Tim and I attended a presentation put on by Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) last week at our local Marriott Hotel in Woodland Hills. Registration was at 9:30, followed by breakfast and a travel presentation.
We have not booked any trips with them yet, but I was impressed by what other people attending the meeting had to say about them. There were quite a few in attendance who had traveled with them, not just once or twice, but as many as 30+ times!
Now that was quite an endorsement…
As I have written several times on our blog, we are huge fans of Gate 1 Travel. In fact we have booked four more trips with them for this year alone. But that said, we are comfortable looking at some alternative companies for future trips and OAT (as well as their sister companies, Grand Circle Travel and Grand Circle Cruise) has moved up the list.
They also offer smaller groups, with 10-16 being the norm.
Another things that I was especially impressed with is they do NOT charge a single supplement for solo travelers!!!
One of the handouts we were presented with was a booklet entitled 101 tips for Women Travelers. I gave it a quick read over the past few days, underlined and starred some of my favorite tips and wanted to share what I think are some of the best tidbits of wisdom, not just for women but for most travelers.
I borrowed some of these ideas, shortened or built upon, and added my own two cents worth along the way. For you seasoned travelers, most of this will be “old news”, but perhaps you will pick up a gem or two.
And for anyone who is contemplating or planning their first big adventure, I hope you can put these hints to good use.
Before you go:
- Tell a trusted neighbor you will be away. Someone back home should have a copy of your itinerary so they can reach you in case of an emergency.
- Email copies of your important documents (including passport & credit card numbers) to yourself. That way if anything gets lost or stolen you have access to that information.
- Take a picture of your prescription medication and carry that with your documents.
- Put a copy of your itinerary with name and contact numbers inside your suitcase, right on top. If it gets lost, that will increase the chances of it catching up with you.
What to bring:
- Always pack a swimsuit, even if you are going to Antarctica. You just never know when it will come in handy.
- Pack a few fabric softener sheets in your suitcase. Great way to keep your clothes smelling fresh. They can also be used to repel mosquitoes by putting them in your pocket.
- Dress with respect. Know the local customs. Avoid showing bare arms, knees and midriff in a place of worship. Pack a scarf or shawl that can be used to cover your arms or head if needed.
- Pack a washcloth as many International hotels do not provide them. Chose one made out of microfiber that will dry quickly. If you can’t find one, check your local auto supply store. They carry them in all sizes. Pack a zip lock bag to carry it in when damp.
“Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Someone forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water.” ~ W.C. Fields
Paying for things abroad:
- Order a credit card with a chip if yours does not already have one. More and more countries are requiring this type of card.
- Using your ATM card is the easiest way to get foreign currency. Make sure you have a four digit PIN number (and that you know what it is).
- Take new bills or ones in very good condition. Some countries will not accept worn, dirty, blemished or wrinkled money.
- Take plenty of small bills
- When choosing what to wear on your international flight and the extra set of clothing for your carry-on, make sure you select something that will dry overnight, just in case your luggage doesn’t arrive with you.
- Shampoo is provided in most hotels and can be used as laundry soap.
- Baby wipes work well as stain removers and are easy to pack.
“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” ~ James A. Michener
- Leave your expensive jewelry at home. Don’t draw attention to yourself with anything flashy.
- Don’t overindulge with alcohol. Never leave a drink unattended.
- Use common sense, but do not let fear of the unknown prevent you from seeking out life-changing experiences.
- When staying in a hotel, always know where the emergency exits are.
- Carry a cross-body purse. Keep it in front of you and not on your back or slung over your shoulder.
“Airline travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.” ~ Al Gore
If traveling solo:
- Be realistic about how much luggage you can handle by yourself.
- Wear a wedding ring, whether you’re married or not. You can pick up a cheap gold or silver band in most department stores which may help fend off unwanted Romeos.
- Pick up a business card from the front desk before you leave the hotel. If you get lost, you can show it to a taxi driver to get you back “home”.
- Don’t forget your chargers. A 4-in-1 adapter comes in handy, as many hotel rooms, or airports have limited outlets.
- Load up your kindle or iPad with books or movies. There are podcasts about almost every destination in the world and can both entertain and educate you on your flight.
- Use your smart phone as an alarm clock.
- You can buy a local SIM card for newer unlocked phones, or get an International calling plan. Skype, Viber, FaceTime, and What’sApp are all great inexpensive or free ways to stay in touch while traveling.
- Download pictures daily so that you have a backup in case the camera gets lost, stolen or damaged.
- Take a picture of the sign or name of location as you enter to help you remember later where you have been and what you have seen each day.
- Make sure that the date and time is set correctly on your camera.
A couple more hints:
- Don’t throw away those hotel shower caps. They come in handy for wrapping shoes when packing or wrapping up wet items. They are also useful to cover bowls or plates of food when you get back home.
- Pack several zip lock bags.
- Carry some toilet paper with you or a small pack of Kleenex. Providing tissue is not the custom in some countries.
GRATITUDE MOMENT: Today I am grateful for learning about another travel company. There are so many options out there to choose from, but it is nice to learn about an organization that is highly regarded by many other fellow travelers.