Registering Foreign Travel With U.S. Dept of State

March 15th, 2012 / blog / Comments Off on Registering Foreign Travel With U.S. Dept of State

There are several reasons to register your trip to a foreign country with the U.S. Department of State.  Not only is it recommended if you will be traveling to remote or high-risk destinations, I recently learned that a U.S. government official will contact your OR a family member back home if they learn of a conflict that may impact you as a traveler such as terrorist activity, a natural disaster (e.g. – volcanic eruption, tsunami, earthquake), or major catastrophe like the Costa Concordia ship experienced off the coast of Italy.  This way, family members can be contacted on your behalf with information pertaining to your whereabouts and condition as it may be difficult for the traveler to get a message sent.  If you would like to consider this for your next foreign journey, visit their website at for their easy online registration.

Travel Tips

March 1st, 2012 / admin / Comments Off on Travel Tips

Obtaining Passports in a Hurry

As a travel consultant, I was happy to learn that Tucson has a passport processing center.  In fact, it is one of three mega processing centers in the United States where passports are approved and printed.   The Western Passport Center is capable of processing your passport in a very short time, if necessary.   This office is operated by the U.S. Department of State and is intended to help travelers who are traveling within 14 days, or have run into difficulties getting their passport processed through the normal channels and already have a travel itinerary in place.

If you are planning to travel internationally soon and don’t have a passport or need to renew an expired one, their center is located at 7373 E. Rosewood Street in Tucson, Arizona. You will need to call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 for an appointment.  Normal office hours are Monday through Friday.

To assist all travelers with their passports, regardless if they are traveling within 14 days, the Western Passport Center in Tucson is holding a Passport Day on March 10, 2012 from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm – no appointment necessary.  

For normal processing turnaround, currently four-to-six weeks, travelers can contact www.Travel.State.Gov to find out the nearest passport acceptance facility.  You can also apply online at this same website if you are older 16 years of age – other restrictions may apply.

Questions?  We’re happy to help – give us a call at 520-529-1242 or toll free 888-429-1242.

New Ruling For Domestic Airline Ticket Prices

February 15th, 2012 / blog / Comments Off on New Ruling For Domestic Airline Ticket Prices

Tired of being surprised by the ticket price when purchasing domestic airline tickets?  New rules from the U.S. Department of Transportation went into effect last month that require domestic airline companies and ticketing agencies to disclose the full price of an airline ticket up front, including all tax and fees.  Baggage fees must also now be clearly outlined prior to purchasing an airline ticket.

Baggage Weight Limitations Traveling Abroad

January 15th, 2012 / blog / Comments Off on Baggage Weight Limitations Traveling Abroad

Don’t be caught off guard with stringent baggage weight limitations after you arrive in a foreign country.  You may find that U.S airline carriers allow more weight without an excess baggage charge than you may find with a foreign airline carrier when traveling locally after you arrive from the U.S.  This is especially true if you are transferring to smaller aircraft or even to a train.  Checking in advance may make your travels go more smoothly and save you some money.

Holiday Airline Travel

December 15th, 2011 / admin / Comments Off on Holiday Airline Travel

A few reminders to minimize stress if you are traveling during the holidays…

  • Remember to check in for your flight 24 hours before departure
  • Make sure you arrive at the airport in plenty of time – 2 hours for domestic travel and 3 hours for international this time of year
  • Gifts should remain unwrapped as TSA may open them to check contents (regardless if in checked or carry-on bag)
  • Wear shoes you can easily slip off, and minimal or no jewelry to go through security quicker
  • Smile!  You never know who may smile back!

Traveler’s Checks – Do I Need Them?

December 15th, 2011 / admin / Comments Off on Traveler’s Checks – Do I Need Them?

Using Traveler’s Checks has become nearly obsolete for travel today, as the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) has made it quick and easy to get foreign cash in MOST tourist areas abroad.  Of course, some areas you visit may not have an ATM or the network may be down, and they may not accept a credit card.  In this case, you will need cash – this is where a Traveler’s Check may come in handy.  Due to a lack of popularity, however, some businesses no longer accept them and younger clerks may not even know what they are, so be prepared to cash them at a bank if you decide to use them.

Value Added Tax Reimbursement

November 15th, 2011 / admin / Comments Off on Value Added Tax Reimbursement

When purchasing items in Europe, you will be charged a Value Added Tax, which can be significant (up to 25%).  Foreign visitors can usually get reimbursed for this cost in several ways but you must request a form from the merchant where you purchased the item(s).

You will then need to complete it with your name, address and passport number and present it along with your receipt(s) to a Customs office at an international airport, port or border before departing Europe for the U.S.  If the country is not in the European Union, you must get it stamped when leaving that country before traveling to the next.  Otherwise, purchases made in the EU countries can be accumulated and stamped by one Customs officer in your country of departure.  They may ask to see the unused item(s) so make sure you don’t put it in check luggage first.  The Customs officer will stamp the form, which you then must take to a tax refund office at the airport, port or border OR mail it in the envelope provided.

If the amount of your purchase is large enough, this is worth taking the time – but be sure to allow some extra time at the airport.

International Driver’s Permit

October 8th, 2011 / admin / Comments Off on International Driver’s Permit

If you are planning to drive in a foreign country, you may need an International Driver’s Permit. This requirement will vary depending on the rental car company and country, and is being required more in Europe. It is simple and inexpensive to obtain one through your nearest AAA office. No written or practical test is required if you hold a valid state driver’s license and you are at least 18 years old.

Purchasing Airline Tickets

September 15th, 2011 / admin / Comments Off on Purchasing Airline Tickets

I know many of you prefer to purchase your airline tickets directly.  With the stricter TSA (Transportation Security Administration) requirements, be aware that they should be purchased in the exact same name as on your photo identification (passport, driver’s license, etc.) that you are using for the trip.  They are currently more forgiving on domestic flights than international.

Your passport name may not be the same as your driver’s license, so be especially careful when you are purchasing international tickets.  It is costly to have the airlines change/correct your name.  You may even be denied boarding if they do not match.  Of course, making airline reservations is one of the many services provided by Gateway Destinations.

Checking “Carry-On” Baggage

August 15th, 2011 / admin / Comments Off on Checking “Carry-On” Baggage

Perhaps you have tried to carry on a bag and been told by the flight attendant that your bag will have to be “checked” due to its size or lack of space? If this happens to you, make sure you insist on receiving a claim check showing your final destination and claim check number. My son just experienced this situation with Southwest Airlines and was not given a claim check number and he didn’t think to ask for one. Unfortunately, his luggage did not arrive with him at his final destination.

After completing a “Lost/Delayed” Report with Southwest, he was told that it is difficult to trace luggage without a proper claim tag. After numerous phone calls and elevating the problem to a supervisor, his luggage finally surfaced after four days and was delivered in time for a wedding he was attending. Don’t forget to ask for a claim check, make sure it indicates your final destination, and keep it with you until you retrieve your luggage.