Before You Go: The Basics

3 Travel Tips

Planning a trip can become very intimidating. All of a sudden your to-do list becomes a daunting task list as it continues to grow. However, fear no more! There’s only 3 things you need to do before you start your journey.


I suggest you always buy all transport tickets in advance. This will help cut down on costs because it will allow you to purchase your airline tickets at a cheaper rate, or if you are traveling by other means (train/boat/bus) it will help you budget better and not stress about incurring all your expenses at once.

Booking transportation in advance also gives you an exact time frame for how long you will be in your travel spot. This is necessary for arranging where you will be staying, and how many activities you will be able to accomplish in your new destination.

For traveling by air, I suggest using Google Flights. This website will find the cheapest options for which days you want to travel by comparing all airlines simultaneously.

For traveling by bus, I recommend Student Agency. They travel via large busses which are very similar to Greyhound busses here in the U.S. I always felt very safe through this company and their prices are also very low if not the lowest I could find in many countries.

What are the main attractions?

Sometimes people pick a destination by blindly pointing at a map and don’t really have a plan or any points of interest to see. While I fully support this spontaneity, I also think it’s a good idea to pick at least a few points of interest or places you would like to go.

It is a good idea to pick your top 5 places to see/activities to do. This helps ensure you have a bit of a focused plan, but not an overwhelming list. Having prepared a small agenda allows you to enjoy your time there and be realistic. By not packing your schedule full, you now have extra time to sit and soak up the culture. In addition, a less full schedule lets you account for unexpected travel plans such as walking by a restaurant you want to try, missing busses from one activity to the next, and travel fatigue. Do yourself a favor and plan for this extra time ahead!   Personally, I really like TripAdvisor. I suggest using this site for big cities because it can show you in ranking order what are the most visited/need to see places in your area.

In figuring these out ahead of time, you may be able to save some costs by buying special tickets in advance or making reservations online.

Living Arrangements

Whether you’re staying in a hostel, hotel, or couch surfing, its best to have these accommodations locked down ahead of time. Like transportation and sight-seeing activities, it will also help you budget in advance and possibly save you money.

When booking, take note of:

* Location. Is it within walking distance of the places you want to go? If not, if it near public transportation that is easily accessible?

* Customer reviews. I have never taken anything so seriously in my life (only being slightly over dramatic about this). This is an absolute must! Make sure you read the good and the bad reviews, and take note of the date of those reviews. Has it been awhile since the hosts received a good review, or even any review in general? Are customers reporting the same issues with the host or room? Be cautious, but also be aware people who post reviews generally either had a wonderful experience or a horrible one.

* Amenities included. For me, I don’t need a whole lot of extra perks; however, I would recommend looking into a few “necessities” :

o WiFi or Internet connection. This is helpful to let your loved ones back home you have arrived safely as well as provides communication between you and other travel partners. In addition, it helps you to connect with your host more conveniently if issues arise.

o Baggage Holding. Most of the time hosts and hotels want you to check out in the morning so that they can prepare the room for the guest coming in the afternoon. What happens when your flight/train/bus out of the city doesn’t leave until later that day or during the night? It is good to know ahead of time if they will be able to keep your baggage for you (you might have to pay a little extra) or if you should pack extra light/in backpack form so that you can carry your belongings with you throughout the day.

o Use of kitchen? In many hostels, there will be a common area with a kitchen. Hosts encourage travels to use the kitchen because it helps promote community within the travelers, and it’s a great way to help you save money! Furthermore, some hosts will provide breakfast to their guests which is such a blessing! On top of helping you save on extra costs, they will introduce you to their favorite foods or bring you foods from their favorite bakeries.

* Coed rooming? Single Rooms? First, you need to establish your own comfort level. This is very important for you to enjoy your time in your new destination, because the last thing you need to worry about in a new place is your own personal security when you’re sleeping at night. Are you okay with sleeping next to 20 other random strangers? You might be sharing a 2-3 person bunk bed or you might be sleeping in a small cot within an arm’s reach of the person next to you.  Most hostels are very community orientated and very safe. When I traveled to Dublin, Ireland with a group of girls, we stayed in a 16 person room and had a great time! If this is out of your comfort zone, that’s totally okay! Just look into places which have options of single rooms, or 2-4 person rooms that are easily split between you and your travel group. These smaller rooms are quicker to fill up, which is another reason to book in advance!

For hostel arrangements, I suggest using Hostelworld or for renting out apartments/homes, I suggest using Airbnb.


Well friends, now it’s time to explore! Once you have your transportation, main attractions, and living accommodations all set, you have so much more time to adventure when you arrive in your new travel spot!

Have other “need to know” travel tips? Comment below or shoot me an email at For more travel tips, stay tuned for more blog posts and follow @mcconnellanna


3 Things to Keep in Mind With Global Advertising

3 Things to Keep in Mind With Global Advertising

When expanding a product or service from one market to another, especially across different cultures, several precautions need to be taken in order to create brand and product awareness.

Does your product fit the same needs?

During my time abroad, I had the opportunity to listen to Andrej Murdas and Barbora Kratochvilova who work in the marketing department of Procter & Gamble. They told us of several challenges they faced when trying to take the P&G product “Safeguard” to Sub-Sahara Africa. Here, in the U.S., we primarily use Safeguard soap as hand soap. In their new African markets, people didn’t have different types of soap for specific purposes. Instead, soap was used for all types of washing: handwashing, bathing, clothes-washing, and it was even used as deodorant.

Safeguard wasn’t selling in their African markets. P&G hadn’t expressed to the people Safeguard can in fact fit all those needs. If your target market is unaware of how your product can serve them, your base of soon-to-be-consumers will quickly dwindle. Make sure the audience is fully aware their needs will me met.

Is your message lost in translation?

After you establish the product has the ability to meet the consumer’s needs, it is crucial your marketing efforts are translated properly. This doesn’t mean typing your slogan into Google Translator and then copying and pasting what the internet tells you. Check out these brands and see how well it worked for them.

Instead, you need to do your research. Make sure you understand the clear definitions of the words you are translating. To minimize any hiccups that might occur, it would be best to have a person translate the message for you, preferably a native speaker. For more translation tips, please check out Freedman International, a global marketing company.

 Culture affects the promotional mix

We, as marketers, need to firmly understand the culture of our new market in order to promote our product in the most effective way.

The United States is a very individualized culture, where as countries in Africa thrive off of community.

This is key to know for commercial advertising! Americans know when commercials come on the TV we will be informed of a product or service, and many times that is when we tune out to stop listening. We already know someone somewhere wants us to buy something. However, when I first watched commercials from other countries, I noticed how much their culture determines the advertisements. African culture is composed of stories, vibrant colors, community, and often dancing. So, this is what is incorporated into their TV commercials as well, just watch this Pepsi commercial . 



There are many more factors which need to be included and considered when expanding outside of your home market, but identifying the need-set, translation, and understanding culture are some of the most fundamental and crucial challenges that need to be met.


What else do you think is important to be considered when going outside your borders? Share with us in the comments below.

For more tips and strategies, follow @mcconnellanna

Why Global?

With the technology our world has, it’s almost a crime to not want to discover more of the world first hand. Companies are expanding outside of their country lines in hopes to bring awareness and happiness to others all over the world—and you should too!

Why get out of your comfort zone?

Greatness isn’t achieved within the bounds of familiarity, and who doesn’t want to be great? I spent the second semester of my junior year of college living in the Czech Republic. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

Upon making this huge leap, I had never been out of the country (a cruise to the Bahamas when I was 8 doesn’t really count) nor had I ever traveled by myself. I knew little to nothing about Czech culture and if someone had asked me if I planned to pick up the language to a minimal conversational level I would’ve responded with a sure “Yes”. I was quickly taken out of my comfort zone, but I couldn’t have been happier.

When you’re in an unknown place:

  • You get to know your true self. I traveled 5,000+ miles from home not knowing anyone. It was a great way for me to further establish my independence and branch out.
  • Develop a “yes” attitude. Suddenly, you will find yourself saying yes to opportunities you never would have normally. I never had the desire to travel to Hungary, but when the chance was presented I hopped on a train to go explore Budapest—and I’m so thankful I did. What an amazing city!
  • Learn to trust others. As much as people like to say they don’t stereotype others, we all know it happens. When you’re in a foreign country you can either continue to uphold those judgements or have a little faith and be open. People are people. (Still obviously listen to your gut if something doesn’t seem right.)

Culture yourself, and help break the stereotype

As mentioned, stereotypes are everywhere. I thought everyone in Europe drove on the other side of the road, French people were smelly, and I had no idea what Czech people were like. (I lived a very sheltered life.)

The best way to learn about other cultures and make your own impressions is through experience.

I met students from all over the world when I studied abroad and those initial judgements were broken very quickly. The statement “Don’t judge a book by its cover” although cliché, it is very powerful and true.

Additionally, many students had impressions of what Americans were like because of the media. One asked me where my accent was, thinking all Americans spoke with southern accents. I laughed, realizing I had originally thought all Italian people had the same accent as well.



My point is there is so much to learn and experience, which is why I choose to go global. It’s easy to google different facts about another country, but have you ever tried skyping someone from another country to have a real conversation or hopped on a plane to go experience your research first hand? I encourage you to do so. It just might change your life.


Exploring Budapest, Hungary with my parents.


What makes you want to travel and experience other cultures? Feel free to comment below and/or connect with me via