Being your travel advisor is more than offering you enchanting vacations to the far reaches of the globe. It also involves offering you personal support and helpful advice to enhance all your travel experiences, whether near or far.
The Travel Tips below are chock-full of important information that will help you travel the world safely and efficiently. My hope is that you'll have the best experience possible, wherever you travel.
Five Common Trip-Planning Mistakes
Because there are so many variables involved—from the plane tickets and hotel reservations to meals and entertainment—self-planned journeys often go off track or way over budget. As someone who plans trips for a living, professional travel advisors like us have seen our share of mistakes made by even the most experienced travelers. Here are five you should definitely avoid:
Sticking to Set Dates – Airlines and hotels know when people travel most, so they typically raise their prices accordingly. You can save hundreds of dollars by being flexible with your travel dates.
Ignoring the Fine Print – The internet is filled with incredible travel deals that seem too good to be true. Before hitting that “Buy Now” button, take a moment to question how this company can possibly afford to sell their product for such a low price. The answer is usually in the fine print, where that low price comes with a slew of restrictions that will definitely damper your vacation.
Forgetting to Breathe – Many travelers return from a vacation exhausted due to over-planning. To see all of the must-see sights at their destination, they race across town from dawn to dusk, never stopping to soak it all in. It’s okay to miss a few sights, as long as you take the time to enjoy the ones you do see. Travel agents always suggest spending more days at your destination, or to arrive at the embarkation port a day or two early, to give you that added time to breathe.
Stuffing the Bags – Some globetrotters cram all of their items into one carry-on bag, thinking it saves time and reduces baggage fees. However, after a week away—a week spent shopping—those travelers suddenly have no place to pack their newly-purchased items, so they have to buy another bag or suitcase. Moral of the story: always pack with room to spare. Ninety-nine percent of the time, you return home with more items than you left with.
Picking the Wrong Season – Every destination has a perfect time of the year to visit and not to visit. Under the “not to visit” times are those seasons that are too hot, too cold, too crowded or too expensive. Make sure you know before you go…or simply ask us.
How to Make Your Luggage Easier to Find in Baggage Claim
We've all been there, standing next to the conveyor belt in baggage claim, jostling with strangers to get a good view of the bags as they're making their turn, hoping that the next black one is yours. The wiser solution is to travel with a bag that’s so visually unmistakable, that you can relax away from the black bag parade and casually wait for yours to arrive. Here are some ways to make your luggage stand out from the maddening crowd:
Tape it Up – Duct tape now comes in a wide variety of colors and themes. Find a roll that suitably expresses your style and tape a few stripes across your bag or on the handle.
With a Bow on Top – Festive ribbons and bows are not just for presents. Tie one on your luggage handle to spot it a mile away.
Get Artsy – Grab some stencils and shake up a can of spray paint. You can creatively stencil your initials in big, block letters and paint on a colorful design.
Iron Man – Iron a distinguishing picture or logo onto the luggage fabric. Be sure to put one on every side so that you can find your bag from different angles.
Stick it To ‘Em – Give your favorite five-year-old a packet of stickers and tell them to go crazy on your plastic bag.
Introduction to Global Entry
If you’re an active international traveler like we are, then you should know about Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.
At participating airports, program participants proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs them to baggage claim and the exit.
Even though the program was created for frequent international travelers, there is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify. You will need to get pre-approved for the program, which includes a rigorous background check and interview, and pay a non-refundable $100 application fee.
Global Entry is open to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, Dutch citizens, South Korean citizens and Mexican nationals. Canadian citizens and residents may enjoy Global Entry benefits through membership in the NEXUS program.
To learn more and apply, visit www.GlobalEntry.gov.
As always, please feel free to contact a qualified travel agent about your future travel plans. If you're looking for a great travel agent, I'd love to help! Be sure to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or for a quote on your next dream vacation, use this form.
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