14
May

10 Things to Prepare Before Taking a Long Trip

download (14)1. Make sure your household bills are up to date

This may sound obvious or even pedantic but you really need to think about something like this. Last year I went on a tour that was 3 weeks. It covered the last 2 weeks of one month and the first week of the next month. Once of my household bills from the first month hadn’t arrived before I left and was delivered whilst I was away. This meant I had no way of paying it for that month. When I got back I was greeted by final demands as this particular authority was known to be ruthless with non-payers.

2. Check your travel and medical Insurance

It is important when going on a long trip you have the correct travel and medical insurance. The last thing you want is to be stuck in another country and something happens you need to produce a credit card to save your life. This also relates to Number 5, if you haven’t told your bank you are going away and you don’t have proper cover you could be in serious trouble. Always travel with adequate travel and medical insurance. A lot of credit companies now offer travel insurance as standard.

3. Share your itinerary with someone

This is important if you are traveling alone. Your loved ones and friends need to know where you are, maybe not all the time, but at least where they can reach you. If something happens back home, you may need to return for an emergency, or there may be some important news they need to tell you. At least if they know your travel plans rather than exact details you will be easier to track down in an emergency situation.

4. Check the Visa and Passport requirements for your destinations or possible destinations

Don’t get to the airport and find they won’t even let you on the plane! This is the reality of what could happen if you don’t have the correct documents. Visa requirements are especially important to avoid unnecessary complications and delays at your destination. Make sure your passport is valid for at least the next 6 months, otherwise a lot of airlines won’t let you travel.

5. Tell your bank where you are going

Even if you are taking travelers checks or cash you should have a back up. The bank needs to know where you may be using your ATM or credit card. Due to cyber fraud nowadays a lot of banks will not allow you to use your cards abroad unless you tell them beforehand. It’s very easily done for most banks through their website. If you don’t tell them, you may end up having your ATM card swallowed by an overseas machine!

6. Organise your ID

What IDs will you need when you travel? Obviously your passport but what about the credit card you booked your flight with? some airlines insist on seeing it before travel. Other IDs could include a driving license if you plan on renting a car or motorbike while traveling. Don’t forget to print all your ticket information and hotel booking vouchers if you have pre-booked them.

7. Set up your phone

If you are planning on taking your phone abroad, beware of costly roaming charges. The best thing is to organize with your phone company beforehand, or better still, get a throwaway SIM card whilst you are there. Most countries have a SIM plan you can get at the larger international airports.

8. Learn a few phrases

Especially important if you are planning to travel a little off the beaten track. Not everywhere is fluent in English, even some larger cities in Asia and Africa you will find little English spoken. Learn a few choice phrases that will come in handy whilst you are there, it will save you a lot of time, money and hassle.

9. Have a Plan B

Expect the unexpected on your trip. If you planned to travel to a beach then suddenly find it closed, make sure you don’t arrive at midnight and you have nowhere to stay for the night. Give yourself some room for maneuver. I once got delayed on a flight and found myself in the middle of nowhere at 2am in the morning, the car rental I’d pre-booked had closed so I had no alternative but to find a hotel which wasn’t easy!. If you plan and prepare, try to think of what might happen, just in case.

10. Secure your home

Of course you are going to lock your doors and take the necessary precautions but what about the little things that could cause problems when you get back. Turn off the water and electricity is a good step if you are going away for a long period. Coming back to burst water pipes is not fun at all. I usually disconnect my car battery if I go on a trip longer than a few weeks, the last thing I need is a flat battery when I return.

 

24
Mar

Strategy 1 for Extraordinary Travel: Arrive and Be There

download (8)Traveling in the “Great Trip” style, you will arrive and be there instead of swooping through, then moving on. The swoop-in style of travel prohibits you from actually arriving anywhere, and it severely limits the depth of your experience.

Instead, you will have the time you need to learn the charms and significance of each place you visit. You will take the time to experience its lifestyle and hear its stories. By staying longer in each of your “home bases,” you also will have rich opportunities to venture out on day trips that will give you a broader sense of the cultural bounty of the region.

There is always an all-important trade-off between trying to take in more places and taking more time in each place. What you will gain from having more time in fewer places is that you will have the luxury of settling in and making yourself at home. You will experience more when you decrease the frantic flitting around and actually arrive. As with many things in life, less is more!

To arrive and be there, you will:

  1. Orient yourself and “make yourself at home.”
  2. “Live” there, however briefly.

Orient Yourself and “Make Yourself at Home”

On group trips, although you will have a guide, you likely will feel lost much of the time. As you play “follow the leader,” you will forego any opportunities to learn and find your own way. Sometimes you will barely know where you are, exactly, or where you are going. You may not even know where you’ve been after you’ve been there.

At the other extreme, making up your trip on your own, you again will often feel lost, because you will be lost. And you will have the sense that you may be missing the most important experiences, because, most likely, you are. By the end of your trip you will have a long list of what you would have and should have done if only you had known more before you set out.

Traveling the “great trip” way, you will never feel lost. And you will most certainly know where you have been after you’ve been there. In each new location, you will have a minimum of three days. And you will begin your time there with a walkabout to get oriented, using a great trip book to guide you, customized to your own particulars.

Starting with your immediate neighborhood, then branching out to surrounding areas, you will discover where “your” bakery is, as well as “your” delicatessen, wine shop, cheese shop, fresh market, pharmacy and ATM. You will know your best options for public transportation, and where “your” closest stops are located. If there is a river, lake or ocean, you will use them to establish your own sense of direction.

And you will identify an appealing spot to meet up with your travel companion(s) when you venture off to spend time independently. This meeting spot may be a café in the square or on a bench beside the fountain, or any such spot where waiting will be its own entertainment.

Once you are oriented, you will know where you are and where to go next. Then you will be able to expand on your knowledge, and begin to feel comfortable and confident moving about and exploring your new “home away from home.”

By using this approach to finding your way, you will surprise yourself at how quickly you will feel confident walking out to your bakery for fresh croissants in the morning, then stopping by “your market” to gather up items for your picnic in the park beside the river. And you will actually know where the river is!

“Live” There, However Briefly

When traveling with a group, you will, by necessity, be staying in larger hotels, often in areas that are thickly populated by tourists. And you will be limited to areas that can be reached by a huge bus. So, wherever you go, you will “hover” there, not “live” there.

In contrast, during your great independent trip, you will be free to book accommodations that make for their own memorable experiences, situated in prime locations. A room in a charmingly restored 17th-century manor house, with a French balcony from which you can watch sunsets over the Loire, and a connected turret room that looks out on the castle across the street… A restored abbey… The tower of a ruined castle perched high above the river… A small hotel near the Seine, across from Notre Dame.

For breakfast you will walk down the stairs of the 17th-century townhouse to the elegant dining room, or up the stairs to the rooftop terrace, with a view of the river. Or you will step out onto your little balcony to breakfast on the bread and cheese, salami and fruit you gathered yesterday at the Saturday Market.

And so the place you stay will become an essential part of the full experience of your trip. Your location will put you at the heart of what you have come to see and experience. You will walk out the door to old town, or to the river, or to the chateaux. In a word, when you walk out the door, you already will “be there.”