Travel Dos & Don'ts

Travel is such an enlightening and rewarding experience, but travel mishaps can happen to even the most seasoned traveler. Hopefully by reviewing some of these Do’s and Don’ts, you can avoid some unpleasant surprises!

Do’s

Do look carefully at flight times and dates before booking, especially if you are booking on the Internet. It is so easy to press that button to purchase without thoroughly reviewing the details. Recently a really good friend of mine called me from the airport in tears when she realized upon check-in that her tickets were issued for a few days prior to her travel and were cancelled because of a no-show. Fortunately, this had a happy ending when an agreeable agent was willing to make the change without a fee.

Do tip the porters at the airport. Not only can they handle your luggage, but they have also been known to be creative when necessary to get you on a flight that has already closed!

Do update your driver’s license or passport.They must be valid for six months after you travel. I have been with groups at the airport when someone has been rejected from the flight because of this oversight despite my desperate pleas!

Do pack within reason. A heavy bag of items you never use can put a damper on your trip…especially if you are planning on staying at different locations.

Also, most airlines are now charging for the first bag (typically $15) and an additional charge for the second bag (around $20). Remember, they also charge for overweight bags. It is not uncommon to see people with the contents of their luggage strewn all over the ticket counter in an effort to lighten the load.

Do pack all of your essentials and medications in clear plastic cases. Then Security can see what you’ve got without having to open a case and touch your stuff. No point in holding up the line arguing about forbidden liquids you will have to give up no matter what you say.

Do your homework before you leave. Ask your travel agent if the hotels you are visiting provide essentials such as hair dryers, lap top connections, etc.

My friend Vicki recently returned from a trip to Australia and New Zealand. The one thing she wished she had known was that most of the hotels there provide a washer and dryer for their guests. In hindsight, she would not have packed as much clothing, saving on excess baggage and eliminating the amount of time spent packing and unpacking each time she transferred to another hotel.

Do go with the flow. No matter where you are traveling, you quickly realize that things are done differently than they are back home. Knowing the culture of where you are going and what to expect can greatly enhance the experience. So don’t be offended by the taxi driver in New York who talks a mile a minute and is threatening to kill the other cab driver that has pulled out in front of him. Or don’t try to hurry the service in the quaint restaurant in Spain…

Don’ts

Don’t hoard your frequent flier miles you’ve been accumulating. With fewer people taking to the skies, your chances for redeeming miles could potentially increase.

Flexibility is key, however. If you’re committed to a particular destination, go in the off-season instead and book either early or late. Most airlines start selling flights 330 days out, so using your miles as far in advance as possible increases the likelihood of getting an award seat. Also, consider using miles to upgrade your ticket on longer flights like Hawaii.

Don’t postpone travel to a destination with favorable currency exchange rates. The dollar is strong again—at least for the moment. Travelers looking to make the most of their money should keep an eye on global exchange rates. The Euro is down some 20 percent, so Europe is definitely more appealing these days, not just because of the currency rates, but also because of the incredible deals on hotels. So if you have the option, pre-book and prepay as much as possible to ensure you lock in a good exchange rate.

Don’t over plan. Leave yourself some room for pleasant surprises. During a recent cruise to the British Isles, my client Mary Ann and I took a detour on one of our stops to Inverness, Scotland.We were checking out a new Virtuoso property and were surprised by not only the Michelin Star restaurant on site, but also by an unexpected encounter with the Scottish police. Fortunately we were not the perpetrators, but we instead witnessed a hilarious scene right out of a “Monty Python” movie!

Don’t cancel the credit card tied to your reservations.Make all flight, hotel and car reservations with one single card to reduce the number of cards connected to your future travel plans. Be sure to print reservations in advance and make a note of the card you used to book them. Also, don’t forget to call your bank before you leave the country to make them aware of your travel plans. Because I failed to this on a trip to Italy, I was unable to use my credit card. Not such a bad thing…my husband Curtis was delighted!