BEFORE YOU GO
* Take 50 (or more) one dollar bills. They are great for changing money when you are about to leave a country and need to make a small purchase and don't want a lot of foreign money left over. They are also nice to have when you are shopping with street vendors and in flea markets where travel checks and credit cards may not be accepted. Most vendors will quote in U.S. dollars and accept U.S. dollars.
* Hide $50 or so for an emergency in case you go on a shopping spree. Always save money for cabs, departure taxes, food and drinks at airports, airport parking and tips (for cruises, you can put the estimated suggested amount away at the start of the trip-you can always give more or less depending on the service).
* Put a copy of your home address/phone number and itinerary with addresses and phone numbers so your luggage can be sent to you if found. Put only your name on the outside of your bag. (Some airlines may require an address - if possible use a business address.)
* Leave your itinerary with phone numbers with a friend or family member in case you need to be reached. If you are booked on a trip through TalulaTravels.com, you may also leave my home phone number (910) 222-8732.
* Take only the credit cards you plan to use. Don't take any cards or information you don't need.
* Photocopy your passport (pages with picture and passport number) and attach two passport size pictures. Write on the paper your travel check numbers, airline ticket numbers, the numbers of the credit cards you take with you and the numbers to call in case the card(s) is lost. Give the paper to a travel companion or keep in your locked suitcase or hotel safe in case your passport is lost or stolen. This will make replacement easier. Leave another copy with a family member or friend.
* Take a letter from your doctor with you describing any medical conditions you have and a list of your medicine. Take medicine in bottles labeled by a pharmacist. Have him or her divide your medicine in 2 containers so you can take one with you and pack the other. Then if you lose one, you have the other. Make sure you have enough medicine to last at least a few days after your intended return date, in case you are delayed. Wear a medical bracelet if you are a diabetic or are allergic to some medicine. Take an extra pair of eye glasses or at least a copy of your prescription. Be careful buying medicine in other countries. They may be less expensive but may be a different strength or purity even though the packaging is the same.
* Check the expiration date on your passport. Some countries require passports to be valid for at least 6 months after the completion of the trip.
* When checking for visa requirements, always identify the country which issued your passport.
* Avoid jet lag as much as possible. Get your biological clock adjusted to local time as quickly as possible. You can help do this by going to bed an hour earlier (or later) each night (for a few nights) before your trip to adjust to times of your destination.
* If you need a special meal, advise the airlines at least 72 hours prior to your flight. Check flight times and flight numbers a day prior to your flight.
* Take ½ the amount of clothes you think you need and twice the money.
* Plastic ziplock bags come in handy for bottles which may leak and wet clothes. Use them to pack underwear, socks, etc. This keeps like things together as well as makes it easier if your luggage is searched.
* Carry at least one change of clothes and your toothbrush, etc. on the plane in your carry on luggage. If you can carry only carry on luggage, you don't have to worry about the airlines losing your luggage. This is more difficult now than in the pass. Be sure to pack nail clippers and scissors in your checked luggage if you take them. Don't take matches or lighters.
* Use colorful yarn, stickers or something to help you identify your luggage. Many cases look alike and you don't want anyone to accidentally pick up your bag.
* Use luggage on rollers or a luggage carrier on rollers (but these are easy to leave on the plane).
* Moisturizer and liquid tears are nice to have on long plane rides.
* Bottle water (in plastic containers) may come in handy. A small water sprayer may come in handy in very hot climates, in pyramids, etc.
* A small flashlight is handy for lost of electricity, in caves, pyramids, etc.
* Take more film than you think you need. It can be very expensive at tourist sights.
* Don't pack your passport and tickets. Always keep your tickets and passport in the same place so you don't panic on the trip and think you have lost them.
* Granola bars and other prepackaged snacks come in handy if you get hungry plus they are good for begging children. Children love gum (don't take any to Singapore). They also love to have their picture taken (check for cultural sensitivity first) and if you take a Polaroid camera, you can give them a copy. In some countries they may never have seen a picture of themselves. Coloring books or books in their language are also thoughtful presents for children.
AS YOU TRAVEL
* Arrive at the airline ticket counter at least 90 minutes prior to domestic flights and at least three hours prior to international flights. Check with the airline on which you will be flying the day prior to your flight (return flight, also) and the particular airports you will be using. They may require more or less check-in time. You may be denied boarding if you are not at the ticket counter by their required time limit.
* If you are a frequent flyer, always give your number to the airlines even if the ticket does not allow for frequent flyer miles. Keep your passenger copy of your ticket and your boarding passes until your frequent flyer statement shows you have been credited the miles. Remember frequent flyer miles expire on some airlines. Some airlines allow you to buy extra miles and/or donate miles to charity. If you are not a frequent flyer, it just takes a phone call to the airlines to become one. Most international airlines have a domestic airline partner. You may want your miles to be with the domestic airline partner as you may have more opportunity to use them domestically.
* Avoid jet lag. Drink at least 8 ounces of water for every hour of your flight. Don't eat a heavy meal and avoid alcohol when flying. Also, remember two drinks on a flight may have the effect of one drink on the ground. Walk around on the aircraft at least once each hour if possible. Move your feet and ankles often while sitting. You may want to ask your doctor if you should purchase special socks to help with circulation.
* When you check into a hotel, get a postcard or have the hotel clerk write the name and address of the hotel in their language (unless it is on your key) so you will have it for cab drivers, etc.
* Negotiate cab rates before getting in a cab and make sure you and the driver both understand if the rate if for the cab or the rate is per person.
* Spend foreign change as you go, unless you want to bring it home for souvenirs as you cannot change it back into U.S. dollars. When you change countries, change any foreign currency into the next country's currency before exchanging U.S. currency.
* Always keep the majority of your money and passport in a money belt. Don't pull out large amounts of money in public. Put small amounts in different pockets or purse so it is not obvious you are carrying a lot of cash.
* ATMs are all over the world. Check with your bank and/or credit card company for charges connected with using ATMs in other cities. ATM and cyber cafe locations, weather and other important links are on the travel business page of this web site.
* If you are not sure you can bring something back into the country (food, endangered species' item, etc.), don't purchase it. Some glazed ceramics cause lead poisoning (if you purchase glazed ceramics have them checked before using them with food).
* Remember you are limited to bring $400 worth of purchases duty free back into the country if you have been out of the country at least 48 hours and have not used your allotment in the last 30 days. Check exceptions on the customs web link on the travel business page.
* Reconfirm return flights upon arrival in your destination (at least 72 hours prior to flight time) and give a local contact number. It is also wise to check flight times a day prior as airlines change flight numbers and times.
* Always remember you are a guest in another country. Don't expect things to be the same as they are at home. Don't let a travel problem ruin your trip. Be flexible, keep a sense of humor and enjoy yourself.
Promote world peace by being a good traveler!