”Price is what you pay, value is what you get.”
I. THOU SHALT BEWARE OF BARGAINS.
If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Some unsavory merchants around the world are licking their chops awaiting the arrival of naïve tourists. A ‘Louis Vuitton ’purse is not always a Louis Vuitton purse…a ‘Hermes’ scarf is not always a Hermes scarf…and a ‘Rolex’ watch is not always a Rolex watch. It is not often you will find an honest merchant like the one I met in Ephesus who promises that his watches are fake.
|BEWARE OF BARGAINS AND FAKES|
II. THOU SHALT USE A KNOWLEDGEABLE AGENT.
Do work with, and take the advice of, an experienced travel consultant. Check out his or her credentials. Do not use an order taker who just calls a travel provider and books a cruise or trip that they have advertised. Look for someone who is well traveled…who has been, there done that. Someone who knows the ins-and-outs of cruising…knows whether to put you on the port side or starboard side of the ship…can advise you on the best, and safest, shore excursions, etc.
III. THOU SHALT PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE. Take a trip, not a risk. In a travel medical emergency, you may not know which hospital is best, where to go to see English-speaking doctors, or how to find local specialists. Many health insurance policies, including Medicare, policies, do not include medical coverage or evacuation insurance when abroad. Uninsured medical evacuations can cost upwards of $50,000, often times they are very much higher.
|HELICOPTER EVACUATION ON CRYSTAL SYMPHONY|
IV. THOU SHALT TRAVEL OFF SEASON.
Being flexible can save you a bundle. If possible, book your trip just before the high seasonal rates go into effect. Wanting to get out of the cold and go south for some sunshine? Plan your trip or cruise a week or so before Christmas (or any holiday). Two weeks later, the same trip can cost you double. On a cruise, opt for the lower priced category that is next to, or close to, the higher priced category.
V. THOU SHALT NOT OVER-PACK.
It really is possible to travel for a week, with only one carry-on bag, and still look chic and different every night. Now mind you, this is no easy task. However, the hardest part is not managing with limited possessions once you reach your destination. The most difficult challenge is before you ever leave home…deciding what to pack that will fit in one carry-on. Where does one start? Start with the basics. And what could be more basic than basic black? All accessories and separates should coordinate with black and be wrinkle-proof and washable. All shoes should be lightweight except for the heavy comfortable ones you should wear on the plane. Add lots of scarves and jewelry. It can be done. I know, because I did it!
|ONE WEEK IN A CARRY-ON.|
VI. THOU SHALT GO WITH YOUR GUT.
After you announce you are planning a trip, and even after you tell your friends and relatives you are using a very competent travel agent, some will still inundate you with unsolicited travel advice and fear-inducing warnings. Be polite…smile…listen to them…hear what they have to say…and then go with your gut.
VII. THOU SHALT HAND-CARRY ALL ESSENTIALS.
We all know not to pack our tickets and passports in our check-in baggage, but there are many other important documents and objects that should also be hand-carried. Those include: your medicines; lists of all your medications, any food or other allergies, and your medical and surgical history; if you are a contact lens wearer; if you have any implants such as artificial hips, knees, shoulders, or other prosthetic appliances. Also list all of your physicians and their phone numbers. And, above all, carry your phone equipped with a plan that will work from the places you are traveling. You may run into an occasional phone booth during your travels, but chances are they are more cosmetic than functional.
|PICTURESQUE, BUT NON-FUNCTIONAL, PHONE BOOTH IN SCOTTISH COUNTRYSIDE|
VIII. THOU SHALT BE AWARE OF DRIVING RULES. When renting a car, check out all the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. Find out what your personal automobile policy covers for rental cars and find out what it doesn’t cover. If you plan to rent a car out of the country, different rules apply. Some places have an age limit for renters. Some insist you take their insurance even if you claim to have it on your own policy. Some places will not allow you to take their cars across a border from one country to the next.
IX. THOU SHALT CHECK PRICES BEFOREHAND.
If you are planning to purchase a costly item abroad, you should do your homework before you leave home. Check out its price in the United States and also look up its country of origin. For the most part, it will be less expensive in its country of origin or in a third world country that has no duty on handcrafted goods. For example: Georg Jensen silver in Denmark; Baccarat crystal in France; Prada shoes in Italy and H. Stern jewelry in Brazil.
|HUGE SAVINGS ON H. STERN BRACELET IF BOUGHT IN SOUTH AMERICA|
X. THOU SHALT ANALYZE YOURSELF.
Know yourself! Know what you really like…what you really want to see or do. Do you prefer a big city or a tiny town? Land or sea travel? Camping or glamping? We all know what camping is, but glamping is a relatively new word in the travel dictionary. Glamping is glamorous camping, where stunning nature meets luxurious amenities and resort services. It provides the comfort of a hotel or lodge accommodation alongside the escapism and adventure of camping.
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer, and International Travel Consultant with THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY in CINCINNATI, OHIO. She is the winner of 46 national Travel Writing Awards.
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY JANET STEINBERG