With summer fast approaching, many of you are planning on taking a trip. Nada Vergili came into our studio to talk about traveling with big groups vs. traveling with small groups.
Here are some other simple, easy to remember tips that anyone can use when traveling to a foreign country:
- Your documents: Purchase travel insurance and check the expiration date on your passport. Don't forget to inquire about visas and vaccinations needed for specific countries. Scan and email yourself a copy of all your important documents, including credit cards. And don't forget to bring contact information for your hotels! Testing your foreign language proficiency with the cab driver is never a good idea...
- Hotels: Always communicate your arrival time to the front-desk (this insures they don't sell your room in case you have a late evening check-in, which they may interpret as a no-show). Ask about charges ahead of time (breakfast, Internet, parking, etc.). Research the weather of your destination before booking (for example, going to the Caribbean during hurricane season...not good). Choose the location of your hotel in relation to what you want to do and the sites you want to see so that you don't have to waste much time in getting there. Don't underestimate what a hotel's front desk staff can do for you: from booking excursions, museums, tour guides, restaurants, to reserving a cab, and so on. Get in touch with them while you're planning your trip, they will be a great local resource for you.
- Money: Be realistic about calculating your true costs according to the exchange rate. Tell your bank you'll be gone so you don't risk your cards being blocked. Have enough cash on hand (in case there are no ATMs in the immediate vicinity). Change the data settings on your phone to avoid getting pounded with roaming charges. Be careful not to over-pack to avoid paying the airline's over-the-weight-limit fees.
- Safety: Learn some basic greetings and useful phrases in the language of the country you're visiting and have a travel phrase book on hand (if traveling abroad). Be mindful of your valuables and aware of what is going on around you. Don't wear flashy jewelry that can catch lots of unwanted attention. And if you're a single woman, don't be too friendly with strangers who "appear to want to help you".
- Getting there: Don't wait until the last minute assuming you'll find last-minute deals, do your research ahead of time so you find what you want at the time that best fits your schedule. If you choose an organized vacation or tour, read over the detailed itinerary and schedule to see if it will give you the experience you want. Before making a decision on a specific company, consider the following factors: the time your average excursion will begin (will you have to be ready to go at 6:30am?), how many times you will be changing hotels, average time per day spent on a bus, number and type of meals included, maximum number of people allowed on the tour, the destinations and activities included (and do they correspond to your top "must-sees"?), and any additional expenses you'll be facing once you're there that are not included in the tour price.