How much money should I take
and in what form?
guideline for budget is to figure
your daily expenses then add
10%. Take 20% in cash and use a
credit card (I highly recommend
using a credit card when possible
solely for the amount of consumer
protection offered by them), or make
withdrawals with an ATM card
for the rest. Traveler’s checks are
often counterfeited these days and
most places will not accept them.
(There are a few exceptions such
as some remote locations in China
and areas where credit cards are
not accepted. You will typically be
advised prior to your trip that that
is what they prefer.) If the country
uses a different currency, I always
advise getting some of their currency
here to have upon arrival. Then as
the trip goes on, you may want to
get more cash from an ATM. If at
all possible, get a card with a chip
and pin security when traveling to
Europe as many bank ATMS, which
are the safest and most reliable, will
no longer accept ATM cards that do
not have chip and pin technology.
It is also wise to use a credit card
that has your photo on it along
with the chip and pin. Because it
is expensive, U.S. card companies
have lagged behind in updating
their cards but it is now becoming
imperative with the amount of fraud
being encountered with credit card
Keep your money and cards in
different places so that if you lose
one, or are robbed, you have a back
up card and back up currency. Never
travel with one card alone because if
you lose it or someone steals it and
uses it fraudulently, it will be de-
activated then you will be left with
no alternate form of payment.
What sort of documents do I
need to travel?
A valid photo I.D.
is mandatory no matter where you
travel. I recommend everyone get
a passport as you need one even to
cross into Canada or Mexico. They
are good for 10 years and no one
questions the validity. What if you
need to make an emergency trip to
help a loved one and do not have
the proper documentation? Or on
the positive side, what if someone
offers you the opportunity to travel
at the last moment? No one wants to
drive to Chicago and stand in line
to get a same day passport. If going
overseas, check to see if a Visa is
required. If you have paid for an
airline ticket, a cruise or a tour and
fail to get a Visa to enter a country,
your money is NOT refundable. It
is the traveler’s responsibility to
procure proper documentation.
Another situation I find more
common than not is people leaving
their I.D. in their hotel room when
they are not there. Especially if you
are out of the country, if you lose
your passport, you are a person
WITHOUT a country. Even if you are
in the U.S. you may be asked for I.D.
for numerous reasons and need to
be able to show you are who you are
and you should be where you are. It
is tempting anyone in the hotel who
may find your room open to come
take a look around where they could
find your I.D.
How do I pack?
using a checklist. There are several
available online and it helps you
remember what you have already
packed. Have at least two pairs
of shoes to alternate because
it will keep your back and legs
from getting sore being in the
same position day after day. Pack
layers and get breathable clothes.
Although a place is supposed to be a
particular climate there are always
weather anomalies and you want to
be prepared. I also suggest keeping
an eye out for clothing that is light
weight although warm. Several
travel catalogs and outdoor stores
carry just this type of clothing. You
may find you like it so much you
will wear it at home too.
I know I do.
What sort of luggage is best?
ALWAYS use something with wheels
as you have no idea how far you
may have to transport it. Get rid
of any luggage that is heavy when
empty. Today’s new luggage affords
the ability to pack more and for it to
weigh less. Most importantly, make
sure you can lift it onto or off of a
bed or luggage jack. For a carry-on
get something that is comfortable to
carry. I suggest a small backpack as
it evenly distributes the weight and
will discourage you from
I believe the most important tool
anyone has to warrant an excellent
outcome to any trip is to be armed
with a great attitude. Being positive
and flexible goes a long way to
success in travel.
Tips of the Trade
Here I would like to address the most commonly asked
questions that have ever evolving answers.