Exceptional Travel staff can help you navigate the waters of your next trip, but we also want you to be travel smart. The savvy traveler plans ahead, makes preparations, and carries with them the right tools and documents. Choose from the topics below to jump to the relevant tip or tool section.
- All passengers traveling internationally are required to have a valid passport.
- Most countries require that the passport be valid for at least six (6) months beyond the conclusion of your trip. In other words, the expiration date listed on the passport must be at least 6 months past your return date to the USA.
- A minimum of three blank pages in your passport is recommended when traveling, as many countries require blank pages.
- Remember to fill out the “Emergency Next of Kin” in your passport (in pencil, in case details change before your passport expires).
- We recommend scanning your passport and taking a digital or paper copy with you. This can be very helpful if replacement is needed in case of loss.
- Obtaining an original passport (or renewing an expiring one) can be a lengthy process. If you are traveling abroad or going on a cruise and need to obtain or renew a passport very quickly, no need to worry. We can connect you with services that can expedite this process.
- Some countries require a travel visa (in addition to a passport) for entry.
- For more information, Visit CIBTvisas or consult with us if you need additional assistance.
- Some countries require certain immunizations or may issue health risk alerts.
- Visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for information about immunization requirements and a variety of additional travel-related health issues.
Baggage & TSA Guidelines
- These days, there is quite a bit of variation among the major airlines regarding checked bags and carry-on requirements. Most airlines have implemented checked bag fees and no longer allow “free” checked bags for domestic travel. One free checked bag is often allowed for international travel. It’s best to consult with us or visit the airline websites regarding these issues.
- With increasing security precautions being taken worldwide, the rules for screening, baggage requirements and permissible carry-on items have become more stringent and subject to change. One of the most frequent questions we get is: “What is the size limitation for liquids carried onboard?” (It’s 3.4 ounces.) Consult with us or visit the TSA Website for additional information about security screening, prohibited items, and travel tips.
- Tired of those long TSA security lines and how early you have to arrive at the airport before your flight? Expedited security screening programs such as TSA PreCheck and Global Entry offer trusted travelers faster screening, special lines, and increased convenience (such as not having to remove your shoes or open laptops). We recommend the Global Entry program because it offers all the benefits of TSA PreCheck, along with the added convenience of expedited re-entry after traveling abroad and increased value due to longer activation periods before renewal is needed.
- No matter how carefully planned your travel arrangements were or how prepared you may be for your trip, sometimes unforeseen circumstances can occur which prevent you or a family member from traveling. We recommend purchasing travel insurance, especially for international and/or complex itineraries, to help recoup some or all of your travel investment dollars in case cancellation of your trip becomes necessary. Speak with us for all the details.
- We strongly recommend carrying a valid passport when going on any cruise.
- Some cruises which originate from the US and return to the US may only require proof of US citizenship, which typically means bringing with you a valid driver’s license and a valid birth certificate (original, state issued with a raised seal). If you do not bring both of these original documents with you, you will not be allowed to board the ship.
Credit Card & Money
- Credit card companies have become increasingly aggressive in their efforts to prevent fraud and unauthorized charges. It is wise to notify credit card companies of your travel plans, including dates and locations, in order to avoid unexpected declined charges.
- When traveling abroad, be strategic about which credit cards you plan to use. Some credit card companies charge foreign transaction fees and others do not. There also can be quite a bit of variation in the fees charged by credit card companies for cash advances at ATMs abroad.
- Money belts or purses/handbags that are designed to be worn in front with a strap crosswise over your shoulder can reduce the risk of theft/loss.
- There is always a fee involved in currency exchange transactions, whether it be built into published rates, a percentage fee, or a separate fixed-rate commission charge (in which case you will receive a better value for your money if you exchange a larger amount in one transaction, rather than smaller amounts in multiple transactions).
- When traveling internationally, some travelers like to take a small amount of cash in the local currency, which can be convenient for emergencies or to pay for that initial cab fare or transportation fee.
- Tipping rules and practices vary from culture-to-culture and even country-to-country. We can tell you all you need to know about local tipping practices and give you suggested tip amount guidelines for services at your particular destination.
- Contact your cell phone provider to discuss options for international travel. In some cases, hefty per-minute or per-text international fees may apply. In order to avoid these charges, check out using one of the handy apps recommended below for staying in touch with friends and relatives while traveling abroad.
- Be sure to pack the necessary adapters, chargers, and external batteries for all your mobile devices and other electronic items.
- For domestic travel, all of the major airlines now allow online check-in and generation of boarding passes 24 hours prior to your flight via their website or mobile app. Most even allow you to check your bags prior to arriving at the airport. All major airlines have their own mobile app. For Central Kentucky-based travelers, we love the Delta Mobile App due to the preponderance of Delta flights originating from Bluegrass Airport. Plus, with the Delta App, you can even track your checked bags along the way.
- Forget fumbling for your paper boarding pass when going through security or boarding your plane. Those days are long gone — go paperless with your boarding pass by adding it to the Passbook or Wallet App on your mobile phone and simply scan your phone at airport checkpoints.
Staying in Touch
- Cell phone providers often charge exorbitant fees for voice calls and texting when traveling internationally. Be strategic and avoid these charges by using a variety of free mobile apps such as Viber, Zoom, Skype, and WhatsApp, which allow for free texting, voice calls, and even video-chatting as long as you are connected to a WiFi network. It’s a good idea to download, set up, and test out these apps prior to your trip.
- Delta Airlines is now offering free mobile messaging so you can stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues while onboard. That’s right, you can send a text message mid-flight for free. Use your favorite messaging apps on your smartphone on Delta WiFi-enabled flights, including iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. Just be sure that you have downloaded these apps before you fly, and that the recipients of your messages have the apps downloaded as well. Learn more at delta.com/freemessaging.
- Be sure to turn off cellular data on your mobile phone if you did not purchase an international plan in order to avoid roaming fees or fees associated with unexpected texts or calls from those who were unaware of your international travel plans.
- Worried about making your connection? Want to check out gate information for your arriving and connecting flights? Wondering whether your friend or family member’s plane is on time before heading to the airport to pick them up? We love the FlightAware Mobile Flight Tracker App, which allows you to track live flights in real time for any commercial airline flight number (or even private flights using the plane’s tail number).
- Is it going to rain tomorrow? What’s the weather going to be like where I am traveling to this weekend? Do I need to take my jacket with me? Whether for packing purposes or deciding what to wear tomorrow, it’s always great to know what the weather is going to be like where you are or where you are going next. Phone typically have a weather app included with the provider package, However, we recommend using The Weather Channel App for your mobile device, although there are plenty of other weather app options out there, several of which offer some pretty unique features.
- When traveling abroad, it is sometimes difficult to know exactly how much things cost because calculating exchange rates on the fly can be confusing and, complicating matters further, exchange rates change often. The XE Currency App is handy to have on your mobile phone so you can quickly calculate how much things actually cost.