We’ve enjoyed putting this list of smart travel tips together and hope you find something that will help you on your next vacation. Some are recommendations from the travel industry as well as from our own personal experience. Like most things good, it takes discipine and some work but if you are focused you can do it.
- MONEY MATTERS: We prefer to use a credit card for all my purchases (collecting those valuable airmiles) but have found it wise to carry small bills when traveling. Small bills allow money for tips and snacks that normally are not purchased with credit. It’s also good to have currency of the country you are visiting before you arrive. Check Currency Exchange Rates. Some vendors may not accept your U.S. currency. Keep money and credit cards in front pockets or strapped under clothing to help prevent theft. Unexpected sometimes happens and having currency can help in emergencies. Bring along an extra bank or credit card in case one is lost or stolen. We suggest you make a photo copy of your cards and have your travel companion carry the copy with them. This way you can have the phone and account number available to contact your bank.
- FREE LUGGAGE: Most airlines will charge a luggage fee for checked bags. While collecting those airline miles you can also save on luggage fees. Some airline rewards credit cards offer complimentary first piece of luggage.
- SPEAK THE LANGUAGE: “Hello,” “how are you,” and “thank you” in French, Spanish or whatever the language of your destination can go a long way. Considered proper and polite etiquette which helps to give a more positive response from the local people.
- MAIL HOME: Your family will miss you so don’t forget to call or use social media and say hello. Take address labels and postage stamps so that when you find the perfect postcard you can mail it immediately!
- SEE LESS: You don’t want to burn daylight on your vacation but this is not a race, so stop and smell the roses. You’ll see a lot more when you see a lot less.
- TRAVEL SLOW: Don’t race from station to station or terminal to terminal, that will set you up for a stressful, unenjoyable time. With travel, less is more.
- GET LOST: One of our favorite vacations was a drive through the Tuscany Countryside with no plans at all. Every turn in the road was a new adventure. So put down the map and wander. Eventually, you’ll find your way.
- CHECK IN 24 HOURS BEFORE YOUR FLIGHT: Advance online check-in is available on most airlines websites enabling you to print your boarding passes at home within 24 hours of departure. You’ll need your AIRLINE CONFIRMATION CODE. This can be entered at the AIRLINE WEBSITE. You can also go online anytime to check your flight times in case of last minute flight schedule changes and review any baggage fees that may apply. During check in you can confirm and/or update seat assignments.
- KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Travel alerts, weather conditions, health requirements, entry issues. These are common questions for todays traveler and answers can be found at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en.html
- CREDIT CARDS: Don’t forget to contact your credit and debit card bank(s) to alert them that you’ll be traveling to avoid unnecessary fraud alerts and holds on your accounts.
- TRAVEL DOCUMENTATIONS: Remember to have all your legal documentation (Gov’t issued photo ID). Keep important documents, medications and valuables with you at all times, including any required identification and entry visas, if applicable. Carry a printed or scanned copy of your passport(s) packed separately from the originals, and bring the phone numbers for your credit card bank(s), just in case. We recommend that you leave a copy of your trip details with your Emergency Contact.
- AIRPORT ARRIVAL TIME: The airlines and TSA recommend that passengers arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before domestic flights and as much as 3 hours for international flights. This may vary depending on how busy your local airport is, so check with your local airport for recommended times. This allows ample time for you to check in for your flight, check baggage and go through security screening.
- ACCESS YOUR FLIGHT PRIOR TO CHECK IN: Airline itinerary can change at any time. Using your AIRLINE CONFIRMATION CODE and name you can access your itinerary at your AIRLINE WEBSITE anytime. To help with smooth travel you will want to access your flight on line and add passport information as well as emergency contact info. 24 hours prior to departure the airlines release seats to the public and you can review seat assignments and print your boarding pass at that time.
- PHONE SERVICE: Make sure you contact your phone service provider regarding international calling and calls off the cruise ships. There may be additional fees involved.
- VALUABLES: Do not pack valuables, travel documents and medication in check in. These should be packed in your carry on.