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Travel season is finally here! Planning your vacation overseas can be almost as much fun as going. If this is your first time traveling abroad, or maybe you just need a refresher here's a list of 21 essential tips for family vacation, solo travelers or pet owners.
Read Travel Reviews:
User-review sites have changed the way most people plan their travel. But always read between the lines and ask yourself if the writer shares your mind-set, or if a negative review is the result of a fussy traveler or a singular bad experience.
Choose appropriate accommodation:
Before pulling out the credit card, it's important to make sure that your chosen accommodation fits for your needs. A solo traveler will be happier in a hostel located directly in the city center (in contrast to a couple seeking quiet area). A family with children might consider an apartment or a holiday house, as these can offer a more relaxed atmosphere than a hotel. You should also consider all inclusions which suit your holiday needs (free WiFi, quality of service...)
Build your vacation itinerary:
Have a plan for your days off. It doesn't need to be cast in stone – stay flexible and easy going — but you should walk out your hotel room in the morning with a plan of where you're going or what do you want to see. Don't waste your holiday time once you get there.
TIP: Book your personal guide in advance
Make a copy of your passport:
Before you leave home, make two copies of your passport identification page. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives and carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport. You can also make an electronic copy you can store in your email account / smart phone.
Get traveler's insurance:
It can be quite costly to get travel insurance. It can be even more costly if you don't have it. Make sure you take out comprehensive travel insurance, and you go through all of the situations that it covers – it could save you lots of money in the long run. Despite we're hoping you never have to use it!
Beat the jet lag:
Avoid jet lag by getting plenty of exercise the day before you leave, which will also help you sleep on the plane. When you arrive in your destination, get plenty of fresh air, to further stave off jet lag.
Separate your money:
Do not keep your credit cards and cash in the same place. Keep some cash in your wallet, and leave some in a zippered pocket in your luggage or another safe location. In addition, store credit cards in a separate pocket of your purse or day bag from your carry-around cash.
Overstuff your carry-on:
Put enough clothes in your carry-on bags for the first day or 2 of your trip. On long flights with multiple stopovers, packing a fresh change of clothes is a good idea as bags tend to get delayed or lost on long haul, multiple stop flights. You don't want to be hunting for a pair of shorts immediately after your arrival in a new city or country.
Choose the right luggage for travel:
Getting to the bag carousel and not finding your luggage is a bad feeling (trust me, I know what I'm talking about ? Choose a practical suitcase with standout details or create your own DIY luggage tags.
TIP: For more travel tips check out our previous blog posts: 17 Travel Hacks You Absolutely Need To Know & Common Travel Mistakes (And How To Fix Them)
Ask for upgrades:
A magical sentence "I know the hotel is not full today. Do you think you could upgrade me to a suite?" could sweeten your vacation time. You'll have the best chance of getting a free upgrade if business is slow or you're going to stay at least three nights.
When traveling abroad, hire a local to help you get around, gain access to more exclusive areas, and communicate in the native language. Though you may have to pay them, they will save you money in the long run with their knowledge of the area and connections.
Have some nice photos of you:
If you need someone to take a photo for you on holiday, pick a family with kids. They're almost guaranteed not to make off with your camera! Or book your personal photographer.
Dress kids in bright colors to stop losing them:
If you have kids, you probably know what a nightmare it is to keep an eye on them in crowded places. Simply pop your kids in bright colored clothes or hats so they'll stick out stick out like a sore thumb.
Keep them entertained:
A small pack of crayons / books / stack of cards can provide hours of entertainment, not only for children but for the whole family. Grown-ups, become a kid again – explore, investigate, ask questions and your children will come right along with you.
Take their favorite snacks everywhere:
Kids get crankiest when they don't have familiar things to eat. Just avoid all foods that are sticky, messy or crumby and be sure they are snacks that take forever to eat. Little boxes of raisins or other treats that can be eaten tiny bit by tiny bit extend how long that snack (and the entertainment associated with eating) will last.
Don't forget the paperwork:
Before you hit the road, make sure all of your pet's tags, including his identification and rabies are up to date. Check with the airline / place of destination for their rules regarding pet travel. Many require a health certificate and may have other rules you haven't thought of that you don't want to be surprised with at the airport or upon your arrival.
Apart from the pet's tags, license & dated vaccination documentation, medication, enough food and treats for the entire trip, keep in mind also a familiar blanket or toy with your pet to help it feel more comfortable during the trip.
Accidents can happen. We can never plan when or where, but you can always be prepared for those moments by having handy poop bags or any special medication your pet might need. Download also the Pet First Aid app for tips on how to handle various injuries.
You might be tempted to use a room service or order a carry-out from the restaurant nearby, just to avoid awkward restaurant situations. Don't. If you start to feel uneasy sitting alone and staring down at your food, you can crack open a book, talk to the staff or ask people who are alone too, if you can join them. Worst case... they say no.
Make new friends:
You will meet far more people when you are on your own since you won't be insulated as part of a group or even couple. You will be much more eager to meet travel buddies, team up with other travelers and generally reach out more in order to socialize. Get to know locals. They will know the best places that aren't in the tour guides.
You are the boss. You don't have to follow anyone else's rules, you can do exactly what you want to do - all the time. Sip some wine (just don't get too drunk), chat with strangers (in public places), read a book (but don't bury your head in a book and watch the world around you), go dancing and live in the moment. Be kind and you will attract kindness.
And finally it means, living in the moment and taking everything in that you can. Live it! Experience it! Try new things and get out of your comfort zone.