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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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