Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, there are many things you can do to make your experience more enjoyable. Preparation is the key to enjoying your time away from home, no matter what the circumstances may be. There are things you should do before and during your trip; let’s take a look at each area.
Planning For Your Trip
Before you leave on a vacation or business trip:
Mail & newspapers: Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to collect your mail and newspapers, or setup a vacation hold. Also, if possible, ask a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home while you are away. Leave a copy of your itinerary with this person as well.
Travel Documents: Bring all of your travel confirmations with you in a folder, including important phone numbers for your travel agent, hotels, car rental companies, etc.
Airports: If you are flying, confirm all flight departures as well as any type of traffic delay, estimated parking changes or estimated security gate wait times. Check in to your flight online if possible. Not only will you keep from being bumped from a flight, but you will pay less on your baggage fees (when applicable). If you are flying, get to the airport early.
Driving: If you are driving to your destination, leave enough time for bathroom and eating breaks before reaching your destination. Be sure to fill your gas tank and plan your route ahead of time.
Charge Electronics: Make sure your cell phone and other electronic items are fully charged prior to leaving your home.
Clothing: Wear comfortable clothing for your trip (unless you are flying on business and are required to dress up). Keep an extra pair of underclothing and a few other personal items in your carry-on bag in case your baggage gets lost or stolen.
In Your Wallet: Obtain traveler’s checks if you desire. They are safer than carrying cash and can be traced or replaced if lost or stolen. Additionally, they will allow you to stay within your established travel budget. Keep a list of your credit card numbers with you in a separate place than your wallet. That way, if something happens, you will be prepared.
Travel light: Don’t pack valuables that you wouldn’t want to lose. Leave your jewelry at home but take an extra pair of glasses if you cannot live without them.
Before Traveling to a Foreign Country
If you are traveling outside your home country, be sure to take the following additional precautions prior to leaving on your trip:
Contact your financial institution where you have the debit and credit cards you plan to use on your trip to let them know you will be traveling out of the country.
Use an ATM in the country you visit to obtain cash; it will have the best exchange rate. However, you should obtain some cash prior to leaving on your trip as a back-up until you find an ATM to use. Visit http://money.cnn.com/data/currencies/, http://www.x-rates.com, or http://www.oanda.com to view some of the exchange rates all over the world.
Review the language you will be using prior to your trip. Practice key phrases that will help you get from Destination A to Destination B.
Learn about the local customsof the destination you are planning to visit. Talk to friends and family who have visited the foreign country to gather as much information as possible.
Get the appropriate vaccinations against any infectious disease you may encounter on your trip.
Have a valid passport and all visas required for your trip. Make two copies of your passport. Keep one in a separate part of your travel luggage and leave the other copy with someone at home.
Be sure to bring a voltage converter for any electrical gadgets you may need (e.g., blow dryer, shaver, etc.). Some countries have different voltage requirements for their electrical gadgets.
During Your Trip
Once you check-in to your hotel, you want to make sure you enjoy your destination as much as possible…even if you are on business. Staying safe is a key to your enjoyment. Here are some tips to consider while you are visiting your destination:
- Only carry a small amount of cash on you (e.g., tipping cash). Your credit card, debit card and traveler’s checks will pay for most things.
- Keep money and valuables either with you or in the hotel safe in your room. Do not keep your money in the same place. Use the hotel safe and the pages of a book or magazine to hide your money.
- Lock your luggage and label everything.
- Lock your hotel room when you are in your room as well as when you leave. Make sure any sliding glass doors are locked as well as adjacent room doors.
- When visiting various sites, wear your money in a money belt, or you can safety pin it to your belt or undergarments. You can also keep it in a pocket that zips or buttons (preferably a front pocket), or in a purse that is secured to your body in some way.
While Traveling in a Foreign Country
When visiting a foreign country, you should consider the following additional tips:
- Do not plan to wear a backpack as many tourist sites will not let you in and they will not store the backpack for you.
- Do not carry your passport with you unless it is required in that particular country.
- When using public transportation, be aware of possible theft. Do not accept gifts of food or drink from strangers while on public transportation.
- Appreciate the differences between the U.S. and the country you are visiting. Explore different foods and cultural experiences.
- Dress conservatively and avoid wearing anything flashy. Avoid wearing “message” or “logo” shirts when at all possible and wear comfortable walking shoes.
- Be aware of and follow all local laws regarding alcohol consumption, smoking and operating a vehicle, among others. Abide by the laws and expect no special treatment due to ignorance.
- Remember that you are more likely to become a victim of a crime if you have consumed alcohol; be cautious.
- Travel in a group when possible. If you are not on the “tourist track,” try to travel with a trusted companion.
While these are not a complete list of tips for you to consider when you travel, they will help you be prepared so you can have an enjoyable time at your destination, wherever that may be.