When traveling overseas, three questions frequently asked by my clients are:
Do I need to exchange money before I leave the US?
If, so, how much should I exchange? and
Where can I exchange money?
As I prepare myself and 14 others for an amazing Group Trip to Germany in about a month and a half, the topic of currency has come up. Many of us are preparing to obtain Euros for our Vacation!
As it happens, American Dollars are widely accepted in many places all over the world. However, the change you receive back when spending them will always be in the country’s own local currency. Sometimes, you may not receive any change back at all when using US Dollars. This it totally dependent upon the exchange rate. At least, such has been my own personal experience while traveling.
Travelers checks are losing popularity, since they are so easy to forge and now many businesses won't even accept them! I wouldn't waste my time purchasing these.
BANKS, HOTELS, ATM'S & AIRPORT EXCHANGE COUNTERS-
Banks, hotels, and airport exchange counters typically charge higher fees to use their service. My Personal Favorite: ATM. Most ATM machines are often your best friend in that they're fairly accessible worldwide, and tend to give the best exhange rate. Talk to your bank first, to see what kind of surcharges, if any, you may be charged by the provider when using the ATM. Since ATM machines are so widely available around the planet, you shouldn't have any problem obtaining local currency this way.
Large purchases are best made with your credit card. Check with your credit card company about any foreign conversion fees. Some companies tend to charge as much as 3%; while others do not. Always let you card company know the date you will be leaving the US , which countries you will be visiting, and the day you will return stateside. That way, when a charge is processed abroad, the card company knows in advance that it's really you using the card, and your account won’t be frozen while they investigate,. The last thing you need is to be frozen from your money, in a foreign country, with no extra funds on hand. This could be a traveling nightmare!
DO EXCHANGE AHEAD OF TIME-
I try to personally exchange about $100 in foreign currency before leaving the US, just to make it easier for purchasing incidentals upon arrival (like that luxury cup of coffee, a soda, snacks, a sandwich or water bottle). After that, I use the ATM for any advances or to purchase things when needed, with a credit card.
LOCAL US BANK-
I like working with my local bank. It takes the bank about 5 business days to procure the foreign currency for me. I pay for the order up front with a nominal fee. The bank will typically buy back the currency upon my return that I didn't spend, but it will be at the current rate of exchange which may or may not be the same as I paid for it in the beginning. So far, I have not had extra cash upon my return. If any is left, I consider it my special “souvenir”, and normally it gets placed into my scrapbook.
ONLINE EXCHANGE SERVICE-
Another option is to order foreign currency from online exchange services- although I have not done this. A few of our clients have used this service and seemed to be pleased with it.
Check out the XE-Currency Exchange. Knowing the current exchange rate when shopping (ahead of time) is very handy. www.xe.com
How have you exchanged currency while traveling overseas? Please share with us in the COMMENTS section below.
Keeping Your ID's Safe while Traveling-
TO TAKE WITH YOU ON YOUR VACATION-
As soon as you have your amazing trip planned and have received all of your travel documents from your travel consultant, it’s very important to prepare for that vacation with a little prior organization:
TO LEAVE AT HOME-
Leave at home on the kitchen counter or other accessible spot for a trusted person to enter and retrieve for you in an emergency:
Travel Agent for Free?
We truly LOVE to help our clients find their Perfect Vacation!! We spend hours & hours researching & finding that wonderful vacation tailor-made specifically for you. And our prices are very competitive in the industry (we price match) & many times can beat what one has found online. Don't forget the perks like On-Board Credits, Resort Credits, Freebies, Specials on Travel, etc. If you'd like to spend hours & hours online trying to find that "lowest priced trip" then we're not for you. If you'd like someone to spend one-on-one time with you, doing all the leg-work for you, & helping you consider various options in planning your vacation, then we're your consultant. If you don't want to spend hours on hold with some 800# trying to figure out why you accidentally booked the wrong room and how to fix it, then we're the company to contact.
It honestly still amazes me when a friend or potential new client expects me to work for FREE! I don't know anyone who'd willingly work for FREE on their job...Yikes! What really upsets me is doing all this work for a potential client and then they go ahead and book it themselves, with all of the information we spent preparing for them. Nothing aggravates me more!
Perhaps a consulting fee is the best approach in our business instead of relying upon commissions only from the Cruise Lines and Vacation Resorts. We've toyed with this idea for a couple years now, but hesitate because we know our value as a consultant not charging a fee is appreciated in the industry.
We'd love to help you find that Dream Vacation, but it does take considerable time, resources and knowledge from our professional staff. As a small, female owned local travel consultancy business, we sincerely appreciate our loyal clients who use our services time and time again. Thank you for your patronage and we promise to do all we can to continue to earn your business for life! We're here for you!
Traveling with Medicines -- What YOU WANT to Know- By Jen Campbell
Many of us carry simple Over-the-Counter medicines for minor aches and pains (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin), and perhaps even heartburn or sinus medications. Then there are those of us who absolutely must have prescription medications on hand. If you’re like me you have the cute weekly dispenser for meds. However, traveling with your medication requires you to plan ahead. Keep in mind many medicines look similar. You don’t want to learn the hard way about a foreign countries laws about their drugs.
The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) division of the Department of Homeland Security has clearly spelled out guidelines for medications while traveling.
Here's a quick, helpful list of Top 5 Tips for traveling with medications overseas:
1. Take only the amount necessary for the duration of the travel period.
2. Declare any addictive drugs to the CBP official when re-entering the United States from your foreign travels. These include any medicines containing a narcotic (cough syrups and pills with codeine, for instance; tranquilizers, sleeping pills, etc).
3. Carry prescriptions in their original containers bearing the pharmacy label, physician’s name, etc.
4. Carry only the quantity that a person in the condition for which the medication is prescribed would need for the travel period.
5. Carry a prescription or written statement from the doctor who issued the prescription stating the medicine is needed for one’s condition.
Also, never, ever pack medications in your checked baggage. All medications should be packed in one’s carry-on luggage always. And about those little plastic dispensers? Once arriving at your overseas destination, use them, but be sure to have the original container and the doctor’s prescription on hand (if necessary) to prove the need for them.
More detailed information about allowed articles and substances crossing borders can be found at the Customs and Border Protection website.
8 Quick Money Saving Tips for Cruisers!
1. Booking through a Travel Agent can get you special perks like discounted transfers, amenities, extra service, coordinated flights, book you within a group, offer many times a much lower price and specialized, unique shore excursions.We’ve got you covered!
2. Room service is free (with most cruise lines) but specialty restaurants, bistros, alcohol and cafés cost extra.
3. The absolute least expensive time to cruise is during the fall months of the year (think hurricane season).But not to worry, the captains are well trained on avoiding any major storms and will steer clear of these.
4. Book any special spa treatments on days that the ship is in the port. Services will cost less, and there will be minimal lines!
5. Formal nights are optional on most cruise lines. Pack lightly and if you’re not into all that hype and pomp, just dress casual, skip the formal night and hit the delicious nightly buffet.
6. Choose a larger, newer ship for the kids; they’ll have more activity choices to choose from and won’t get as bored.
7. Save money by booking shore excursions through a tour company or a Travel Agent instead of the cruise line. Sometimes, you can save up to 30%!
8. Book early! The best fares are available as soon as the sailings are announced with each cruise line. This can be 12-18 months out from the date of embarkation and this timeframe can save you a lot of money.
One of my most favorite islands to date, come and explore this amazingly beautiful island with us! Bermuda is sooo gorgeous!
Bermuda has a chain of over 180 coral islands and inlets. It's a mere 650 miles away from the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC. When you think of NC weather, you've got this island's weather pretty much figured out. July-September are the hottest months! The travel season is limited, which explains why this island is one of the pricier places to visit. This island is completely dependent upon rainfall for their fresh water source. and groceries can be pricy here as well (think shipping all items to this island and you realize why the cost can be higher to live here).
Tourism is one of the top industries in Bermuda (the second being international business). From the gorgeous scenery to discover, it's easy to see why Bermuda tops the list of THE DESTINATIONS to explore!
Ruled by Britain, you can see the influence everywhere you look!! Think cozy shops, very friendly folks and delicious food. From the Bermuda Shorts, knee high socks with penny loafers, Bermuda style is all it's own!
Transportation is easy and super convenient in Bermuda. The ferry service is on time (we actually missed one ferry that was punctual) when we were checking out cute, bustling Hamilton. Should you venture onto the bus system, prepare to have a blast! Our bus was full when we finally got on, so each time we stopped, we had to jump off the bus then jump back on. Our driver flew through the small roads, and at one point our bus driver hit the curb!! The ride was hilarious! Be sure to purchase the 2 day pass, we did and were glad. The combo pass made it super convenient to get around the islands. The price made it very reasonable too.
When we journeyed to Bermuda last fall, we took a cruise there and stayed for 2 full days in port. The first day we discovered the fun Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo. It was great fun! I loved the small monkeys on the trees (not in a cage but out in the open). After we enjoyed some time in the zoo and aquarium, we ventured over into the AZU Beastro for a quick snack. The staff was friendly and the peacock strutting about loved our snacks too. I tried out the Dark and Stormy (their signature Bermuda drink) that wasn't half bad.
My favorite tropical beach to date is definitely Jacob's Cove, Bermuda! A secluded, non touristy, well kept secret, Jacob's Cove is a TOP BEACH in my book. There's a small cove perfect for small children to play in the calm surf....build a sand castle or admire the gorgeous tropical fish that casually swim about. This place is a true piece of heaven on earth. Should you need a snack, a small mobile stand is set up with light snacks (think water, beer, French fries, etc.). This was by far my most favored location in Bermuda and I'm already dreaming of heading back there again soon.
Eating out was a breeze and fun! We ate at a small restaurant in Hamilton, with yummy appetizers and a delicious Rum Swizzle.
Interested in visiting Bermuda? You'll be glad you journeyed there. I'm already ready to head back to Bermuda again very soon.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO BERMUDA, PLEASE COMMENT BELOW!
Rume Tri-Fold Clothing Organizer Review- By Jen Campbell
I love this new product. I actually saw it on a Facebook ad that was run, and I did a quick review of the product, and saw that it was EXACTLY what I needed/wanted for my next Vacation to Germany!
So, I plan to pack a week’s worth of clothing and two pairs of shoes for my Germany trip in this Rume Garment Travel Organizer. It is actually 2 feature in one: It includes Packing Cubes and a Garment Bag, plus is a great travel organizer.
I intend to place this garment bag into my carry-on, which will save me some money for other fun things while there. The product claims to leave items wrinkle free and perfect for wearing. I really like the organization that this will give my suitcase! I like my stuff to be organized and easily seen in my suitcase. I can’t stand clothes all over the place in my bag. This looks like it will fit the trick perfectly.
It claims to have an easy 3 Step Process:
THE RUME PRODUCT FEATURES-
eBage TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible Review- By Jen Campbell
The eBags TLS Mother Lode Weekender Convertible is really amazing! I'd never bought an ebag before and checked all the reviews very carefully, prior to my purchase. The reviews all looked great! With the durability and apparent long-lasting value of the backpack/carry-on option for a "Mother Lode" of a trip upcoming for me, I decided to bite the bullet and go ahead and buy it. The price seemed quite fairly reasonable for the bag. Boy am I glad I did! THIS BAG TOTALLY ROCKS!!
So, I purchased mine for an upcoming 10 Day Germany trip, and I wanted to test it first. So I decided to try it out (dry run) before I packed for my Big Vacation! I see why it was awarded the “Best-of-field” award for design, durable materials and exceptional value. Quite possibly my last Travel Pack I may ever need, this Carry-on Convertible is loaded with so many super smart features; Slide your laptop into the sling (won't need this as I'm keeping mine at home) that adjusts for a perfect fit, a nice expandable compartment, contoured Air mesh and super comfortable backpack straps, a travel organizer, fold down shelf in the middle section, the list goes on and on - and at 3.7 lbs, it's amazingly light weight. I liked the ability of the backpack to expand (when I added a few select purchases to my bag) and I needed to be able to consider the ebag TLS Mother Lode Weekend Convertible backpack as my "carry-on" for my 2 plane rides home! I think this bag might just do the trick...
When I packed it up for my Great Wolf Lodge weekend trip last week (see our previous review), I still had plenty of extra room to spare inside the bag. I simply slung it on my back and off I went. The straps didn't dig into your shoulders (quite comfortable) it seemed to have a ton of room, and all the special compartments will surely help me pack for my next Big Adventure! I think this backpack will last me and my travels for many years to come!!
Should you want to purchase your own eBags Mother Lode Weekender Backpack, the link to Amazon is below!
Escape Destinations Travel Blog- Exploring our favorite travel places with You!