Travel Tips Archive

Tips for Carefree Travel Archive

June 2010- Mobile GPS Devices for International Driving
Planning to drive in a foreign country during your trip? Consider using a GPS (Global Positioning System) device to help you easily get to where you want to go. There are many available for purchase or rent – your current cell phone may even have this capability, or be available with a downloadable application. They can often be rented through the vehicle supplier as well. Some are better for certain capabilities such as navigation, mapping, ease of use, etc., so decide your most important requirements. This link may be helpful in making your selection,
May 2010- Foreign Auto Rental Insurance
While driving in a foreign country, make sure you have adequate insurance coverage for your rental vehicle. Insurance requirements and costs vary greatly from country to country. Don’t assume your own auto insurance and/or credit card provide adequate coverage without confirming the details. There is no need to be over insured and pay unnessary costs, yet it is important to have sufficient coverage in case of an accident – whether or not it is your fault. Many rental companies in Europe have a high deductible for theft and property damage, but you can pay an additional premium (less expensive if done before you leave) to get this reduced or waived if you are not comfortable with that amount of monetary exposure.
April 2010- Immunizations for Foreign Travel
When planning a trip to a foreign destination, you may be required to have new or updated immunizations. Check requirements at least two months in advance as some immunizations require a series of shots. Contact either information for your specific destinations. Your local public health office often has a travel clinic where you can obtain immunizations/vaccinations, or contact companies like Concentra (found in 40 states).
March 2010- Medical Assistance While Traveling Abroad
If in need of medical assistance while traveling abroad, there is a referral service for English-speaking doctors and clinics available in 90 countries. You pay the doctor directly for service provided. Go to to register for one year at a time – membership is free. They also offer medical-related travel planning advice such as immunization requirements. Don’t forget to purchase your travel insurance before you leave.
Feburary 2010- Credit/Debit Card Foreign Transaction Fees
If you travel abroad frequently or for an extended period of time, you may want to apply for a credit card that has a lower transaction fee. Capital One credit card is the only that currently does not charge this fee. Most Visa and MasterCard issuers charge 3%. American Express charges 2.7%. Discover Card charges 2%, however, their card is not commonly accepted worldwide. If you qualify for a card issued by USAA, they currently charge 1%. Fees for the use of a debit card in ATMs abroad vary considerably as well, ranging from a zero to 3% conversion fee and zero to $5.00 flat fee, or combination of both.
January 2010- Airport Lounges
Make extended airport stays more comfortable by using airline airport lounges. Formerly reserved for First or Business Class travelers, they are now available to all airline travelers on a daily pass or annual membership basis through several sources. Cost and benefits vary but information is available on each airline’s website or membership websites such as Priority Pass, American Express or Delta Reserve Card by American Express. Lounge benefits include comfortable seating, business services, food and beverage, and often times shower facilities.
December 2009- Holiday Travel Ideas
When buying gifts for a traveler, I have found these ideas helpful; airline gift cards, Baggallini travel bag, travel hair dryer, TSA luggage lock, luggage scale, small foreign dictionary or phrase book, language DVD or CD’s, GPS, sound canceling headphones, and electronic books. Happy shopping and Happy Holidays!
November 2009- Travel Climate
Undoubtedly, you have noticed lots of promotional offers for travel this last year- especially with cruises, but also flights and land tours. Even luxury travel suppliers are offering deep discounts to spur travel and get their ships, planes and tours filled. These promotions are working as planes are full and cruises are booked well into next year and even into 2011. Have you considered taking advantage of this unprecedented pricing? Now is the perfect time to plan that exotic vacation, anniversary trip or family reunion you have always wanted and let your travel dollars stretch farther.
Otober 2009- 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.
September 2009- Car Lease vs. Rental When Traveling Abroad
Did you know that car leases are available in certain countries for extended visits? Leasing is often more advantageous than renting by way of cost and quality of vehicle. Some leases are available for as few as 17 travel days, so ask your travel agent to compare these options for you.
August 2009- European Train Tickets
Riding the extensive rail system in Europe is a great experience, but navigating how, when and where to purchase your tickets can be confusing. Not all trains are created equal, and they vary from country to country. If traveling during summer months, a train with air conditioning is a must and if traveling during high season (May – October), tickets for high speed and long distance trips should be purchased well in advance to save money and ensure a seat for your preferred date and train. Seat reservations are required (and helpful!) on high speed trains. If possible, non-stop trains or ones with the fewest changes of train should be selected.
July 2009- Munich Airport Train
If you happen to be traveling to Munich, Germany or know of someone traveling there (perhaps visiting Oberammergau in 2010?), consider taking a train from the airport to the central station in Munich versus a taxi. On a recent visit there, I found that it is easy, clean and inexpensive (currently 9 Euros per person one-way), and takes approximately 45 minutes. Take either Line 1 or 8 of the S-Bahn train which leaves on a regular basis.
June 2009- Secure Flight Program
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of the Department of Homeland Security continues to phase in security procedures in order to lessen the threat of terrorism. Airlines are required to submit certain data to the TSA to check against their ?no fly? lists before a boarding pass can be issued. This information is being expanded to include the passenger?s full name, gender and date of birth for all commercial flights, and must be identical to that as shown on the photo identification to be presented at check-in. For international flights, a passenger’s citizenship, passport number, expiration date and issuing country must also be supplied. To facilitate check-in, travel agents are now beginning to request this information when making airline reservations.
May 2009- Stricter ID Requirements for U.S. Entry
Effective June 1, 2009, U.S. citizens entering the United States by land or sea (in addition to entry by air) must present a valid passport, passport card, or other travel document approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Other photo ID (such as a drivers license) and proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate) will no longer be allowed. Children under the age of 16 who are U.S. citizens, however, will be able to present the original or copy of their birth certificate or other proof of U.S. citizenship such as a naturalization certificate or citizenship card. You can obtain more information at
April 2009- More About Passports
Make sure you check not only your passport expiration date in plenty of time prior to traveling to a foreign country, but also how many empty pages are left in it. Some countries require that your passport not expire for at least six months after the date your travel is completed. If a visa is required for one or more countries in which you are traveling, you may need additional pages added to your passport. Find out how to add pages at
March 2009- Visa Requirements for Foreign Travel
Need to know whether a visa is required by a country you plan to visit? And if so, how to obtain your visa? You can contact the consulate office for the country you are visiting or the US government website, To simplify the process, however, you might want to contact one of several companies that provide this service for a fee, such as Zierer Services, Requirements vary considerably by country, so allow ample time for processing.
Feburary 2009- Electrical Current Conversion Overseas
Have you ever been confused how to use your US electronic or electrical devices when preparing to travel overseas? There is a very informative and easy-to-understand website published by Lewis N Clark who sells travel accessories. Go to this website link, Lewis N Clark, and be sure to save it in your Favorites for future use.
January 2009- Luggage on Air Travel
You may have already encountered or heard that many airlines are now charging for luggage – even for the first piece of checked luggage with some airlines. In some cases, the maximum weight has been lowered (for example – from 75 lbs. to 50 lbs.), over which a charge is made. Some airlines in Europe and other countries will not allow excess or overweight luggage to be transported at all. Therefore, consider weighing your luggage before leaving home so you can shift items between suitcases or even remove some unnecessary items. Inexpensive scales are now readily available in all luggage stores so you can quickly weigh your luggage.
December 2008- Air Travel with Gifts
If you are traveling during the holidays via the airlines, do not wrap any gifts and place in your carry-on or checked baggage. All contents are subject to a security search and you may find your packages(s) unwrapped. You can easily pack gift wrapping supplies separately – just fold the required amount of wrapping paper and place in an outside zippered pocket to keep flat, along with wrapping tissue or ribbon you may need.
November 2008- “Hidden Airline Fees”
In a continued effort to be competitive yet profitable, airlines are implementing ways to generate more income. This is particularly true on domestic flights but it is starting to happen on some international flights as well. For example, Allegiant Airlines charges for your carry-on bag if it is “oversized” (even though it may fit in the overhead compartment) and US Air now charges for bottled water and snacks. To avoid surprises you may not be prepared for, read your e-Ticket reservation carefully to be aware of charges for baggage or seat changes (in economy class) to a premium location, and go on-line or call the carrier to obtain more information.
October 2008 – Travel Insurance
Have you (or a family member) ever scheduled a vacation and experienced a medical problem which caused you to cancel your trip and lose money paid for flights, hotels, tours or even a cruise? Or needed to see a doctor while traveling? When making a significant investment in your vacation, travel insurance should be purchased to help protect your investment – especially to foreign destinations where your personal medical insurance may not cover. Travel insurance is primarily intended to cover emergency medical needs while traveling and reimbursement for non-refundable, pre-paid expenses when your trip has to be cancelled or interrupted due to covered illness or injury, but often includes other benefits such as lost baggage or a missed flight connection. Some companies are now offering optional additional coverage such as canceling for work reasons or for any reason.
September 2008 – Airplane Seats and Amenities
Airline seat size, pitch and legroom vary considerably between airlines and types of aircraft, even in the same class service. Amenities such as power outlets and video screens also vary a great deal. Go to to find out helpful information when planning your next long flight. Taking a few extra minutes may make a significant difference in the comfort level of your travel.
August 2008 – Buying Foreign Currency
For those of you traveling to Europe and dealing with the Euro, it has been unsettling to see how much less our US dollar can buy than in past years. April, June and July of this year were particularly weak months for the US dollar. There has been a steady drop in the price of the Euro since the beginning of August, however, which is encouraging to see. If you plan to travel to Europe in the next few months, you may want to consider purchasing some Euros now while the price has dipped. Your bank or other source from which you purchase your foreign currency will include a markup to cover their fee. To check the current price of foreign currency and obtain historical information, go to
July 2008 – Using Frequent Flier Miles
Most airlines are still awarding “free miles” to use for future free flights or upgrades as a way to encourage loyalty. “Free” seat availability has become more difficult to book, however, as airlines continually search for ways to increase revenue. These seats are released nearly a year in advance and disappear quickly, so book these flights well in advance. Even though you will pay a nominal fee, you may find more options by booking through an airline reservations representative or travel agent versus trying to book it on the Internet, especially for foreign or more complex travel. Using your “free miles” to purchase an upgrade to Business or First Class versus purchasing an Economy ticket may often be more advantageous so don’t overlook comparing it both ways.
June 2008 – Medication or Liquids on Flight Travel
Requirements vary somewhat from country to country regarding carry-on medication and liquids during air travel. Always check with your airlines before you pack to find out the requirements for all countries you will be traveling through, (their websites will have this information). Typically, small containers of baby food, formula, breast milk or liquid medication may be carried on if traveling with a small child. Other liquids, such as toiletry items, must not exceed 3.4 ounces each and be placed in ONE (per person) clear zip-locked bag (maximum quart-size for US travel or liter-size for most foreign travel). Medications should be kept in their original containers. You can always bring an empty day-by-day pill sorter to fill once you arrive at your destination.
May 2008 – Checking Luggage
Not only is it more difficult to carry luggage onto commercial flights with the heightened security measures, it is now becoming more expensive to bring much luggage at all. In addition to luggage weight restrictions, several airlines have started to charge passengers for checking more than one bag. Starting May 1, 2008, Delta began charging most coach passengers $25 per checked bag (exceeding one) when checking in. This is undoubtedly an effort to reduce weight in order to save fuel costs. Packing less will not only simplify your travel, but may save you money as well!
April 2008 – Expediting Airport Security Checks
By now, everyone knows that liquids need to be kept to a minimum in any carry-on luggage when flying – no more than 3 oz. per item. Also, remember these bottles must be placed together in ONE QUART-sized plastic bag, and the bag must be removed and put through the x-ray machine separately. A few other helpful tips to speed up getting through security and minimizing your chance of a secondary screening by an agent include: avoid wearing a hat or excess jewelry, place your coat in your carry-on bag, wear slip-on shoes, and remember to remove any laptop from its case and place in the screening bin by itself.
March 2008 – Locking Luggage
Make sure you use only TSA-approved locks for your luggage. Otherwise, you may find your lock destroyed or experience a delay at check-in. TSA-approved locks are readily available at all luggage stores and many airport book stores.
February 2008 – Flight Check-In
Save yourself some time and increase your chance of getting the seat you want on your flights by checking in on-line 24 hours before departure. Many airlines now allow this – simply go to their individual website. You will need your confirmation number from your E-ticket reservation. Many airlines will give you the option to select or change your seat at that time, even reserving the coveted exit row seats in some cases.
January 2008 – ID for US Air Travel
Don’t get turned away at a U.S. airport for not having proper identification. As you probably already know, all U.S. airlines are now much stricter in their identification requirements. A government issued photo ID of some sort that is not expired (e.g.–state-issued driver’s license) is the best form of identification and will suffice. If you don’t have that available, then TWO forms of other ID will be required, one of which must be issued by a government office (e.g.– social security card or voter’s registration card). From recent personal experience, I was reminded of needing two forms of other ID when my driver’s license was lost while traveling. If you have a valid passport, you can, of course, show that but you may not want to carry that for domestic travel to avoid it getting lost or stolen.
December 2007 – Checking Weather Before Your Trip
An easy-to-read website for quickly checking the weather before your travel to anywhere in the world is It not only gives you a several dayforecast, but year-round mean temperatures and precipitation which may help in making travel plans.
November 2007 – Credit Card Charges
When traveling abroad make sure you notify your credit card company(s) in advance where and when you will be traveling. In an effort to reduce fraudulent charges, you may find your charges denied, or you may be required to speak with your company before completing a charge which can be frustrating and embarrassing. Also, make a copy of your credit cards (both sides) and put in a safe place before you depart in case they are lost or stolen.
October 2007 – Lost Luggage
Lost luggage unfortunately happens. In addition to having travel insurance to cover the cost of most or all of your contents, consider putting one change of clothes in a fellow traveler’s suitcase and vice versa – better yet, in your carry-on bag. This can help ease the inconvenience when you arrive at your destination without your luggage.
September 2007 – Travel Wardrobe
Traveling light will help ease travel through airports, train stations and hotels. The key is to keep your wardrobe simple. Here are some basic suggestions to minimize your packing:• Choose one or two basic neutral colors as the foundation for all your outfits• Wear each item several times during your trip, so choose wrinkle resistant, hand washable and quick drying items• Pack more blouses or shirts than bottoms (pants or skirts) as they are lighter, take up less room and easier to launder.
• Choose synthetic and lightweight fabrics over natural as they are lighter weight and dry quicker.
• Wear your coat and heavier clothing (sweater, heavy shoes) to the airport and use your pockets for storage.
• Be comfortable! Select stretchable fabrics and styles that are more stain and wrinkle resistant – especially while traveling long durations.
August 2007 – Registering with U.S. Department of State for foreign travel
Did you know that you can register your foreign travel with the U.S. Department of State? This is a free service and takes only a few minutes. This serves two purposes: family members can reach you in case of an emergency at home, and the nearest U.S. consulate office is there to help you in case of an emergency while traveling. Go to for more information and to register.
July 2007 – Passport Requirements
Planning to do international travel, including Canada or Mexico in the near future? Passports are now required for ALL international air travel, although proof of your passport application may suffice for travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. A passport is also highly recommended yet not required until January 1, 2008 for cruise travel to these same areas even though you are departing and returning to a US port (in case an emergency causes you to need to fly home). Currently, it is taking the U.S. Department of State approximately 3 months to process a new application or renewal that is submitted by mail or in person. Expedited service (extra fee plus overnight delivery charges) is currently taking about 3 weeks so plan accordingly. To save time, you can make an in-person application versus mailing in your application. Please visit for up-to-date information and a nationwide list of passport acceptance facilities typically, you will need to call and make an appointment. In Tucson, a good source is located at the University of Arizona, 1128 E. Mabel, 520-626-7161 520-626-7161 520-626-7161 520-626-7161 .

FREE Monthly Travel Tip
Free Monthly Travel Tips

Gateway Destinations, LLC

Contact us at 888.429.1242 or
for reservations or more information.