(BPT) - Planning a trip abroad? That’s exciting! But you have lots to do and less time than you think to get it done. What do you need to accomplish before leaving?
Here's a handy checklist to help you get your ducks in a row.
If you have a current passport, check the expiration date. Many countries require that you have at least two to four blank visa pages, and that your passport be valid for 6 months past the last day of your trip.
If you don’t have a passport or it needs renewal, get that done first. The U.S. State Department announced an increase in processing time for passports to 6-8 weeks. Even a higher-cost expedited passport can take three weeks.
Fortunately, FedEx Office is teaming up with RushMyPassport to offer further expedited U.S. passport services. Stop by one of 2,000 FedEx Office locations or visit FedEx.com/passport to complete your application. You can even purchase government-compliant passport photos at their locations. There are six options:
This doesn't include shipping, so add one day or more for shipping, or arrange pick-up at their location in select cities.
Some countries don't require visas for brief visits, but you should check well before leaving. Find the country at travel.state.gov/destination to determine necessary paperwork and allow several weeks for the process. You will typically need to visit the website of that country's embassy for current visa requirements and instructions. FedEx Office does not currently offer visa services, but plans to in the future.
If your destination country doesn't require a visa, they may require proof of sufficient funds for your trip, proof of onward or return flights and a passport with one blank visa page valid for 6 months beyond the date you arrive.
Bring along information for the U.S. embassy and consulate, in case of emergency. You should also carry contact information for family members in case anything happens to you. Leave a copy of your travel documents (such as passport) and itinerary with someone back home and carry copies with you (separate from originals, in case of loss or theft).
Savvy travelers carry a combination of cash, traveler’s checks and credit cards in separate locations. Learn overall currency exchange rates and make a cheat sheet with that country’s equivalents of $5, $10 and $20. Remember, exchange rates change daily and vary depending on where you exchange money.
Exchange some at the airport when you arrive. Then exchange more in a touristy area posting competitive exchange rates to find better deals.
Consult your doctor to catch up on vaccinations. Find out if the country where you’re traveling requires vaccinations for entry, or which are recommended, on the CDC website: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/travel-vaccines. Vaccines should be administered a month ahead for maximum effectiveness.
If you take prescription medications, bring them in their original containers, plus a copy of the prescription(s).
Some health insurance policies cover you overseas, but many don't. You can purchase travel insurance to ensure you’re covered for both doctor or hospital visits and for transporting you to a hospital if necessary. Some renters or homeowners insurance policies cover loss or theft abroad, but you can purchase additional coverage if they don't.
Planning ahead will not only ensure a hassle-free trip, but will give you peace of mind in case the unexpected happens. Knowing what you need before you go will make your trip memorable — for all the right reasons.
These general guidelines are not exhaustive. Be aware that laws change and vary from country to country. Check relevant resources including travel.state.gov/destination for information about your destination.
(BPT) - There was a time decades ago when taking a flight was truly a privilege. People looked forward to comfy seats, cold drinks and friendly service.
Today? Not so much. With the cramped seating and impossibly long security lines, flying is the unpleasant grunt work of travel — something you endure to make it to the better thing. But travel pros know the best ways to soothe their nerves in the face of even the most aggravating situations.
Below are five big annoyances on commercial flights, and smart strategies to help you cool your jets and deal with each. As you can see, new technology is helping to make flight much more enjoyable than you’re probably used to.
Inflight annoyance No. 1: Noisy passengers
Whether the toddler in row 15 is throwing a fit, or your neighbor continually wants to strike up a conversation, few things are more annoying on a flight than noisy passengers. This is where a pair of noise-canceling headphones is worth the investment. While dampening the surrounding sounds, these will help you focus on your work, a movie or even sleep. Even better, they send a clear signal to the world that you’re not available for idle chit chat.
Inflight annoyance No. 2: Seat kickers
Many parents have been on both sides of the “seat-kicking” issue. Of course no one wants to feel their chair kicked, but it’s harder to prevent than a lot of non-parents think. Little kids move fast, and 2-year-olds aren’t the best listeners. A recent survey by YouGov shows most respondents (55 percent) said they are annoyed having their seats kicked or hit when flying.
The key to staying calm is dealing with the situation early and politely. Turn around with a smile and ask the child’s parent if they could help their child to not bump the seat in front of them. You might even suggest putting a carry-on under their feet to rest their legs on. Finally, stay patient. The parents want a peaceful flight just as much as you do.
Inflight annoyance No. 3: Flight delays
There’s no need to get worked up when you get the bad news that your flight will be late due to maintenance issues. Instead of getting frustrated, use the extra time to treat yourself. Grab one of those chair massages in the concourse. You’ll feel more relaxed, plus the muscle rub-down will send a message to your brain that everything is OK.
Besides, you may not get many chances in the future to treat yourself because technology advances are starting to cut back on the length of these maintenance delays. For example, GoDirect Maintenance Services from Honeywell Aerospace wirelessly connects mechanical systems to maintenance crews, so they can quickly address potential mechanical issues. They'll know what the plane needs even before it lands, saving time and keeping operations smooth. By reducing troubleshooting time by up to a whopping 25 percent, that means less downtime for airline flights and fewer delays caused by maintenance.
Inflight annoyance No. 4: Terrible Wi-Fi service
Besides being charged a bundle just for internet access, passengers are often disappointed by what they get: dropped service and the inability to use the Wi-Fi for things they really want, like streaming music and movies.
Preparation is key to staying calm, so before the plane takes off, keep your device stocked with movies, albums and books. But one day soon, that won’t be necessary.
High-speed inflight Wi-Fi from Inmarsat’s GX Aviation, powered by Honeywell’s JetWave system, is already a feature on select international flights. Passengers can tap into home-quality Wi-Fi around the globe to stream their favorite TV show without annoying interruptions or being dropped. Having reliable inflight Wi-Fi is also great for entertaining kids throughout the entire flight. Especially since most people (61 percent) are not willing to offer a traveling parent help who's struggling to entertain or calm down a young child, even if it could mean positive travel karma for them, according to YouGov. No disruptions to a child’s favorite TV show could be the ticket to a calmer travel experience for all on board.
Inflight annoyance No. 5: Dry (potentially smelly) cabin air
It’s much easier to relax when you are comfortable, and the easiest place to start is with your airplane outfit. Wear moisture-wicking active wear to keep things breathable in a warm environment, but be sure to stash a fleece jacket in your carry-on so you can warm up if the temperature drops.
But what if you sit next to a passenger with body odor or someone who brought bad-smelling food on the plane? YouGov’s recent survey shared that 74 percent of people are annoyed with these unwanted smells when flying.
Fortunately, fluctuating cabin temperatures and smells are on their way out. Thanks to Honeywell’s Integrated Environmental Control System, advanced technology monitors and controls the cabin environment, so the air conditioning, cabin pressure, cooling and ventilation are always in perfect balance. Here’s to a more pleasant travel experience for all.
Read more about Honeywell Aerospace on the Follow the Aero blog.
Flying? 5 ways to keep your cool and get through it
Back in the golden age of flight, boarding a plane meant you were in for an amazing experience – comfortable seats, plenty of cold drinks and smiles everywhere.
Today? Not so much. With the cramped seating and impossibly long line to get out the door, flying is seen as the unpleasant grunt work of travel, something you just have to get through. Talk to the travel pros, though, and they’ll tell you there are ways to sooth your nerves in the face of even when the worst . It just takes a willingness to take a few deep, cleansing breaths and see the solution.
Let’s walk through the five most annoying flight experiences with strategies to help you calm down and restore your mood to good.
Inflight annoyance No. 1: The passengers
Whether a toddler in row Q is having a fit over being belted in, or your seat mate wants to strike up an unwanted conversation, noisy passengers can distract your creating that zen-like flight experience you want to create. Not to mention, it’s very annoying. This is where a pair of noise canceling headphones is a flier’s best friend. While dampening unwanted sounds, these allow you to focus your ears on podcasts, music or an audio book – while sending a clear signal to the world you’re not available for idle chit chat. (To send a stronger message, just lean back in your seat and close your eyes.)
Inflight annoyance No. 2: Seat kickers
Little kids love to swing their legs. Which would be fine, if you didn’t have to feel it drumming on your lower back during an entire flight. The key to staying calm is dealing with the situation directly. Turn around and politely ask the child’s parent if they would put a stop the kicking, because it’s keeping you from relaxing during your flight. If the pitter patter of little feet doesn’t stop, offer your carryon suitcase as a foot rest to accommodate their short legs. The sacrifice may be worth a peaceful flight, and with any luck, the parent will take the hint and grab their own luggage to solve the problem.
Inflight annoyance No. 3: Flight delays
When you get the bad news that your flight will be late due to maintenance issues, there’s little point in getting worked up. You can’t do anything, plus the So why not use the extra time to treat yourself? Grab one of those chair massages in the concourse. You’ll feel more relaxed, plus the muscle rub-down will send a message to your brain that everything is OK.
Besides, you may not have these chances in the future, because technology will cut the length of these maintenance delays. For example, emerging technology from Honeywell Aerospace called GoDirect Connected Maintenance will place important mechanical data right in the hands of maintenance crew, even before the plane lands or before something breaks. By reducing troubleshooting time by a whopping 25 percent, that means briefer downtimes for airline flights.
Inflight annoyance No. 4: The terrible wi-fi service
Besides being charged a bundle just for internet access, passengers are often disappointed by what they get: dropped service and the inability use the wi-fi for things they really want, like streaming music and movies. Preparation is key to staying calm, so before the plane takes off, keep your device stocked with movies, albums and books. If this is a working flight, download hard copies to your laptop, so a dropped signal doesn’t disrupt your progress. One day, this hassle will go the way of the horrible inflight music and movie. High speed inflight wi-fi powered by Honeywell’s JetWave hardware is already a feature in select international flights. For you, that will mean you can tap in to home quality Wi-Fi, and stream your favorite TV show without worrying about being dropped!
Inflight annoyance No. 5: That dry, ever-changing cabin air
It’s much easier to relax when you are comfortable, and the easiest place to start is with your airplane outfit. Wear moisture wicking active wear to keep things breathable in a warm environment, and be sure to stash a fleece jacket in your carryon so you can get cozy if the temperature drops. In the meantime, fluctuating cabin temperatures are on their way out, thanks to Honeywell’s Integrated Environmental Control System, will use advanced technology to monitor and control the cabin environment, so the air conditioning, cabin pressure, cooling and ventilation are always in perfect balance.
8 questions that ensure technology needs are met while at a hotel
(BPT) - You arrive at your hotel and pull out your smartphone. After an incredibly long sign-in process, you connect to the Internet. It works fine in the hallway but not in your room, so you go to the business center to check email and print tickets to tonight's show. The center is packed, so you head back to your room to wait. Meanwhile, your kids are trying to stream a movie and the Internet connection is slow.
Both business and leisure travelers rely on technology to stay connected and streamline to-do's. However, poor Wi-Fi and minimal tech-focused amenities leave many travelers disappointed. That's why before booking a hotel, you should always ask questions to ensure you get as much out of your technology while travelling as you do while at home.
Ask these eight questions to make sure your technology needs are met while staying at any hotel, no matter how many devices you plan to use.
Is the room suited for technology?
Whether new or remodeled, modern hotels should feature room designs that support technology. For example, ask about easy access to outlets and charging stations while you're in the room to ensure you can plug in your phone, charge your tablet and use your computer all at the same time.
How reliable is the Internet?
Fast, reliable Internet is critical for anyone traveling for business or pleasure. When you stay at IHG hotels, you can feel confident you get superior Internet service. IHG Connect provides advanced Wi-Fi technology with increased bandwidth to meet the demand and volume needs of guests.
What is the login process?
Lengthy login processes are a hassle, especially if you're connecting multiple devices. Some hotels offer streamlined methods which is a big time-saver. Want to log in just once? IHG Rewards Club members log in and then they'll be recognized and automatically connected at every IHG Connect-enabled hotel.
How secure is the Wi-Fi network?
Most hotels today offer Wi-Fi to guests, but it might not be a secure network. To ensure private information stays private, only stay at hotels with a private and secure Internet connection for guests.
Is there an extra cost for Wi-Fi?
Some hotels charge extra for fast Internet access. Ask about costs and look into membership perks that wave these fees. For example, IHG Rewards Club members receive free Wi-Fi at all IHG properties.
What is available at the business center?
A good hotel will have a business center available to all guests. Inquire as to what is included at the center to ensure your needs are met. Printers, fax machines, computers and a variety of outlets should be available.
What are the hours of the business center?
Ask about the hours of the business center so you know you're covered, whether you need to book a last-minute reservation to the city's hottest attraction or print out that big report for tomorrow's presentation.
Are meeting spaces available?
For business travelers, impromptu meeting spaces are great for quick meetups or when you want to get out of your room for a change of scenery. For more formal gatherings, ask the hotel about the availability of meeting planners who can assist in organizing the technology needs of large groups of people and corporate events.
Keep your technology moving as fast as you do by asking these questions now. That way your hotel stay will be that much more enjoyable, comfortable and productive.
Interested in Publishing on The Travel Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!