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Pre-Travel Tips


  • Familiarize yourself with all cancellation penalties and exchange fees. Most vacation packages are fully (100%!) nonrefundable (even for medical reasons). Trip cancellation insurance is readily available and some policies allow you to cancel out for ANY reason!
  • Find out if your health insurance will cover you in foreign countries!
  • Know what your reservation does and does not include (taxes, transfers, airport surcharges, meals, sightseeing tours, gratuities, etc.). Be familiar with the type of accommodation (moderate vs first class, view, nonsmoking room) and trip (escorted vs independent) you have booked to avoid disappointment. Make sure that you understand all the terms used:
    – “Direct” flight does not mean nonstop.
    – “Adjoining” cabins is not the same as connecting cabins.
    – An “Oceanview” room is not necessarily close to the Ocean (and “Oceanfront” doesn’t guarantee that you will see the Ocean).
  • Keep in mind that museums, shops, etc. may be closed on weekends, holidays or certain days of the week. Check in advance for the dates of holidays, typical shopping & business hours, as well as typical weather patterns (and possibly consider Hurricane Insurance).
  • Bring a government issued picture ID or, for international flights (including Mexico, Caribbean and Canada), your valid passport. Some countries require it to be valid for 6 months past your return date.
  • If a child is traveling internationally without both parents, most countries require a notarized authorization by the non-traveling parent.
  • Make at least 2 copies of your passport, airline tickets, travel vouchers, itinerary, travelers’ checks (do not carry a lot of cash!), birth certificate, credit cards and visas (check if one is required). Keep one copy with you in a safe place and leave one at home with your family. Also carry extra passport pictures.
  • For long flights, bring a water bottle (empty, to be filled after you have gone through security), some trail mix (or fruit), entertainment and earplugs, and do some exercises!
  • Wear a soft fluffy jacket. It’s not considered carry-on luggage, but the deep pockets provide extra storage, and you can use it as a blanket or pillow.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes (and shoes!) for all the obvious reasons.
  • To avoid Jet Lag drink plenty of water and eat fruit. Avoid alcohol, it dehydrates your body! Eat lightly and when at your destination, exercise and stay awake during day-time hours. Bring your own pillowcase and fill it with a sweater (or a blanket).
  • Bring extra glasses, medicines (in original containers – to ease your way through customs!) and prescriptions (using generic names – trade names are different abroad!) – and pack them in your carry-on luggage. For more info, check www.tsa.gov.
  • Bring a translation phrase book and a calculator for quick currency conversion.
    Get appropriate inoculations if required (some must be given weeks beforehand!).
  • Travel healthy and have a dental/medical check up and shots before you go. If necessary, arrange special needs for such conditions as diabetes, allergies, etc. ahead of time. After calling your own health insurance provider (and possibly credit card company) determine the need to purchase travel and trip cancellation insurance.
  • Carry-on luggage limits are strictly enforced by the airlines. Contact us with any questions.
  • Familiarize yourself with the different luggage restrictions that apply in foreign countries, especially when traveling on a local airline!
  • Make sure your bags are clearly labeled (inside and outside; with closed luggage tags) with your name/business address (not your home address – potential thieves would know that you are not there!) and keep an eye on valuables.
  • Honor the airlines’ check-in and boarding requirements and allow some extra time!
  • Place your airline tickets and any valuables in the hotel safe deposit box. Leave all your US store credit cards and expensive jewelry at home.
  • Keep money in more than one place. Should something happen, all will not be lost.
  • In advance, check for proper dress codes at hotels/restaurants and local customs when visiting places of worship.
  • Ask your hotel’s concierge for any restaurant suggestions and reservations.
  • Buy at least $100 worth of the local currency in advance (just in case your flight is delayed and any banks at the airport will be closed). Exchange the bulk of your funds at local banks and avoid currency exchanges at hotels and airports because they charge higher rates.
  • Use your credit cards whenever possible. You will get a better exchange rate. But beware of credit cards that now charge up to 6% extra when used overseas.
  • Get a list of ATM locations at your destination.
  • When renting a car, predetermine exactly what your current insurance policy (and possibly credit card company) will cover and decide whether additional coverage is necessary.
  • Have your mail (including newspapers) held at the post office or picked up by a neighbor. Make sure your house number is easily visible by the police department.
  • Copy important computer files in case your computer is stolen.
  • If you encounter any problems, make sure you address them with a person who has the authority to do something about it (and get his/her first and last name!). Be sure to get any promises in writing! Be sure to contact us if you need ANY assistance!
  • Always reconfirm your flight times, seat numbers (they might change at the last minute!), frequent flyer numbers and advise local contacts for return flight schedule changes.
  • Expect the unexpected and keep an open mind. Different customs, food, language and the occasionally unavoidable schedule changes or delays are all part of traveling. Enjoy all these new experiences and accept the unique cultures of the countries you visit.

    Excel Travel: “Seas the Day!”

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