALUE versus PRICE.”

Stop looking for the lowest price. Often times the lowest price literally translates into having a basic, no-frills experience. Peter Greenberg made a point (to which I can personally confirm): Talk to a person when you book your flight, hotel, or travel experience (for more information have a look into Mombasa flights, which are becoming a growing tourist destination). So many travelers are focused on the bottom line price. Although searching for a deal is great, what if you paid a little more but then were eligible for a room upgrade, free wifi, and free parking? You end up saving in the long run! By calling and booking directly through a hotel, an airline, or even a travel agent, you can actually have a conversation with individuals who can help add perks to your trip. This works in the same instance when you’re doing some research into travel insurance. Calling companies looking for insurance for travellers can increase your policy value with no additional cost to you. I’m particularly a fan of this tip because I know it’s true! I place notes for upgrades, free bottles of champagne, and all sort of extra bonuses when I speak directly with guests—especially if they’ve mentioned the trip is for a special occasion.

“Safety is paramount in today’s day in age. But don’t scare yourself out of a trip, just plan ahead!”

Travel insurance and travel advisories—use them! To find the correct travel insurance, you could look into a site like Gobear.com to compare different prices and deals. This will reduce the risk of anything that may happen on your trip, like an injury or illness.

Making sure you have travel insurance was a huge tip advised by a number of people at the show. Lee Abbamonte, Peter Greenberg and the US State Department, all stressed that insurance is smart. There are also options for every price point. But don’t buy the travel insurance add-ons through booking sites, actually buy travel insurance through a third party and make sure it covers medical emergencies. Travelex is noted as best overall insurance, and Allianz offers the best value. Now as for travel advisories, read them. Just because a destination has a travel advisory, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit. Some travel advisories don’t apply to your travel plans. But it is always good to be aware of warnings, and then make your decision accordingly. On the note of safety, also, always have a copy of your passport available. Keep your passport in your hotel safe, but have a copy on your body at all times AND have a digital copy accessible.

PRO TIP: Upload a copy of your passport to dropbox, then you can always access it!

“Travel light and SMART”

Ultimately, it is cheaper and easier. The thought of dragging around multiple, heavy bags is never exciting. Plus, traveling light leaves room for you to bring home little souvenirs (the cool kind of course!). The less stuff you have the more you can focus on where you are. Adam Richman, from Travel Channel’s Man vs Food, shared his entire packing list, which was extensive and surprisingly light. As for traveling smart, he suggested to invest in clothing made out of wicking material, like Under Armour or Uniqlo Heat Tech, and multipurpose separates (items you can dress up and down). Think about packing basic colors that go together, like black, blue, grey, and white. Also pack useful things like snacks (nuts, crackers), battery packs for your electronics, a camera (or three), and basic first aid items (Advil, antacid, Neosporin, etc). You will be prepared for emergencies and save money, too.

And there you have it. Just a few tips to share from a great show! How are you going to travel in 2017?

Snapping a selfie with Jeannette Ceja and Charles McCool