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Trip Planning Tips



Accommodations

Be sure to find out all that you can about the accommodations before you make any commitments.

Room rates will very from season to season.  Most hotels require rooms to be reserved with a credit card number.  If you will be delayed in your arrival, if you call ahead, most will hold your room. 

Most hotels will charge no-show and cancellation fees, especially when the cancellation is made outside of the grace period of usually 14 days prior to reservation date.  This period varies among hotels. Be aware that when staying over holiday periods, the hotel may have tougher cancellation policies and additional charges for no-shows. To avoid any unwanted charges, only make your reservations after making certain you can keep them.

To make sure you get the best room for your needs, ask the hotel about matters that will affect your comfort during your stay, such as near-by construction and traffic.  Decide what kind of particular room you want- ocean front, non-smoking, king size bed, etc.  These are important factors considering you will spend a third of your vacation in the room. There is no harm in asking for an upgrade if you are not happy with your room.  Usually the front desk employees have the authority to do the upgrade.  Remember: A smile can go a long way toward getting the help you want. 

When booking your reservation, be sure to select the appropriate rate if you eligible for a Government Rate or a Senior Citizen. There are usually discounts available.  Keep in mind that such discounts are usually not applicable toward package deals or special rates.

Most of the information for each hotel is listed listed under "hotel description" on the hotel booking screens.

 

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Airline Reservations

One of the most important rules of traveling is to plan in advance for the best fares and availability.  Always check your tickets to make sure all the information is correct.  Always check with the airline 24 hours prior to your flight to confirm departure times. Ask about anything you may potentially be uncertain of later on.

Most of the information for each flight segment is listed listed under "Fare Rules and Terms & Conditions" on the airline ticket purchase screen.

It's also a good idea to contact the airline directly by telephone to get answers to your questions.

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Car Rentals

Renting a car may simplify a trip by eliminating public transportation, but make sure to check with the rental company about specific matters. 

Check the location of the rental lot.  Picking up a car at the airport, though convenient, may cost you extra (up to 10%) as rental companies must pay the fees charges them by the airport.  Some off-airport locations offer lower rates and a complementary shuttle to their lots. But keep in mind, that while some rates may be lower, the name-brand agencies may have better service and maintenance histories.  Bottom line: Check around to find the most reliable and price worthy car rental company.

There are certain requirements to consider before you rent a car.  In the United States, you must be 21 to rent, and the rates may be considerably higher if you are under 25. No matter what age, a valid drivers license and a major credit card will be required to rent.  If you will be driving outside your home country, your driver's license ma not be valid.  International Driver's Permits are available from the American and Canadian Automobile Association, or in the United Kingdom, from the Royal Automobile Club or Automobile Association.

When driving a rental car, you are generally responsible for any damage to or loss of the vehicle.  You may also be held liable for any damage to property or personal injury that you may cause while driving.  Check with the rental company about what types of insurance are available. Before you rent, check with your own insurance to see if rental car damage due to theft of collision is covered. 

 There are often additional charges not included in the rental fee. There are charges for additional drivers and for baby seats.  Ask about drop-off charges or one-way service fees when picking up a car in one city and returning it to another. Some agencies will charge you a fee if the car is returned before the date specified.  Fill up the tank before you return the car to avoid hefty refueling charges, but be aware that gas stations near the rental store may overcharge.

Most of the information for each rental company is listed listed under "rental policy" on the car rental booking screens.

 

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Jet Lag

Here are some tips about how to handle jet lag.

Eat before you get on the plane. This way you can get some sleep in without the distractions of your growling stomach or a dinner-wielding flight attendant.

Reset your watch to your destination's time as soon as you get on the plane.  Follow the time as your would at home. If it is daytime, stay awake by walking around the cabin.  If it is nighttime, try to sleep.  A sleeping mask and ear plugs will block some of the light and noise from the plane.

If you use a blanket, buckle your seat belt over the blanket so the flight attendant will not have to wake you in the event of turbulence. The attendant will provide you with a pillow if you need one.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can disrupt sleep patterns.

If it's daylight when you arrive but nighttime at home, you may be tempted to sleep. Instead, try going for a walk outside. The exercise may revive you. Also, daylight should help convince your body to stop producing sleep-inducing hormones. Plus, you wouldn't want to sleep away the first day of your vacation.

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Packing Tips 

Considerations before packing

For whatever vacation you are going on, you will want to heed the old advice--pack light. 

Consider the climate of your vacation spot before you Start folding everything in your closet. Understandably, you will have more packed if you are going to cold climates than warm, but don't over do it. 

Always consider the length of your stay when you begin to pack.  Don't take so many clothes that you have three different outfits for each night.  On the other hand, don't under pack.  A pair of cut-offs and a t-shirt won't be enough to get you through your whole trip.  Try to pick tops and bottoms that can be re-worn and can be mixed and matched to get several looks with just a few pieces.  This will cut down tremendously on suitcase space and weight -- remember you will be carrying your luggage around during your trip.

Try to pack only  travel or trial size toiletries.  If possible, buy them at your destination and discard the empty bottles before you return home.  

Make sure the shoes you bring are well broken in, so as to not cause trip-ruining blisters. A pair of walking shoes or hiking boots and one other pair, sandals maybe, should be sufficient for your trip and won't take up too much room. A pair of flip-flops or plastic sandals are handy when at the beach or on shower floors.  

 Keep in mind how many times you will move during your trip.  This will effect what and how much you pack opposed to how many times you will have to repack and tote it around.

If you are planning to bring souvenirs home from your vacation, leave extra room in your luggage from the Start.  Having to purchase more bags and carry souvenirs separately always presents a hassle especially in an airport or on a plane.  Also, most airlines have a two bag carry-on limit.  Some only allow for one.

Luggage 

Start by choosing your luggage wisely. While expensive leather cases may look and feel marvelous, they will leave you with less travel-spending money and, moreover, will be trashed by baggage handlers the first time you check them. Stick with durable, lightweight luggage.

Soft sided luggage allow for you to add items and souvenirs for the trip home.  This type provides no protection from bumps and bangs sustained through airport baggage areas. Hard sided luggage is a better choice if transporting fragile items but leaves little or no extra room if you plan to bring back more  items than you left with. It is also less likely to be damaged during the trip.

Bags with wheels can relieve you from having to carry your bags all over, but bear in mind that airlines disclaim liability for wheels that get broken or lost during the handling of baggage.

Make sure each bag is clearly labeled--inside and out--with your name and other identifying information.  Some people prefer to use their work address and phone number instead of their home contact info for security reasons. Also make sure each bag is correctly coded with the destination airport's three-letter code.

Each bag should be secured with a sturdy lock; keep the keys in your carry-on bag, handbag, or wallet. Even though determined thieves can usually break any lock, having one present may at least discourage them from picking your bag.

How to pack

Once you've chosen the essentials, you're ready to Start packing.

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