TalesoftheCork pre travel checklist for overseas visit

Help ensure a successful trip with these 17 touring tips

Whether you are a seasonal traveler or first time planner, a trip abroad is best when the pre planning stage is meticulous and calculated. Ever wonder why seasoned travelers seem to be at ease before they go abroad? Use this TalesoftheCork pre travel checklist and 17 touring tips before your next foreign country visit.

Whether you are traveling to Mersault, France (pictured), or Sydney, Australia, preparation can be the key to a successful trip abroad.

1) Use Safari Private Window or Chrome Incognito window when checking on flights, hotels and other websites you repeatedly use. Revisiting websites can result in higher costs.

2) While your can book flights up to 11 months in advance, a good rule of thumb is to buy a domestic flight anywhere from three months to 30 days in advance: 47-54 days typically is the prime booking window. Consider buying international flights 276-335 days in advance and buy a flight on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

However there is no magic potion here. Start watching flight costs and pull the trigger when it appears close to the optimal amount you care to pay. If you see a good deal, grab it.

3) Consider buying an “open jaw” flight when booking travel. Fly into one city and return from another. The airfare may actually be cheaper. Also check out budget airlines while overseas.

4) Do your homework. Check guidebooks and “know before you go” something to see or do each day. Many sites require reservations. And give yourself time to walk, take a train or bus, and food breaks in between sights you hope to visit. Rushing on vacation reduces a holiday to “worse than work” status.

5) Know the address and phone number of your embassy in the city and/or country you are visiting before you leave.

Another tip for travelers: When walking a town or village, take the time to explore views of the area from a high point. 

6) An adult passport is currently $110 and apply for your passport at least six weeks before you need it–add $25 for a first time passport. When applying for a passport, you will need an original copy of your birth certificate and two identical passport photos. If your passport will expire within three months of your trip ending, you are encouraged to get a new passport before you leave.

7) The U.S. Passports and International Travel site has a 10-point checklist before you travel overseas. Take the time to photocopy all documents, leaving a copy at home and another with a traveling companion, securing supplemental health/travel insurance, a letter from your physician for the medications you are bringing, check to see if you need a Visa for the country you are visiting at time of travel and if there are any travel warnings.

Explore regions which might challenge you like a visit to Liguria and the Cinque Terre, including Manarola (pictured). With a little planning and preparation, your next trip can be a success.

8) Contact your bank(s) and alert them you will be out of the country using your bank card. You don’t want them thinking it was stolen.

9) While it may be good idea have some local currency if traveling to a small airport overseas, the world uses ATMs and are widely available to exchange money using your debit card. You may be charged a 1% fee by your bank, but the rate of exchange should be close. The “no-fee” Bureau de Change exchange rates at the airport and in currency exchange kiosks are poor compared to bank rates. So, if you must, change only exchange enough money for your first day in a foreign country. You can use your ATM and bank cards to pull cash from your checking accounts when you get to your destination. Additionally, check with your bank card and inquire as to fees they charge for each use. It is probably better to use your VISA for purchases and ATM card for foreign currency withdrawal.

10) Most of us now take our phone with us wherever we go. Make sure you contact your mobile provider to secure a plan for overseas use. Discuss international calling, text, and/or data plan, and confirm voice and data-roaming fees.

11) Download the travel apps you hope to use on your trip before you leave. They are wonderful to use in WiFi and are a wealth of information.

12) Make a list of what is in your suitcase and photocopy it, giving a copy to your traveling partner and leave one at home. You might even write out serial numbers on pricer items and take photos of them.

While travel destinations and preferences may change, if you take an active part-time student role for each trip, you can self-guide your way to a relaxed vacation.

13) Leave a travel itinerary with someone at home and include the phone numbers and addresses of the hotels you plan on using.

14) Cancel or put on hold your mail, newspaper. Consider paying  bills ahead of time.

15) If you plan on renting a car, most countries require an International Driver’s Permit (IDP). You can secure one at most AAA offices. You will need two passport photos, a fee of $20 and show the clerk your state driver’s license. Fill out the application online, print it and bring it along for quicker processing.

16) Rail Europe has a great site for buying tickets ahead of time. You will save time rather than waiting in line at the station. You might consider longer trips via train.

17) Finally, while experienced travelers may opt not to use a passport or money belt, it is a good idea to use one. Especially in tourist areas and big cities, pickpockets and thieves prey on the naive and unsuspecting tourists. I used a money belt and/or a neck pouch to keep documents safe and tucked away.

While my travels over the last 20 years have helped me with this list, Rick Steves also has a great travel checklist. So whether you use my guide or someone else’s, meticulous planning will help ensure a successful overseas trip.

When thinking about a trip to Florence, be sure to cross the river and walk the streets up the other side for a fantastic view of the city.

For more travel related articles, be sure to return in the next couple of days as I will begin posting from our recent trip to the Cinque Terre in Liguria and Tuscany. In the meantime, read my June 26, 2016, post, Hot outside? Love me some Passaggio Rosé.

And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.

Burgundy: A place to bed down

With a holiday date set, flights purchased and a car secure, housing is the next most important item to confirm. This decision often will make, or break, any successful vacation. Travel agents who you trust often ensure a great place, but their help often is limited to agencies and hotels they contract with. Just for interest sake, you might spend some Internet-trolling time looking for a house rental, flat (apartment) or possibly hotel, in Burgundy.

The web links below to take the user to Burgundy, but each URL has many rental options. Simply adjust the search requirements to fit your preferences. Most rentals are reserved by the week and those listed represent a cross-section of public and private weekly rental options and prices.

While renting a hotel room in Beaune allows closer access to nightlife, visitors to Burgundy might consider an 18th century refurbished farm-house for a week like this one at the edge of Meursault.

Vacation home and apartment rentals:

Holiday Rentals in France

VRBO Vacation Rentals: Burgundy

FlipKey Vacation Rentals: Burgundy

Great Rentals Vacation Rentals: Burgundy

Grape Rentals: Burgundy

HomeAway Vacation Rentals: Burgundy

Owners Direct Holiday Accommodation: Beaune

Fresh vegetables and breads are common at farmer’s markets. Local poultry, meat and fish make BBQ a tantalizing cuisine option.

There are other web addresses as well if these do not fit your needs. Simply type different words into the blank search menu in order to maximize your requirements.

However, no matter your choice of lodging, securing a place to rest after wine tasting or visiting wine merchants is very important. Just like in the States, preferred places tend to book early so do some research and make a choice ASAP. Most owners or agencies also will require a down payment when booking their houses or apartments.

In addition to the obvious advantages of more bedrooms and bathrooms, a living room and kitchen in a rental home, other amenities such as a BBQ areas, a pool, washer and dryer and other conveniences are often standard in every home. Many of us would rather make our own coffee creme and sip it in the backyard or patio area than pay $5 Cup-a-Joe prices in the villages every morning. Now don’t get me wrong, I love sitting at the local cafe and doing just that, but I choose to rather than have to. … Croissants are also cheaper and just as good from the local patisserie. In fact, the increased privacy and use of local farmer’s markets for a home cooked meal is a huge benefit. Try your hand and learn to make regional dishes using local produce!

The only con I can see is that maid service is only included once a week during a house rental. Can you live with hanging up the towels after each use like you do at home?

If organizing a week at a village apartment or house is out of the question, renting a hotel room in a small village may be a good fit, including a room at Domaine Thierry Violot Guillemard’s Nights of Saint John’s guest house in Pommard.

Burgundy hotels:

However, if you are adamant about renting a room, Burgundy has a wide array of rooms to fit any budget. So decide whether walking to the night life hot spots of Beaune or Dijon will create that memorable stay or a quiet village hotel just off the main square of St. Romain, Nuits St. Georges or Santenay fit your style. The following links will provide options for both or some combination.

France Hotel Guide: Burgundy

Burgundyeye Accommodations


Trip Advisor Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts: Meursault, France

Burgundy Today Accommodations

Burgundy Tourism

Whether you or the travel agent books a hotel, flat or a vacation home, be sure to print and bring along your pre-paid voucher. You will need to present it when you check in. You will also most likely be required to show your passport; it must match your name on the voucher. Simply presenting your credit card may not be enough and could cause a delay in checking into your accommodations.

Located just off Meursault’s main square, the Hotel du Chèvreuil is about a 15-minute drive from Beaune.

If travelers still do not have confidence in these web addresses, a number of nationally recognized web sites offer suggestions on tour planning. These sites include Fodors.com, Frommers.com, and Rick Steves’ Europe also offer tour planning as well.

FINAL NOTE: Health insurance

Lastly, a word of caution about your heath coverage overseas. While many insurance policies will cover you, many will only reimburse your out-of-pocket expenses after you return to the States. However, with policies ever-changing, it would be a good idea to check with your carrier and check with the Travel.State.Gov for International Travel for any updates or cautions about travel or insurance. Ask whether coverage is the same or how any claims would be handled while you are out of country? In any case, I believe it prudent to get additional coverage from agencies who specialize in this area. Please review the policies carefully but companies like the following have specific policies for traveling abroad.

HTH Worldwide Travel Medical

HCC Medical Insurance Services

Cigna Global Health Options

Aetna International Health Insurance

Travelex Insurance Services

If you buy a policy, make certain you specifically outline the days you are out of country. You might add an extra day as well in case of delays to ensure you are still covered. Also, make sure you print a copy of your Confirmation of Coverage and plan or policy details, noting your confirmation number, web address and toll-free phone numbers both from the country you are in and from the United States.

After providing options on where to stay in Burgundy and a reminder to check on your insurance, I will next focus a discussion of the four levels of Burgundy wines: Grand Cu, Premier Cru, AOC Communales (Village) and the AOC Regionales. See you on or before July 13.