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The best advice during a year on the road (so far)

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Like any globe-trotter, Jada has learned a lot of lessons on how to travel — the easy way, the hard way and, occasionally, in a different language. She’s also been given advice from fellow travelers, proud natives, and followers and fans across social media.

Here’s a look at some of the best advice Jada has received from readers and some of the best advice she’s shared right back.

You can also read all of her dispatches, and follow her travels on Instagram and Twitter.

Let (social) followers lead

Before her trip to the Rogue River in Oregon, Jada asked Twitter followers what she couldn’t miss in the area. Followers responded with recommendations for caramels, road trips, hikes and sausages.

She followed the advice of many, and also had her own recommendations.

“When you do eat, though, make sure it involves blue cheese,” Jada said of her time in Oregon. The creamery she went to was recommended by a Twitter user, Katie D.: “Rogue Creamery has won awards for that mouldy goodness, and a farm stand on its dairy in Grants Pass served a grilled cheese sandwich made of Oregon blue cheese, a type of mild Cheddar called TouVelle, and honey, on locally made white bread basted with grape seed oil, that I’d commemorate in song if I could.”

“Even more indelible was Jasper’s Café in Medford, a roadside burger joint near the airport,” Jada wrote. The cafe was another recommendation from Katie D. “I craved it every day I was in Oregon — and was nearly late to my flight getting another one on the way out.”

Eat ice cream for breakfast

For many, the 52 Places traveller position is a dream job. For Jada, that dream, while not always totally dreamy, is a daily reality. And in that reality, you sometimes land in a hotel where there’s ice cream for breakfast.

In Prague, she tweeted the following: “My #prague hotel inexplicably has ice cream at breakfast and I went straight for an affogato because this is how you celebrate being an adult.”

Some readers had a few things to say about ice cream. In Cincinnati, the consensus was clear: Go to Graeter’s, they said. And get the blackberry chip — in a pretzel cone.

And when someone suggests a chocolate factory, never, ever, say no.

While in Africa, Jada tweeted this: “Guys I’m in São Tomé & today someone suggested I go to a chocolate factory & I was like, ‘I don’t have time!’ But now I’m here & omg just the smell of chocolate is making me happy. Seriously, in a bad mood? Go to a chocolate store. Breathe.”

Look for helpers

It goes without saying that when you’re travelling the world for a year, there will be some high highs and low lows.

When Jada’s car was stuck in the mud on a remote beach on the island of São Tomé — with no cell service, to boot — a group of villagers came to the rescue.

“This,” her guide, Juliano, said, “is just part of the São Tomé culture; no one would ever leave anyone stranded.”

In Lucerne, Switzerland, Jada faced a different kind of crisis: a lost bag with her laptop inside. “My hotel desk clerk said not to worry; Swiss people return things they find,” she wrote on Instagram.

The next morning, she woke up to a direct message on Twitter from a man named Anton. “Hi Jada Yuan, please contact me if you lost something,” he wrote.

Anton was in Jada’s hotel lobby — with her bag — 10 minutes later.

A few months later in Fiji, Jada was tasked with voting in the U.S. midterm elections from the South Pacific, about 8,000 miles away. She credits a team of locals — from hotel staff to newfound friends — for helping her ballot make it back to New York City.

Pack wisely and strategically

In June, Jada answered many questions about her packing strategy. “Blogs, travel writers, foreign correspondent friends, and flight attendants all gave me great advice, but the past five months of hopscotching through climates and national borders have been figuring out what works for me, with trial — and a ton of error,” she writes.

She shared a handful of her own tips and her biggest concern: “What happens when I get my period?” she asked. Tampons — and Duane Reades — aren’t everywhere, and that includes the African bush.

… but pack creatively

Because why have a neck pillow when you could have an animal neck pillow, as spotted in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International airport?

Listen to the chef

While travelling in Bolivia, Jada ate at Gustu, a restaurant in La Paz, Bolivia. Perhaps the most important advice in a restaurant comes from the chef. In this case, the advice was: Eat it. Jada held the hand of the co-head chef, Marsia Taha Mohamed, while taking a bite of a queen ant taco. “Smoky and crunchy,” she wrote.

“This Gustu tasting menu had at least 3 other proteins I’ve never tried (oxtails, beef hearts, and alligator ceviche). I won’t eat any of them again, but once seemed worth it.”

Nothing against chefs, but bus drivers also have some good advice (if unintentional).

While in Bologna, Italy, Jada wrote this on Twitter: “Ticket seller: You get the bus in front of the ice cream shop.

Me: (only hears the words ‘ice cream’ even though I’m going to giant food mall @eatalyworld).”

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Travel & Escape

Dealing with baggage on your trip

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(NC)Nothing is more embarrassing than having to unpack your baggage at the airport. It’s common to overpack because you want to make sure you have everything you need for your trip – the right shoes, a jacket in case it’s cold, a bathing suit in case there’s a pool. But you must be mindful of the baggage restrictions. So, how can you be smart with your baggage when travelling?

The first thing to do is talk to your TICO-certified travel agent about the weight restrictions and number of bags you are allowed to take. Some airlines charge per bag, while others may offer one bag for free depending on weight.

You’ll also need to know if there are security requirements for carry-on and checked baggage. For example, there may be prohibited items such as gels and liquids. These limitations vary from airline to airline and depends on if your flight is international or domestic, so you’ll need to check the policy of the airline you’re travelling with.

Naturally, you want to avoid incurring baggage fees, so talk to your travel agent, or contact the airline directly. You can also visit their website to review the luggage policy.

Here are a few more tips to help you manage your baggage when travelling:

  • Clearly label all baggage with your name, home address, and contact information
  • Place an identification tag inside the baggage in case the outside tag is torn off
  • Lock bags with CATSA/ACTSA travel locks
  • Put a colourful ribbon or other identifying marks on your bags so they are easily recognizable
  • Carry valuables in your hand luggage; jewelry, money, medications, important documents, etc.

You can’t carry everything with you, so be smart when you pack. Take only necessary items and focus on your trip.

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Travel & Escape

What travellers need to know if a destination wedding is cancelled

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(NC) It’s two weeks before you’re scheduled to attend a destination wedding and then you get the call. The wedding has been called off.

Sure, you’re upset for the couple, but now you’re faced with plane tickets and hotel reservations. So, what can you do?

There’s no reason why you can’t go and enjoy the trip, but bear in mind you may face a price increase, especially if this was part of a group booking. Group bookings often include a minimum number of travellers to get the discounted price, as well as terms and conditions regarding changes or cancellations.

You could ask other travellers to come along to keep the group discount. But name changes often count as cancellations based on the terms of the vacation package and premium charges may apply. If you booked with a TICO-registered travel agency, website or tour company, it’s better to contact them and ask about options before making any decisions.

While it’s devastating for the couple who planned the destination wedding, the fact is that the cancellation affects all the confirmed guests. So, it’s important to know your options so you can salvage an unfortunate situation. Always book with a TICO-registered travel agency, website or tour operator so you can circle back and find out what they can do for you.

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Travel & Escape

Be safe not sorry when booking travel online

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(NC) With so many travel websites available these days, many people are choosing to book their vacations from the comfort of their own home. Many travel websites are easy to navigate, and offer great vacation packages, so it seems to make sense.

But before you hit “submit”, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Here are a few tips that can make you more aware when booking travel online:

  • Look for the TICO registration number or logo. All Ontario travel agencies and websites must be registered with TICO, the provincial travel regulator that provides consumers with protections if they don’t receive travel services. The registration number or logo is usually found in the About Us or Contact sections of the website.
  • Know where your credit card payment is going. Some websites are only search engines or booking agents for other providers.
  • Review the terms and conditions, particularly those that relate to cancellation, changes to bookings and refunds. Know what the travel agent or tour operator’s responsibilities are.
  • Keep a paper copy of your transactions, correspondence and confirmations.
  • Double check which currency the prices are quoted in. You could be paying in Euros instead of Canadian dollars.
  • Keep in mind that tax amounts can vary in travel advertisements. Ontario travel agencies and websites can display their taxes in four different ways:
    • A total price
    • A base price plus total taxes, fees and additional charges
    • A base price with a detailed breakdown
    • All taxes, fees and additional charges.
  • Research your destination to find out if there are any travel advisories, which can be found on the Government of Canada website.
  • Check the online travel agency’s website for a live-chat feature, email address or toll-free number to talk to a travel agent. Travel agents are a great resource to answer any questions you may have to ensure you are making an informed travel purchase.

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