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Cosmo Life How to...

Score a Free Hotel Upgrade

Pull Off the Perfect Weekend Getaway HERE’S A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION IDEA: TRAVEL MORE. AS IN, THIS MONTH. YOUR GUIDE TO PLANNING A STRESSFREE ESCAPE—COMPLETE WITH VIP PERKS....

Much nicer than the view of a parking lot

PREVENT A TRAVEL DISASTER DON’T LEAVE HOME BEFORE CROSSING THESE OFF YOUR CHECKLIST.

PACK LIKE A PRO

WEAR your heaviest gear (boots, a cable sweater) on travel days, so you don’t have to worry about fitting them in your suitcase. PACK dressier clothes that have the highest risk of creasing first. Separate each garment with tissue paper, or put them in dry-cleaning bags. The tissue paper or plastic will prevent rumpling. LAYER garments that won’t crease next. Fold them so they form an even surface. Folding uses less space, but if your suitcase has soft sides,

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roll up each garment—the contents in a soft bag are prone to shifting around, and rolled clothes will stay more contained. SLIP shoes into shoe compartments if your suitcase has them. If not, wrap each one in a plastic bag, and stuff them along the sides. TUCK small items, like underwear, inside shoes; socks can fit into bra cups. Lay belts along the perimeter, or roll them up and stuff in the sides. SQUEEZE special equipment, like a blow-dryer and converter, between clothes and toward the center, where they’ll be well cushioned. SEAL toiletries in small plastic bags or store in zippered pockets in case they spill.

Be a jet-setter and a trendsetter.

David Burton/trunkarchive.com

PARE down your wardrobe to essentials you can mix and match, like dark jeans and drapey tees, to create outfits for each day you’re away. Go with garments that won’t wrinkle easily and multitask: Yoga pants can double as pj bottoms.

(Clockwise, from top left) Yuriy Brykaylo/Alamy; Galina Samoylovich/Alamy; Motoring Picture: Library/Alamy.

CALL your credit-card company, and let them know where you’re going and for how long, so they don’t activate a fraud alert that shuts down your account. BRING condoms and Plan B. You never know, and if you’re leaving the country, they might be hard, or even impos­ si­ble, to get. PACK your carry-on with neces­sities in case your lug­ gage gets lost. Think money, underwear, contacts, a photo­ copy of your passport, a tooth­brush, Advil (it may not be available OTC in some coun­tries), and your phone or laptop.

With rating sites like Yelp and Oyster out there, hotels want you to be happy. So if you point out a flaw in your room (it’s cramped, say, or it’s near a busy elevator), you have a good shot at an upgrade. Let the desk know about your complaint within an hour of checking in; be polite yet direct, and state that your expectations weren’t met. Then tell

them what you want, like more space or a better view. Or wait until evening to request an upgrade, when management will know how many extra rooms are available for the night. If all else fails, play the “special event” card by telling the desk it’s your anniversary or your guy’s birthday, and you want your stay to feel extra special.

Eat, Drink, Hang Like a Local

ANY GUIDEBOOK CAN FILL YOU IN ON THE TOURIST TRAPS. IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE A PLACE LIKE A NATIVE, CONSULT, WELL, THE NATIVES. Get free accommodations with Airbnb and CouchSurfing, two websites with user-rated networks of hosts across the world who rent out their homes—and often are very willing to play tour guide. For the most authentic cuisine overseas, join NewGusto. It’s a community of people around the world who open their kitchens to travelers, so you can taste pasta in Italy made by a real Italian mother, for example.

Sign up for Twigmore. It’s like LinkedIn for travelers, connecting potential visitors with advice-giving residents in cities and countries worldwide through their friend networks. Download Spotted by Locals, an app that offers tips on where to eat, shop, and wander in 44 cities in Europe. Or try LocalEats, a U.S.- and international-dining app that points you toward (nonfast-food) eateries based on your GPS coordinates.

Beat Jet Lag The day before your flight, sync your meals and bedtime with the time zone of your destination.

INVEST in travel insurance if you’re headed overseas, especially if you’re doing something risky like skiing or hiking. Your own health insurance will most likely cover medical costs you incur on vacation in the U.S. but might not elsewhere. Companies like TravelGuard offer policies for less than $40 that cover a hospital stay, visit to the ER, or (god forbid) medical evacuation.

The day of your departure, avoid caffeine and alcohol . They mess with your sleep schedule and destabilize your mood, making jet lag worse.

CARRY $100 cash, secured in a jacket or jeans pocket, in case your bag gets lost or stolen.

Studies suggest that taking two melatonin supplements before bedtime the night before you fly helps reset your body clock. Clear it with your doc, and take as directed.

As soon as you board, set your watch and phone to your destination’s time zone. It’ll help you adjust mentally.  uring your flight, try to nod off. Resting up may help you D cope with the effects of jet lag later. A cushy neck pillow and an eye mask will help you ease into airplane slumber. If the plane lands during the day, fight the urge to nap, and get outside for as much sunlight as possible. Exposure to natural light is the best way to help your system adapt.

RENT A CAR FOR LESS

Sign up for Getaround, a car-sharing app that connects you with vehicle owners in major cities nationwide who rent their rides by the week, day, or hour. Insurance and roadside assistance are included.

CONQUER AIRPORT MADNESS BEFORE YOU CHOOSE YOUR SEATS, go to SeatGuru.com, and enter your flight number. The site shows a diagram of your plane and points out which seats are the best and which to avoid. Take notes so you know what you want to reserve. MOST AIRLINES LET YOU CHECK IN online 24 hours preflight and print your boarding pass, so you can skip the counter (unless you’re checking bags) and head straight to the gate. List your cell number and they’ll automatically text you information about delays. PRIOR TO YOUR TRIP, CALL YOUR credit card’s customer-service line to see if your card is linked to any particular airlines. Many are, giving you special perks, like a free checked bag or entry into the airline’s first-class lounge.

SOURCES: MARYBETH BOND, FOUNDER OF GUTSYTRAVELER.COM; JEREMY FINE, CONCIERGE PHYSICIAN IN LOS ANGELES; ORGANIZATION EXPERT DONNA SMALLIN KUPER, AUTHOR OF ORGANIZING PLAIN AND SIMPLE; KIM MANCE, TRAVEL WRITER AND EDITOR AT GOGALAVANTING.COM; MARK MURPHY, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF TRAVALLIANCEMEDIA, AUTHOR OF TRAVEL UNSCRIPTED; STEPHANIE OSWALD, COFOUNDER/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF TRAVELGIRL MAGAZINE; JANICE WAUGH, AUTHOR OF THE SOLO TRAVELER’S HANDBOOK

COSMOPOLITAN | January 2013

Profile for Malia Griggs

How To Travel  

From January 2013 issue.

How To Travel  

From January 2013 issue.

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