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Miscellaneous Travel Tips



  • Getting a cell phone for your trip abroad? Research your destination countryís laws regarding cell phone use. Some countries (Brazil, United Kingdom, Switzerland, etc.) prohibit driving while using the phone. In Singapore, youíll lose the phone and pay a $600 fine or spend a year in jail. Cell phone use is banned on Japanís commuter trains.
  • Save the maps from your trip. You can highlight your route(s) and use the maps in a scrapbook or photo album of your travels to add a nice design element.
  • Keep a small journal or notebook handy as you travel. Record your impressions, including favorite sites, restaurants, and hotels. Your personal insights are more meaningful than photos, and can be kept in your photo album, scrapbook, or travel file.
  • Photographs of illuminated city buildings will render best when taken at dusk or twilight, not in the full darkness of night.
  • If you are planning to buy a bird overseas, learn about the strict regulations for bringing it into the United States from the USDAís Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). These rules include obtaining a health certificate from the country in which youíre buying the bird, and submitting the bird to a 30-day quarantine period at an approved facility. Smuggled birds may bring in diseases (such as the Newcastle virus) that could severely affect the U.S.ís commercial poultry flocks.
  • Students should always carry a student ID card no matter where they are traveling because airlines, hotels, attractions, etc. frequently offer discounts or other benefits to full-time students. Itís best to get a valid International Student Identity Card for international travel.
  • When hiking, refrain from picking wildflowers. If you want a specimen so you can find out its name, take a picture instead.
  • Did you know there is no governing body regulating worldwide time zones? Itís up to individual countries to determine when, and if, they observe daylight savings. Use WTAís Links section to find the local time anywhere in the world. To see a map view of time zones, try
  • In case of an emergency while traveling, have the contact numbers for all the people you plan to visit with you. Also carry a list of banks and credit card companies you may need to reach to cancel cards or increase your credit limit.
  • Rather than carrying around a bulky address book, prepare pre-addressed labels before you leave home to use for postcards and letters to send back to family and friends.
  • Whether you choose to use convenient disposable cameras or your regular camera, purchase the camera and film at home. Prices tend to be much higher at popular tourist attractions.
  • Itís a good idea to make sure your personal papers (will, insurance, etc.) are in order before a trip. Also make sure a loved one at home knows where the papers are and how to get access to them if something unforeseen happens to you.
  • Don't alert would-be thieves to the fact that you're away from home. Hire someone to do outside maintenance (mowing, snow removal) while you're gone.
  • Although you probably suspend your mail and newspaper delivery while you're away, you know that sometimes the process breaks down and it arrives anyway! Ask a friend to check for papers and mail if you will be away for more than a few days. They can also pick up any 'complimentary' papers whose presence could indicate an empty home.
  • Do a quick check before leaving home to make sure all the door and window locks work properly. Also check all your smoke detectors to make sure they are working and have fresh batteries.
  • Leaving the frigid north for the winter to be warmed by the southern sun? Be sure to leave the heat set high enough so the pipes won't freeze in your home.
  • If you would like your vacation album to be eye-catching, copy the pros. Look at a few travel magazines to get a sense of how to compose a picture. Note how most photos are clean and uncluttered. Simplify by focusing in on one subject, rather than taking in a whole array of objects.
  • To take the most flattering photos, catch your subjects when they are in the shade. The midday sun can create shadows around the eyes.
  • Feel you didn't get what was promised on your vacation? Send a formal letter (via certified or registered mail) to the company you paid for the service. Try to keep the tone positive so the reader will want to help you. Explain the major complaints, providing specific dates, times, employee names, etc. Attach copies of any supporting documentation. Don't threaten legal action in the initial letter; if you do, the company will likely send the letter to the legal department, which will slow down the process. Also, since refunding the money may be viewed as an admission of guilt, the company will be reluctant to do so if they believe the matter may be court-bound.