Destination Immersion

The Best Insider Travel Tips

Wednesday, July 24, 2019
By Azamara

Travel is enriching, fulfilling, and of course, fun. There’s nothing more exciting than discovering local gems in a new city or exploring small villages off the beaten track. But travel can also be logistically challenging. There can be a lot to think about: Where to go? How to get there? What to pack?

We’re lucky to work with some of the top travel experts in the world. They’ve been perfecting the art of travel for years and have shared their best insider tips with us. Their advice will help make your next vacation even more enjoyable!

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Vacation

No one knows the value of a good vacation better than Azamara’s own President and CEO Larry Pimentel. It’s important for everyone to relax on vacation, especially for on-the-go business professionals who never really “clock out”.

Larry Pimentel, pictured with Captain Johannes, snapping a photo before an AzAmazing Evening.Larry Pimentel, pictured with Captain Johannes, snapping a photo before an AzAmazing Evening.

Larry says, “I make the most out of my vacations by enriching myself prior to travel.”

Reading travel magazines and online articles can help inspire your next trip, while guidebooks, blogs, and podcasts can help you research the destinations you plan to visit.

Azamara's Destination Immersion Travel Guide appDownload Azamara's Destination Immersion Travel Guide app, produced in partnership with AFAR Magazine.

Once onboard, it’s important to unplug from everyday life. James, a regular Azamara guest, tells us that he unplugs from work by leaving his work phone in the safe in his suite, only checking it for emergencies at the end of the day. For those who need their phones for taking photos and videos, accessing maps, and using apps, disconnect your work email app prior to travel. You'll be able to enjoy your vacation without seeing those little red notifications add up.

Azamara Tip: A great way to unwind is with a massage, mani/pedi, or facial. Visit the tranquil Sanctum Spa onboard and you’ll leave feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. 

What To Pack In A Carry-On

Jean Newman Glock is a luxury travel writer and lifestyle expert. She always checks luggage for long trips and has perfected the art of packing a carry-on as well.

“Pack as if you know your checked luggage will be lost or significantly delayed,” Jean says. “My personal odds have been delayed or lost luggage once in every five trips."

Matching luggage and shoesMatching luggage and shoes are not required, but fun.

“I travel with a small, compliant, roll-aboard and a large tote purse with a small cross-body purse inside. In these items I pack anything that’s likely to be stolen en route (yes, this still happens, be prepared). This includes electronics, jewelry, name-brand shoes, and scarves.

“For clothing, pack a capsule wardrobe of coordinating colors. Scarves are essential so you don’t look like you’re wearing the same outfit in every photo. The large (59-inch) Hermes cashmere and silk shawls are a capsule wardrobe in themselves.  I collect them and wear as a shawl, skirt, headscarf in the Middle East, sarong, blanket on planes and bathing suit cover.  Not a paid endorsement, just my personal obsession.

 A champagne toast next to an Azamara cruise shipA scarf can dress up any outfit - perfect for impromptu champagne toasts.

“Traveling light is liberating… so I hear," Jean jokes. "Someday I may travel with only a carry-on, but for now, I compromise.”

Azamara Tip: Lose the hassle by shipping suitcases directly to your stateroom with Luggage Free

How To Book Air Travel

Lee Abbamonte is a world traveler in the truest sense of the world. He’s the youngest American to travel to every country in the world and is always on the go.

Lee Abbamonte in Bali with two elephants.Lee Abbamonte in Bali with Azamara®.

“My best tip is to Google the airport and see which airlines fly to that particular airport. There will likely be airlines you've never heard of. Go to their websites directly and you can save a lot of money that way!”

“Other than that, just shop around. My favorite sites are Skyscanner and Kayak for booking flights because they compare the most booking sites and include ones most sites don't include.”

Azamara Tip: Sign up for email newsletters so you’re always the first to know about new cruise travel promotions. 

What should solo travelers consider?

Nastasia Wong is the founder of, a women’s travel blog. She says, “Solo travelers, especially women, should try to avoid looking like a tourist. Walk around exuding confidence and leave the big bulky maps at home. Do your research before hand and take screenshots of maps on your phone if you’re without Wi-Fi.”

Nastasia in Japan with AzamaraNastasia in Japan with Azamara.

“And if you’re a U.S. citizen traveling internationally, consider signing up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which could help the State Department assist you in case of emergency!”

Nastasia visiting St. Petersburg with Azamara.Nastasia visiting St. Petersburg with Azamara.

Azamara Tip: Make friends onboard by attending social events for solo travelers, requesting to dine at the Discoveries dining room with a group, and joining Azamara Shore Excursions tours for onshore exploring. Find fantastic rates for singles on select voyages here.

What should LGBTQ travelers consider before booking a cruise?

Mark den Hartog is a co-founder of Meet Me Onboard, a community for LGBTQ cruise travelers. Mark says, “Like most travelers, we first consider the destinations and then how much time will be spent in each port. More time allows us to get a better understanding of the local culture and customs. If a city or region is known to be gay-friendly, it’s an extra bonus to spend more time, perhaps even an overnight.

Mark and his husband Dale during an Azamara cruise.Mark and his husband Dale during an Azamara cruise.

“Sailing with Azamara in the Aegean, we enjoyed a late night on the island of Mykonos long after the other ships departed. This allowed us to gain a totally different perspective of the island and to experience the evening ‘gay vibe’ which elevates as the sun sets.”

Sunset in Mykonos.Sunset in Mykonos.

Azamara Tip: Consider cruising with an LGBTQ-friendly brand. Azamara has been voted the best small ship cruise line for LGBTQ guests several years in a row by the Meet Me Onboard community, and there are regular onboard get-togethers for LGBTQ guests.

How To Pack For A Long Cruise

Ann Tran is a professional speaker and travel expert who has joined Azamara for several long voyages in Asia and Europe.

Ann Tran cruising the Bay of Bengal with AzamaraAnn Tran cruising the Bay of Bengal with Azamara.

“Planning for a long cruise in two different climates is easy if you are organized,” Ann says. 

“Start with a list, and always pack for comfort. Look up the extended forecast for each destination. Today’s fabrics offer plenty of hassle- and wrinkle-free options for classic, stylish, sexy-smart attire to suit all kinds of weather.

“The absolutely positively must-have is a few black ensembles in different styles. Think a little black dress and pants with a lightweight sweater. Dress them up with a beautiful scarf and sexy heels. Timeless, elegant, and simple. 

“On cruises, daytime wear can vary greatly from eveningwear. Trust me, you’ll need different outfits for different occasions – dining at the Captain's table, attending a social media event, or joining in the excursion ashore. If you happen to stumble upon a “real steal” while shopping, especially one that is easy to pack, get a few in two or three colors. This ensures jazzing up the right outfits, and there will never be any case of ‘I have nothing to wear’.

“When shopping in port, look for items with local design and flair. This gives your outfit a unique spin, and the exotic find may spark a conversation. Plus, you will always carry the fond memories of your journey and the person who accompanied you that day. Make shopping your next adventure!”

Azamara Tip: Don’t forget to pack a white outfit! Most voyages include a White Night themed party, held on the pool deck when weather permits. 

An Azamara White Night partyAn Azamara White Night party.

More Helpful Travel Tips

  • When buying airline tickets, book under the exact name that appears on your passport – no nicknames.

  • Double-check all foreign document requirements in advance. Some countries require special travel visas that can take several business days to obtain.

  • Don’t travel with a camera you’ve never used. If you buy a new device, take a walk around your neighborhood and practice using it before you vacation. Check out ten tips for taking better vacation photos here.

  • Research travel insurance and select the best fit for your needs.

  • Learn a few helpful words of the local language. (Check out our handy guide to Italian phrases here.)

  • Avoid using blankets and pillows supplied by airlines, and bring your own instead.

  • Keep all your in-flight necessities (gum, hand sanitizer, books and magazines, earbuds, iPad etc.) in a small bag or pouch that can fit in the seat pocket.

  • Photocopy the necessary pages from your guidebook, or use a sharp edge to remove them from your book. This way you can travel each day with more discreet-looking pages and avoid carting around the whole book.

  • Research museum and art gallery hours in advance. You don’t want to show up to Florence’s Accademia on a Monday only to discover it’s closed.

  • Pack a pouch with basic health essentials, including prescription medicines and over-the-counter treatments for basic ailments like headaches, nausea, allergies and upset stomach.  

  • Research the best travel apps to download before you leave.

With these handy tips, you’ll be a travel expert in your own right! All that’s left is to choose your next adventure. Click here to begin planning your next Azamara voyage.

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