Our go-today office is made up of frequent-flying, travel-loving fanatics. Several customers have recently asked us to share some of our best travel tips, and we thought – yes, why not spread the travel wisdom?!
We’ve therefore compiled some of our favorites for you. While some are obvious, their usefulness never grows old. Our aim is simply to save you time, stress and money – as well as inject an extra dose of authenticity into your trip! We hope they’ll prove most useful on your next vacation to Spain, Chile, South Africa, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Thailand – or wherever the wind may take you.
Packing & Other Pre-Departure Sundries
- Read and print your travel documents – and be sure to take them with you! This may sound pretty obvious, but we do receive calls from passengers who didn’t realize a printed voucher was needed (for a sightseeing tour, airport pick-up, wine tasting, etc.). It may seem tedious, but it’s in your best interest to go over all your documents immediately after making your reservation.
- Photocopy your passport – and then give one copy to a friend or family member at home and another to your travel companion.
- When packing, use space-saver bags (or try to squeeze as much air as possible out of any sealable plastic bag). Unfortunately, we’ve all seen wet suitcases coming off the baggage claim belt… Space-saver bags can help prevent your clothes from getting wet and from being tossed around in flight. Later during your travels they’re also useful to keep your (highly-precious) clean clothes separate from your smelly ones.
- If you plan on bringing your electric shaver, curling iron, straightening iron or hairdryer – find out which of your appliances already are dual voltage and then purchase any necessary international adapters and converters.
- In the event of potential rain or cold weather, instead of packing gloves, hats and umbrellas, buy them as souvenirs when you get there! That way, you’ll have a useful keepsake and won’t be dragging stuff around that you might not even need.
- Pack a couple of books: one for pleasure and another on the destination you’re visiting.
Flying & Airports
- For winter-holiday travelers, flying in the winter season can sometimes mean weather delays so stay apprised of your flight status before you leave for the airport by checking online and signing up for airline alerts. Plan for extra time to get to your destination as traffic, parking and lines tend to be longer.
- If you’re traveling with gifts, wrap them after you arrive as all items carried on board are subject to inspection and may be unwrapped at the security checkpoint.
- To save yourself time and hassle at airport security, go for slip-on shoes – and keep the jewelry to a minimum!
- Fully charge your electronic devices (tablets, phones, laptops, etc.) before you arrive to the airport for your return flight back to the United States as per new TSA requirements – or you might end up having to leave them behind.
- Pack a little bag of in-flight essentials that you can keep with you during the flight: pen, sweets, headphones, ear plugs, medicine, tissues, book, etc. You’ll then have everything you need in one convenient place. Stow the small bag under your seat – that way you won’t have to keep getting up every five minutes to rummage through your larger carry-on bag in the overhead bin.
- If you’re taking a particularly long flight, consider wearing compression socks and try to get up regularly and walk around the airplane cabin to avoid deep vein thrombosis.
Money, Money, Money
- Keep in mind that you can often get the best currency exchange rates right at the ATM when you arrive. Avoid the currency exchanges in the airports, whose fees tend to be high.
- Before traveling internationally, notify your credit card companies that you’ll soon be making purchases from a different country; this way they won’t assume the charges are fraudulent and freeze your card while you’re abroad.
- Don’t store all your credit cards, debit cards and cash in the same place (i.e. your wallet) while traveling. Keep them separated to ensure you’ll still have money should you happen to lose one or become a victim of theft.
- In large, tourist destinations – don’t display large quantities of money in public. This may seem obvious, but while on vacation people often withdraw enough money from the ATM to last for several days. Make smaller amounts of local currency easily accessible (for small purchases and tipping), and store your larger bills and other valuables in a safe place like a money belt or the hotel safe.
- Public transportation passes are a great and inexpensive way to get around. Depending on where you are visiting, the same pass is often valid for multiple forms of travel (metro, tram, bus and funicular). If the pass is based on the number of voyages, you can often share it and “pass back” to your traveling companions.
- Don’t leave your belongings unattended in public, particularly in tourist areas. No-no’s include leaving your luggage outside the hotel’s entrance, your cell phone on a table in a restaurant, and your purse on the back of your chair.
- If you’re visiting a non-English-speaking country, learning a few basic phrases in the language of your destination will go a long way. Not everyone will speak English, and even those who do will appreciate a muchas gracias, bonjour madame, obrigado, bitte, etc. Perfect pronunciation isn’t expected, so just give it your best!
- Before setting out from your hotel room, familiarize yourself with the area. Study your map, ask the hotel’s receptionist or consult your guidebook. It’s easier to steer clear of bad neighborhoods when you know in advance where they are! If you do get lost and suddenly realize you’re in a dodgy part of town, the street corner is not the ideal place to bust out a map. Pop into a hotel, restaurant, café or shop and then calmly figure out where you want to go.
- If you plan to travel by train in Europe, find out if your departure station has an information desk. If so, use it to help you plan your rail journey. Don’t expect the person at the ticket window to answer all your questions when there’s a line of impatient commuters waiting. This is especially important in crowded stations located in cities like Venice, Paris and London. When you know your desired train’s date and departure time or number, whether you need a national or international ticket, whether it’s a single journey or roundtrip and whether you want first or second class, then go to the ticket window. If you have access to a computer, you can also find out much of this information online before you go to the station.
- Remember that purchasing individual rail segments may prove cheaper than buying a rail pass! Passes often exclude mandatory seat reservations and supplements when riding high-speed trains. These costs aren’t necessarily included in the price of the pass. (Local and regional trains generally do not require them.)
Sightseeing and R&R (a.k.a. the sweet reason one undergoes everything described above)
- Upon arrival to your international destination, fight the urge to hit the sack and instead go for a leisurely walk around town to defeat jet lag. Getting your body clock on local time as quickly as possible will make for a much more enjoyable vacation – and your dining and sleeping schedules will match the locals’.
- For your must-see, once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing attractions – do your planning ahead of time to guarantee you’ll get in and to avoid long lines.
- That being said, don’t over-schedule yourself! Leave some free time in there to shop, hang out in a neighborhood café, walk on the beach – or along the riverbanks. Many wonderful attractions are natural, and culture isn’t only found in a museum. Give yourself time to take in whatever interests you most – at a relaxing pace.
- Traveling can be stressful at times. (For proof of this, reread what we just wrote about airport security!) If you know you’ll want a morning or afternoon of pampering, consider booking a superior hotel with a spa.
- When staking out a restaurant for lunch or dinner, watch where the locals are going. Small, hole-in-the-wall restaurants can serve up delicious local specialties!
- If the weather is nice and you’re in search of something low-key, stock up on local food products at a neighborhood market and make a picnic lunch. It’s inexpensive, a chance to try local goodies like freshly-baked breads, charcuterie, cheeses, fruits and wines, and a great way to chill out. (Isn’t that why we go on vacation?!)
- When traveling, it’s easy to forget about healthy eating. Large meals, drinking and exotic foods can wreak havoc on the body… During your gastronomic adventures, enjoy tasty, traditional dishes but also try to include some smaller meals that include plenty of vegetables and lean protein.
- Eating is cultural, and many cultures don’t eat on the run as much as we do in America. Therefore, don’t forget to sit and eat (which is also better for your digestion).
- Drink lots of water to keep hydrated!
We hope you’ve enjoyed perusing our handy travel tips! At go-today, our reservation specialists are experts in planning exciting travel experiences to Europe, Asia, South America, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Australia, Morocco and South Africa. Should you like to speak with a member of our team, please kindly call us at 800-227-3235. We’d love to hear from you! Alternatively, check out our website where you can see popular vacation packages as well as customize a vacation package – just for you.