Rush Passport Service

July 15th, 2019 / blog / Comments Off on Rush Passport Service
Running out of time to renew your passport before your trip?  The Department of State is currently taking about eight weeks to process an application through the normal channels. There are several US passport offices that will process passport applications or renewals on a rush basis – call 1-877-487-2778.  You will need to show proof of travel plans; a Western Region office is located in Tucson.  More information can be obtained at:  US Passports in a Hurry.
Alternatively, FedEx has teamed up with RushMyPassport to process new applications or renewals on an expedited basis. This service comes with a hefty price tag but is convenient – stop by any FedEx office.  You can also have your passport photos taken there

Tipping in Europe

May 15th, 2019 / blog / Comments Off on Tipping in Europe
I am often asked how one should tip while traveling in Europe. The short answer is tips for service are not expected like they are in the U.S.  The locals complain that Americans over tip and spoil the system for them!
  • Restaurants:  A few coins for a simple lunch (normally less than 10%); 5 – 10% of your bill for a nice dinner with very good service and NO tip for just a quick coffee!  (Don’t automatically calculate 15 – 20% of your bill as servers earn a good salary and “service” is often included in your bill in most EU countries).
  • Taxi:  Round up to the nearest Euro
  • Private Transfers:  5 to 15 Euros for a private transfer (up to 4 passengers; more than 1 hour)
  • Private Guided Tours: 10 Euros per person for a Half Day and 20 – 25 Euros per person for a Full Day guided tour as these are professional, often licensed individuals so a reasonable tip is warranted when good service is provided (more if you are traveling solo). Group tours (not private) would be less.

When Should I Renew My Passport?

April 15th, 2019 / blog / Comments Off on When Should I Renew My Passport?

Many countries require that your passport be valid for at least 6 months beyond your last travel date. Due to the recent government shutdown, processing of renewal and new passports is taking longer than normal so allow plenty of time in consideration of upcoming foreign travel. This website link will get you started in the process: Passport Application

Pre-Registration for European Travel is Coming!

March 15th, 2019 / blog / Comments Off on Pre-Registration for European Travel is Coming!

To improve security and illegal immigration, the European Union (consisting of 26 countries) has voted to require travelers from Visa-free nations (such as the U.S.) to register their travel before entering the country beginning in 2021. Technically not a Visa, it functions as one, but can be easily obtained online for a small fee.  Once approved (usually instantly), access is granted for 3 years.  Watch for more information as this date draws near.

How to Speed Up Going thru Airport Security

February 15th, 2019 / blog / Comments Off on How to Speed Up Going thru Airport Security
Here are some simple tips to help get through airport security quicker:
  • Avoid peak travel times if at all possible (4 – 8 pm Friday & Sunday evenings) and, of course, holidays
  • Wear simple clothing (slip-on shoes, simple or no jewelry) and be prepared to easily remove a jacket or sweater
  • Don’t forget to put liquids in small containers (3.4 oz or less) in a clear, quart-sized bag that can be quickly removed from your carry-on bag
  • Separate electronic items in your carry-on bag so they can be screened more clearly, and be prepared to remove your laptop or tablet from your bag
Most importantly, take the time to apply for TSA Pre-Check (domestic travel) or Global Entry (international travel) – ask us how.

Want to Fly with your Pet or Emotional Support Animal?

January 15th, 2019 / blog / Comments Off on Want to Fly with your Pet or Emotional Support Animal?
Flying commercially with pets or emotional support animals in the US has, unfortunately, been abused by many people prompting airlines to tighten policies and deny boarding in some cases.  Make sure you know what is allowed for a carry-on animal before check-in as policies vary by airline.  This article has some helpful information and links to airline websites to avoid disappointment on the day of travel: Flying with your pet or emotional support animal?

Tired of High International Flight Costs?

December 15th, 2018 / blog / Comments Off on Tired of High International Flight Costs?

Did you know that Gateway Destinations works with several air wholesalers that can often save you money for Premium Economy, Business or First Class flights?  They are also masters at finding schedules that most consumers may never see.  Call us to compare for your next international journey.

Lost Luggage – What is the Best Action to Take?

November 15th, 2018 / blog / Comments Off on Lost Luggage – What is the Best Action to Take?

Having your luggage lost by the airline is a rough start to your trip.  Knowing what to do in this case and taking some simple precautions will help minimize the inconvenience.  First of all, make sure your checked bags are tagged with your contact information and always make sure your claim ticket reads your final destination – know what city you are supposed to retrieve it!  If your luggage doesn’t arrive where it should, immediately contact the airline at the airport and file a claim. Also, call your travel insurance provider as they can assist in tracking the bag for you.

What is the Best Way to Purchase Foreign Currency?

October 15th, 2018 / blog / Comments Off on What is the Best Way to Purchase Foreign Currency?

The least expensive exchange rate is typically getting cash from an ATM machine in the country you are visiting. See what logo is on your debit card and look for the same logo on the ATM machine. Most large international airports will have ATM machines. Know what your daily withdrawal limit is and ask your bank to increase it before leaving home during your travel if you think you will need to take out larger amounts during your travels. In addition, many US banks require that you let them know where and when you are traveling abroad or they may deny a transaction suspecting fraud (also true for credit cards).

If you want to have some foreign currency on hand for emergencies or a taxi upon arrival, then buy a limited amount from your bank or credit union. Avoid foreign exchange stores in airports as they have expensive conversion rates and fees. Also, stores that say they accept US dollars often do not have a competitive exchange rate – you are better off paying cash in local currency.

Protect Your Cellphone & Data While Traveling

September 15th, 2018 / blog / Comments Off on Protect Your Cellphone & Data While Traveling
Cellphones can be very handy travel devices and become a major frustration if lost or stolen. These simple precautions can minimize your risk:
  • iPhones have a Find My iPhone setting so make sure it is activated (go to Settings and also turn on Send Last Location).  Androids have a Find My Device feature (go to Settings under Security & Location).
  • Consider purchasing insurance from your wireless carrier in case it is lost, stolen or damaged.
  • Save and display your contact information (first name, email address & alternate phone number) on your screen’s “wallpaper” so someone knows how to contact you if they find your phone.  For an iPhone, simply type your information in Notes, take a screenshot of it, then save it as your Wallpaper background.
  • Remember to contact your wireless carrier immediately if your phone is stolen.
  • If you don’t think you will retrieve your phone, you can even erase the data remotely.