Eight Travel Tips To Get You There & Back Safely
Make a color copy of your passport to carry with you. If you have a safe in your hotel, leave your original passport there and carry the color copy with you.
Email yourself a copy to a web based email account like hotmail, yahoo, gmail etc. If you lose everything, you can access this digital copy, print it out and it will help facilitate getting a new one.
Make sure checked luggage has an ID tag on outside with an address inside. Some people recommend you put your work address on there. That way, if your luggage is stolen, thieves do not know where you live.
Put additional info (like a copy of your itinerary) inside your bags bag in case they get lost or delayed. I put my info in the bag’s external pocket.
Don’t check chargers (cell, camera, laptop) in checked luggage because if it goes missing you could be out of luck.
Check your credit cards before you leave for lost or delayed baggage insurance. You may be covered for the cost of replacement or incidentals of your bags go missing and your ticket was purchased with that card. Amex offers this for a fee attached to every air ticket purchase.
If you must check luggage and are traveling with a partner, share space in each bag so in case one goes missing, you’ll still have something to wear in your partner’s bag.
Pack light. If you can, carry on everything. You don’t need that much, really. I can pack for 2 weeks in winter in one 22″ rolling bag.
Use zip lock bags (I like the “one zip” brand) to help you organize and compact your clothes.
Know your rights- called a “contract of carriage” which tells you what the airline owes you if you get bumped or your flight is cancelled.
Call the airline immediately for re-booking-this can be faster than waiting in line at the airport.
Have the airline’s 800 reservation number with you.
Pick your best seat at seatguru.com
4. Pickpockets & Scams
Pickpockets happen. Be aware of your surroundings. Carry the bare minimum with you each day and leave the rest locked up back at your hotel or apartment.
Read up on the local scams at your destination.
Empty out your wallet before you leave home. Don’t bring unnecessary cards with you. Do you really need your Macy’s card in Timbuktu?
Make copies of every card you bring, front and back, in case your bag gets stolen. Email this to yourself (see passport instructions).
5. Money Issues
Call your bank before you go to let them know where and when you are traveling so they do not hold/cancel your cards when they see foreign charges.
Check on foreign transaction fees. Find out if it’s a flat rate on withdrawals or a percentage. Some banks charge flat rates on ATm withdrawals, some charge percentages, some charge both. Credit Unions tend to have better rates.
For example, Citibank does not charge a fee if you use their ATM’s in other countries, but if it’s not a Citibank ATM, they charge 3%. Some banks a flat rate (up to $5) and a percentage. One Credit Union account we have charges $1 per transaction, another charges 1%. Some are free.
If the difference between 1% and 3% does not sound like much, consider this; say you will need to come up with 1300 euros to pay for an apartment rental in Rome. 1300 euros at 1% =12 euro ($17). 3%= 36 euro ($50). Add to that any other cash and it starts to add up just for the “privilege” of using your bank’s ATM card.
Many Visa/ Mastercards now change 3% per foreign charge. AMEX charges 2%. There are some cards which charge no fees.
Find out what your daily/weekly ATM withdrawal limit is and increase it if necessary (to pay for an apartment for example).
Sometimes ATM cards get stuck in the machine. If possible use the machine at a bank, during open hours so you can get them to open the machine. If not, and your card gets stuck, call your bank immediately and cancel the card (remember those front and back copies?)
ATM-Do you have a 4 digit PIN #?
Don’t even think about Traveler’s Checks or buying foreign currency before you go (unless it’s a minimum amount to make you feel secure). The exchange rates are absolutely horrible.
- Example: Citibank has a “world wallet” program where you can have currency delivered. In early 2008, their exchange rate was 1euro=$1.49 plus $5 for less than $1000, plus $5 to have it delivered to your house.
- So, 500 euro would cost $755.
- 500 euro withdrawn from an ATM at the current rate ($1.40) plus 1% would only cost $707.
- 500 euro withdrawn from an ATM at the current irate ($1.40) plus 3% would only cost $721
Do you have travel medical insurance? What does it cover?
Consider buying travel insurance, especially if going to a 3rd world country with poor medical care. make usre the coverage includes evacuation insurance. Even in more “westernized” countries it can be a good idea to have extra coverage. Many US health insurance companies will not cover you outside the US, and getting reimbursed even for emergency care is difficult at best. Bring info and phone numbers with you.
7. Rental Cars:
Check your credit card rental car insurance coverage. In some countries, like Italy, the extra insurance is mandatory.
Make sure the agent checks and marks all dents and dings when you pick up and drop off the car.
Don’t leave anything in the car, especially anything visible. Put everything in the trunk before you get to your destination, not in the parking lot where thieves can see you do it. Leave a local newspaper (in the local language) on the car dash to make it look less like a rental.
8. Disaster, Terrorism
Leave a full copy of your itinerary, including flights, dates, etc with someone back home.
Scenarios: A plane goes down on the airline you are flying-friends and family wonder if you are on that flight. Or, there’s a huge earthquake in one of the cities you are visiting- are you there that day?