There are so many things that you need to be prepared for prior to embarking on your travel abroad. I will not bore you with the obvious things such as a passport and tickets. So let’s start with….
Booking the Hotel/Hostel/ B&B
BE AWARE OF HIDDEN FEES. While you are reading reviews about the various hotels, I suggest you keep on scrolling to read the fine print on the hotel you choose. Be aware that some hotels actually charge you for checking in AFTER a specific time. You may find that there is an additional fee for more than two occupants. In fact, there is an additional Euro fee for each night for each person and that is a European Thing.
Bed and Breakfast establishments are now listed on sites like www.hotels.com and www.kayak.com and will come up in the feed as hotels, even if you didn’t click B&B as an option. That is important because those locations may very well charge a clean-up fee so be sure to read the fineprint. This is also why it is important for you to~~
- WRITE down the address of your hotel. Keep it handy! As mentioned earlier, some places are listed as Hotel blah blah when it turns out that it may actually be a B&B and for us that was fine. EXCEPT when you are looking for the HOTEL sign and THERE IS NO SIGN!!! AND THERE IS NOTHING LIKE BEING LOST ABROAD!!! (Especially in Italy, find out why at What They Do NOT Tell You About Italy.)
Let me show you what I mean…. I booked my reservation on www.hotwire.com for Casa Barberini before I knew about Agoda.com which has good deals as well. However, I didn’t look close enough because the pictures looked like:
BUT THE ENTRY WAY
Do YOU see a sign?
So just be aware of what you book! (No, I didn’t realize until we approached that door that the ‘hotel’ name began with Casa…. chalk it up to jet lag) By the way, we absolutely loved staying at this location. AND I WOULD STAY HERE OVER AND OVER AGAIN- The room was amazing! Opening the window looking out unto the piazza in Italy, just took my breath away as there were no screens blocking the view and it felt surreal… Just open the window to the WORLD. UNLOCK your travel dream because these experiences are meant to be memories that will last a lifetime. I digress… let’s continue…
photo copy your passport
Most locations will ask to hold your passport, but we never gave ours to the desk clerk. Instead just provide them a photo copy (retrieved at check-out) as I’m not and you shouldn’t leave a passport behind. OO-rah….#Unlock wisely!
do you have an exit ticket
Yes, isn’t that interesting? Depending on where you are landing you may not be able to enter the country if you do not have return tickets. Believe it or not that is true. Be diligent and look up VISA information to find out all requirements/stipulations. Not a fun situation to be in nor one I would want to experience first hand. By the way, while you are looking up VISA information go ahead and…
register with your EMBASSY
It is quite easy. Answer a few questions. Sign up for email alerts (travel advisers, evacuation notices, safety warnings, etc.) and you are DONE!
Give your itinerary/travel plans to someone you trust. You never know what may occur overseas and what you may need help with. Be careful and make sure others know where you are. That includes hotel information, numbers, how you are traveling (train, bus car) and where you will be each day, etc. Sounds a little ‘motherly’. It is. Better safe than sorry. OK, Yes! I’m looking out for you. Don’t feel like typing all of that out?
Try the app Tripit. You can share specific plans of your entire itinerary with whomever you choose: your partner, your parents, your UNLOCKED DREAMS peeps and it’s easy to use.
That means phone service, internet and/or fantastic travel apps. I canNOT mention this enough– MAPS. You will thank me later for saving you all kinds of grief, frustration, arguments….yep, it is that real! When you have been overseas and have managed to get turned around over and over again you gain an appreciation for access to technology. You don’t necessarily have to be lost to need to communicate with others. I mean have you ever seen, the stampede of people on a cruise ship disembark on a ‘hunt’ for internet access? … It’s a sight to see. Make sure to have a few good apps for keeping up with people at home like Viber and WhatsApp — just plan accordingly.
Be in the know when it comes to exchange rates. I was surprised at how the exchange rate changed from location to location within the same country. This is not a test of the emergency….. OK. Well it could be an emergency because when you need money… you just need money. I can tell you that Rome had a different exchange rate than Milan. In fact, you could stop at one exchange center in Rome, walk around the corner and stop at another exchange center and the rates ARE DIFFERENT! I felt like it was some kind of a hustle, because one clerk when asked why, stated “exchange rates are set by individual locations” and that DID NOT SEEM RIGHT at all. I can’t tell you how many arguments I witnessed at the exchange centers from people of many different nationalities debating the blatant differences in rates. Interestingly enough, cities with cruise ship stops had some of the best exchange rates. Surprised? Me too! It may be in your best interest to obtain local currency as soon as possible, including coinage, as you may find that there are bathroom fees in some cities as well as a need to pay for transport if not done in advance. Here is an app that will save you money on transportation:
Instead of taking your chances with an Uber after your flight lands, use Priceline-owned Rideways to book reliable airport transfers, taxi rides, trains, and buses in more than 500 cities worldwide. Just enter your trip details and the type of transportation you want, and the app presents you with several options; on a recent trip to Paris, we had the choice of taking two different buses to our hotel for $5.30 each or splurging on a $160 transfer in a chauffeured Mercedes-Benz.
NOTIFY YOUR BANK/CREDIT CARD COMPANY THAT YOU WILL BE OUT OF THE COUNTRY nothing like NOT being able to use your card because they are protecting you and not allowing charges for a location they haven’t seen you charge from before.
few little incidentals
- international driver’s license— It’s a paper copy of your driver’s license that allows you to drive overseas and expires within a year of issue. I literally went in one Saturday morning to AAA paid $20.00 and provided 2 passport photos and walked out about 15 minutes later. EASY BREEZY
- put a hold on your mail and pay all bills that may be due during your time abroad
- get a travel converter as you will need to charge your phone, iPad and other devices into a completely different looking plug.
Have fun and DREAM SAFELY.
One little note. POSTING to SOCIAL MEDIA during your absence can be a NOT so GOOD thing as you are advertising that you are NOT HOME— #justsaying
Invest in A GOOD PAIR OF SHOES:
I can’t stress this enough! There’s no fun in aching feet! I can attest being worn out and ready to soak your feet after miles and miles of walking. No matter where you travel, take care of yourself and that means your feet too.
AND don’t forget to
Document your travels…
Journals are really nice to look back on, Click JOURNAL and explore your CREATIVE/DIY side. Don’t be bashful. Journals are a great way to record where you’ve been, stash a few trinkets like bus passes, luggage tags and memorable photos along with your own commentary— Talk about a way to document memories!!!!
BEFORE YOU GO….. 1 more IMPORTANT note—– Do you know how to dial an emergency number in case you need fire, ambulance or police? Then find out…. It is important that you do!!!
Respect the CUSTOMS and TRADITIONS of other countries. Yes, it may be foreign to you, but it’s home to them… No one comes into your home being disrespectful…neither should we.
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