Carry-Ons

Hello Travelers!

This week we will be going over suitcases, carry-ons, and helpful tips for packing your luggage.

The first step is to make sure that your suitcase size fits within the requirements of the tour company and airlines. In most cases, the tour company has more stringent rules about size because there is less room on the motor coach than there is on the airplane.

The standard weight is 50 lbs. for a checked piece of baggage, and 15 lbs. for a carry-on. Even though they say 50 lbs., really you should only pack it to about 40 lbs. so that you have enough room after your purchases and mementos so that you don’t exceed the limit on your way home.

Some suitcases now have an ‘expand’ feature.  When measuring your suitcase make sure you take this into account.  If you are measuring before the tour without the expansion, you shouldn’t expand it on the tour.  If everyone did that, there wouldn’t be enough room on the bus for everyone’s luggage by the end of the tour!

As for your carry-on bag, you really need to know what the bus requirements are. The airlines usually will allow you to take another small suitcase to but in the overhead bins. This is not the case with the European buses. Usually your carry-on bag is supposed to sit underneath the seat in front of you because the motor coaches don’t have overhead compartments.

You shouldn’t push the dimensions for your carry-on bag, because it would just mean that you would have to carry it on your lap throughout the whole tour if it does not fit underneath the seat in front of you.

Here are just a few ways to organize your suitcase and help you meet the requirements.

If you are having space problems, step back, and color-coordinated everything, if it doesn’t work in multiple outfits, leave it at home.  Rolling your clothes will also be a major space saver.

It’s no secret that shoes are a major space hog.  One pair of broken-in walking shoes and a street-friendly sandal are usually all you need.

I recommend packing zip-lock bags. They are ideal for packing things tighter, separating wet from dry and managing small items like batteries.  Zip-lock bags come in a variety of sizes which can help with sorting.

Also, divide each person’s belongings amongst all luggage if you are traveling with someone.  This will insure you have clothes and necessities if one of the bags is lost or delayed.

Take this quick precaution and save a possible mess with any liquid bottles.  For instance, place a plastic bag under the screw caps of soaps and shampoos and tie the bag around the bottle. This way if the cap opens, the bottle spills into the bag, not on your clothes.

To enjoy your tour to its fullest extent, knowing the requirements and following them will allow for a more comfortable ride for yourself and other passengers.

Have packing tips of your own.  Please send them to info@escapeworld.com.
You can also go to our new Escape World Travel Facebook page and make suggestions there.

Your Travel Agent

Time Zones

Hello Travelers!

Ms. Lemon from Odenton, MD wanted to enjoy her vacation to the fullest, and has asked me for tips on how to avoid or lessen the effects of jet lag. Because the variance in time zones can affect everyone differently, I told her to use the below tips to help reduce the affects that these changes can have on her body:

  1. Eat lightly & avoid sugar and highly processed foods the day before and the day of travel.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid alcohol & caffeine.  Remember you cannot bring liquids through security.
  3. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing during travel.
  4. Before boarding the plane, take a brisk walk around the airport to get in some last-minute exercise.
  5. On the day of arrival, it is best to stay awake all day and go to bed at a normal hour, according to the local time.
  6. During the tour, allow yourself the luxury of a short nap if you can close your eyes from the beautiful scenery!

Ms. Lemon chose yet another option, since she did not have time constraints with her vacation, she decided to travel one-day before her vacation, and stay at an airport hotel for that night.  She ended up joining the group for the transfer the next morning so she didn’t miss one minute of the trip, but she ended up joining them completely refreshed & ready to go!

So, if you choose a long-distance destination for your next trip, consider arriving early to acclimate to the time change and possible get in some independent sight-seeing!

Happy Traveling!

Your Travel Agent

Passports

Hello Travelers,

It’s that time of year when you begin to prepare for your much anticipated vacation.  Here’s what you need to know about the passport you just pulled out of the safe, especially if you haven’t traveled abroad lately.

In a normal year, passports can take from 4 to 6 weeks at a cost of $110.  The number of applications in 2016 will rise from 16 million to 20 million in 2017.  This increase could easily make processing your application 6 to 8 weeks the norm.

To avoid undue stress “renew at once” if you have six months of validity remaining.  If your passport has 1 year remaining you should consider renewing now as well, especially if you plan on multiple trips this year.  Starting in 2016 you will also no longer receive page inserts overseas.  You will need at least two empty pages.  If you do not, renew now.

Doing so now would help avoid unpleasant surprises or last minute cancellations of your vacation due to an expired or full passport. Even though your passport is valid, many countries are now requiring at the very least six months of validity remaining.  I can’t stress enough, if in doubt, renew.

Mail is the quickest and cheapest route to renew; you can find all of the forms and requirements on the State Department’s website.

If you just realized your passport is expired, or under six months, you will need to use the expedited service.  This process should take under 3 weeks, but that is not guaranteed.  Besides the application fee of $110 you will also pay an additional $60 to speed things along.
If at any point you pause to think, “Is 4 to 6 weeks enough time”?  EXPEDITE!

No passport. No vacation.

Your Travel Agent.

Currency Tips

Hello Travelers,

With every vacation the question arises, how much cash should I take?  Do I need more than 1 credit card and/or ATM card? Should I take Travelers Checks?

I advise you take both cash and plastic, and leave the Travelers Checks at home.  Here is why:

Travelers Checks as a main source of payment are becoming rare and most businesses do not take them.  The exchange rate, plus a cashing fee, will end up costing more than its worth.

Cash is simple for everyday purchases like a souvenir or a bottle of water. If you run out, ATMs are everywhere and will distribute cash in the local currency at or near inter-bank exchange rates. If given the option of being “charged in your home currency” (USD) instead of the local currency, ALWAYS choose the LOCAL CURRENCY to avoid the extra fee for the “convenience.” The simple rule is to always withdraw based on the local currency for the best deal.

Credit Cards take the hassle out of the currency exchange rate, and will usually give you the best exchange rates (better than exchanging cash at a kiosk or at the airport). Each credit card company is different when it comes to foreign transaction fees, I suggest checking with you credit card company so you are not surprised when you get home. The merchant may ask you if you want this charged in the local currency or your home currency (USD).  Always choose the LOCAL CURRENCY!  Your bank will do the proper exchange rate for that date of purchase.

Please note: Some businesses require the purchase to be 10 (euros or pounds) and over to use a credit card, so make sure you always have cash.

Taking a single credit card with you can be risky. You need to be prepared for any circumstance as you are a long way from home.  I always suggest having a backup.  Keep it separate from the others.  If lost or stolen you can still enjoy your vacation with little or no hassle.

Remember to write down both the toll-free and international collect numbers provided on the back of your credit cards in case it is lost or stolen.  You will need those numbers to call the credit card company as soon as possible.

On a final note, you should contact your credit card/bank before leaving to inform them what countries you will be using your cards and to check your daily spending limit and increase or decrease as you see fit.   You don’t want your card declined due to safety precautions when trying to use them.

Most of all, spend wisely, and enjoy your vacation!

Your Travel Agent.

New Friends

Hello Travelers,

I have clients tell me again and again that one of the most rewarding parts of their tours, are the people they meet while traveling. The group dynamics in the tours we offer are remarkable! By the end of a tour, the group participants truly become like a “family.” You will share many wonderful experiences with the folks you travel with and many travelers have made life-long friends with people they have met on the tours.

Please keep in mind that, due to privacy concerns, neither Escape World Travel nor the Tour Operators we work with can share any type of personal information regarding our clients. If you do meet people on the tour who you would like to keep in touch with and you most likely will! – remember to get their contact information before you part ways and keep it in a safe place until you return home. When you do arrive home, immediately add the information to your address book or email list.

You may even want to consider bringing a small address book with you on the tour so you can add your new friend’s information on the spot!

In Travel,

Your Travel Agent

Travel Chronicles

Hello Travelers!

Today I would like to break down the weather conditions you may run into while on your vacation, and how to prepare for them.

The weather in Europe is not too much unlike The United States. Take for instance the Northern countries like the United Kingdom and France, which have warm summer days and cool fall nights just like the northern portion of the United States. Italy, on the other hand, is further south and would be more on par with the southern states like Florida. So, if you are traveling earlier in the year t-shirts, shorts, or a polo shirt will do for most occasions. If you plan on traveling in late summer and into fall you may want to add a sweater and some long sleeves for the cooler evenings.

Similar to France, northern Spain and Portugal also enjoy mild summer days, and often cool fall evenings, so a light jacket will definitely come in handy. However, be sure to carry sunblock with you when traveling to southern Spain, which enjoys a very different climate from it’s counterpart to the north. Here, late spring all the way through early fall is known for scorching temperatures, so sunglasses and a hat are valuable accessories to have readily at hand.

If your adventures take you on the Heart of Europe Grand Tour spanning seven countries be prepared to experience every condition. Starting in Holland and on to Germany this will be your more moderately cool temperatures. This is where t-shirts for some may be fine, and for others a long sleeve is needed. Dressing in layers is usually a great idea, as it will allow you the most flexibility in varying temperatures.

Don’t take the weather for granted no matter what country you travel to, because if one thing is certain around the globe, it’s that the weather can always throw an unexpected curve ball. Just as at home, a warm summer day could turn to stormy conditions, or a cold fall day could surprise us with a high in the 60’s or 70’s.

Be prepared and pack accordingly. There may not be a need to take a full sized umbrella that takes up valuable space in your suitcase, and is cumbersome to carry around, but a poncho in your backpack as you enjoy the city will come in handy for an unexpected rain shower.

The most important thing to remember is to have a good time, rain or shine!

Happy Traveling!
Your Travel Agent

Travel Chronicles

Hello Travelers!

 

This week we will be going over suitcases, carry-ons, and their packing requirements.

 

The first step is to make sure that your suitcase size fits within the requirements of the tour company and airlines. In most cases, the tour company has more stringent rules about size because there is less room on the motor coach than there is on the airplane.

 

The standard weight is 50 lbs. for a checked piece of baggage, and 15 lbs. for a carry-on. Even though they say 50 lbs., really you should only pack it to about 40 lbs. so that you have enough room after your purchases and mementos so that you don’t exceed the limit on your way home.

 

Some suitcases now have an ‘expand’ feature.  When measuring your suitcase make sure you take this into account.  If you are measuring before the tour without the expansion, you shouldn’t expand it on the tour.  If everyone did that, there wouldn’t be enough room on the bus for everyone’s luggage by the end of the tour!

 

As for your carry-on bag, you really need to know what the bus requirements are. The airlines usually will allow you to take another small suitcase to but in the overhead bins. This is not the case with the European buses. Usually your carry-on bag is supposed to sit underneath the seat in front of you because the motor coaches don’t have overhead compartments.

 

You shouldn’t push the dimensions for your carry-on bag, because it would just mean that you would have to carry it on your lap throughout the whole tour if it does not fit underneath the seat in front of you.

 

To enjoy your tour to its fullest extent, knowing the requirements and following them will allow for a more comfortable ride for yourself and other passengers.

 

Your Travel Agent

Travel Chronicles

Hello Travelers,
I have clients tell me again and again that one of the most rewarding parts of their tours, are the people they meet while traveling. The group dynamics in the tours we offer are remarkable. By the end of a tour, the group participants truly become like a “family”. You will share many wonderful experiences with the folks you travel with and many travelers have made life-long friends with people they have met on the tours.
Please keep in mind that, due to privacy concerns, neither Escape World Travel nor the Tour Operators we work with can share any type of personal information regarding our clients. If you do meet people on the tour who you would like to keep in touch with and you most likely will! – remember to get their contact information before you part ways and keep it in a safe place until you return home. When you do arrive home, immediately add the information to your address book or email list.
You may even want to consider bringing a small address book with you on the tour so you can add your new friend’s information on the spot!

In Travel,
Your Travel Agent

Comments Off on Travel Chronicles

Travel Chronicles

Hello Travelers,

For this week we are going to take a breather from all the things you need to remember before the trip and focus on remembering the trip long after your vacation has ended.

The natural expectations of your friends and family, and yourself, will be the picture perfect “post-card” photo of the Eiffel tower or some other famous landmark; and of course, a photo of yourself in front of that famous landmark. After doing so, here are a few photographs that will create a well-rounded photo album to help you remember your vacation.

If there is time, walk an extra block away from the landmark and explore the neighborhood around the corner. This is where you will find locals, not other tourists with a camera. Add authenticity to your photos by including landmarks off the beaten path, or signs with names and local prices written in the local language.

While taking scenic photos the best time is at dawn or dusk. If time permits take as many cityscapes, mountain, and landmark photos then. It will not always be possible, but if it is, snap away.

If you plan on buying more cards for your camera, buy 8GB or 16GB cards. Cards can go as high as 32GB and 64GB, and will hold more photographs, but you don’t want to lose your entire vacation because of a corrupt or lost card.

Don’t forget to submit your favorite photos to our annual photo contest. Winners will be chosen and awarded a $200 travel certificate for 1st place, $100 for 2nd, and $50 for 3rd. There is also a $25 travel certificate if your image is used in any publication.

You can send your photographs via email to photocontest@imagetours.com or to: Image Tours Photo Contest, 2828 Kraft Ave. SE, Grand Rapids, MI. 49519

Photographs are an important part of remembering your vacation, but don’t forget to set the camera down and simply enjoy the scenery you have in front of you once in a while.

Your Travel Agent.

Travel Chronicles

Hello Travelers,

 

With every vacation the question arises, how much cash should I take?  Do I need more than 1 credit card and/or ATM card?

 

Should I take Travelers Checks?

 

I advise you take both cash and plastic, and leave the Travelers Checks at home.  Here is why:

 

Travelers Checks as a main source of payment is becoming rare and most businesses do not take them.  The exchange rate, plus a cashing fee, will end up costing more than its worth.

 

With today’s technology a street vendor may have the ability to take an ATM or credit card, but simple everyday purchases like a souvenir or a bottle of water while walking down the street in Paris will be easier bought with cash than credit.   If you run out, ATMs are everywhere and will distribute cash in the local currency.

While making larger purchases in Europe, using a credit card will take the hassle out of the currency exchange rate.  Remember that each credit card company is different when it comes to foreign transaction fees.  I suggest checking with you credit card company so you are not surprised when you get home.

 

Taking a single credit card with you can be risky. You need to be prepared for any circumstance as you are a long way from home.  I always suggest having a backup.  Keep it separate from the other/s.  If lost or stolen you can still enjoy your vacation with little or no hassle.

 

With that said, remember to write down the 1800 numbers provided on the back of your credit cards in case it is lost or stolen.  You will need those numbers to call the credit card company as soon as possible.

 

On a final note, you should contact your credit card/bank before leaving to inform them that you are leaving the country and to check your daily spending limit and increase or decrease as you see fit.   You don’t want your card declined due to safety precautions when trying to use them.

 

Most of all, spend wisely, and enjoy your vacation!

 

Your Travel Agent.