Travel Tips for the Prepared
Ways to Save Time and Money
Having just done some travelling myself, I thought I would share with you some tips that you might not think about until a travel crisis occurs. Thankfully, we didn’t experience any major problems but you can never be too prepared, especially when travelling abroad.
BEFORE YOU GO.
Wallet. Before leaving on a trip, make copies of the contents of your wallet, front and back of all your cards. In fact, this is a good practice even at home because anyone can lose a wallet or a purse. Leave a copy with someone you can call in an emergency. If you are going overseas, copy the critical pages of your passport, and take a copy with you as well. Having this makes it easier to work with your embassy if it is lost or stolen.
Credit/Debit Cards. Notify your credit card company that you will be using your card in a different area, so transactions don’t get blocked (they do this for security). Find out about applicable foreign transaction fees, or look for a card like Fidelity’s that has none. You can get local cash from an ATM, but fees can be 1-5% or a flat rate per transaction. Some institutions will reimburse the fees. You may have a concierge to call with any problems. Take the number with you.
Phones. Whether you are totally dependent on a smart phone, or just have a cell phone for emergencies, you need to prepare a bit when you travel. Don’t forget your charger! Check coverage where you will be going and let others know if you will be unreachable. Have a backup plan. In other countries, your phone may not work, or may garner high ‘roaming’ costs. Look into getting a foreign travel upgrade for the time you will be away (ours was $40 for one month). You can turn off data use unless you really need it. The alternative is to get a local SIM chip for your phone when you arrive, but this means you have a different number.
Power. Converter plugs & adapters may be needed if you travel abroad. 220v is common in Europe and other countries. It can be embarrassing to blow someone’s fuse by using a 110v hair dryer. (No, I didn’t do that!)
ON THE ROAD
Itinerary. Be sure to bring a copy of your itinerary with all the details. Show up early for busses, trains & planes in case of lines and getting lost.
Research each stop for senior discounts (age varies by country) & ways to avoid lines. We bypassed nearly 1000 people at Windsor Castle, just by having an advance ticket!
Book transportation in advance if possible. Sometimes there are discounts for booking anywhere from a day to a month in advance. Just be aware that cancellations may come at a cost.
Currency exchange. It may be easiest to get local currency in airports and train stations. You can also use your travel enabled credit card to get local cash. Beware of ‘street’ money-changers and exorbitant fees.
Safe place for money & documents. My husband used a small, flat money pouch that attached to his belt and hung on the inside of his pants. I carried a cross-body bag with zippers that closed off every pocket. Don’t carry your passport with you unless you have no safe place to leave it. I’ve read mixed reviews on hotel room safes; employees can access them to retrieve forgotten items—maybe good, maybe not!
Travelling can be a lot of fun and also a big investment. It broadens your world-view and creates life-long memories. It’s worth spending the time to be prepared for the unexpected, to save time later, and of course, to save money! If you are planning an extended trip and need someone to handle paperwork and financial matters while you are away, we can relieve the worry of missed bill payments and other balls being dropped.