Convertibles, graduations, and vacations all remind us that summer is here. Vacations are a great way to get away and be with family; however, traveling can bring some additional stressors. My husband, Dan, and I have been traveling out of the country for about 20 years and have learned quite a bit during this time.
Carry On: Pack your suntan lotion, bathing suit and one outfit in your carry on. Our first trip was a cruise in February and they lost our luggage for 2 days. We laugh now at the site of us in our heavy sweaters, jeans, and coats sitting by the pool when it was 95 degrees. Hot and sweaty for the afternoon and way underdressed for dinner. When we travel to Mexico or Caribbean, our rooms are often not ready until 3 pm. Our carry on with the necessities allows us to be down by the pool and enjoying our day until our room is all set.
Buy Travel Insurance: When we first traveled, we often did not invest in travel insurance. However, that changed about 15 years ago when a couple told us two stories about their friends who did not pay for the insurance and lost all their money when they needed to cancel. One Hawaii trip was $10,000 and they had saved for 5 years to lose it all. Unfortunately, we have had to cancel 3 trips in the past 5 years, but luckily, we were able to use the vouchers for another trip.
2-3 Hour Rule: Do arrive at least 2 hours early for international travel. While the airlines recommend this, sometimes, it feels like you rush only to sit around. Three years ago, we contemplated showing up 1 hour before the flight. Thankfully, we changed our mind. However, despite arriving early, the line was wrapped around the airport and we worried we would miss the flight. We decided we did not want to start future trips in that irritated mode – it simply was not worth it.
Custom Forms: Fill out the custom forms completely before you get off the plane. Ask if you have any questions. Once you get off the flight and head towards customs, there are usually very long lines. If you do not fill out the forms correctly, they will send you to the back of the line.
Get Off the Resort: Eat at the local restaurants, do an excursion, or learn about the history. We love the resorts we visit but some of our best moments have come from jumping off a cliff in Jamaica, snorkeling with the turtles, having lunch on a cliff, or walking down old streets and seeing the historic buildings.
Slippery When Wet: The pool tile is super slippery. This sounds like a no-brainer, but to date, we have seen a broken wrist, ankle, shoulder and bleeding lip/broken teeth from falls. It is so easy to forget just how slippery things get until a vacation is ruined.
Use Trip Advisor as a Guide: Read the reviews but make your own judgments. Trip Advisor is great because you can see if there are overall issues with safety, food quality, or service before you book. What may not be a deal breaker for us, could possibly be one for you or your family. Look for the general consensus though, not the one person who rated the hotel extremely low because the buffet didn’t have pineapple for breakfast.