July 2, 2014

May You Go Safely

Schricker,-Mary-Dec2010By Mary Schricker Gemberling

I really do enjoy writing articles for this publication, but occasionally a deadline looms ahead and life gets in the way, causing me to panic a bit about a topic for my article.

So, I decided to search the archives and tweak an article I wrote before about helpful hints for travel. Timely for all of us, since many of you are planning your summer vacations, and Gary and I are leaving in a day or so for a tour of Ireland and England. The following information comes from both my own travel experiences and the expertise of Gina Henry, a nationally recognized travel expert and founder of Go Global, Inc.

Health Tips

• If you are traveling abroad, check with the Center for Disease Control ( CDC) for information about suggested or recommended immunizations. Phone: (404) 639-3311 or www.cdc.gov/travel.
• Consider purchasing travel insurance. Since many tours have to be booked and pre-paid well in advance of
departure, trip insurance may give you peace of mind in case of cancellation or postponement. Check the insurance policy for coverage details.
• Make sure you have a copy of your medical insurance card with you. Review your own personal insurance policy before you leave so you know what is and is not covered in case of emergency or illness.
• Pack any medications in their original containers in your carry-on bag. Carry a record of your medications and personal health history. Should you lose them or become ill they will be easier to replace.

Safety Tips

• Carry your passport and/or identification, credit cards, and cash in a secure, concealed place on your body. Do not put them in your back pocket or a purse that hangs loosely on your arm or shoulder.
• Carry a minimum of cash. Most places accept credit cards and have cash machines available. Do not take Travelers Checks. We have found most places will not accept them!
• If you are traveling out of the USA notify your credit card companies and/or bank prior to leaving. Give them a list of countries where you may be using your debit or credit cards. If you do not do this your purchase may be declined as a security measure.
• Write down your passport number, card numbers and contact information on all of your bank cards, insurance company name and numbers and leave them with someone you can call at home in case your wallet or passport is stolen.
• Keep a copy of your passport and/or driver’s license hidden apart from the original. If the original gets stolen you can show the authorities the copy and hopefully expedite replacement.
• Arrive at the airport early: two hours before domestic flights and at least three hours before international flights. Visit www.tsa.dhs.gov to see information listing security checkpoints at every USA airport and published average wait time by the hour.
• Limit your carry-on baggage to speed through security checkpoints.
• Wear easy to remove shoes and avoid excessive metal belts and jewelry that might set off the scanners.
• Check the following websites for more information
on travel accessories and safety: www.travel.state.gov, www.goa.gov, www.customs.gov, or www.faa.gov/passenger.

Packing Tips

• Pack light! Pretend everything you take will be lost or stolen. This will keep you from taking any unnecessary, sentimental items and will help you pack light.
• Pick neutral colors that can mix and match. I take mostly black and white since it goes with everything and can easily be dressed up for a special evening. Use scarves and inexpensive costume jewelry to change your outfits. Some scarves are large enough to be used as a light wrap. Try to find lightweight clothes that can easily be washed out and hung to dry overnight. Take clothes that can be layered, as tours often begin when it is cool and end in the heat of the day.
• Limit the number of shoes you take. They are heavy and bulky and you only need a couple of pairs: one or two for walking and a slightly dressier pair for evening.
• Leave your expensive jewelry at home. Nobody cares if you are decked out in diamonds and pearls except the thieves!
• Use travel size toiletries and cosmetics whenever possible. Most beauty supply and drug stores have many choices. Try to put most of your items in your checked luggage. Remember you can only have one quart sized bag filled with three oz. containers in your carry-on luggage.
• Airlines are getting more and more restrictive with their weight limits, so if you can it would be wise to invest in some lightweight luggage. We recently purchased 28” luggage that weighed only seven pounds. We found Lipault to be the lightest weight, but there are many to choose from in all price ranges.
• No matter where you are going be sure to take a hat, a lightweight rain jacket and an umbrella.
How to keep in touch on vacation?
• Internet cafes exist almost everywhere worldwide and are very affordable. Go to www.netcafeguide.com or www.cybercaptive.com. We have found many hotels abroad do not offer free internet in the rooms but often have it available in the lobby free of charge if you ask.
• If you are planning on taking your cell phone check with your cell phone provider about international calling plans. It is a relatively inexpensive option to add to your plan. Another alternative is purchasing a SIM card in the foreign country. Placing this in your phone will offer local rates.
• Use www.Skype.com to make free international phone calls.
• Be sure to leave a detailed itinerary with someone at home in case of an emergency

Travel is a multi- billion dollar industry worldwide. According to the latest report by the US Travel Association direct spending on leisure travel by domestic and international travelers totaled $273 billion in 2013. So keep in mind you are not alone. With that many people traveling things may not go perfectly as planned. If your plane is cancelled or delayed please remember the flight attendants or agents at the desk are only doing their job. Your patience, smiles, and good sense of humor will likely get you much further than anger or disrespect. You are on vacation; so sit back, relax and go with the flow!!!
Bon Voyage…… or as the Irish say “Go dte’ tu’ slan’” May you go safely!

Mary, a former educator and Seniors Real Estate Specialist, is the author of two books, The West End Kid and Labor of Love; My Personal Journey Through the World of Caregiving (available at www.amazon.com).

Filed Under: Health & Wellness