All posts filed under: travel advice

olympics tax

So What’s the Story With the “Olympics Tax” in Paris — AKA the Hotel Tax?

Paris loves taxes. Loves them! They (literally) make the trains run on time, and fund the libraries, and support that wild and expansive social safety net we Americans keep hearing about. Now, with the Olympics coming up, those taxes are going up — at least one of them will definitely impact your credit card statement if you’ll be staying in Paris this year. The hotel tax — known in some quarters as tourist taxes, the taxe de séjour, and also as the Olympics tax — is going up. Visitors to Paris have already been surprised to see these higher-than-usual taxes on their bills — but the Olympics tax does not, of course, wait for the Olympics. Rather, they came into effect on January 1, 2024. In 2023, the nightly hotel tax started at €1 for one-star hotels, holiday villages, guest rooms and hostels, rising to €5 for “palace”-level establishments, like Le Bristol and the Four Seasons George V. Now, the cheapest tier is €2.60, while the palace level is €14.95 — and those are all …

aruba eagle beach view

Ask a Traveler: A Safe, Low-Key Spring Break

In this week’s Ask a Traveler, we have a letter-writer in need of a low-key spring break with sandy beaches, a direct flight from New York, and, ideally, a Hilton points-friendly hotel. Our suggestion involves burrowing owls, a 19th-century gold mine, world-class windsurfing, and more. If you have a travel dilemma, please send it to me! The more parameters of travel desire, the better. Hello!  I’m looking for a spring break destination for me and my boyfriend, both tired and cold New Yorkers just hoping to spend a few days getting sunburned on a beach. I’m hoping for a warm-weather destination where you can stay somewhere nice without it being crazy expensive — I’m not interested in places like St. Barts or Anguilla. We’d also like to avoid all-inclusive resorts where the resort is really beautiful but you’ll never leave the resort and if you do it can be sort of stressy. We definitely want something beachfront, even if it means paying a little more. We don’t mind a big, corporate hotel for this trip — actually, …

plane flying above earth with glow of sunset on engines

15 Things a Travel Writer Takes on Every Flight

I think a lot about how to pack a carry-on — and indeed, how to dress — on the plane: Planning well can be the difference between a mini-retreat, with entertainment and snacks, and a freezing-cold brain prison. Below, you’ll find everything I bring to keep it more in the former vibe than the latter. I will add here that of course you want all your essentials in your carry-on, rather than any checked bags: medication, wallet, etc. etc. One thing I often pack by accident into my checked bag is charging equipment: cords and battery packs and wall chargers. Of everything here, the thing I forget most often is cables: a USB cord to charge my phone, a full laptop charger, and a cable to connect my headphones to the plane’s entertainment system. A quick note about budgeting, as several of the items below are expensive. As a freelance travel writer, my income varies hugely from year to year: It stabilizes when I take a staff job, and then occasionally craters when I’m freelancing, including some …

flixbus review usa

Flixbus USA: Guess What, It’s Terrible (But Here’s Why I’ll Keep Using It)

Here’s my Flixbus USA review: It’s terrible. But: It’s cheap! I love public transportation. Every large community, in every state in the U.S., should have inexpensive, fast, and reliable public transport. I am an adult person, who knows how to drive a car, but who has however never owned a car, because I’ve been lucky enough to live in cities that don’t require them: New York, London, Paris. I want to live in cities where people work together to make something better as a community than they could on their own. The New York City subway, the London Tube, and the Parisian métro are, for all their problems and delays, absolute wonders. But what to do when you’re traveling outside of them? We publish two great newsletters: Sign up for a weekly dispatch about travel and Paris — or for our new weekly email about shopping (mostly French brands but a mix of everything!) Give me a choice and I’ll always take the train, but in some parts of the world, this just isn’t an …

a vintage image of a woman in a swimsuit hanging over a pool

How I Stay Fit on the Road

Traveling is as good for your emotionally, spiritually, creatively, as it can be bad for you physically. Maybe you’re disciplined. I’m not: I eat food I don’t like at airport food courts, give up on finding a nice restaurant and eat KitKats in my hotel room, and bail on my workouts. It’s not great. I’ve gotten better over the years, though. I still struggle with food, though I’ve been making a valiant and often successful effort to pack meals for the airport and the plane. Working out — now that I have figured out. Here’s how I do it:

6 Ways To Learn French — From Anywhere

I’ve lived in Paris on and off for five years and I’m still learning French. But it’s getting easier and easier — partly because I’m better at it, and partly because there are so many ways, both new and old, to study, whether you’re in Paris or not. Below, my favorite six tools to learn French.

flix bus review

A One-Star Flixbus Review — Even if It’s Cheap

Here’s the thing about buses: I hate them. Love a city bus, hate a long-distance bus. It’s like being stuck on a plane, but for longer, and without going as far. There is no instance in which I would rather take a bus than a train, since the latter allow freedom of movement, higher speeds, better toilets, and better scenery unless you are extremely excited by highways. I am very much #teamtrain. Welcome, then, to my Flixbus review.

project fi review

A Project Fi Review

Google’s Project Fi Review I was a T-Mobile customer for a million years (er, slightly less—but still probably a decade) and I dreaded the day that they’d merge with another (awful) carrier. I was very happy with T-Mobile, as long as I didn’t have to speak with their customer service department, which still sends me bills for service I never had. (ARHGGH.) The rates were good enough, but for me the main thing was its international service, which included free overseas low-speed data in almost every country in the world, at no extra fee.

a view of some rooftops in bali

How to Afford Traveling Full Time

When I tell people that I travel 10 months of the year and live in Paris, they think I’m rich. I’m not rich. Or they ask me how I can afford it. And honestly, not always in the nicest way. This is the crazy thing to me: Nobody ever asked how I could afford it when I was living in New York City, spending a small fortune on my apartment, and buying the sort of wardrobe I needed to work at a fashion magazine (read: $$$$).