(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.
How can a hotelier and a hotel guest both prevent becoming the latest Trip Advisor bedbug-related casualty? Well, there are a number of things that each can do to win this battle. Let's take a closer look.
(BPT) - The summer travel season is upon us, offering an opportunity for families across the U.S. to reconnect. The goal is simple - to make memories that last a lifetime. For example, the Smith family is in vacation-planning mode. Mrs. Smith typically takes the lead with dreams and aspirations of planning their family's best vacation ever. She starts with a look at her hotel choices on Trip Advisor.
According to their website, Trip Advisor is the world's largest travel site, reaching 340 million unique monthly visitors with reviews of more than 6.5 million accommodations. Mrs. Smith does her research. Is the hotel family-friendly? Does it have a pool? Is it clean? Scanning the reviews of a hotel on her list she reads one traveler's review that includes a descriptor that no one wants to hear: bedbugs! Mrs. Smith immediately hits the back button. Bedbugs are the very last souvenir she wants her family to bring home. Cross that hotel off the list.
Mrs. Smith is not alone. A recent study conducted by the University of Kentucky found that bedbug reporting on online review sites and social media have a "...big impact on purchasing decisions." It's no surprise that both leisure and business travelers would avoid a bedbug infested hotel. Victims of bedbug infestations exploit the internet's vast readership to describe their bedbug experience resulting in physical distress, sleeplessness, nervousness, anxiety and an extreme disruption in their life. And while on a planned summer vacation with the kids and family... not if they can avoid it!
Meanwhile, across town in a well-appointed corner office, the general manager of a large,
nationwide hotel chain, sits reviewing his financial statements. His occupancy rates are down in three of his largest hotels while those same hotel's operating costs are up. How can that be he asks himself puzzled by the data. Digging deeper, he realizes bedbug infestations occurred in those same three hotels. Rooms were out of service while treatment to the affected room as well as surrounding rooms were being completed. Bedbug treatment costs and loss of rental income negatively hit his bottom line. With internet sites like Trip Advisor, Travelocity and Bed Bug Registry, he wonders how severely those bed bug events impacted traveler's decisions to stay at those properties.
General managers across the country are feeling the financial bite from bedbugs. According to the same University of Kentucky study previously mentioned, a single online review that mentions bedbugs lowers hotel room value by $38 for business travelers and $23 for leisure travelers.
What exactly is the state of the current hotel-related bedbug problem? Recent studies found that about 74 percent of pest professionals reported problems with bedbugs in hotel rooms, a truly staggering figure. This rise in bedbugs is coupled with a changing public perception, with 43 percent of people now expressing the attitude that bedbugs are a concern. An occurrence of bedbugs can also massively impact a hotel's brand reputation. Exposure to legal action continues to rise jeopardizing hotel shareholder equity. Just recently, a Virginia woman sought $5 million in a lawsuit over bedbugs. A federal judge ruled in her favor and a jury will hear her case.
So, how can a hotelier and a hotel guest both prevent becoming the latest Trip Advisor bedbug-related casualty? Well, there are a number of things that each can do to win this battle. Let's take a closer look.
* Education is key. Research proves that two-thirds of travelers surveyed by the University of Kentucky last year couldn't identify a bedbug. Hotel staff and individual travelers are encouraged to be able to recognize a bedbug in its different life stages as well as signs of bedbugs in and around beds.
* Forward thinking in bedbug prevention has savvy hoteliers and travelers investigating the root of the problem. Savvy hoteliers are designing hotel rooms to be more bedbug resistant.
* Hoteliers and homeowners are adopting preventative measures for their mattresses and/or box springs such as an active mattress liner that kill bedbugs. ActiveGuard(R) Mattress Liners go on like a fitted sheet and can save time, money and energy preventing bedbug infestations from establishing.
Sophisticated travelers and hoteliers know that bedbugs are difficult to recognize, and are skilled hitchhikers easily gaining access to the bed. Having an active liner in place that starts working within 10 minutes of contact can assist in saving a room from developing a full-blown bedbug infestation.
While recent reports may show that bedbugs are winning, the war is not over. Embracing technology, educating oneself and taking a preventative approach to this blood-sucking pest can lead to victory for both hoteliers and travelers.
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