Planning your travel is full of major decisions like where to stay, what attractions to visit and how much to spend. But it’s the little things that can make or break a great holiday. Check out these top ten travel tips and tricks before taking off on your next holiday.
Check out the travel alerts and warnings for any country you are planning on traveling to. Alerts cover short term issues that can impact travelers such as controversial events, natural disasters, flu outbreaks or higher risk of terrorist attacks. You should consider alerts when planning your travel, but it is generally considered ok to travel to those regions. Warnings cover unstable governments, frequent terrorist attacks, civil war, and intense ongoing crime or violence. It is best to avoid regions with travel warnings.
Renew your passport early and be sure your passport is valid for at least six months past your planned travel. If your passport is expiring in less than six months, some countries will deny you entry. Also, airlines can deny boarding or detain passengers on arrival if your passport expires in less than six month.
Before traveling, check with your doctor or with the CDC. The CDC maintains an excellent travel health and safety site that you can search by destination. A pre-travel physical exam will help identify any underlying health problems that can ruin your vacation.
Make copies of your passport details, insurance policy, visas and credit card numbers. Keep them separate from the originals or leave a copy with someone at home. If your wallet is lost or stolen, you will have a much easier time retrieving them and communicating with banks.
Obey the laws of the country you’re visiting even if these seem harsh or unfair by your standards. You won’t be treated differently just because you’re a foreigner.
Keep in contact with friends and family back home and give them a copy of your itinerary so they know where you are. Choose friends that you can contact by phone or over the internet in case of trouble. Keep in mind there are scammers who contact people, claim to be you, and request help (usually wire transfers). Set up a simple password with friends and family so they can be confident it is you.
Most banks have aggressive anti-identity theft and fraud prevention programs. Let your bank know that you are traveling and give them a list of your destinations. Some banks will allow you to pre-approve large transactions. It also pays to have a second check card or credit card with you. If your bank accidentally tags one of your transactions, your card will also be blocked.
Be sure you understand what you can and cannot take across borders. Every day, customs seizes thousand of items ranging from exotic plants and animals to basic foods. If you think the heirloom seeds you bought at a market or the small arrowhead you picked up on a beach is okay to bring home, think again.
Pack lightly. Bring nothing more than a modest carryon suitcase and a small backpack. You will save tons of time in airports and airline luggage fees. The key to packing lightly is to pack layers, and keep your clothes in neutrals or similar colors that can be worn together.
Travel insurance may add to the cost of your trip, but it is less expensive than accidents, illness, emergency evacuation, canceled tours, missed flights, lost or stolen baggage, travel-company bankruptcies, or getting your body home if you die.