Monday, January 23, 2017

Valuable Travel Tips

Those of you who follow my blog will recognize these travel tips from my site.  I do print and copy them and include them with the documents that I give my clients.  Just a few things that I have learned over the years that make travelling a bit easier.

-Always, always, always, contact your credit and/or debit card companies before you leave home and advise them of your upcoming trip. In these days of credit card fraud and identity theft, if you do not do this, your cards will be locked and you will not be able to use them which could be a nightmare. Try to keep cash to a minimum (though I do recommend have a few bucks handy for those moments when someone doesn’t take credit cards). ATM’s are readily available at most places in the world.

-Check with your health insurance company and determine if you have coverage when traveling internationally.  If not, make sure to purchase trip insurance that covers your medical needs.  Accidents happen everywhere and you need to protect yourself.  Also, if renting a car, the same applies for car insurance.

-Get yourself a really good tour book and read it, prior to your trip or on the plane so you are somewhat familiar with the cultural norms at your destination. Things that are acceptable at home may not be so in other lands. You never want to insult the residents of your host country. Always remember their way may not be the same as ours but it is not wrong, it is only different.

-When travelling abroad it is best not to talk politics. Not every country has the freedoms that we do, so err on the side of caution and leave the political banter at home.

-Do not let your cell phone roam or you may come home to an astronomical bill. Either set up an international plan before you leave or use your phone only on Wi-Fi. This tip holds true for cruises also because once you enter international waters you will get hit with very expensive charges.

-When you check into your hotel, ask for their business card (one for each member of your party). That way, if you get lost, are too tired to walk or had one drink too many, you can simply hail a cab and give the driver your card. Even if you don't speak the local language, it will be obvious where you want to go!

-Always carry pjs, a change of clothes, a toothbrush, your jewelry or any other valuables and any necessary prescription drugs in your carryon. Keep a copy of your itinerary in your checked bag. In the event that you and your bags get separated, the airline can quickly determine exactly where you are going to be and that will expedite the process of getting those bags back to you and in the meantime, you should be okay for 24 hours.

-In some destinations, like the Dominican Republic or Mexico, it is wise to drink only bottled water.  Also order drinks without ice and bear in mind that fresh fruit and vegetables are washed in local water.  No matter what your destination, it is always advisable to travel with Imodium and Pepcid or something similar, just in case. 

When traveling abroad, always leave a copy of your passport at home. Also have a copy in your suitcase or take a picture of it with your phone. In the unlikely event that your passport should be lost or stolen, it is much easier to replace when you have a copy with all of the pertinent information needed.

-Border control agents DO NOT understand humor or sarcasm.

-In these uncertain times, it may be a good idea to register with the State Department’s International travelers program at  In the event of a natural disaster or any other unforeseen event, it helps if the government knows how to locate you.  I register every time I travel internationally.  

So, until next time, safe travels!

Today's Quote:   " You don't have to be rich to travel well."  --Eugene Fodor  

Monday, January 9, 2017

My Happy Place

I know that I have been absent for some time.  Life and family obligations can get in the way sometimes and make it hard to have time for anything else.  I missed writing about my passion and   it got me thinking about the reasons that I travel.   I don't have an instant or flippant response.  For me, it is as necessary as breathing, it fulfills a need that is deep and ever present.

It is impossible for me to understand people that look at me and say that they have no desire to travel. I don't understand a total lack of curiosity about this great, big, wonderful planet that we inhabit. Why wouldn't your ears want to hear the alien but magical, lyrical languages of the world?  How can you go through life without tasting and savoring new and exotic dishes from the far corners of this earth? Who doesn't want to feel the warm African sun on their face as the tall giraffes saunter by or the cold night air on your face as the Northern Lights dance across the sky?   Whose eyes don't want to turn upward to look for the highest peak in the Alps or view the unreal color of Lake Louise?   How can one go through life and not hear the ever present music on the streets of New Orleans or the sound of the Mediterranean waves as they meet the shore on the Amalfi Coast?    After all, it is what life is about, isn't it??

I know there are people that never want to leave the safe confines of the small town they grew up in. Others are only comfortable within the borders of their own countries but it is hard for me to imagine. Where do they go when the every day stresses start to get to them?  I close my eyes and see Crow's Foot Glacier in the Canadian Rockies, or maybe I can see myself on the rocky beach at the Cape of Good Hope with the waves crashing all around me.  Sometimes it is the Eiffel Tower that makes me smile or the chiming of Big Ben echoing in my mind.  These places make me smile and bring me peace and ease my every day troubles.  I suppose that is why, I always feel the need to explore somewhere new, I need an endless supply of "Happy Places" to go to when necessary.  Those places that evoke warm memories of fun times in distant lands.  It makes the day to day more manageable.

Every nation that I have visited has a distinct and different feel than any other.  Foods may be similar, Navajo flatbread tastes just like Yorkshire pudding and beignets are like Funnel cake but they are both native to their own cultures.  Languages may be similar like Italian and Spanish but they too are indigenous to their own lands.  Traffic may be the same in Paris and Philadelphia but despite Philly's reputation for being tough, the Parisian taxi drivers put them to shame (I still have not recovered from that cab ride, 20 years ago).

I think what I have come to understand over the years is that we have far more in common that we do different and we need to embrace our differences with curiosity and interest and get to know each other.  I have met so many wonderful people from all over the world and though our interactions were brief, each and every one of them taught me something that led to a greater understanding of their culture.  It is my fervent wish that everyone could have the opportunities that I have had because it may be our only hope of making the entire planet a "Happy Place".

Until next time, safe travels!