A quick check of your passport may save you a lot of time and stress when getting ready to leave for your next trip abroad. Many countries now require that the passport expiration date be valid for at least six months beyond your return travel date so make sure yours is ready to go.
If you are like me, I have often suffered getting a cold after flying a long distance. The air dryness and lingering germs on surfaces are both factors. Try these helpful tips, courtesy of IndependentTraveler.com:
1. Stay well hydrated (drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine).
2. Keep your hands clean (wash with hot soapy water, if possible, or use alcohol wipes)
3. Use a saline nasal mist to keep mucous membranes moist.
4. Use a germ-killing mouthwash (helps moisten your throat as well).
5. Consider taking large does of Vitamin C before, during and shortly after your travel and don’t forget your vitamins.
Your smartphone may become your best friend on your next trip. Google recently announced a major update to their translate app that enables your phone’s camera to translate printed text, even without an Internet or data connection. This is currently available for six languages on Android and iOS versions, with plans to keep adding languages. There is also translation by speech once the foreign language is selected on your phone. Enjoy this demo, courtesy of the Huffington Post: Huffington Post Google Tech Interview
Obtaining local currency abroad as needed is preferable over departing the US with large amounts of cash and carrying it with you during your trip – not only for security reasons but also for cost savings as the exchange rate is typically a lot less through an ATM machine in the local country. ATM’S are widely available throughout Europe and in many other countries unless you are in a remote area. This will require using a debit card, which is convenient but be mindful that consumer fraud liability is different for debit cards than it is for credit cards as they are governed by different federal regulations. Most major US banks offer zero liability to the consumer if they are notified promptly but getting funds reimbursed to a checking account is a hassle while traveling and may not be as timely as you need. You may want to consider opening a separate checking account
designated for travel only so that your exposure is limited to the funds in that account. Bank policies vary so speak to your banker before your next trip.
The US Dollar just hit a 9-year high versus a variety of foreign currencies including the Euro. We are not in the business to predict which way it will go from here, but if you are planning a European vacation this year, you may want to consider purchasing some Euros now – even though you will have to pay a hefty markup to your bank (usually about 5 points – varies by bank). For security reasons, it is not recommended to carry a lot of cash when traveling abroad but you will need some cash for emergencies and “to hit the ground running.”