Travel Tips You Need to Know-
So you are taking a trip – careful planning can save a lot of headaches. Whether you are driving, taking a train, cruising, or flying; there are things you need to know. These rules go for local trips as well as world travel.
1) Before leaving on your trip
Research the area you will be visiting. Check for things like weather expectations during the time you visit as well as what the locals wear. For instance, in Ireland you are advised to wear hiking or waterproof boots, bring rain gear and wear subdued colors. You can find hints about how to order drinks, food, and what to expect from the locals.
Make a copy of your passport to leave home with someone and make a copy for you to carry with you at all times. Do not carry your passports once you reach your destination. Keep your original in your room or hotel safe if available.
Call all your credit card companies and speak to someone in the fraud department. Let them know where you will be each day so that they do not put a freeze on your account. Nothing is worse than trying to pay for a meal with not enough cash and a card that has been locked.
Make sure someone is checking on your house while you are gone. Pipes burst, break-ins happen and having activity in the house will help deter a burglar. Either suspend your newspaper and mail delivery or have a trusted friend or neighbor pick these up for you daily. Also, not a good idea to post about your upcoming trip on social media. That just alerts would be thieves you will not be home. Better to save the bragging until you get home.
Pack light. With the cost of checking baggage increasing, it is time for us to take control. Compression bags (not packing cubes) work great to keep clothes wrinkle free and occupy less space in your bag. However, using compression bags allows you to put more in your bag, so be sure you are not over packing or adding to much weight. The idea is not to pack more, but to pack what you need in a smaller bag.
Some overseas airlines are now measuring and weighing carry on bags. On our upcoming trip to Ireland, there is a 44 lb limit for checked bags and 32 lb for carry on bags. Be sure to check with your airline for their requirements.
When checking your bag make sure that you use a TSA approved security lock. The TSA can still open your bags if need be, but locks keep others out. Make sure your luggage tag only has your name, email and phone number on it. Never use your address, it only alerts potential thieves that are not home. Only give your address to the lost luggage department if your luggage gets lost, and no one else. And lastly, what color is your luggage? Most travelers have black. Put colored yarn, bandanna or something on the handle to alert you as to which bags are yours.
In your carry on, please remember to carry an extra outfit, medications and toiletries. If you are traveling with someone else and check your bags, it is a good idea to each place one outfit in the other traveler’s bag. It will be nice to have at least one outfit should your luggage get lost.
Do your research. Cruise lines warn you to only take their tours but there are a lot of reputable companies that offer cheaper excursions. Expedia and Tripadvisor are good places for the same or similar tours as the cruise lines for a lower cost. Once you know what you want to see, check prices directly with the tour company for even better pricing.
Many cities in the US and abroad offer Hop-On/Hop-Off Bus tours. Some of these also include passes for city buses and trains. Many of these have an option to add museum admissions, boat rides, etc. at a reduced cost. Package deals like this can really save money.
They are safe and the headphones allow you to hear the tour guide in your language.
There are also city passes that include transportation, free admission to museums, art galleries, aquariums, etc. Free guided walking tours are available in many cities as well. Simply tip the guide what you think it was worth.
We can not over-stress the importance of researching. You will get better deals and more for your buck!
Check out the area you are staying, do some research. We stayed in a hostel in Ecuador but it was really a bed and breakfast. In this country, less than 10 rooms can not be called a hotel. Hostel does not always mean shared rooms and the bathroom down the hall.
Airbnb has become a popular option for an economical alternative to a standard hotel room.
When traveling in the US this is usually not a problem. Using credit or debit cards is typically safer than carrying cash and if cash is needed, an ATM is not hard to find. Read the information posted on the ATM for additional fees for usage or seek out ATM’s associated with your bank to avoid fees.
When traveling overseas you will find many countries accept US dollars as well as their local currency. A little research will answer this question quickly.
Many local banks will provide currency exchange prior to your trip, for a fee. You can also exchange your foreign money when you return, also for a fee. Travelex is a good source for currency exchange. Many cities will have stand alone Travelex offices or locations in banks or airports. You can even exchange online at travelex.com. Again, there is a fee for this service.
It is recommended you wait to exchange until you get to your destination and do not exchange in the airport, these ATM’s are usually not bank owned and not secure, find a local bank ATM, the fees will be lower. Check with your credit card company, many major cards do not charge foreign transaction fees.
Airport and cruise port parking is expensive. Check off-property parking lots that include free shuttles to and from the airport or port. If there are hotels nearby, contact them for parking fees. Many will let you park without staying at the hotel or a minimum one night stay before or after your trip, and they generally have a free shuttle. Globalairportparking.com is a website offering low cost hotel parking near major airports.
7) Rental Cars
In the US – Be sure to use credit cards that will cover your deductible for repairing the rental car. Check with your card companies as many will do this and save you a deductible if you get hail damage, broken window, or even cause an accident. Most insurance companies will cover the rental but not your deductible.
Outside the US – Your insurance will not cover a rental outside the US.
Rental car fees overseas usually cover the other car if there is an accident but will charge you a high price for comprehensive & collision coverage. Check your card companies for a copy of what they will cover and carry it with you. A single call to your credit card company could save you unnecessarily high cost insurance.
8) Be Sure to Watch Your Personal Belongings
Of course, that is a common sense statement wherever you are.
Never carry all your cards and money in one spot. Be sure to use an RFID protected cover for your cards and passport or an RFID safe wallet or backpack. Sophisticated criminals can get your personal information simple by passing an RFID scanner near your wallet or purse.
Fanny packs, looking at maps in public places, wearing bright colors – these all scream “Tourist!” and are red flags for a pick-pocket. Keep your wallet out of your back pockets and if you insist on carrying it there…wrap a thick rubber band around it. This will make the wallet harder to be pushed from your pocket. Always try to fit in the best you can, wherever you are.
We have all heard how people are getting in on your passenger side to grab a purse while you are pumping gas. So, lock your doors when you are not in the car. If you must leave items in your locked car, at least make sure to conceal them.
9) Worth Checking Out
AAA.com – They sell maps, compression bags, luggage, wallets, backpacks, locks, etc. You get a discounted price if you are a member but can also purchase items at a higher price if you are not. They even offer trip planning!
Joyus.com – They offer compression bags, travel clothing, luggage and accessories.
Travelsmith.com – You will find wrinkle proof travel clothing, RFID wallets/bags, compression bags, luggage, etc.
Groupon.com – Offers for you range from discount hotels, vacation packages, food discounts, etc. Local and international deals are offered.
Restaurant.com – Restaurant and activity discounts.
Tripadvisor.com – A great site to research information on hotels, local attractions, things to do and see, etc. Reviews provided by travelers just like you. Submit your own reviews.