Updated: Nov 5, 2019
Now that summer is 'over' (frankly, I don't subscribe to that philosophy until outwear wear becomes unavoidable), many of you won't travel again until it's time to visit distant family for the holidays. This is a source of sadness for me because I know what you're missing! That said, despite the title, these helpful hints are useful and important for any traveler, frequent or otherwise. I've managed to whittle down the list of umpteen to twelve. As you can imagine, there are many others. Hmmm...sounds like fodder for another newsletter!
Ok, here are your tips...
1. Take a photo of your passport and email it to yourself. Even if you lose your phone, you’ll still be able to access the photo on a public computer.Get TSA Pre-check or Global Entry to breeze through security lines at domestic airports and upon entry back into the United States. The fee per person is well worth it and certain credit cards will refund the fee if charged to them. I swear by both of these for ease of passage. Also helpful for avoiding long lines: Customs and Border Patrol's app Mobile Passport.
2. Research tipping standards before you arrive and bring local currency. There are 20 countries that come to mind where tipping is either considered rude or is not expected/appreciated.
3. Call your credit card companies prior to departure and let them know where and when you’ll be traveling. By now you've probably experienced what happens when the see charges that aren't your normal habit. In the name of protecting you, they'll place a hold on your card - not fun when you're traveling.
4. Travel insurance. I've written about this before. For international trips, just buy it. Better to be safe than sorry.
5. Always carry a survival kit: toothbrush and paste, meds, facial/body wipes, earplugs, eye shade, band aids, safety pin, aspirin, comb/brush, plus your must-haves (mascara, charger, snack, you get it). When you check your bag, always carry on a couple changes of undies/top/shirts. Don't get stuck having to wear the same clothes for five days in India while the airline tries to locate your luggage. In many places you might be able to do emergency shopping, but that isn't the plan - preparation is.
6. Pack an empty tote bag in your suitcase – one that can fit easily under the airplane seat in front of you. You might have noticed that you often leave a new destination with more items than when you arrived. Having an extra bag to pack them in will be a game changer.
7. Never pack shoes that you haven’t worn for at least one entire day. It doesn’t matter how cute those new sandals are if they rub your feet the wrong way.
8. Mark your bags with something easily recognizable. You wish you had remembered to do that every time you wait at the carousel, don't you?
9. Try speaking a little of the local language. It's fun, and a challenge the whole family can participate in - learning something new is one way to keep your brain young. (Note: Try a free app like Duolingo, that offers courses in several languages right on your phone or computer.)
10. Practice patience. Travel is amazing, but can often test travelers when there are things such as weather delays or mechanical issues outside of your control. Stay informed, bring a good book, and go with the flow.
11. Think ahead to when you return from the trip. Make sure to have a couple quick-fix items, like frozen pizza available, even if it's not something you have regularly. If you arrive home and your kitchen is empty, it will be nice to have something you can throw in the oven. A thoughtful travel advisor, (such as yours truly) will usually include a gift card or two for a pizza delivery when they drop off your travel docs - something to get the family through their first night home.
There are websites galore that abound with travel tips; use the ones that suit you and toss the rest. I'm sure I'll be chatting on this subject again in the future.