Tips on Traveling Abroad
So, you are a travel virgin and are in need of some travel tips. I am not talking about driving cross country in your RV with the kids and the dogs. I am not talking about pitching a tent in the backyard and pretending you are in the Alps. I am talking about your first trip on an airplane and going out of the country. For some this can be stressful since this is new to them. There are a number of things that must be done before leaving on your long awaited vacation. Here are some tips and advice about traveling.
First thing for you to do is get your Passport. This should be done at least two months before leaving and should not be done at the last moment because you will find yourself staying put. Make sure you have documentation such as birth certificate to get the paperwork going on your passport application. Passport's can be obtained at the US Postal Office, some even have the ability to take your picture on-site. If not available, a photography studio will be able to get your passport photos done for you.
Some countries require a Visa (not your credit card) and/or immunization for certain diseases. Make sure you know what the requirements are to enter a foreign country. If you use a Travel Agent they can help you with this. A good website to visit is the U.S. Department of State - Travel. This website will also have travel advisories on them to let you know of trouble spots. If where you are going has been having problems you may want to consider going somewhere else.
Advice For Traveling With a Child That Is Not Yours
If you are traveling with a child that is not yours make sure you have a letter stating who you are and that you have permission to take the child. Information that needs to included is current date, travel dates, destination, and names of all parties involved, are some of what should be included. Make sure there are signatures of the parents and have it notarized. Another good thing to do is leave your itinerary with someone and if possible to call them to update them on your travels. May even be able to send an email out to let everyone know of any changes. Better safe than sorry and it is a good idea to cover your bases in case there is an emergency whether with you or back home.
Choosing a Destination and Purchasing Airfare
Have you decided on where you will be traveling. If not there are many websites and travel books that have great resources for finding that perfect destination. Sometimes going to the bookstore and just browse the travel section. Rich Steve's has great travel books and he always knows of great places that are sometimes overlooked. You can even catch his shows on your public television station.
After that is figured out the next step is buying your tickets. Shop around for the best fare. This is easily done with a computer or if you do not have time use a travel agent. There are the big sites like Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity which are good for booking flight. Some have done away with fees but it is best to keep an eye out for the bottom dollar. There will be airport tax, taxes and other fees tacked onto the final price. One thing to remember that these sites do not show all the airlines, just the major ones. Southwest is not on these sites and may be worth your while to fly getting you to a major airport. There are other airlines too that are only found on their website. If, lets say Expedia quotes a price on a airline, go to that airlines website and see if they beat the price. Traveling on a weekday will save you money and it is advisable to play with travel dates to see which one give you the best price.
Packing For Your Trip
When packing consider packing light. Pack articles of clothing that do not wrinkle and also think about clothes that can be easily hand washed. Always try and pack a light weight rain jacket. Better to have it, than be caught without something that will protect you from getting wet. Most people over pack, so it is a good idea to lay your stuff out. Make sure you can mix and match your clothes which helps in lightening the load. Remember leave room for things that you will buy on your trip. Also check the weight requirements for the airline you are using. The vary from airline to airline and you can find this information on their website. Each person is allowed a carry-on that can go in the over head bin. I usually travel with a purse and a back pack. I am able to put both under the seat in front of me. Make sure your luggage has your information on it, just in case it gets separated from you.
The day of travel make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get checked in and going through security. Do not forget your passport and ID. For domestic flights getting in line a solid hour before your flight should be plenty of time. If it is a holiday better push that out to two hours. International flights need at least two hours to get everything done and have you waiting at the gate. Make sure you also check to see what can be taken through security. Water bottles are best bought once you have passed security. Here is a link to the Transportation Security Administration.
Make sure you have some funny money (foreign currency) before you leave. Take some traveler's checks and also there are many banks that will take your credit/debit cards. One reason you will want to be prepared with some money is if you need to catch a cab or use the underground, etc.
Being Prepared and Enjoy Your Trip
Doing some research before going is advisable. Know what sites you want to see. Also it is a good idea to buy a map of the area especially if you will be driving a rental car. It is good to have even if you are not driving so you know your way around. You can do this before you leave through AAA or going to Barnes and Noble.
I have found people to be very helpful when traveling. Many enjoy sharing there town, city or village with you. Talking with the local people about the area gives you a chance to get to know the people and the area. So do not hesitate to ask questions or even ask for help in choosing a place to eat or how to use the transportation system. Enjoy the culture, food, people and most of all have fun. Don't forget to take the camera and an extra memory card may be needed it you are using a digital camera.
There are many useful websites that will help you in every aspect of your travel needs. Doing research on your destination or destination's is one way to get you familiar with what there is to see and do. I find this a great way to get excited about my trip.