Avoid International Roaming Fees

Will you need to check your e-mail, surf the Web, or share pictures or videos while you’re traveling abroad? If the answer is yes to any of those activities, then you’ll need to add an international data package to your plan, or you could end up with a massive wireless bill. These can be had for as little as $25 per month from all the major carriers and can be canceled as soon as you return home. (Just be sure to buy enough data access so you’re not charged extra; the cheapest options are often rather skimpy.) Another option: if you can wait until you’re back at a hotel Wi-Fi hot spot to check your mail or use your apps, then just turn off your phone’s roaming capabilities (usually found in the Settings area).

Hot New Places to Visit

There are a number of new places popping up around the world that are quickly becoming travel hot spots.

Jose Ignacio, Uruguay for example.  This is a tiny beach pueblo on the southern coast of Uruguay.  This just may become the next Punta del Este.

What about Trieste, Italy – Many Italia aficionados have been looking for new places to explore.  Trieste has been popular for a long time with the arts crowd, but now it’s found favor with a new generation of travelers looking for a Northern port city to visit.

Hangzhou, China – Yes, the 21st century is the century of China.  About 100 miles southwest of Shanghai, visitors to this ancient city can see Buddhist temples and pagodas.

When Using Travelers Cheque and Gift Cheques

Some advice from American Express on fraud prevention and safety when using travelers checks:

When Using Travelers Cheque and Gift Cheques

The most important thing to remember is that there is no legitimate reason why anyone would give you a check or money order and ask you to wire money anywhere in return.

If someone asks you to do that, be suspicious. Con artists use the anonymity of the Internet and e-mail to scam unsuspecting people. American Express can validate the authenticity of a Cheque quickly and anonymously.

You should contact American Express at 1-800-525-7641 if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • You are asked to accept Travelers Cheques or Gift Cheques but did not watch the Cheque holder countersign in the lower left-hand corner, or you are asked to accept a Cheque with no signatures.
  • You are asked to cash or accept a Gift Cheques in denominations of $500 or $1,000. The maximum denomination of an authentic Gift Cheque is $100, so any Gift Cheque with a denomination of more than $100 is a fake.
  • The Cheques are offered by someone you met online or from someone you know mostly through e-mail communications.
  • You receive the Cheques by mail.
  • You are asked to wire, send or ship funds from cashed Cheques, especially if the return address is a large U.S. city or another country.

T o find out more on information on check scams, visit www.fakechecks.org. The site is sponsored by the National Consumers League, the US Postal Service and American Express, along with other private, public and non-profit organizations, to educate Americans about the threat counterfeit check scams pose to their personal financial health.

What’s the Best Way to Make a Phonecall when Traveling?

What’s the best way to make phonecalls when traveling outside your home country?  Here are several strategies.

  1. Change SIM cards.  Avoid roaming charges by using an international SIM card in your unlocked GSM tri- or quad-band phone.  By cards from several sources, including cellularabroad.com.  Check that your phone has the correct GSM frequency for your location.  You’ll most likely get a temporary international number with this approach.
  2. Sign up for an International Roaming Plan.  Your carrier may have international roaming plans that can carry you temporarily through your travels.  This is a very convenient way of keeping your current phone and SIM card while traveling, but even with the special plans, rates can be high.
  3. Use your Laptop to make calls.  Using a service like Skype or other VOIP phone services may be a very cheap way to make phonecalls while traveling abroad.  All you need is a broadband wireless internet connection.  But, you must have your laptop with you.
  4. WiFi online calls with an iPhone or other smart phone.  If you have a smart phone, you can download WiFi software for making almost free calls over the internet from truphone.com.  You may also try purchasing a dedicated WiFi phone

Best Travel Spots in the South

Southern Living Magazine recently published a list of the best travel destinations in the South of the USA.  Here are some of the best:

Best Live Music Venue in Louisiana – House of Blues, New Orleans

Best Crab Cake in Maryland – The Crab Claw Restaurant, St. Michaels

Best Drive in West Virginia – New River Gorge, Fayette County

Best Lake in Alabama – Lake Guntersville

Best Literary Stop in Mississippi – Rowan Oak, Oxford

Best Live Music in Tennessee – Grand Ole Opry, Nashville

Best Attraction in Arkansas – Hot Springs National Park

Best Historic Site in Virginia – Colonial Williamsburg

Best Attraction in Georgia – Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta

Best Dance Hall in Texas – Gruene Hall, Gruene

Want to stay in Paris for $40 per night? Try Hostels

That’s right.  Paris for $40 per night.  The travel economy has followed the global economy lock in step.  In some European cities, the cost to stay in a hostel is down 50% from a decade ago.  Sound incredible?  Well, yes it really is.  If you can travel on a no-frills budget and do without some of the higher end creature comforts, hostels are still the way to go.

Here’s an example of how much you can save in Paris, France:

A typical hostel stay for 6 days costs $40 US x 6 = $240
A 3 star hotel might cost $75 US per night x 6 = $450
Savings:  $210 !

Here are some additional sources for the latest on trends in hostel prices:



Pets – How to Travel with your Pet

A few general tips apply whether you travel by car or plane.Be sure your pet wears a collar with complete identification and a license tag.

Have a rabies vaccination certifi­cate if you will travel across state or international borders.

Be prepared to present a health certificate, especially if you travel to Canada or Mexico.

Be sure to bring your pet’s favor­ite food, toy(s), and dishes.

Before undertaking a long trip, it would be advisable to have your pet examined by a veterinarian.

Travel By Air

Air travel is of most concern to pet owners. You can minimize the chang­es of an unpleasant experience by fol­lowing a few guidelines.

Regulations state that dogs and cats must be at least 8 weeks old and weaned at least 5 days before flying.

Current health and rabies vacci­nation certificates will be required.

Contact the airline well in ad­vance to check regulations and ser­vices, and to make reservations.

Try to book a direct, midweek flight or one with a minimum of stops.

During warmer periods reduce risk of overheating by choosing early morning or late evening flights.

Ask about other cargo on your flight (For example, fumes from dry ice can be lethal).

Be at the airport early, exercise your pet, place it in a cage yourself, and pick up your animal promptly upon arrival. Don’t take leashed animals on escalators.

The proper cage, available from most airlines or pet shops, should have the following features:

Large enough to allow the animal to stand, turn, and lie down.

Strong, free of interior protru­sions, with handles or grips

Leak proof bottom covered with plenty of absorbent material

Ventilation on opposite sides, with exterior rims or knobs to pre­vent blocked airflow

Label “Live Animals,” with arrows indicating upright position, and your name, address, and phone number.

Consult your veterinarian for spe­cific feeding instructions. Age and size of the pet, time and distance of the flight, and regular dietary routine must be considered.

Travel By Car

If your pet is not accustomed to the car, take it for a few short rides before the trip. Your cat might ride well in a carrying case. Following are some tips that may help the trip go a little smoother.

Stick to your regular feeding rou­tine and give the main meal at the end of the day or when you’ve reached your destination.

It will be more convenient to feed dry food if the pet is used to it.

Dispose of unused canned food unless it can be refrigerated.

Take along a plastic jug of cold water to avoid possible stomach upset the first day.

Give small portions of both food and water and plan to stop every two hours for exercise.

Remember to include a leash in your travel kit!

Pets should not be allowed to ride with their heads outside car windows. Particles of dirt can penetrate the eyes, ears, and nose, causing injury or infections.

Excessive amounts of cold air taken into lungs can also cause illness.

When leaving your pet in a parked car, be sure to lock all doors, and open windows enough to provide ventila­tion without allowing the animal to jump out or get its head caught.

In warm, hot, or humid weather, you should not leave your pet in a parked car!

Grooming (bathing, combing, nail trim) before the trip will make the animal more comfortable.

Travel By Bus or Train

Most states prohibit animals on buses, and recent rules now prohibit animals on trains. Exceptions are generally made for seeing-eye dogs accompanying blind persons. Inquire in advance with your local carriers.

Courtesy of Publishers Edge

Travel Safety Tips

It is always good common sense to keep the following safety tips in mind when traveling:

  • Always lock your front and/or patio doors – when in the room and when leaving. Use the safety chain/lock for security.
  • Never open your room door unless you know who is there. If you did not call for hotel service offered by the person at the door, call hotel security or the front desk to see if they have sent someone to your room.
  • Place valuables in a safety deposit box in your room or at the hotel office.
  • When checking into a hotel, consult the floor plan map on the back of your room door to familiarize yourself with fire and emergency exits.
  • When driving, keep all car doors locked.

Carrying Money when Traveling Abroad – Smart Cash Tips

We’ve come across many smart money tips for travelers over the years.  Here is the absolute best advice we’ve found for carrying cash, credit cards, or other money equivalents while you travel.  This advice is a must-read, especially if you’re traveling to areas where crime or theft is a concern.

If you’re traveling to a foreign country, you need a way to carry currency to pay your travel expenses.  But security and simplicity is of major importance.

Should I carry traveler’s cheques?  No.  Traveler’s cheques are not recommended, although they are still a means of guaranteeing absolute safety for the money you carry.  This is because they are simply not convenient.  If you purchase traveler’s cheques, you will need to sign every single bill in advance.  Many merchants will not accept them, and for incidental spending the inconvenience outweighs the benefits.

Should I carry credit cards?  Yes. If you own one or more credit cards, use them while traveling abroad.  Credit cards are the simplest way to make purchases overseas, and you don’t have to worry about converting currencies since your credit card company will automatically convert all your purchases to your home currency.  There is a small cost that credit card companies assess on FX conversions, however, the convenience outweighs the cost.  If possible, use a credit card that won’t charge a conversion fee per transaction (check out some cards by Capital One Bank).

For the bulk of my travel expenses, what is better, cash or credit cards?  Credit cards are better.  This is because you won’t have to worry about losing your cash or having it stolen.  Use credit cards for most large purchases, like your lodging expenses, transportation tickets, and meals.

 I have several credit cards.  How many should I bring?  Bring at least 2 credit cards on your trip.  This way, if you do lose one you won’t be inconvenienced.  If you do bring multiple cards with you, keep one locked in your luggage while you’re out, or give it to a travel companion to carry for safekeeping.  This way, if you lose your wallet, you’ll have instant access to another card.  If you have no one to hold your extra card, and you must carry it on you, keep it in your front pocket, separate from other cards and cash.  This is the least likely place for i to get lost or stolen.

What do I do if I lose my credit card?  Call your credit card company as soon as possible to cancel it.  You are not responsible for any unauthorized charges made on your card if lost or stolen.

Should I carry cash if I have credit cards?  Yes.  Always keep some local currency in cash with you when traveling.  You will need it for small expenditures like snacks, taxis, bus, souvenir, etc.

How much cash should I carry?  Carry only as much cash on your person as you will need for the day.  You can decide how much you may need for daily expenses.  If you must carry a fairly large sum of cash on you during the day, make sure you split it up and keep in your front pants pocket for safekeeping.  This is the safest place to avoid loss or theft.  Fold bills, and hold them either loose or with a money clip or rubber band in your front pocket.

I have more cash with me than I need for a day out.  Do I carry all of it with me?  No.  Only carry the amount of cash you need while out during the day.  Keep excess cash in a safe place.  Check for in-room hotel safes that use a code that you set.  If there is no better safe place for your extra cash, keep it locked in your luggage (always carry luggage locks with you when traveling).  This may not sound like a good option, but it is actually safer than carrying large amounts of cash on you.  Cash locked in your luggage is secure if no one knows it’s in there.  And unless you are in a location where your entire luggage is at risk of being stolen while you’re away from your room, it is extremely unlikely that money will be stolen out of locked luggage.

What if I’m in transit, and have large amounts of money?  If you’re traveling by bus, train or public transportation, and do not have a hotel room, keep your money with you.  But, remember to split up plastic and cash in several pockets or between several persons.  If you’re driving yourself in a car, you may keep extra cash and at least one credit card hidden under a floor mat in the rear seat.  This is an unlikely place for anyone to search for money, and is safer than keeping money inside luggage in a car.  Remember to lock the car doors at all times.

How should I get cash when I’m traveling?  Never use money changing booths at airports or other tourist locations.  The best and cheapest way to obtain cash in local currency is to simply use you own bank ATM card.  Find an ATM that is of a well known national bank in your destination.  When you use your ATM card, your bank will usually get you a better rate on cash withdrawn from the ATM than you can get from money changers.  Remember, when withdrawing cash from an ATM, maintain awareness and ensure that you are in a protected location.  If you are traveling with others, have someone keep a look out for any potential crime risk while you are removing cash from an ATM.

The same general rules for carrying money apply to carrying your ID while traveling in foreign locations.  If you are carrying a passport, obtaining a replacement may be a serious hassle if lost while in a foreign location.  Decide if it is safer to keep your passport on your person, or locked safely in your luggage.  Wherever you keep your original ID, make sure to keep a photocopy in your luggage, and another photocopy (miniaturized copies are good) in your wallet or pocket.  This way, you’ll always have access to your ID, and be able to identify yourself to authorities if it becomes necessary.  Some countries may require you to keep your original passport on your person at all times, although this is rare.  Know the rules before you travel.

If you are traveling in high risk areas known for crime and scams, never keep all your cash or credit cards in your wallet.  Always split it up and keep some cash and at least one credit card in your front pocket.  Have travel companions carry some cash and a credit card as well.  The same rule applies to your ID.  If you are concerned with theft while walking or traveling through a city, keep your driver’s license,  and any other important papers you don’t want to lose, in your front pocket.  Don’t carry them in wallets, purses, or any other hanging bags.