Help *me* feel the love! There’s just two more days for you to give me your advice on Frankfurt-Hahn and surrounds, Cologne/Bonn, Seville and Granada. Everyone leaving a comment has a chance to win a modest prize, hand-selected from each destination by yours truly. So get entering!
Carla from Phoenix is planning some extensive travel around the Midwest, “Chicago to Madison, from Madison to Minneapolis, from Ann Arbor to Chicago from Chicago to Iowa City and Urbana,” and wanted to know the cheapest options for getting around.
It makes most sense to look at the major ground carriers: Greyhound, Megabus and Amtrak. If you’re willing to share rides, Craigslist for each of those cities should come up with a list of people offering space in their cars (for example, Minneapolis); don’t overlook university websites, either — try contacting the student government at each university for more information on online ride boards. If you have more money, you can fly between the bigger destinations. Naturally there is also car rental as an option. What’s right for you will depend on both the budget and the time frame involved.
Dana from Durham wanted to know what detergent to carry for travel laundry needs.
If you are cheap or have allergies, it is possible to use the laundry detergent you have on hand while on the road. If you use a liquid, pour some over into a 100ml or less travel bottle and carry in your liquids bag. If you use a powder, half a snack-size baggie should be more than enough for your trip.
Popular in Europe are “travel tubes” of handwashing detergent. You can get these tubes for under a euro at any drugstore. Unfortunately, most are 125 or 200 ml, making them too large to fly in carry-on luggage. I did find a travel-sized tube of Burti, but 30 ml struck me as quite small! I will purchase the mini Burti for my upcoming trip and report back.
In a pinch, shampoo is always quite good — it smells nice, breaks down oils, is readily available and cheap!
Next cheapest option is simply buying detergent wherever you arrive. A bottle of store-brand detergent can be found for $2-3 in most any grocery or drug store.
Finally, a worthwhile addition to the travel laundry kit is Febreeze — it handily takes the stink out of smoky, sweaty clothes when you don’t have time to wash. There are now “Febreeze-to-Go” bottles that are TSA-friendly, but you can pour over any bottle you already have into a mini spray container or atomizer.
Patricia from Norman wanted to know how to best exchange money when arriving in [insert developed country here].
Most straightforward and cheapest is an ATM withdrawl. There will certainly be cash machines at any international airport; often if you google for the airport in question, you can even find which banks have ATMs and where they are located, which can save you withdrawl fees if your bank has international partners. Don’t forget to call your bank and credit-card companies in advance and warn them of your impending international transactions; otherwise, you may find yourself blocked off from your own money, for your own security!
You should ALWAYS have at least one backup method; if your primary method is electronic (i.e. credit or ATM), be sure your secondary method is physical currency, such as cash or traveler’s cheques. $100 in backup is enough to get you through a pinch, if necessary.
Megan from Ithaca wrote with a plea on behalf of international exchange students:
American families can help make international travel and education affordable for high school exchange students by hosting these young travelers. If you have seen the world and relied upon the generosity and kindness of the international travel community, I encourage you to give back by hosting a young adventurer. Volunteer host families in the U.S. are hard to come by these days, but they are the reason that many of these students are able to visit the U.S., learn English and share their culture with us. To those of you who have hosted, I thank you on behalf of the international education community. For those of you who have considered hosting and have not, please take that next step — reach out and help a student study in the U.S.!
Even if you cannot take someone into your home for a school year, remember there are lots of ways for you to help foreign students while they are in your country: invite them over to celebrate holidays with your family; take them along on an outing, excursion or vacation; drive them around (since they don’t have driver’s licenses and cars, even trips to the mall are welcomed!); teach them how to cook a local specialty and let them cook theirs in your kitchen; etc. Start the good karma rolling by reaching out just once this year to an international student (university as well as high school students). College students, it is so easy for you to extend hospitality by simply inviting the kid from down the hall to go to the dining hall with you or to accompany you on your next Target run! They will be grateful for your efforts, I promise.
That’s all for this round. If you’ve got a question, feel free to shoot me an email via the contact form.