Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees, So Plan In Advance!

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One of the most frequent questions received concerns money/foreign currency while traveling.  It used to be that you headed to the bank and purchased travelers checks, remember those?  These are now not recommended.  Merchants and banks in many countries do not want to accept them.  For a good portion of the world, particularly if part of your time will be in city, information in this article will pertain. Third world countries and remote areas may differ.   I recommend checking 6-8 weeks prior to departure for all destinations as situations can change.

For large sums, credit cards provide the best payment method.  In many countries, the card will never leave your sight, even in restaurants.  Even better, pay for higher priced arrangements, including hotel, rental car, rail, sightseeing and activities in advance so you have the peace of mind knowing that much of your trip is paid before you depart.  For small purchases, check to see if there is a difference in price or surcharge when using a credit card.  Remember, not all shops, restaurant, taxis, etc. will accept a credit card so always have currency on hand.

For local currency, I recommend obtaining approx. 1-2 days spending needs prior to your departure.  Most regional and nationwide banks can supply most currencies with notice of several days.  Some banks, like Bank of America, allow you to order foreign currencies thru your online account.  The currency is then sent to a local branch or directly to your home.  This can help you avoid high exchange fees found at airports in many countries and eliminate the need to stop to exchange money after a long flight.

ATMs are my recommended source for local currency during your trip.   Your ATM card will have symbols for their affiliated ATM networks on the card, including Cirrus, Maestro, Visa, Mastercard, Star and others.  As long as one of the symbols on your card is also on the ATM, your card will be accepted using your regular pin.

Know your daily withdrawal limit and plan accordingly, particularly if onward travel will take you to areas where ATMs may not be readily available. Keep in mind that if you have prepaid travel arrangements like hotel, rail, meals, etc., your spending will be much less.

Finally, become familiar with the exchange rate(s) for the destinations to which you will be traveling prior to your trip.  Devise ways that work for you to help you to be able to quickly convert from the local currency to dollars.  There is nothing worse than figuring out you paid too much for an item.

Having a strategy and plan before you depart is one more way to increase the enjoyment of your trip and may save you some money that you can use for one more little splurge before you return home.

My job is to ensure you have a wonderful trip. Call me so I can make your next trip easy and memorable!

Pat Ogle-CollinsMoney Doesn’t Grow On Trees, So Plan In Advance!
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Avoid passport panic!

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The panic of not being able to find your passport – have you felt it?  This can also occur when you realize your passport has or is about to expire.  Passport panic is one of the most jarring types of panic you can experience.  The closer to your date of departure, the more panicked you may become.

When first considering a trip, check your passport’s expiration date.  Even if you think you know, check it.  Many countries around the world require 3-6 months passport validity beyond your date of departure from their country.

While some countries require only 3 months, there have been instances where airlines have refused to board passengers with less than 6 months.  You are at the mercy of airline personnel, so check your passports expiration and the destination entry requirements when first considering a trip.

Your passport should live in only one place when you are not traveling.  As soon as you return home, your passport should be returned to that specific place.  If you take it out at any time for information, return it immediately to its storage spot.

When packing in the day or two before, place your passport with your boarding pass and both should have a specific place when you travel.  These two spots should rarely, if ever, vary.  This way you can always locate your passport.

This seems so simple, yet when arriving home from a trip, it is easy to be diverted to returning to everyday life.  Passports can be left by accident with travel documents, in a side pocket or in the bottom of a bag.  After 3, 6 or even 12 months, would you remember where you last saw it?  Storing your passport in only one place, means there will be only one place to look.

Considering a trip?  Check your passport and give me a call to discuss entry requirements for your destination(s).

Pat Ogle-CollinsAvoid passport panic!
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Are you planning a vacation or a marathon?

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Is there any time more valuable than vacation time?  We scrimp and save all year for that week or two when we escape everyday life.  When that time is used to travel and particularly when traveling overseas, it seems that the time becomes even more valuable.  In this short period of time we want to see and do as much as possible.

At the end of a busy trip, a vacation to recuperate from our vacation is often needed.  Tired is just one result.  Upon return , many report the sensation that one day blurred into the next, they are unable to recall when/where they saw or did something, and feelings of agitation and irritability.  Is that how you want to return from vacation?

When thinking about your next vacation, consider the following:

  • Plan daily activities in advance to better pace your overall vacation. This will allow you to use time more effectively because you are no longer debating activities for the day.
  • Plan each day visiting sites close to each other to maximize your time. This sounds so elementary, but is so easy to forget.
  • Acquire tickets in advance to reduce the time in line and/or waiting for entrance times.
  • Schedule no more than one sightseeing tour or activity a day. This allows you some free time and reduces stress associated with tight schedules.
  • Incorporate free time so that you can wander down an interesting street, sit in a sidewalk café and people watch or check out a recommendation from a tour guide.
  • Occasionally, you must schedule multiple activities. If possible, schedule morning and evening to allow time to relax in between.
  • When scheduling full day tours or activities, schedule a slower day for the next day. Schedule no more than 2 full day tours or activities in a row, if necessary.
  • If at all possible, allow for a good portion of the day free on the day prior to your return home to pack, shop for last minute items and perhaps do/see a must that you were unable to get in earlier.
  • For major trips across multiple time zones, try to return on a Friday or Saturday to allow you time to adjust, decompress and prepare for your return to daily life.

I know the desire to take spend as much time in destination to do as possible is hard to resist, but in the long run, you will enjoy the time away so much more.

Pat Ogle-CollinsAre you planning a vacation or a marathon?
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Never say “I’ve always wanted to go there” again

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You are talking with someone at a party when the topic turns to travel and they mention that they just got back from a trip. You anxiously ask, “Oh, where did you go?” They reply and you say out loud or think “I’ve always wanted to go there.” You eagerly hang on every word about their trip or you have heard so many others talk about their trips to your dream destination that it is just one more reminder that you have yet to get to there. Why is that?

By far, the two most common reasons why someone has not visited their dream destinations are time and money. These and potentially others are real factors that can get in the way of taking that dream vacation. The real question is where does travel fit in your priorities for your time and money.

There are no right or wrong answers because we are all different in what we value, where we are in our lives, other commitments and more. Even with other higher priorities, you can still create a plan to get you to that dream destination.

Travel is like a triangle. On one side you have budget, another side is time and the third side is your travel style. If the length of your trip increases, than budget must increase and/or the travel style decrease. If 5* hotels and budget are set, than perhaps decrease the length of the trip. If the destination is half way around the world, can you do a one week budget vacation this year to have a longer trip next year.

Case in point – a client set up a meeting to talk about their honeymoon to Costa Rica in November. During the discussion I find that she really doesn’t like heat and humidity, but tropical destinations were nearby and beach/water destinations were what most couples do. When asked if they could go anywhere, where would they go?

Their response was Greece, but they didn’t feel they had the budget to do this. By traveling in November when it is off season, shortening the length of their honeymoon by a few days and choosing to go luxury accommodations in one hotel and nice hotels otherwise, they honeymooned in Greece!

Everyone has factors they need to consider when thinking about travel – health, money, time, responsibilities, etc. If travel is important, a plan to see your dream destinations is the way to make that happen. By looking each of these from a priority perspective and with flexibility, you can make a plan to get to any of your dream destinations.

Start planning so you can say “I just got back from” rather than lamenting later in life “I always wanted to go there.”

Pat Ogle-CollinsNever say “I’ve always wanted to go there” again
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