Consequential Travel Tips #1

Consequential Travel Tips #1


EXTRA LUGGAGE– It may be possible to purchase the right to check a third bag, at a cost of something like $125. In high capacity travel times however, it may no longer be possible to elect this option, at any price. Again, don’t be stymied at the gate. Check with your airline in advance.

TAG YOUR BAGS…INSIDE AND OUT — It is surprising to note how many people arrive at the airport with no identification on their luggage. Wiser travelers will have at least two external tags securely affixed to each piece of luggage, and one taped inside the cover of each bag for good measure.

 WHAT TO WEAR FOR SMOOTHER CHECK-IN — Almost all clothing accessories, including shoes, belts, hats, sweaters, jackets, etc. must be removed and sent through the x-ray machine. Simplify matters for yourself by wearing such items that are relatively easy for you to remove and re-don. On another note, wear at least one garment that has secure button-down or Velcro pockets suitable to keeping your passport, wallet, pen, glasses and other critical items safely on your person. A travel shirt such as Ex Officio, safari pants with good button pockets, and/or a photo journalist style vest or jacket can be very helpful in securing important items.

CARRY-ON LUGGAGE — As of now travelers in the USA are limited to one carry-on bag, plus the equivalent of a purse, laptop bag, or small backpack. You are advised not to test the capacity limits, as your carry-on may be denied boarding, or forced to be checked. Plan and pack accordingly.

 HURRY UP and WAIT — Early arrival at the airport for check-in is now more important than ever. You will avoid many problems and much distress simply by arriving at the airport check-in counter a generous two hours or more in advance of your flight departure. In fact, on some recent Singapore Airlines flights, they asked that you check in 3-1/2 hours prior to flight time.

CONNECTING FLIGHTS — When planning connecting flights, allow at least three hours for you and your luggage to change planes, especially when making an inter-airline connection and/or clearing Immigration and Customs .I know that sitting around the airports for that long is no fun but cutting this too close can ruin a great trip before it even begins.

 FALL-BACK OPTION — Avoid scheduling the last flight that will connect from your home airport to the major gateway. If your flight is late or cancelled due to weather or mechanical issues, your entire vacation may be placed be in jeopardy. If at all possible, book an earlier flight for a safety cushion.

 YOUR PASSPORT if you’re planning on vacationing in another country, you’re going to need a valid passport. If this is your first passport, you’ll need to apply in person at least 5 weeks before your planned departure. You can go to your local county courthouse, a U.S. Passport Agency, a probate court, or certain post offices. For more information, click on: Be sure to make two photocopies of your passport before you go on your trip. Bring one with you and leave the other with a friend.

 TRAVELER’S CHECKS try to avoid carrying large sums of cash when you are traveling. Bring only the credit cards you plan on using and pick up some traveler’s checks before you go. If you need to cash a traveler’s check while you’re on vacation, be careful! Banks have been known to charge up to 20 percent of the travelers check’s face value. Try to find a bank that sells the same brand. Your fees will be lower and you can save that extra money for souvenirs.

 MEDICAL PREPAREDNESS Prepare a medical kit to take along. Be sure to include any prescription medications, (take a few days extra of your prescription medication, you never know when your trip might be extended) also bring medications for stomachache, earache, pain, and diarrhea. You should also carry a copy of your eyeglass or contact lens prescription, and an extra pair of both.

 RESTRICTIONS WITH CARRY-ON BAGGAGE The Transportation Security Administration (a division of US Department of Homeland Security) has recently revised its restrictions on items in carry-on luggage for flights originating in the US. Due to enhanced security measures liquids, gels, lotions and other items of similar consistency will not be permitted in carry-on baggage. These types of items must be packed in your checked baggage. These are some tips to avoid spills inside your suitcase:* Liquids and gels should be in plastic containers, stowed inside clear zippered plastic bags for ease of inspection by TSA officials .For the perfect travel container visit* Squeeze all the air out of any liquid or gel containers to avoid leaks, as products expand in flight.* Pack liquids and gels near the hinge of a suitcase to minimize movement .These are some notable exceptions:* Baby formula and breast milk are allowed in your carry-on baggage or personal items. You can take these through the security checkpoints and aboard your plane. However, you must be traveling with a baby or toddler. All items including formula or breast milk will be inspected.* Liquid prescription medicine with a name that matches the passenger’s ticket, up to 5 oz. of liquid or gel low blood sugar treatment, including juice; and up to 4 oz. of non-prescription liquid medications including saline solution, eye care products and KY jelly are permitted.* Gel-filled bras and similar prosthetics* Gel-filled wheelchair cushions* Life support and life sustaining liquids such as bone marrow, blood products, and transplant organs carried for medical reasons. More details are published on the Transportation Security Administration web site. Make sure to visit for the latest restrictions before packing your carry-on luggage and reaching an airport security check point

.HEALTH INSURANCE WHILE TRAVELING when traveling overseas, check your health insurance. Many policies won’t cover you once you leave the U.S. If you need insurance, there are a number of companies that offer travel coverage plans. Please call me at 888-339-4400 or contact me at and we can discuss which plans will meet your personal needs.

 AIRLINES’ SEAT POCKETS before you stick your hand into the seat pocket in front of you, think about what the last few passengers may have left in there. They are the dumping ground for everything from rotten food to used diapers. It may surprise you to learn that aircraft are given a deep cleaning only once a month. How is still the question? Planes are lightly cleaned between flights (obvious trash picked up, crumbs brushed off) and cleaned overnight (toilets, galley, seatback pockets emptied, floors vacuumed). So before you put your hand in someone’s used Kleenex, think twice before reaching into the seat pocket – and don’t even ask me about the pillows and blankets.

 GETTING THE BEST SEAT ON THE PLANE why do airlines only reserve seats for you if you remember to ask? By the time you remember, the good ones are gone. To get the better coach seats, you want to avoid the restrooms and galleys because they’re busy with lots of traffic. The seats in the last row and in front of exits often don’t recline, Middle seats are cramped. Bulkheads have more leg room, because no one reclines into your lap, Window seats have a view but less head room or aisle access. Show up when the counter opens to get the desirable exit row.

 TRAVEL AGENTS VS. ONLINE BOOKING who can take care of refunds and changes when you have booked your trip online? Don’t be surprised when the answer is no one. All that time spent online is doubled when you have to get on the phone and make a change. Forget the refund, as online specials are usually non-refundable. Need help overseas? I cringe for you. Internet specials are great until you have a problem or need to make changes. That is where travel agents are lifesavers, especially if you are out of the country. Definitely go online to do research. Compare prices an
d look at hotel photos and airline seating charts. But for an expensive or complicated itinerary, use a travel agent. And pack their cell phone number.

 YOUR CREDIT CARD IS REFUSED OVERSEAS you having dinner at the Eiffel Tower when your credit card is refused. Furious, you spend an hour calling home to discover your card was shut down due to suspicious activity- someone has been using it in France! Since no one called the credit card company back when they left you a message at your home, the account was frozen for your protection. It was not for your protection. You have limited liability. It was the credit card company covering their rear and they do it all the time. To avoid this, call your credit card companies and inform them of your travel dates & destinations, take travelers checks and travel with more than one card.

 PROTECTING YOUR PASSPORT Now that you have your passport for travel to the Caribbean and Mexico you need to take steps to avoid it being lost or stolen. Immediately make several copies. Leave one copy at home, put two copies in your carry on bag, and leave one copy with someone who could fax it to you if yours is lost or stolen. In case yours disappears, a copy of your passport will significantly speed up the time it takes to get a replacement, especially overseas. I prefer hard copies but some people scan their passports to file on their laptop. In your hotel, put your passport in the hotel safe with the majority of your credit cards and carry one of the copies with you for shopping and money changing. 

SHIPPING TIPS if you use a credit card for a purchase or service overseas, keep your receipts and double check your bill. There are thousands of mistakes on international credit card purchases, but unfortunately, there’s very little recourse. One common problem is receiving defective merchandise that has been shipped. The law only protects you if it was shipped within your home state or if you lived within one hundred miles of the mailing address. Therefore, don’t ship without good insurance. And what about the merchant who adds extra zeroes or moves the decimal point to increase the charge? This happens all the time. You must notify your credit card company in writing within 60 days. You’ll also need to send a copy to the appropriate federal agencies as well, and believe it or not, the Director of Tourism of the offending country. Often the promise of bad publicity from an American tourist can nudge the merchant to withdraw.

 DECLARE YOUR ITEMS you are required by U.S. Law to declare all items acquired in other countries. That includes repairs to items you took with you and any gifts you may have received. You’ll fill out a customs declaration form when reentering the United States. Keep a record of what you acquire abroad and keep your receipts. Take the necessary time to register any foreign-made jewelry or electronic equipment at the customs office before you leave, to prove you didn’t buy them on the trip. Appraisals, receipts, insurance policies, and permanently affixed numbers are proof of prior ownership. If you fail to register these items, you may be required to pay a duty on them when you return home. The most important thing you can do is be informed. Believe me, this is the one situation where honesty is the best policy! For more tips and all your travel needs visit:

Donna Touchette

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