Tips & Advice for the Sophisticated and Novice Travelers
PASSPORTS & VISAS
Confirm passports and visas will not have expired and there are enough empty pages by the date of your return.
Sign up for Mobile Passport if you do not have Global Entry.
If your city has a consulate or embassy apply for the visa in person for a quicker turnaround time. Otherwise allow yourself four weeks.
Some countries require flight itinerary prior to granting a visa.
Scan copies then send to your email address to access in case of emergencies.
Check the local weather forecast for your destination to get ahead of potential cancelations due to severe weather. Plus, this will determine your packing needs (See TRAVEL RESOURCES).
Review the US State Department website to determine if your destination has any security alerts.
BEAUTY & GROOMING
Grooming should be done at least one week prior. For example, if you are going to the Dead Sea wax or receive nail services at least three days priors to prevent irritation by the high salt content.
For digital photographers ensure you have ample memory cards and the appropriate lenses.
In the past I have utilized Shoot My Travel or a regional photographer to avoid lugging equipment and navigating crowds.
For those relying on their mobile phones for photographs ensure your phone has enough memory (e.g., upload to the cloud or Google Photos).
No one likes coming home from a vacation to a messy house; therefore, clean before you leave.
For trips of more than a week, discard items from the fridge that will be bad by the time you return.
Take out the trash.
Close the windows.
I highly recommend purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally or invested a large amount into the trip. There are options to purchase by trip or annual plans.
Ensure the coverage includes emergency evacuation, trip interruption, and medical services your primary health insurer may not cover.
DATES & RESERVATIONS
On multiple occasions I have arrived in a country or city only to find most of the businesses are closed due to holidays. This may be beneficial because you might be able to explore the streets without the crowds. Research major holidays and festivals for the location.
Two months prior to your trip book reservations for popular restaurants or excursions. If you are not able to secure reach out to the concierge at your hotel for assistance.
VACCINES & MEDICATIONS
Prior to booking investigate immunization requirements.
One-month prior schedule time with your primary care physician to administer immunizations and prescribe necessary medications, including an antibiotic/Tamiflu if traveling to remote countries.
Refill prescriptions at least one week out.
Contact the hotel to confirm the reservation, especially if you booked via a third party.
Ask for an upgrade especially if you are celebrating a special occasion.
Upon arrival put the hotel business card in your wallet to have the address in the local language and English. In the past I have showed the card to taxi drivers when my phone was not working, and I couldn't communicate with the driver.
CREDIT CARDS & CASH
For international trips contact the credit card company one week prior to add an alert to your card.
Carry two cards... secure one in the hotel safe.
Withdraw local currency from an ATM that is in a reliable location (e.g., bank). Note: There is an option to order currency from your bank. Larger cities have major currencies on hand.
Ensure you have approximately $200 in cash on hand in case your card do not work
Monitor charges on your card upon your return!!!
Investigate airline luggage restrictions for ALL legs of your trip. This is especially true for non-domestic (US) carriers.
Place a luggage tag or business card inside your bags in the event it is lost and your exterior tag is missing.
Clean your luggage at the end of every trip. My primary luggage is a white roll aboard. When you think of all the places your bag has been you need to disinfect it. Baking soda and peroxide removes most marks. A disinfectant wipe can be used on the handles and wheels.
Explore my recommended packing tips here.
For trips of more than two weeks have the post office hold your mail or have someone collect it. You do not want to alert others you are not home.
For work emails schedule an "OUT OF OFFICE" reply.
CELLPHONES & COMMUNICATION
For international trips investigate mobile plans to ensure you are not stuck with an exorbitant bill. In addition, determine if purchasing a SIM card at the airport is more advantageous.
Utilize WhatsApp when communicating from or with people from other countries. It is freeware and easy to use.
CHILD & FUR BABY CARE
Three weeks out secure primary and back-up care for your child or pet. Send out reminders 3 days to one week prior to leaving on the trip.
Children not going on the trip.
One week prior, start drafting a list of requirements for your child's care (e.g., homework assignments, medications).
Create an emergency contact list including the names of doctors and relatives.
Pack their bags two days prior to you leaving.
Drop them off the day before you leave.
If you or boarding your pet or someone is caring for them at their home, I suggest dropping your pet off the night before you leave.
In home caregivers or walkers should provide an update at least every other day.