D.G. Kaye, Debby Gies, is on her summer hiatus from the travel column, and is busy writing her next book. In the meantime, I am repeating one or two of her earlier posts, and this one is very important. There is much to prepare for to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday including insurance, luggage security, extra fees for exclusive holidays. Debby has all that covered and more.
Preparing for a Safe Trip
For today’s edition of Travel Talk, I’ve prepared a list of important things to do to prepare yourselves for a snag-free travel experience.
Important Tips to Consider When Booking a Trip
Travel Insurance – Don’t leave home without it! Always make sure to purchase travel insurance before leaving your country (or province for fellow Canadians). We don’t plan on mishaps, but they surely do happen. In many countries, particularly the U.S., if you need medical care and don’t have travel insurance it can easily cost you six-digit figures for medical aid. A few hundred dollars for insurance is worth the peace of mind.
Price Checking – Do your homework when booking a trip. Compare prices on various sites and with airline packages.
Check for Discounted Rates – Most hotels worldwide and car rental companies offer further discounted rates for seniors, members of CAA or AAA (Canadian Automobile Association and American Automobile Association). Remember to ask for those discounts when booking!
Keep on Price Checking – Once you’ve booked a trip in advance, do an occasional price change check. Many companies will honor a price drop if you spot it and will re-adjust your price. Before I went on my last cruise I went on their site to check some packages and noticed a sale on cruises. I saw my same cruise and cabin category listed for $500 cheaper, months after I booked it. I called my cruise rep and got the $500 deducted off the price of my cruise!
Resort Fees – Always inquire at time of booking a hotel if they charge resort fees on top of the initial price. Don’t get caught by surprise! Many U.S. hotels, in particular, are now charging approximately $33 per night extra just for bogus resort fees. Some companies hide them or make no mention of them until you get to the hotel. A one week’s stay in a hotel can run you an extra $230 just for fees, based on a one week stay. I found this out twice by surprise – once while I visited a hotel in Vegas where I was comped with a free 5-night stay, but still got snagged with daily resort fees. And once when I booked an all-inclusive air/hotel trip to Arizona with Air Canada, only to find out that the secret resort fees weren’t part of the all-inclusive. After I booked the trip, I called the hotel in Arizona to inquire about their facilities and that’s where I found out about the additional fees. You can read the article I wrote about this incident HERE and how I rectified it with the airlines.
What are Resort Fees? – Once upon a time when you booked a hotel you had to pay separately to access Wifi, park your car in the hotel’s lot or to have access to their gym facilities. Many hotels decided to put a ‘resort fee’ in place tacked on to your daily bill to use these amenities. Maybe it’s fair if we drive our cars or rent a car for our destination or feel ambitious to work out at the gym during a vacation. Wifi was often complementary in many better hotels, or it could be purchased at a much cheaper fee than the resort fee. It is also always available free in hotel lobbies. But now many hotels have lumped all the amenities under one umbrella whether you have use for it or not. And that’s what stings. I know when I’m on a short vacation I don’t have a car to park and I’m a little too busy to spend hours daily in a gym. Patrons should be given the choice of what amenities they choose to use and not be charged on a one price basis. Just sayin’.
Rewards – I always recommend booking with a site or airline that allows you to use reward points with. These rewards are often accrued from various credit card companies, Air Miles, or through loyalty programs that offer special pricing when cashing in your bonus rewards.
Check Reviews – If you’re wondering what a particular destination has to offer or how other patrons rated: a property, restaurants or city sights for your chosen destination, visit sites such as: Tripadvisor, Yahoo or Google search for the place you’re interested in and read reviews from others. Reading reviews from past visitors can give you a better feel of what you can expect.
Check Exchange Rates – Do a check on the currency you’ll be needing for the country you’ll be visiting. Believe it or not, you will often get a better rate for your money at a bank in the destination you’ll be visiting. Just make sure to purchase approximately $200 in the currency of the country you’ll be visiting before leaving home for immediate cash needs for taxis, tips or even for a coffee until you can get to a bank once you’ve arrived. And beware – only exchange currency in hotels if it’s dire. Hotels will always give you a lesser rate than a bank.
Protect – Purchase a package of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) credit card and passport protection sleeves. These jackets for your credit cards and passports are inexpensive and are important to secure your personal information from hackers who have the ability to scan your cards and passports from a distance and steal your personal and banking information. In fact, I keep all my credits cards in these jackets even while at home.
And always add luggage tags to your bags for easy identification and in case the airlines lose them.
TSA Locks – An added step of protection for your luggage is to purchase TSA locks. These locks for your luggage are made with the capability that TSA officers or customs officers have a master key or combination for these locks. If they wish to inspect your luggage after it’s checked in, they can do so without breaking your lock or damaging your suitcase in the process (which of course happened to me a few times before I learned about TSA locks).
Travel Scales – Invest in a good hand-held set of travel scales to weigh your luggage before heading to the airport and home again. Knowing that your luggage is within the airline’s guide for weight allowance can save you a lot of agro and cost from being surprised at check-in at the airport that your luggage is overweight and having to open your luggage for the public to view while you go mad trying to move things from one bag to another, or from having to pay steep overweight charges. (Nope, I’ve never had to pay overweight charges yet, but I have been in that humiliating situation where I’ve pulled my suitcases apart publicly to move around articles between bags to avoid those charges. That was when I invested in my travel scale.
Valuables – Never pack your money or valuables in your checked luggage. Besides the danger of possible lost luggage, sadly, there are plenty of dishonest airline employees who steal from luggage. This warning also applies to digital devices such as: laptops, phones, cameras, which should all be in your carry-on luggage. I also never take expensive jewelry with me on a trip, but pack whatever jewelry I’m taking with me in a jewelry roll and keep it at the bottom of my purse until I get to my destination where I then keep all my valuables in a room safe.
Prepare for Weather Change – When traveling, wear layers of clothing if you’re leaving a cold climate and going somewhere warm. It could take you awhile once you land to get settled in your holiday rental where you don’t want to be sweating until you can unpack. In winter, when I travel to a sunny destination I’ll usually wear a T-shirt with a thick fleece hoodie. This idea not only allows me to shed the hoodie once I’ve arrived, but the hoodie keeps me warm on the often, freezing cold airplanes. For same reasons, I like to slip a pair of sandals into my carry-on bag to change into once I arrive somewhere warm.
Last, but not least – Make sure you leave enough time to get to the airport on time. Take into consideration weather and potential traffic delays when gauging your departure to the airport. For cruisers, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND traveling to your port’s destination city the day before the ship leaves and pre-booking a hotel for that night. Again, anything can happen if you leave home the day of your cruise – particularly, weather, but often mechanical mishaps with the airplanes that cause long delays. Be safe, not sorry!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment of Travel Tips and will take these steps into consideration for your next vacation. If I’ve missed anything here and you have something to add, I’d love to hear from you in comments.
©D.G. Kaye 2018
Another wonderfully informative post from Debby on how to prepare for and be safe on your holiday… much more to come as the Travel Column returns on Monday September 2nd 2019.
About D.G. Kaye
Debby Gies is a Canadian nonfiction/memoir author who writes under the pen name of D.G. Kaye. She was born, raised, and resides in Toronto, Canada. Kaye writes about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues.
D.G. writes to inspire others. Her writing encompasses stories taken from events she encountered in her own life, and she shares the lessons taken from them. Her sunny outlook on life developed from learning to overcome challenges in her life, and finding the upside from those situations, while practicing gratitude for all the positives.
When Kaye isn’t writing intimate memoirs, she brings her natural sense of humor into her other works. She loves to laugh and self- medicate with a daily dose of humor.
I love to tell stories that have lessons in them, and hope to empower others by sharing my own experiences. I write raw and honest about my own experiences, hoping through my writing, that others can relate and find that there is always a choice to move from a negative space, and look for the positive.
“Live Laugh Love . . . And Don’t Forget to Breathe!”
“For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”
When I’m not writing, I’m reading or quite possibly looking after some mundane thing in life. It’s also possible I may be on a secret getaway trip, as that is my passion—traveling.
Debby has written a book about her travel adventures – Have Bags Will Travel
About the book
D.G. Kaye is back, and as she reflects on some of her more memorable vacations and travel snags, she finds herself constantly struggling to keep one step ahead of the ever-changing guidelines of the airlines–with her overweight luggage in tow. Her stories alert us to some of the pitfalls of being an obsessive shopper, especially when it comes time for D.G. to bring her treasures home, and remind us of the simpler days when traveling was a breeze.
In her quest to keep from tipping the scales, D.G. strives to devise new tricks to fit everything in her suitcases on each trip. Why is she consistently a target for Canada customs on her return journeys?
D.G.’s witty tales take us from airports, to travel escapades with best friends, to reflections on how time can change the places we hold dear in our hearts. Her memories will entertain and have you reminiscing about some of your own most treasured journeys–and perhaps make you contemplate revamping your packing strategies.
One of the reviews for Have Bags Will Travel
I laughed out loud at many of the author’s experiences of the perils of traveling. Going through security and customs. Aisles too narrow to avoid smacking seated passengers in the face with your carry-on. Her hilarious airplane bathroom “ritual”, which is something a lot of us perform. (Or perhaps it’s just me.) Which brings me to the section on germs. I laughed as much over Kaye’s descriptions as I did over the memory of doing many of these same things. I love her decision to call germaphobic compulsions “a lifestyle as opposed to a disorder”.
The latter half of the book is filled with anecdotes of trips taken and shopping done. While I’m not a shopaholic (actually, I avoid going to stores), I still got a chuckle out of the author’s antics. And I can relate to the lure of vacation shopping—it’s a powerful force. Unfortunately, I can also relate to being the one passenger consistently being pulled over at customs. Every time. Everywhere I go. It’s become part of my traveling routine and a joke in my family.
The chatty and conversational writing style makes this a fun read. If you’re taking a trip, make room in your carry-on for this.
Other books by D.G. Kaye
Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7
and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/D.G.-Kaye/e/B00HE028FO
More reviews and follow Debby on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/dgkaye
Connect to Debby Gies
About me: http://www.wiseintro.co/dgkaye7
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@pokercubster (yes there’s a story)
Thank you for dropping in today and column and we look forward to your questions and comments. Thanks Sally and Debby