Travel Tips for the Holidays

Traveling has not become any easier these days, so here arte some tips that could be helpful from veteran travel adviser Ange Wallace

Travel with a Plan-here are some tips

With the Holidays less than 2 weeks away, we figured you could benefit from some insider travel tips to make your trip more enjoyable.
Here are some general tips travel veteran Ange Wallace from the Travel Agency here on Amelia Island wants to share with you.

Leave Your Itinerary with someone back home
. Whether you’re single or have a million relatives, leave your travel itinerary with a colleague, friend or loved one.   Include all the phone/ fax. Numbers and email addresses for your hotels and your flight schedules. Carry extra copies with you in case you lose it. It’s always a good idea to carry photocopies of your passport, photo I.D. and emergency contacts.

Extra security is never a bad thing. I never travel without a simple rubber door-stopper. It’s inexpensive, light to pack, and gives you peace of mind. The main door may not need it, but if there is an adjoining room, it might have a fairly flimsy lock, especially at older hotels.

Quick fix. Another item I never leave home without is a foot-long piece of duct tape, which I wrap around a pencil. If a strap on a sandal snaps or a purse handle breaks, it’s duct tape to the rescue.
Beat Blisters as foot problems are a real pain. Band-aids can slip off toes and heels, so pack thin moleskin instead. Buy the soft self-adhesive sheets at a grocery or drugstore, cut them into small squares and keep them in your purse or briefcase. If your shoe starts to rub, cover the area right away before it turns into a nasty blister.

Tag it. Make sure you have a secure I.D. tag on all your luggage and carry-ons, including your laptop. Tape your business card to the bottom, with your cell phone number, in case you leave it at security, they can call you at the airport. Also, brightly colored tags or a colorful strap will make your black bag stand out from all the others. It’s a good idea to put your contact information INSIDE your bags, in case your tag goes missing or gets ripped off.

Wake Up Calls. Carry your own alarm clock or a sports watch with an alarm. Even five star hotels miss wake up calls.

ALSO Before you leave home

• Consider registering your travel itinerary online at travelregistration.state.gov .This site allows you to enter your local and home contacts, itineraries, and passport numbers. U.S. embassies and consulates abroad are there to help Americans who are victims of accidents, crime or illness, or to help family or friends contact you in an emergency. Overseas consular officers will also provide you with the names of reputable local hospitals, lawyers and doctors and issue a temporary passport and even provide small loans if you have lost all your cash and credit cards.

• Make photocopies of your itinerary, hotel confirmations, passport, driver’s license and airline tickets and pack them in your carry-on bag.

• Your emergency kit, which should be packed in your carry-on luggage should contain:
- CASH – Several $20 bills and at least ten $1.00 bills WHY? CASH IS KING. If there is a power outage, credit cards and ATM cards can’t be used.
- Cell Phone with charger
- Phone card with a pin you can easily remember. WHY? Cell phones don’t work in some areas and you may need to use pay phones or the phone in your hotel room.
- Consider renting a satellite phone if you must be in contact with home or the office from ships, mountainous areas or remote locations.
- Bottled water
- Filling snack bars
- Medicine (enough prescription medicine to last 4 days more than your trip).
- A list of your prescriptions, with their generic names. Brand names vary from country to country
- Extra batteries for phone and flashlight
- Tiny flashlight
- Your doctor’s phone number, in case a hospital or emergency center needs to contact the doctor for your medical history/allergies, etc.

• Consider overseas travel health insurance. Make sure it covers emergency evacuation, lost luggage, trip cancellation, medical, dental, and life insurance coverage, at the least.

• If you’re a scuba diver, Diver’s Alert Network (800-446-2671) offers complete coverage for diving accidents, and if you’re a thrill-seeker or mountain climber, ask your insurance company about special insurance to cover adventure sports—these activities are often excluded from basic insurance plans.

Traveling by plane? Here are some more plane specific tips to make your travel experience better.

– Consider sending presents ahead of your trip, it may cost a bit more but it will save you a lot of hassle. Try UPS, Fedex or USPS

– Wear loose-fitting clothing, shoes and socks. Your best bet is comfortable slacks or long skirts so it is easy to cross your legs. Leave your panty or support hose in the suitcase: they can contribute to the formation of blood clots in your legs. Also avoid wearing tight socks or knee-high stockings. If they leave a mark on your leg, then they’re too tight to wear for long periods of immobility.

-To minimize swelling in your ankles and feet and to increase circulation, keep your feet elevated. Stash your carry on luggage under the seat in front of you and rest your feet on top of it, off the floor.

-Avoid drinks or snacks high in sodium such as Bloody or Virgin Mary’s, pretzels or peanuts. Read the labels! If you consume too much salt during a long trip, your feet may swell so much you won’t be able to put your shoes back on. I’ve seen people walk off the plane in socks, carrying their shoes!

-If you don’t already own an inflatable neck travel pillow, buy one. Most international airports have a good luggage and accessory store. They are inexpensive and readily available.

– Drink lots of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Eight ounces of water an hour is the recommended amount. That may sound like a lot, but if you drink 6-8 ounces an hour, you’ll be forced to get up and use the bathroom, thus stretching and moving around. Carry your own water bottle aboard and ask the flight attendant to fill when they serve meals or snacks. If you store it in the seat pocket in front of you, you’ll drink more often and have it available when the lights are out and the flight attendants are nowhere to be found.

– To help you sleep, use an eye shield. Break it in by sleeping with it once at home prior to your trip.

– Pack soft earplugs to mute airplane noises, the wailing of a baby or the rock music seeping from your punk neighbor’s C.D. The pellet-shaped foam earplugs don’t work as well as the soft silicone (or wax) variety that conform to the contours of your ear.

– The cabin temperature during the flight can range from stifling hot to an arctic chill so dress in layers.

– Carry cloth slippers or socks and wear them to keep your toes warm and let your feet breath.

Airplane Stretches

Shoulder Shrug: Lift the top of your shoulders toward your ears until you feel mild tension in your shoulders and your neck. Hold your shoulders raised to your ears for five seconds then relax and resume your normal posture. Do this 2-3 times every two hours.

Head roll: Begin with your head in a comfortable, aligned position. Then slowly tilt your head to the left side to stretch the muscles on the side of your neck. Hold this stretch for 10-20 seconds. You should feel a good, even stretch. Don’t over do it! Then tilt your head to the right side and stretch. Repeat this exercise 2-3 times on each side.

Ankle twist: Point your toes and hold the stretch for five seconds, then stretch your feet up and back toward your knees and hold this position for five seconds. Next rotate your foot to the left, hold five seconds, and to the right and hold for five seconds. Repeat several times.

And don’t forget to breathe!
Take 10 deep breathes and exhale slowly at least once an hour.  It not only relaxes you, but helps detox your body by expelling carbon dioxide and helping maintain a balance in your blood gases.

And if you’re planning a Solo Trip you may want to consider these tips:

Register with the State department
When traveling alone outside the United States  it is always smart to register with the State Department and stay in touch for updates about the security of the area your are traveling to or in.  www.state.gov is a site you will want to check.  ALWAYS leave an itinerary with a friend or family member and make plans to check in once in awhile, especially if your itinerary plans…  or your contact numbers change.

Check Out the Independent Travelers Meeting Places listed in some guidebooks (such as the Lonely Planet series) will list them. Many cities have well-known Mecca’s for independent travelers from bookstores to cafés to youth hostels with bulletin boards and calendars of local events.

Trust your instincts and use common sense about situations and places.  The concierge or front desk manager is a great source to ask where and when you can safely move around and if there are any local customs you should show respect for or mimic.

Even if you want to be unstructured, book at least the first night’s accommodation in advance.  This makes it easier getting your bearings and ensures you don’t start the trip fatigued, trying to get it all together right when you step off the plane in a foreign country. Also try to schedule your flight to arrive during daylight hours.

For additional security, if your budget will allow, book your travel through a reputable inbound tour operator who will provide contact and emergency contact numbers and act as a sort of guardian angel in the case of any problems.

Avoid power plays and unwanted attention as most advances can be thwarted by silence, no eye contact and quickly moving away from the source of irritation. Always trust AND FOLLOW your instincts. If you are really being pestered, go into a store or hotel and explain that you are a tourist and there is a person annoying you. Explain that you are afraid and don’t know how to handle it. Ask them to help by calling the police or telling the obnoxious person to go away.  If you are a woman, take clues from the way local women are dressed and dress accordingly.

Do Talk To Strangers! Some of the most meaningful travel experiences come from spontaneous invitations to join a person, family or group for a dinner or activity. Communicate with women, children and elders.  School age children and teens often speak at least some English from studying it in school or on the internet.  And even if you don’t speak their language, a smile goes a long way.

Eating alone comfortably is a skill you will quickly develop. Choose a lively cafe or bistro with lots of people. Consider sitting at the counter and watch your food be prepared. Take along reading and writing material. Enjoy watching people and the fine art of eavesdropping. Again, use that smile to reach out and make contact with the diners around you. Your conversations with them may be the highlight of your evening.

Avoid Romantic Destinations. Ask yourself if a destination is perfect for a honeymoon. If it is, then reconsider this option of destinations, unless it has other importance to you!

Happy Holidays and Have a Great Trip!

by Ange Wallace

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