The first rule of travel hails from the movie ”Armageddon”: You don’t want to miss a thing. Consult travel guides and experts to make sure you make the most of your trip. If something doesn’t go according to plan, at least it’s not the end of the world.
Here are 14 travel tips, suggestions, and recommendations that have been cultivated from the wisest of the wise: some of the best, most treasured films that cinema had to offer in the 1990s.
1. “Forrest Gump” — Pack light
If Forrest can run across the country with only the shirt on his back and a hat on his head, you certainly don’t need a suitcase that weighs more than 50 pounds for your quick hop to the beach. Whether you’re going away for a weekend or a week, try this trick: Pack, evaluate and cut, repack, re-evaluate, and cut some more. You just don’t need four pairs of heels or 10 button-downs. Peruse websites like Amazon or ebags, and find an organization-savvy rolling carry-on, like the Tumi Alpha 2 or Delsey Helium Breeze.
Packing light will help you run through the airport Gump-style (Photo: Thinkstock)
2. “Pretty Woman” — Talk to strangers
Talking to a stranger changed Richard Gere’s life in this movie. No, we can’t advocate a late-night cruise down Hollywood Boulevard to rent yourself a Julia Roberts. But we can recommend that you seek out strangers and make new relationships during your travels. If you’ve never had a cruise best friend or Caribbean fling, we feel sorry for you. So chat up the traveler next to you while in transit. Strike up a conversation with the local bartender, and engage with people you come across. If you’re already traveling on the same path for a day excursion or as part of a group outing, you’re starting off with similar interests (which makes for much better icebreakers than, “How much for the week?”) And if the person is a local, well, at least you’ll have similar interests for the length of your trip. You can always stay in touch through Facebook and Skype.
Talking to strangers during trips is a great way to make friends. And it’s free! (Photo: Thinkstock)
3. “The Usual Suspects” — Be wary of people you’ve never met
You don’t want to get Keyser Söze’d. Websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor have become go-tos when picking anything from a hotel to a restaurant or bar. And while strangers on the Web are a great source, don’t blindly take the word of someone you’ve never met. Unlike Kevin Spacey’s mysterious alter ego, we’re sure the person attached to the username actually exists. But who’s to say that they value a hotel for the same reasons that you do? They might hate the raging pool party every Saturday, even though you are seeking one out. Make sure to carefully read their review and pinpoint why they gave the rating they did, and make sure that what you’re reading is recent and up-to-date.
Take online reviews with a grain of salt (Photo: Thinkstock)
4. “Dumb and Dumber” — Budget your trip
You’re a fool if you expect to get lucky and stumble upon a briefcase of bills like Lloyd and Harry. Traveling is expensive, so make sure you budget for what it will cost you. No one wants to have to call and ask a loved one to wire money halfway through the vacation, so plan ahead on everything from where to stay to meals to how you’ll get around. If hotel is where you want to cut costs, try vacation rental sites VRBO or Unusual Hotels of the World, where you can stay in places like a tram B & B or family-sized treehouse. Make sure to also scour around for helpful apps once you touch down at your destination, like KickMap, which will help you navigate the subway systems of New York, London, and Washington, D.C.
5. “Speed” — Flying is better
Many bus rides aren’t nearly as bad as the one Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock take in this movie, but many of them come awfully close. Exceptions aside (Hampton Jitney and Bolt Bus both guarantee you a seat and hand out snacks and drinks), bus trips are often cramped, packed with angry seat-neighbors who had to arrive early to wait in line, and might not even have a bathroom. Worst of all, you’ll have to suffer through traffic. So stop hoarding for a rainy day, and cash in your frequent flier miles or track points or credit-card rewards to fly to cut your travel time in half and up the ante on comfort.
Flying beats taking the bus — unless the bus is driven by Sandra Bullock (Photo: Thinkstock)
6. “Titanic” — Buy traveler’s insurance
There’s no minimizing what Rose went through when the Titanic sank (taking Jack along with it). From this heartbreaking tale, we know that anything can happen — even the worst of disasters. Purchasing traveler’s insurance will help protect you against the unpredictable and can be especially worth it for trips where you can’t get your money back. Avoid purchasing through a third party and opt for a larger, reputable operation, such as Travel Guard.
7. “The Truman Show” — Know who’s in on the scheme
You might think your friendly concierge is a great source for recommendations. But like the actors hired to keep Truman from escaping his bubble, they, too, have an agenda. The concierge (or the hotel) could be getting financial incentives to send you to certain restaurants or nearby attractions. Instead of asking the first smiling person who greets you in the morning, poll locals or friends. Throw your questions out on Facebook or Twitter and get answers from people you know you can trust.
We’re not saying you can’t trust the concierge, but there might be an ulterior motive behind his recommendations (Photo: Thinkstock)
8. “You’ve Got Mail” — Go mobile
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan could have saved a lot of time if their onscreen courtship hadn’t revolved around dial-up connections and logging in on their home computers. If they’d had the great communication apps available to us today, that beloved romantic comedy would have been only about 30 minutes long. Fortunately nowadays, apps like Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber let us video conference, text, and call, respectively, at no extra charge from wherever we are in the world. Best of all: you don’t get that still-annoying “You’ve got mail” announcement whenever you use them.
9. “Sliding Doors” — Subscribe to flight alerts
Gwyneth Paltrow missing her train on the London Underground showed us how one swift moment in time can be life changing. The best way to make sure that you’re on time for your departure is to sign up for e-mail or mobile alerts for any delays or cancellations in your trip. If your flight is delayed and you receive the alert, you could spend that extra hour at home, and maybe, like Gwyneth’s character, catch your significant other attempting to do the dirty behind your back. You could dump him and still be on time for your flight, which makes for some impressive multitasking.
Flight alerts could help prevent a “Sliding Doors” moment — or would they create one? (Photo: Thinkstock)
10. “Empire Records” — Make a playlist
Find the Lucas in you, and create the music geek’s perfect playlist for downtime during your travels. Kicking up your feet and rocking out to favorites like Gin Blossoms’ “Til I Hear It From You” will make your train, plane, or automobile ride much more enjoyable. Then, do your friends a favor and go to today’s record shop, Spotify, and share your “Damn the man” playlist so they can sing along — like Gina did on the roof to “Sugarhigh.” Since listening will drain your battery, don’t forget your portable charger or Mophie.
Need music on the plane? You could download the “Empire Records” soundtrack (Photo: Thinkstock)
11. “Billy Madison” — Know your ABCs of travel
You don’t have to go back to first grade like Billy, but you do have to know your basics before hitting the road. Quit daydreaming about Veronica Vaughn and spend your time productively by thoroughly researching the place that you plan to visit. Start with guide books and then check the specialized sites, such as FlyerTalk for flying and Chowhound for food. And finally, search for travel bloggers covering your desired destination. Here’s a list of 50 to start with, but make sure to do some research on your own since slackers don’t prosper.
12. “There’s Something About Mary” — Don’t forget your toiletries
Everyone remembers when Mary casually borrowed what she thought was Ted’s hair gel during that raunchy dinner date scene. Don’t be the girl who rubs unknown liquids into her hair. Instead, make sure all of your sundries make it through security. Head over to your local drugstore to stock up on 3 oz. bottles, and then check out Etsy, Henri Bendel for women, or Brooks Brothers for men so you can tote your hair gel — real hair gel — in style.
Keep your toiletries handy, because having to borrow hair gel can lead to some… gross misunderstandings (Photo: Thinkstock)
13. “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” — Get your story straight
One of the most fun things you can do on vacation is make up a story about who you are or where you hail from — the more ridiculous the better, especially if you can pull it off. Romy and Michele dreamed too big by telling everyone at their high school reunion that they invented Post-it notes. So if you’re going to assume another persona, be sure to do your research so your story doesn’t end up breaking at its seams like it did for these two businesswomen.
14. “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” — Respect the habitat
Alrighty, then! Though his methods were highly unorthodox, Ace loved and communicated with animals like no other. Respecting the cultural and indigenous characteristics of your temporary surroundings are must-dos. After all, it’s those indigenous components that make the place that you’re visiting the beautiful, lively, and thriving habitat that it is. Knowing the rules that locals abide by can save you from getting sick, help you to blend in, and will certainly help you to immerse yourself in everything that the town, city, or country has to offer. Study up on where you’re going with Frommer’s and LonelyPlanet.