Living with Style, Travel Notes

13 Travel Tips for the Savvy Traveler

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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.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Lange

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.

Culinary Note
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.

Other Helpful Travel Tips

Crazy Laws You Should Know About Before You Travel

“Prepping for Paris”

Up next? My take on what to wear and essential “Must Haves.”

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

8 thoughts on “13 Travel Tips for the Savvy Traveler

  1. Brava, Bettie! A terrific post on travel. I will add one tip to your ATM paragraph which is that one must be sure to have a PIN number no longer than 4 digits for all overseas ATMs. Happy travels! Xo Suzanne

  2. Regarding the tip “Don’t Bring Too Much Money” and the reference to “higher international service fees”. Service fees can vary tremendously from bank to bank. Some do not charge any more than a transaction fee would be in the US. A few banks do not charge transaction fees at all. It is best for a person to check with their bank ahead of time and understand what the banks policies are. An additional tip, and one that it seems many people are unaware of, is that many credit cards do not charge any international transactions fees on purchases. However many, many still do. This can of course end up being a shocking amount added to a monthly statement once back from a trip. If a person is not aware of their credit cards policies on this, they should call each and every credit card they have and ask. By all means take the one(s) with no international transaction fees. If all do indeed have fees, consider opening one that doesn’t. (and phase out the rest!). This is one of the biggest ways to save money on your trip. Bon Voyage!

  3. Don’t forget to update your cellular phone international settings to avoid an incredible/unexpected phone bill when you get home. 1st and most importantly, change your habits … unplug… look up, not down… and put down the phone!

    But in case you do need it :
    – Add an international plan based on the countries you will be visiting and any data usage you expect to have
    – Make sure to turn off cellular data
    – Use wifi for data whenever possible (there are many free wifi hotspots internationally)
    – Using maps in iPhones require a data connection, so investigate an off-line maps app & download the maps before you go
    – Check when you get home that you have not gone over your talk or data limits, and upgrade your package if needed. The terms are usually per billing cycle, or 30 days, so you may adjust up (and sometimes down) before you pay too much!!

  4. MY GIFT this year from THE ITALIAN is a trip to LONDON to see the CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW!I will be going in MAY!I did not know about the 6 months after date with the passport but I’m GOOD!THANK YOU for that that would have made me VERY UPSET!ALL great TIPS…………..anything you can tell me to do or see?
    Should I have lunch at the SHOW?
    Should I slip down to SLOANE STREET?Is it within walking distance?
    Will I SEE YOU THERE this YEAR?

  5. Bettie – Another “must do” before travel abroad: Call your wireless phone provider and increase your plan to include international calls when you are abroad. Carriers have different “international” packages, but at Verizon Wireless you can opt for just one month at a time. It is easy to make the plan change remotely by accessing your account online. I believe that the reduction in international fees pertains to both incoming and outgoing charges – for phone and data, but I am not sure. Probably requires more research. xox Virginia

  6. Your blog remains wonderfully “on target”! I am just beginning to plan a fall trip to London with my cousin and 87 year old aunt. It has been awhile since I spent any time in London and I would welcome any suggestions you have to offer! All the best to you beautiful Bettie! Ann Davenport

    1. Oh Ann, I do envy you!! And I can say, knowing you, that the Goring hotel is perfect for you and your aunt…small, elegant and they will swaddle you in loving care. Then be sure to go to Thomas Cubitt for dinner, just a few blocks away. I’ll send you more thoughts as the come along…Oh! just remembered. Dinner at The Ivy after the theater…

  7. This is excellent work! I admire your inventiveness! What a fantastic idea you have! Your ability to think critically about these issues. I’m influenced by the way you work with your posts and the effort you put in to obtain this. On concepts, you truly went above and beyond. You’re carrying out your duties and responsibilities honestly. Keep up the excellent work.

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