My wife Malati and I are what you could call seasoned tourists and travelers .Together we have been to many parts of the world on leisure holidays. Each trip has added to our knowledge – Every hotel , every flight , every passport control and every tourist spot visit was a learning experience – There is always a tendency to be the overconfident seasoned tourist traveler- Or aptly as an airline safety announcement goes- “Even if you are a frequent flier do note that the features on this aircraft may be different , so please listen carefully ” . With each journey I have improved my planning skills and have put together a list of eleven do’s which I must never miss out on any journey . These are such obvious things to do but in our over confidence often tend to miss out – and of course there are next best options .
Keep your Credit Card Agency Informed – In case of overseas travel do keep your credit card agency informed – Some years ago when I was traveling in Thailand I got a call from the “Fraud Management Cell” of the card agency that they had noticed unusual activity on my card and were doing a verification . While I was impressed with their efficiency I definitely was not comfortable at being woken up in the middle of the night .Another time while on a trekking trip , I discovered that the credit card had been blocked due to “likely misuse of card” . Of course there are work -arounds but all of them add to the stress of a holiday . Poor connectivity and high costs of international calls add to the misery . All that it requires is a call to your agency before you leave and confirm that it has been recorded. And as a measure of added safety carry more than one credit card and store it in a different place.
Cross check the dates and time on your tickets : Seems a very simple thing and would not warrant a mention in any check list but this is often the cause of a missed flight . Please check the dates particularly when you are taking a red eye flight . To the point of assuming stupidity do note that the date changes at midnight . Another mistake which I often make is assuming a 1500 h departure is a 5 pm departure! Always opt for timings on a 24 hour clock when booking a ticket wherever the feature is available . My daughter once missed a 5 am flight assuming it to be 5 pm flight !
Store your hotel and ticket bookings on phone – Easy to say and so very obvious.In good old days you were expected to carry a hard copy with you , but have you have ever got stuck at a hotel or airline counter when your mailbox doesn’t open. Many years ago I was stuck at a B & B which did not have an all night reception desk till the computer opened the next morning. In this modern world the chances are now less and less but can happen – I always prefer to store these details on my whats app so that I can open them even in an offline mode.
Turn off your mobile roaming data :International call and data charges on roaming are criminally expensive – Make sure you turn off mobile roaming data on your phone before you leave home – and keep it switched off till you return. Even if you open your data once it gets recorded and billed at frightful rates . Before you leave on your holiday plan your communication expenses – Either you buy a local SIM card at your destination or subscribe to an international package before you leave or be content with the free WiFi- It often serves the purpose . I recommend that you give a little thought and choose the best option based on your requirements. Give it the same priority as you would a hotel booking . I keep learning this the hard way . On one occasion in Kathmandu my phone went dead by the time I finished google tracking my cab journey from the airport to the hotel . For the rest of my holiday I was out of contact only to later discover that I had been disconnected as my princely credit limits were busted. Another time I was saddled with a bill of nearly 800 dollars for all the mail and the spam that got downloaded in New York. And so please do turn off mobile data roaming and do not ever turn it on till you get home .
Don’t forget your medicines; If you are on any sort of medication don’t forget to carry a supply for the duration of the journey . It is often difficult to get medicines outside of your home over the counter as control of pharmacies across the world are regulated by law , though to varying degrees.And you may not always get what you want . Do carry a prescription with you from your doctor which not only specifies the Trade name but also the generic composition of the medicine . And in case you need some medicine for an emergency do carry it along with a prescription and instructions for the attending physician. I occasionally break out into a severe allergy and a shot of cortisone is required for relief. I always carry two ampoules and syringes for such an emergency and do keep some supplies handy for your journey factoring in likely delays .
Travel Insurance Cover: May be an unnecessary precaution but then that is what insurance is meant for – to cater for the unforeseen . Some countries insist on insurance under specific circumstances but with the world moving towards visa free and multiple entry/long term visas and simplified entry documents you are likely to forget.At a small price you can have the freedom of mind particularly in the case of an medical emergency And remember when one is out out of one’s home country one always ends up in the most expensive facility. Better to have an insurance cover and complain of the additional expense. Travel insurance cover doesn’t cost much – A 30000 Euro cover for me and my wife my recent trip to Italy cost me less than 50 Euro per person.
Smoke your own cigarettes – I have been smoking for almost fifty years now and and I prefer to stick to my own brand on my travels . I always carry an adequate stock for the trip .Most countries have a duty free allowance of 200 cigarettes or twenty packs of 10. However countries like Singapore have none and a sin tax is levied on cigarettes imported into the country. Do check out the rules before you carry in cigarettes -I have heard of travelers being let off with an open pack of cigarettes but then that is up to the discretion of the customs authorities in Singapore.
Tea & Coffee Aficionados: Hotel rooms offer a choice of tea bags – I have seen in most hotels that these are the lower end local brands -and even the multinational brands of coffee taste different in different countries .I drink many cups of coffee in a day and my requirement is very primitive – hot, brown and sweet. My wife drinks only one cup of tea in a day and a supply of her preferred tea bags is always part of our travel kit. I have seen some of my countrymen travel with loads of preserved homemade food for their journey but I believe it is taking things too far! Sampling local cuisine is one of the nicer aspects of leisure travel. Some travel companies also have a chef accompanying the tour groups.
Keep some Spirits handy.It is always a good idea to pick up a bottle or two of your favourite brand of spirits from the duty free at the port of entry or exit . A drink after you check in to the room is always welcome .Besides it could save you some money since duty free spirits cost considerably lower than high street prices .Don’t try this in Riyadh airport It is an offence punishable by a jail term.
Hotel Safe Discipline :Nearly all hotels have a safe in the room .These safes can be opened with a swipe of your magnetic credit card or a pre-set punch code .I always use a pre-set punch code as they are less prone to glitches .And besides you may even lose your credit card on a sight seeing trip .And the last night before you retire do keep the safe open . Imagine a safe containing your passports doesn’t open just when you are ready to set off to the airport – I checked with a major hotel chain in India and was informed that it takes about two hours for the safe – expert to reach depending on the traffic. Some hotels however have a master key.
Safety and Security. And lastly I am against conspicuous and bold display of your name address and telephone numbers on all items of baggage . It is an open invitation to any con man – While you are advised to boldly label your bags by the airlines do it less conspicuously and remember the odds of meeting a conman are more than that of losing your bags. On some airlines the boarding card stubs have such large letters which can be read even from a distance.
Best wishes to you on your travels. A little bit of care and forethought saves a lot of avoidable stress and tension which would mar an other wise wonderful holiday .