These Portland travel hacks will make your visit easy. PDX airport is spacious and modern, transportation is readily available, and getting about the city is relatively hassle-free. If you want, you can see the Zoo, the famed Rose Garden and enjoy a fine, fresh-fish meal downtown the same day.
But before you arrive, here is a short list of travel hacks compiled to prepare for your visit, and to make sure you get the most from your stay.
Pack casual clothes. Portland is casual, almost to a fault. Even downtown, it’s not unusual to see locals wearing sandals and shorts in nice restaurants. So unless you also have a business meeting, you can leave your slacks, dress shoes, suits and accessories at home. You’re on vacation. One of the benefits is that here, you can dress in whatever you’re most comfortable wearing. Also, make sure you pack casual, comfortable shoes for walking and hiking. You don’t have to go on a rigorous trek unless you want to, but there are plenty of comfortable walks, from Waterfront Park and Forest Park to nearby Multnomah Falls. Also, unless you’re visiting in the summer months, do pack a jacket for the rain and a sweater for the chill.
Scan your documents. That includes your passport, identification, phone numbers, ticket and itinerary — then email the information to yourself. Make sure you have access to these records in case you lose your wallet or purse. This is an important hack no matter where you travel.
Call your bank and credit card company. Before you leave home, make sure your cards are authorized to use at your destination. You don’t want to wait for a half hour in the Salt & Straw ice cream line only to have your card not work when it’s your turn to order.
Bring a power strip. Even better, bring a portable charger so you don’t have to battle for outlets at the airport or watch your smart phone battery die when you’re trying to plug in your headphones to ignore your chattering seat mate. Make sure you have the proper adapters.
Check in with Travel Portland. The friendly folks at Travel Portland stay on top of every event, festival, trendy restaurant and family friendly activity every month of the year. They can guide you to the tastiest brewpubs, sushi and Northeast Portland barbecue, and help you explore the nearby wine country and Oregon Coast. Travel Portland also has a wealth of information about LGBT and multicultural activities. You name it, they know about it. They also have Portland travel information in French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish. Stop by the information center located at 701 S.W. Sixth Avenue, Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy our food carts. Portland is famous for its food cart clusters in every quarter of the city, serving delicious dishes of every ethnic persuasion. Don’t settle on chain restaurants — instead, treat your taste buds to buttery lobster rolls, savory El Salvadoran pupusas, garlicky Greek gyros and tantalizing Thai food, just to name a few. It’s easy to find the kind of food you want online, and it is an inexpensive way to fill up your whole entourage when you’re exploring the town. For those of you who favor gluten-free fare, we have you covered too.
Buy gifts at Powell’s City of Books. One of the world’s greatest bookstores is located downtown. Here you can find wonderful guidebooks and photo albums for exploring and learning about the Pacific Northwest — or anything else under the sun. It’s also a wonderful place to purchase souvenirs of your visit, and to load up you and your kids with entertaining books for long car rides and the plane ride home. Have you tried to open your computer a flight lately? The seats are so close together, it’s impossible. With a good book and a charger powering your music, you’ll be happily distracted.
Set aside time for Voodoo. Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnut shop in Old Town has become a “must stop” for many Rose City visitors. You can see the lines snaking around the block daily. Thankfully, it’s open 24 hours a day, so instead of spending your precious vacation time standing about waiting for that maple bar with a strip of bacon on it, pick a time to go when you know you won’t feel rushed. If you plan it right, you can take a bright pink box of fresh doughnuts to the airport with you for snacking and sharing with your family. Cash only, but there are ATMs available.
Go to the airport early. Yes, most of the time, you’ll end up just sitting around, but Portland traffic is a quirky beast, with tie-ups occurring when you least expect it, often for no apparent reason. Once you get to PDX, you’ll see why it’s rated the top airport in the U.S. according to Travel+Leisure Magazine. It’s spacious, clean and easy to navigate. But it is an airport, complete with a snarl of travelers checking bags and trudging through security inspection. If you’re early, you’ll have your book, your doughnuts and time to decompress before your flight.
Save money with your own bottles. According to TSA, “travelers may carry as many 3.4 ounce bottles of liquid (mini bottles of liquor are 1.7 ounces) that fit comfortably in one, quart-sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag.” One bag is permitted per passenger. If you purchase wine on your trip to the wine country, just outside of Portland, you’ll have to pack those securely in your check-in bags. However, any liquids (including alcohol) purchased after clearing the security checkpoint are permitted on the aircraft.
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