Planning Your Journey

moneyHow do I get a passport?    U.S. Passports
How do I get a rental car?   Avis
What seat should I get on the plane?   Seat Guru
I hate to carry all that luggage!   Luggage Concierge
Is my flight on time?    Flight Tracker
What will the weather be?     Weather
What will my dollar be worth?      Currency Converter
I never can figure out that Celsius weather?   Temperature Converter
What if I lose my passport?   Don’t Panic – Read this.
U.S. Embassies throughout the world?    Listings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Travel Tips for an International Vacation

Basics:

  • Passports need to be current, up to date and valid for at least six months longer than your intended return. Please check, and please send a copy to your travel agent.
  • If you have a “Smart” phone, take a photo of your passport. But please, make a photocopy of your passports – keep a copy in luggage (helps if luggage gets lost or even if passport should get lost), keep a copy with you (may be needed when making a purchase, especially in order to get tax free).
  • Leave a copy of your passport and itinerary with family or friends in case of an emergency. A list of hotels and phone numbers will be sent to you. Put a copy of your itinerary in luggage in case luggage gets lost – if found, the airlines would know where to deliver it.
  • Bring one extra passport photo with you. If your passport is stolen you do not have to find a place to have a photo made.
  • Keep all important documents with you. Always make sure you bring your necessary IDs and cruise documents — and never pack them in your checked luggage. You’ll want your passport or other photo ID on hand, so even if your suitcase is delayed, you can get into the country.

Luggage:

  • 50 lb. limit on your checked luggage. If you have any doubt, weigh your luggage. Luggage scales are available at a host of discount places. Remember it also has to weigh 50 lbs. when you return home!
  • Go to the airline web page to check on luggage size for checked and carry on bags.
  • You can’t bring any liquid over 3 oz. in your carry-on luggage. Any liquid 3 oz. or under must be in a 1-qt. zip-lock bag.
  •  Take a photo of you luggage on your “smart” phone. If your luggage is lost, you don’t have to explain what it looks like.
  • Hair dryers and robes are provided on the ship and in most hotels. Do not pack them.
  • Do not pack an IRON!
  • You may want to bring some bubble wrap to wrap any souvenirs or wine.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t overpack. You can wear your clothing more than once.

Hotels:

  • Many hotels in Europe have no washcloths, so you might want to pack some old ones that you can use and throw away.
  • You need an electric converter to charge cell phone & battery chargers, curling irons, etc.
  • Bring an extension cord – can plug in more than one item on the converter.
  • Pack your medications in your carry-on to make sure you can easily reach them. Keep them in their original containers to ease inspections by Customs. You may want to make a list of your prescriptions and keep it with you. If you become ill or lose your medications, having a record of prescriptions, over the counter medications and health history can speed treatment and replacements. If you have questions about which medications you can take, check www.tsa.gov.
  • Take an extra pair of prescription glasses if you wear them.
  • If you have medical problems, have a record of your prescriptions, over the counter medications and health history. Also bring phone numbers for your doctors. Many people bring medical information on a thumb drive.

On plane:

  • Wear comfortable clothes, the looser the better.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Stretch and move around often.
  • You have to take off your shoes to go through security – you may want to wear socks.
  • Consider buying and wearing support socks or support hose for the flights. Available at many stores from medical supply houses to Wal Mart and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
  • Have a jacket or sweater with you because planes can get cool during the flight.
  •  A shawl works great as a blanket. Some people like the neck pillows also.
  • Change your watch to new time while on plane.
  • Best way to handle jet lag and adjust to new time: try to get some sleep on the plane, don’t go to bed as soon as arriving at hotel, stay up until nighttime, but make it an early night.

What to bring:

  • Wear hat and use sunscreen.
  • Wear comfortable shoes (comfort over style). Shoes also take a lot of space in your luggage.
  • Cover shoulders & knees if going to a cathedral or religious center.
  • Put a change of clothes and underwear in your carry-on luggage in case your luggage should not arrive at the same time you do.
  • Pack outfits in Ziploc bags – can be used throughout the trip, and also good for dirty clothing.
  • Clothing should be casual. Slacks, long shorts, capris are all fine. Knit and cotton shirts that mix and match with your clothing is a must.
  • Bring umbrella (a small umbrella that fits in your bag/purse because rain is usually sporadic).
  • Don’t forget your camera and extra memory stick.
  • Walkie-talkies can come in handy and also be fun.
  • Small backpacks or totes can be quite useful for carrying cameras, books, sunscreen, water bottles and other items around the ship or in port.
  • Two and three gallon zip-lock bags are excellent for packing like items, i.e. shirts, underwear, etc.
  • Other items you might want to pack because they’re not provided or super-expensive to buy onboard include: over-the-counter meds, batteries, camera memory cards, sunscreen, ear plugs, plastic bags for transporting liquids or wet things (or keeping water out of your gear on water-based tours) and power strips to charge all your electronics.
  • Don’t take anything that is irreplaceable, (i.e., your grandmother’s ring, etc.)

Money matters:

  • ATMs are best way to get cash – safest and best exchange rate.
  • PIN Numbers – Know your pin number. If you do write it down – keep it in a safe place.
  • Credit cards or debit cards are overall best way to pay for things – gets the very best exchange rate.
  • Don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket – back pockets and book bags are easy marks for pickpocketers.
  • In crowds be especially conscious of your purses/wallets, especially if a crowd of children are around you.
  • ALWAYS ask a cab driver how much the cost will be before you get in, or ask if he is on the meter. It hurts to pay 40 Euros to go 5 blocks.
  • Waist or neck money belts can be purchased at many stores including Wal-Mart & Target. I always wear one.
  • Don’t keep all your credit cards in the same place. That way if one gets stolen, you have a backup. File away a copy of your credit card numbers and their 800 customer service numbers in case the cards are stolen and you need to cancel them.
  • Notify your credit card companies that you will be out of the country to not delay approval of any charges you make.
  • Use the safe in your hotel. Put your passport and extra money and extra credit cards in it. But please remember to get everything out before you leave the hotel.

Other Things:

  • Electronics: Travelers and electronics seem to go hand in hand these days. You may want to bring a portable music player, camera, video camera, portable game player or book reader, and alarm clock. If you bring your cell phone, check about foreign country and onboard roaming charges before you turn it on mid-cruise; And since many hotel have limited electrical outlets, some travelers bring extension cords and power strips.
  • Download your books and movies before you leave home.
  • Call your phone local provider before you go to find out all international costs on your phones, laptops, and I-pads.
  • Look into using Skype for phone calls– it is very inexpensive – but learn to use it before you go.
  • Look before you cross the street. I know you know this one – but many Americans are hit each year by simply stepping off the curb or looking at something else and getting hit by a car or a motor bike. Watch where you are walking on these cobble stone streets. Please don’t wear flip-floppy shoes when sight seeing.
  • Use the old motto – “Go with the Flow”. It is your vacation, and you want to relax and have a good time. Europe does not always work like the United States. Sometimes they move at a slower pace. This is part of the charm of their country. Enjoy!!
  • Bring a list of the e-mail addresses you wish to correspond with on the trip. Friends love receiving your photos and blogs while you are on vacation.

*If you have other travel tips that I have not listed, I would love for you to send them to me. Many of my tips come from my actual experience and from my clients’ actual experiences.

Here are some recently added tips from fellow travelers and agents:

  • To save space and reduce wrinkles when packing, roll your clothes rather than folding them.
  • For multiday tours with hotels, etc. pack separate outfits in plastic bags for particular days.
  • Take half the clothes and twice the money you think you’ll need.
  • When traveling as a couple, each of you should carry a different credit card. If one is lost or stolen and needs to be canceled during the trip, you’ll still have the other person’s card.
  • Carry local change for bathrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Favorite Travel Apps

TripLingo – provides phrase guides, translations & audio pronunciations

Tripit– is a mobile app for Android and iPhone that connects to your email accounts to compile all your travel information for you automatically. It searches our confirmation numbers for flights, hotels, rental car reservations, and even restaurant bookings.

 XE Currency – this is a currency convertor. You put in your countries and conversion is very easy

CityGuides – Offline Maps – form your itinerary of things to see and do

GateGuru – put in your airport code and check out what is around your gate and how to get there.

Tripomatic – lets you explore historic sites, museums, and other spots worth seeing around the world.

Viator – lets you see tours and guides that are available in the city you are going to visit

Packing Pro – is a mobile app made for super list makers. It helps you remember what to pack and can also serve as evidence of what you packed if your luggage were ever lost.

Google Maps – great for directions in walking around the city.

The Converted by Ideon – While most travel converters take care of currency conversions, the Converted by Ideon is an ultimate all-in-one conversion app. Currency and Imperial-metric — such as Fahrenheit-Celsius and mile-kilometer — conversions are all included.

City Maps 2Go Offline Maps – No more overpriced data-roaming fees. City Maps 2Go Offline Maps’ greatness is as straight-forward as its name — it provides pre-downloaded city maps which don’t require any Wi-Fi or roaming data once you’re at your destination.As well as providing offline GPS services, the app also pins locations of bars, restaurants and shops.
The free version only allows limited downloads of maps.

iStone – Worried about asking for directions to the bathroom when you’re stranded in the middle of a shopping mall in Paris? iStone may be your savior.
iStone is a translation app that is designed for travelers without any great linguistic skills. It records and translates into 12 languages and comes equipped with more than 300 useful phrases. iStone also features native pronunciation and requires no Wi-Fi.

Airports by TravelNerd – Not just another real-time flight tracking app.

In addition to flight information, Airports by TravelNerd allows users to access information on the airport, including gate information, detailed floor maps, Wi-Fi availability and opening hours for shops and restaurants.

SeatGuru – Many flight booking apps may find you the cheapest tickets but not many provide enough crucial information — from seat pitch to the proximity to the toilet to the likeliness to be bumped — especially for long-haul fliers. It not only allows flight search but also features the website’s signature color-coded seating plan — green is a good seat and red is bad. When clicked, a pop-up box provides seating advice and amenity information.

Award Wallet – Track and monitor your loyalty and reward programs. You can store your passwords, balances, and account numbers connected to your frequent flyer miles, hotel and car-rental and credit card loyalty points—even free coffee card awards.

Google Translate – Amazingly versatile and instantaneous, TranslateGoogle currently works with 57 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish. Really helpful for on-the-go spontaneity, it offers an immediacy 2nd best to a human translator. All you have to do is think it, and type it. See the translation, and hear the phrase in the desired language.

J Wire – You won’t get stuck out on a limb—isolated and unconnected, nor get caught on deadline running out of juice. With Jiwire, you can quickly access hot Wi-Fi spots in remote areas—located in more than 140 countries worldwide.

*Please send us your favorite travel apps