RULES OF THE ROAD:
Airline Luggage Fee: Think light! Less is more!
Color coordinate your wardrobe so all your clothes go with each other. Take accessories like scarves and pins that can dress up an outfit. Roll your clothes rather than folding them, so you can get more in a smaller bag. Since a purse or a briefcase is usually not counted as part of your carry-on baggage take a large one to put extra items in. Pack a collapsible bag for purchases on the trip. Even if you do have to check one bag coming back, it's only one fee. Also, if you are going to make some purchases on the trip, pack items -- clothes, shoes, etc. -- that you might be ready to give away and leave them behind.
There are some exceptions to the baggage fee rules, so always check with your airline before you fly.
Since I do always carry food with me, if there's a refridgerator in the room stocked with hotel/cabin goodies, I take them out and give them to a member of the staff to make room for my goodies. Here are a few other tips that should help you on your journey:
1. Never put your address on the luggage tag on the outside of your suitcase.
Just put your business card with your name and phone number. Always put your information in your suitcase in a safe, hidden place.
-- Dorothy Brunswick, New York City
2. Always make photocopies of your passport and credit cards (back included).
Give a copy to a friend at home and another copy to your traveling companion in case your documents are lost or stolen on the trip. Also carry around a copy of your passport to use when completing forms; laminate it to prevent wear and tear. Better yet, scan all your important documents including airline, train, bus tickets and hotel confirmations into your computer and send them to yourself. Then if they're lost or stolen, you can also print them out in color.
3. When traveling, always program into your cell phone the emergency number(s) of the countries you are visiting, which are usually listed in the local telephone directory.
Those numbers are used to call the police, fire or medical/ambulance services. In some areas of the U.S. the number is 311, in others it's 911. If you're using a Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM) mobile phone, the international emergency telephone number is 112. In the European Union countries, 112 is the emergency telephone number for both mobile and fixed-line telephones in addition to their individual numbers.
4. Remember the 3-1-1 rule!
3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3 ounce bottle or less (by volume); 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip top bag; 1 bag per passanger placed in screening bin.
The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) in the United States implemented the 3-1-1 policy as a security measure for airline travel in response to the thwarted liquid explosive bomb plot in the United Kingdom in August of 2006. In addition to the United States, the following countries also follow these guidelines for bringing liquids with you in carry-on luggage on an airline: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, China, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Phillipines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
Other tips from the TSA include: Consolidate bottles into one bag and X-ray separately to speed screening. And declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint.
5. Don't get sick when you can easily avoid it!
If you're in a country where you need to drink bottled water, always remember to use that water to brush your teeth as well. And when you're in the shower, close your mouth!
6. Make sure the first photo you take of every new place is one with a sign with the name of the place.
If you're going to a lot of places and taking a lot of photographs, this will help you remember what landmark is in what town when you get back. Always carry post-it notes with you so that you can make your own sign and stick it on a tree or a building.
7. Before you go to a new country, learn as much as you can about it.
Learning about the culture, the customs, the people and a few key words in the language can make a big difference. For example, in Greece it's important to kow that "Ney" means "Yes", a fact which could get you into a lot of trouble. I speak from personal experience!
By the way, "OHkee" means "No."
Also, get out the maps to see where your hotel is located -- near the historic, center, monuments, markets, how far it is to that charming restaurant your cousin told you about, great shopping, etc.
8. Dodge extra costs!
When Michael and I were in Italy for two months last year, I got the toll-free numbers for my credit cards in Italy, so I could pay by phone. That way I didn't incur any interest charges or higher interest rates, if I missed a payment.
9. Bubble wrap can save the day
I always travel with bubble wrap, which you can lay flat in your suitcase. Then, when you find that fabulous, ceramic bowl that costs about $5 in Morocco, you don't have to run around playing charades trying to describe the "wonderful packing material with little bubbles". I also always pack one empty bag that folds up for those "most have" bargains.
10. Take the path less traveled
If you want to get a sense of how people really live in a city or town, get out of the "tourist bubble" and stay in a hotel or apartment in a residential neighborhood rather than in the center of the city. We can see people going about their daily routines and you can visit the local pub or restaurant and talk with people and find out where the "hot spots" and local attractions that may not be in the guide book.
11. Don't let the weight bring you down
Airlines are getting much stricter when it comes to how much luggage you can check on a flight for free. Not only may they charge you for excess weight (most have a 50lbs limit) but also for the amount of bags you have. Be sure to check with your carrier before you take a flight as the regulations do change.
12. Explore the local cuisine
When I travel I always take a trip to a local supermarket -- or better yet an outdoor market -- to pick up local food for picnics, dinners in my room or on the roof of the hotel (as my friends and I did in Rome). I also get souvenirs for my "foodie" friends back home.
13. Prepare for Mother Nature
Check out the weather in your next destination by going online to a site such as weather.com
14. Research Your Homeland!
Michael loves to visit cemeteries when we travel to learn about the culture and history of a city. If you're traveling back to "the old country", do some research beforehand to see if you can visit the graves of some of your relatives.
15. Follow your bliss!
Let your interests shape your trips. If you're a hang glider, tap dancer, wine buff, check out local clubs on the Web before you leave. That way you make new friends who share your passion wherever you go.
16. Alumni and Fraternal Organizations
When you're booking your next trip be sure to check out your alumni organizations and any fraternal organizations you belong to, such as the Rotary Club, Lions Club, etc. to see whether they have negotiated rates for hotels, transportation and car rentals.
17. Serve Up Local Cuisine
Learn to cook local dishes when you travel and then serve them when you have friends over for a "show and tell" of your latest travel adventure.
If you have any tips to contribute to this list, feel free to email them firstname.lastname@example.org