Traveling to an unknown destination ignites our passion and a desire for adventure. It opens the door for us to step outside the “box” and enter a world of possibilities.
But there is also the practical side of traveling—rules and regulations; getting through airport security; individual entry/exit requirements for foreign countries; safety and health aspects when traveling abroad—and finally what your budget dictates.
In order to travel from our side of the world to another, we need to know what is required—and the list is long. There is also more apprehension about traveling abroad…or even in the U.S. With our increased vulnerability to terrorist attacks and other security threats, there are heightened security measures at airports, hotels, train stations, and other public places that necessitate forethought when traveling.
Missing a so-called “minor” detail (such as not having enough blank pages in your passport, or not having a visa when required) can cause major problems. You may not be able to board the plane or enter your destination country. Or you may find yourself abroad with no way of getting cash, because the pin number of your ATM card is not accepted at foreign ATM machines; or you didn’t realize that your passport is considered invalid in the country you are traveling to because it will be expiring within six months of your return date—you thought it would still be accepted.
Many travelers (including myself) have experienced complications that could have been avoided, had they known what to expect in advance. They paid exorbitant fees to get cash or when making purchases abroad; or they had no cell phone reception or paid a lot of unexpected dollars in roaming fees; or they became ill or injured while abroad and found that their insurance would not cover them; or they had a minor accident in their rental car that ended up costing thousands of dollars out of their pocket; or they came home to bills with foreign transaction fees that they were not even aware of; or their “waterfront hotel” was not on the ocean, but on a duck pond; or they arrived at their “beach” vacation to find it was steep jagged rocks or rough surf—and the list goes on. Many a vacation has been ruined by the unanticipated “potholes” in the roads of travel.
Did you know that when traveling by road to Mexico, if you do not declare personal items at the “Merchandise to Declare” lane at the first checkpoint (items such as cell phones, CD’s, cameras, computers, etc.), that these items could be seized (as well as your vehicle) for attempted smuggling? Are you aware of the dangers of rip currents (and how to spot them) that pose a danger to swimmers on many ocean and large lake beaches worldwide—and how to swim out of them if you get caught in one?
There are alternate lodging options that you may not be aware of that could make your travel more affordable.
In my newly released book, Know Before You Go: Traveling the U.S. and Abroad, I’ll step you through the different phases of travel guidelines. It will include the planning and packing phase of your trip and provide you with resources on how to stay healthy and safe, avoid jet lag, and much more. You’ll be informed on how to avoid scams (like the criminals that use children to distract tourists) and how to protect yourself from typical crimes (pickpocketing, computer or cell phone hacking, and more).
My book answers questions that have left many a traveler confused, and it simplifies what is required for airport security and customs. It will make you aware of hidden or less commonly know facts. Advanced planning will reward you financially and emotionally in the end.
If you are traveling with children and/or your beloved pets, there is detailed information on how to ensure they have a safe adventure with you.
Stumbling upon the unexpected should become a treasured memory— not end up being the culprit that ruins your trip.
Stepping outside the good ol’ U.S.A. means leaving behind any preconceived ideas that all countries are the same, and that they offer the same conveniences that we are accustom to. Each country has its own set of laws, customs, language, currency, electrical and cell phone requirements, and more. Accessibility for the disabled differs from what you can expect in the U.S. Having an accurate picture of the country you are traveling to will create real expectations and will help keep you from being disappointed. You’ll be ready to adapt to their customs and overcome the challenges that may arise when visiting a foreign country.
As the Director of Travel of an international organization (and as a traveler myself), it was my responsibility to stay within the budget and ensure the safety and health of our employees by equipping them in every facet of travel. I let experience and a whole lot of research be my guide—from writing corporate travel manuals; researching various countries and their entry/exit requirements; setting up travel and medical insurance plans—to providing assistance to employees facing hardships abroad. This involved assisting company travelers who experienced medical emergencies or injuries; were involved in car accidents; became the victim of crime—even one who was arrested while abroad.
Stuff happens—know what to do if it happens while traveling.
As part of my research for my book, I stationed myself by security in Chicago O’Hare Airport to get a handle on problems travelers face in airports. There was a lot apprehension and frustration by rookie travelers who were not prepared.
Let’s plan on having the “unexpected” be that moment when you step off the plane at your destination and think…Wow, this is way more than I expected!
Some of areas we will be covering in future posts include:
- Determining your destination, alternative lodging options, and budgeting your expenses
- Cruise options, road or train travel, and purchasing airline tickets
- Travel/Medical insurance – do you need it?
- Passports, Visas, and Trusted Traveler Programs – application requirements and where to get them
- Packing, airport security, and going through customs
- Traveling with health or disability issues and safety abroad
- Communication, cell phones and internet abroad – How to stay connected and avoid hefty charges
- Acceptable methods of payment and using ATM’s abroad – How to avoid foreign transactions and unnecessary fees
- Dos and don’ts when renting a vehicle
- Traveling with children and pets (keeping them safe, healthy, and entertained)
- Being prepared in case of an emergency or unexpected event when abroad
I look forward to sharing more travel news with you!