London has been “calling” me ever since I was there with Margot Shaw and Charlotte Moss for the Chelsea Flower Show in 2015. And with a stronger dollar, why not slip on over. But travel has changed since then! This was made very apparent to me when a lovely Newport friend was denied boarding on her flight to Vienna because of the expiration date on her American passport. In short, the new travel rules regarding the EU countries (plus some others) state that… “your passport must be good for 6 months beyond the end of your visit.” Who knew? No friend that I’ve talked to about it.
So what was only to have been one post on packing tips, etc. will now include so much more that we travelers need to know today. I’ve curated these from friends, online sources and professional travel agents so that you won’t have to for your next trip (start dreaming now). Bon Voyage!
Reminders and Cautions
Check your expiration date! Then note if the country or countries you’ll be visiting have “a 6-month beyond requirement” (see anecdote above). US Citizens can find this information (here) and visa requirements (here).
Register with the Country’s Embassy
These are different times. Be wise and cautious (especially if you’re traveling alone). Before you depart, register with the Embassy of each country that you will be visiting (see a list of them here). It helps the Embassy to better assist you in the case of a simple emergency (lost or stolen passport) or a natural (or not so natural) disaster.
Travel Medical Insurance
It’s worth it to have important items like emergency medical evacuation, trip cancellation, and baggage delay covered. Also, check with your doctor about any vaccinations that are required or suggested for your particular destination.
Alert Your Credit Card Company
What with hacking, identity theft and the like today, best to check in with your credit card providers and give them a heads up as to your travel period, plans and destinations. They may still contact you if a red flag pops up re. your card (i.e. I had a fraud alert in New York because Uber was having a spate of problems with stolen cards) but it’s a good precaution. No one wants to have any issues paying for important items such as train tickets, hotel rooms or special purchases.
Check the Country’s Entrance/Exit Fees
Some countries require travelers to pay in order to enter or leave the country. These fees are not included in the price of your airline ticket, and can range from $25 to $200, for which they might not take a credit card.
Check the Voltage of Your Electronics
Nothing is more frustrating than having an adapter and still not being able to use a blow-dryer because the voltage isn’t high enough (or is too high) for that country.
TIP: Samsung Galaxy phones are NOT allowed on any airline!!
Book Activities Ahead
Then your trip will have a skeleton itinerary to work from and you won’t be using valuable travel time trying to arrange activities (click here for GetYourGuide).
But Don’t Overbook Yourself
The urge to do and see everything can be overwhelming, but if you overload your days, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up doing even less than you want because you’ll get burnt out. Make sure that you allow sufficient time for sleep and adequate rest between activities. Your body will thank you, and at the end of the trip, you’ll find that you’ve had a more fulfilling experience.
Don’t Bring Too Much Money
If your destination will have ATM machines, your best bet is to arrive with a small amount of local currency and withdraw money from the ATMs as needed. Yes, you’ll pay a higher international service fee, but it eliminates the need to travel with wads of cash, and normally exchanges your dollars at a very competitive rate. Remember, your smart phone can download conversion rates, if necessary.
Use Instagrams new search feature that lets you find photos taken practically any place you might be visiting. Up will come all hashtags/posts related to that location (i.e. London). Then review the photos from Instagrammers based there, which will most often include their favorite restaurants, cool spots.
Check Out Maps Ahead of Time
Raise your comfort level by orienting your self about your pending location (this is a big one for me). It helps to have a feeling for specifically where you will be located within a city and where your activities will be taking you.