Frequent Travelers Reveal Top 10 Travel Tips

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By Dawn Klavon

The world is open for travel, and Prince William residents are preparing for a jet-set summer. Whether you’re planning to fly to Denver to visit Uncle Charlie’s cabin or London for King Charles’ coronation, there are plenty of travel tricks to make the trip easier. We recommend basics like packing light and traveling slowly to savor your adventures. But beyond the basics, Prince William Living offers these helpful hints to make your next journey that much more memorable and manageable.

Travel Pros’ Secrets

1. Consider using a travel agent.

In the age of the internet, it seems easy to put on your travel agent hat and get the best prices and itineraries yourself. But consider a travel agent, who can often get better prices and has insider knowledge of tours, events, and destinations.

“Travel agents know where to find travel deals in spaces clients won’t find on the retail market or the internet,” says Daniel Brennan, with Evolution Travel. “Whether it’s land, car rental, rail, air, ship, hotels, resorts, or sailing boats, travel agents can offer fair and competitive prices — try us for a comparison!”

2. Cross Pack

cross pack

Traveling with someone else and planning on checking bags? Pack half your clothes in each other’s suitcases, so if one of your pieces of luggage doesn’t make it to your destination, you both have half of your clothes.

“The first time we went to Australia,” says Northern Virginia resident Jill Miller, who has traveled with her husband, Carl, to over 100 countries. “Carl’s suitcase went to South America!”

No one likes to think their luggage will get lost, but according to ClaimCompass, more than five million bags are damaged during transportation and another 1.4 million are lost each year. Get smart and give yourself better odds of arriving with your luggage — cross pack.

3. RFID Blocking Wallet

Crooks are getting smarter, and one strategy they use to steal your credit card information is scanning embedded radio frequency chips (with RFID technology) on each card. These RFID chips transmit identifying information and credit card details. The scariest part is thieves can scan and steal this information from across a room, in an airport, or at a bus stop without your knowledge. The good news: RFID blocking wallets are available and feature built-in anti-scanning technology to protect your information. The wallet looks like any other wallet, but blocks the scan. As a cheaper alternative, you can wrap your credit cards in aluminum foil, according to IRDA. Many people carry around credit cards wrapped in foil, though the foil is not as durable and can tear or crease easily. Travelers might consider wallets, purses, and card protectors designed to prevent credit cards from being read illegally from a stealth scanner.

4. Wash and Wear Undergarments

Yes, it is possible to pack light and have clean clothes. Miller swears by this trick: bring two pairs of wash and wear underwear and wash one pair nightly.

“The other pair is a backup,” she says, adding that she can travel for a whole month with just two pairs of underwear.

Using hotel laundry services or finding a laundromat in foreign countries can be expensive and challenging, but hand washing your clothes in a hotel sink or tub and hanging them up to dry is simple. You’ll save money, you won’t lose any items in the hotel laundry, and you’ll save time. Wash your clothes at night and
hang them up — you’re good to go in the morning.

5. Pack a Little First Aid Kit

first aid kit

The first time you get queasy after downing Bangkok street food, or your heels are bloody with blisters from a jaunt across London, you’ll wish you’d packed a handy kit with medications and bandages. Pack meds for headaches, motion sickness, stomach issues, cough drops, Benadryl, bandages and activated charcoal pills for diarrhea. We like moleskin bandages for blisters — a lifesaver. Look for small first aid kits at most pharmacies or grocery stores or make your own.

“I was at Disney World for four days with friends and my heels were torn apart with blisters,” says Olivia Foreman. “I learned the hard way to bring bandages next time, since I had to hobble into CVS to buy some!”

6. Apply for a Credit/Debit Card That Has Zero International Transaction Fees

credit cards

Most people are not aware that many banks charge you a fee for making purchases in a foreign currency or using an international ATM. Some cards charge up to 3% every time you swipe your card abroad, according to Nerdwallet. That adds up. We recommend carrying several different debit and credit cards that offer zero international transaction fees to keep unnecessary expenses down. It’s a simple way to trim your travel expenditures.

7. Have Multiple Copies of Your Important Documents

It’s smart practice to always have photocopies of your passport and other important documents. You never know when you might need it. Keep the photocopies in your backpack or carry on, so you can easily produce it and not have to pull out your actual passport or other important documents. We also suggest
you take photos of all important documents and save them everywhere — email them to yourself, upload them to Google Drive or Dropbox, and keep them in an easy-to-find folder on your phone. So if you happen to lose your passport, have a credit card stolen, or you are unable to get WIFI access to your flight information, you are covered. We also suggest you give a second copy of all your important documents to someone trustworthy at home, too. That way, you have someone waiting in the wings to rescue you with a helpful email.

8. Charge Your Electronics — Constantly!

Charging an iPhone

The last thing you want is for your phone to be dead just as you land after your 12-hour flight. Or your air pods to conk out. Or your laptop to be drained right when you need it. It’s frustrating and can really be inconvenient. We recommend being intentional about charging your electronics — in the airport, on the plane, in your hotel, and on and on.

Also, consider bringing a power strip with you to plug in multiple technologies at once. You’ll be the hero amongst friends when you pull this out at the airport coffee shop! USB battery packs are also helpful and can charge your smaller devices on the go without an electrical outlet. Power banks can be invaluable when your batteries die; don’t leave home without one!

“I was on vacation, but had a very important client and I needed to return their call — my phone was about to die,” says catering account executive Tracy Toth. “Fortunately, I carry a power bank so I was able to quickly recharge my phone, make the call and make the sale.”

9. Visit The Local Tourism Office

tourism office in french

Often underutilized resources for exploration are local tourism offices, which can be wealths of information. These are the local experts, and can offer helpful advice on tours, free activities, dining, and special events during your visit.

“Most of the time when we use tourism offices is when we go to national parks,” says Northern Virginia resident and world traveler Rohini Ganjoo. “I tell them how long we want to stay there, what we want to do, and they’ll tell me exactly what time to go, how crowded it will be and things like that.”

10. Register for Global Entry or TSA Precheck

Let’s face it — any shortcuts you can create at the airport will ease your stress and make your trip go more smoothly. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that gives low-risk, pre-approved travelers faster clearance through security and customs checkpoints. We love skipping lines, and think you probably do too. After a long plane trip traveling from a faraway locale, simplify your re-entry to America.

TSA PreCheck

How to Register

For Global Entry, you must first apply by filling out an online form consent to a background check, and pay a $100 non-refundable fee with each completed application. Next you’ll need to schedule an appointment for a quick interview where you provide your fingerprints and show a valid passport. Once approved, your Global Entry card lasts a full five years from your most recent birthday.

Another easy way to expedite your time in airport lines is by downloading the app for the Mobile Passport Control (MPC). It allows eligible travelers to submit their passport and customs declaration information through a free, secure app on their smartphone or other mobile device. The use of MPC streamlines the traveler’s entry process into the United States by reducing passport control inspection time and overall wait time. Use of MPC is free, does not require pre-approval, and travelers who successfully use the MPC app will no longer have to complete a paper form or use an APC kiosk. As a result, weary travelers may experience shorter wait times, less congestion, and efficient processing. It has shaved a substantial portion of time off our customs line time!

CBP’s MPC app is a free application that can be downloaded from the Apple app store and Google Play and is currently available for eligible travelers to use upon arrival at MPC approved sites, which include Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). The MPC mobile app is available to U.S. citizens and Canadian B1/B2 citizens visitors.

For primarily domestic travel, consider TSA Precheck instead, a similar program that trims your security line time and is widely available in the U.S.

Dawn Klavon is a contributing writer for Prince William Living. Reach her at dklavon@princewilliamliving.com.

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