Here’s what you need to know before taking your first trip abroad

Traveling abroad for the first time is always an exciting prospect, but it’s also something you need to prepare extensively for.

Planning well in advance will keep you from getting overwhelmed.

 

Taking your first trip abroad?

 

The prospect can be as exciting as it is intimidating.

 

A new country means a new culture, unique cuisine, and sometimes even a new language!

 

What’s there not to like?

 

With so much excitement, however, it’s easy to miss a few key details that can complicate your trip.

 

Luckily, we’ve got you covered, and we’ve compiled a list of tips to help this trip start and finish as successfully as possible.

 

Let’s get started!

 

Don’t leave your passport for last!

 

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many leave acquiring their passports to the very last moment!

 

If you’re planning to go abroad, no matter where you go, this should be the very first thing you acquire. Yes, even before your plane tickets or making reservations in a hotel.

 

As of 2019, once you’ve finished all the steps necessary, you can get a passport in a little over two weeks.

 

Once it’s in your hands, then you can start planning.

 

Find out whether you need a visa.

 

Not so fast!

 

Some countries out there require you to get a visa, so once again, before you start making any serious plans, do a little research on this subject.

 

Sometimes you can get the visa in advance; sometimes you need to go to your consulate and sometimes the country you want to go to will let you acquire a visa at the airport.

 

The process can be very different from country to country, so it pays to do your research well in advance.

 

Choose your destination wisely.

 

Now that you have your passport and visa, the world is your oyster. All you need to do is choose your destination.

 

First-time travelers tend to want to stick close to home, so they choose countries they can get to in just a couple of hours; Others are a bit more adventurous and cross entire oceans to get somewhere else.

 

Regardless of where you want to go, ask yourself these questions:

 

  • Do I know the local language?
  • Do I know anyone in the country I’m visiting?
  • Do I know anything about the local culture?
  • Do I have a way to communicate with my friends and family?
  • Do I have access to an interpreter?

 

Answering no to these questions shouldn’t stop you from traveling abroad, but the more of these questions you can reply with a yes, the easier traveling will be.

 

Get familiar with the currency.

 

Before you leave your country, make sure you understand how the currency of the country you’re traveling with works.

 

You don’t want to depend on the kindness and honesty of strangers.

 

Get familiar with the bills, the coins, the value of each, and the average costs of basic things; If possible, exchange your money before you get to the new country and practice with it to really get the hang of it.

 

While you’re at it, you should also find out whether you can use your credit or debit card there and whether you can use the local ATM’s.

 

The more knowledgeable you are about this subject, the easier it will be to move around.

Here’s how to pack for a long trip like a pro

Traveling for a long trip can be a daunting subject. After all, it’s very tempting to pack things you think you’ll use, only to find out your suitcase won’t close.

 

If that has happened to you, read on, as the following tips will make your life a lot easier!

 

If there anything more exciting than going on a trip?

Yes, an extended vacation!

 

More time traveling means more places to visit and more adventures to enjoy.

However, it also means dealing with more luggage, or at least, dealing with packing as efficiently as possible.

 

The prospect can be a little daunting. After all, airfare is expensive, and the more you carry with you, the more expensive it gets.

 

With that in mind, we’ve come up with some easy to follow tips to pack like an expert!

 

Pack what you think you need, then halve it.

 

No matter where you’re going, chances are you’ll want to take a lot of clothes with you, just in case.

 

Extra underwear is a given, but so are those extra pairs of pants, that sweater that might come in useful, those fancy clothes in case you get invited to a party and so on.

 

Grab everything you think you’ll need, then challenge yourself to halve it. This way, you’ll be able to separate the true essentials from the rest.

 

Other countries have laundries.

 

Unless you’re planning to visit more than one country, one week worth of clothes is all you need.

 

No, really.

 

Most hotels offer laundry services, and even if they don’t, you can always find a laundry somewhere in the city you’re staying in.

 

Sure, they might be different from what you’re used to, and you may not even speak the local language, but laundry, is laundry.

 

If all else fails, just buy a little detergent and wash your clothes in your sink.

 

It’s far from the most elegant solution, but it’s affordable, and it will keep your clothes clean through your trip.

 

Organization tools are always useful.

 

You might think that you’re a champion at folding clothes and you know how to take advantage of every nook and cranny in your suitcase, but you’d be amazed just how much of a difference organization tools can make.

 

Packing cubes and bags may not look like a big deal, but once you’ve started using them, you’ll wonder how you’ve managed to live without them all this time.

 

Seriously, a good pair of packing bags can turn an entire suitcase worth of clothes into a carry-on, so don’t knock them until you’ve tried them.

 

Footwear matters.

 

Shoes take up a lot of space, so you’ll need to be very selective about what you’re taking with you.

 

Those dressy shoes you love may look great on you but might not be great for walking around a new city, and they’re not suitable for exploring.

 

Think carefully about the activities you have planned and choose your footwear based on those; We all like to fantasize, but this is something you need to be realistic about.

 

As an extra tip, remember to wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane!

 

It’s not the most comfortable of choices, but you’ll save a lot of valuable suitcase space that way.

 

Don’t forget to pack a travel adapter.

 

Remember, not all countries use the same kind of sockets, so you should always reserve a space for your travel adapter, no matter where you go.

 

Better safe than sorry, right?

How To Never Miss Your Flight

Missing a flight is never fun, and it’s certainly not cheap; Start your trip with the right foot and avoid missing your flight by following these easy tips.  

 

If you’re a frequent traveler, chances are you’ve missed your flight at least once.  Don’t worry. It happens to the best of us.  

Maybe you overslept and couldn’t get to the airport in time; perhaps there was unexpected traffic; maybe you took too long eating, or you simply couldn’t find your gate in time. 

Whatever the reason, more often than not, there’s something we could’ve done to avoid that, so we’ve compiled this small list of tips to ensure you never miss a flight again! 

 

Check-in online 

While this isn’t a possibility for every flight out there, checking-in online is a sure way of shaving off some serious time in the airport.  

This is twice as effective if you pack light and only have a carry-on, as you won’t have any heavy luggage to drop-off.  

Even when checking-in online, make sure to follow the old “one hour for national flights, two hours for international flights” rule.  

The goal is never to miss your flight, not to find a reason to arrive at the airport later.  

 

Keep an eye on the schedule.  

Flight information screens are good and all, but they shouldn’t be your only resource.  

Most airlines have an app that will help you stay on top of your flight schedule, but you can also sign up for texts if you’d like to have a backup.

 

Know where to park 

Knowing which parking lot is closest to your gate can save you a lot of time navigating the airport, and this applies whether you have a car or you’re just being dropped off.  

If you’re driving your own car, choosing an airport parking lot with shuttle service, like San Diego’s Park Shuttle & Fly can save you time and a headache, making it more likely that you’ll reach your flight in time.  

 

Know the layout.  

Whether it’s your regular airport or a brand new one, knowing the layout can help you prevent confusions.  

You don’t need to know the layout of the whole place; Just make sure you know where your gate is and how long it will take you to get there. 

When waiting for your flight, try to stick to the general area and locate nearby restrooms and restaurants; and if your favorite one isn’t nearby, at least identify the fastest way of getting to your gate. (Though we wouldn’t risk it.) 

 

Prepare for the security line.  

You can always identify frequent travelers at the security line because they’re the ones that get in and out the fastest.  

They know what they can get through security and what won’t be allowed, they know what clothes to remove and what to leave on, and they know precisely how many trays they need for their belongings.  

Learn from those security line geniuses and do a bit of research beforehand to know exactly what to do when the time comes.  

It may sound ridiculous, but the lines at the security areas can get incredibly long, and you’ll soon learn to appreciate efficient travelers.  

These Items Will Make Your Flight More Comfortable!

As airplane seats get smaller and airplanes get more crowded, it may seem impossible to be comfortable during a flight. However, the following items prove you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for convenience.  

We’ve previously talked about the best ways to fall asleep on a plane.  The trick was to get as comfortable as possible with a combination of simple hacks and some must-have objects. We want to dig a little deeper on the subject by offering you a list of items that will make any flight a lot more comfortable.

 

Seat Pouch 

Whether your things are in the overhead compartment or under your seat, having to get up or move around to retrieve something is always a pain. To avoid these, use a portable seat pouch to store your necessities right in front of you — no need to move or disturb your fellow passengers.  

Travel Wallet 

If you’re thinking about what constitutes as an essential, a travel wallet is definitely that.  Store your passport, plane tickets, cash, ID, and anything else you might need in one and avoid having to search for your documents before, during, or after your flight.  

 

Travel Pillow 

Why mess with the classics? Travel pillows are popular because they work and can help even the longest flights be more bearable. If you’re worried about the bulk, don’t be. There are inflatable travel pillows out there.  

 

Eye Mask 

The easiest way to be comfortable in a plane is to create a private space for yourself.  There’s not a lot one can do about being the company, but an eye mask is an excellent way of enjoying some privacy.  

 

Noise-canceling Earplugs
On the subject of blocking out your fellow travelers, one can’t simply overlook the power of earplugs. Turn on the noise-canceling function and enjoy your favorite playlist. You’ll forget you’re in a crowded airplane in no time. (Just make sure not to sing out loud or headbang!) 

 

A shawl, scarf, or light hoodie. 
Whether you’re traveling to a tropical paradise or a winter getaway, you can be sure the airplane is going to be uncomfortably cold.  Keep easy to fold, yet warm clothing article in your carry-on and take it out before you board.  

 

Powerbank 

It doesn’t matter if your flight is long or short, chances are you’ll be using some gadget to entertain yourself until you reach your destination.  If that’s the case, you’ll want to pack a power bank in your carry on, as no one likes to run out of juice mid-flight.  Make sure to check with your airline before boarding, though, as some power banks may not be allowed outside of your luggage.  

While we’re on the subject of failing gadgets, remember to pre-download all your in-flight entertainment; a lot of airplanes nowadays are offering wifi in their plains, but you don’t want to rely on that. 

 

Books or magazines.  

Yes, we mean paperbacks.  Ebooks are good and all, but they still depend on power, which means they’re not infallible. Keeping a small book or magazine in your carry-on will provide you with flight entertainment just in case your gadgets fail for any reason.  

And if you’re an avid paperback reader? 
Then more power to you.  

Three Reasons Why You Should Consider Getting a Passport

Passports are a lot more useful than most people realize and in a country like the USA, where less than half of the population have one, it can open many, many doors.

It’s estimated that less than half of Americans have an active passport and even less have ever been outside the USA.

It makes sense, of course. With a country as vast and varied as America, there’s plenty of traveling you can do around the country without going through the legal process needed to get a passport.

However, we’re of the idea that having one is always a good thing, and today we’ll tell you exactly why.

Passports Make Great Identifications

There’s plenty of debate around what constitutes a valid ID and what doesn’t, but passports tend to fall on the positive side of the discussion more often than not.

Sure, a bartender might not know what to do if presented with one for the first time,but as a federally recognized form of identification, there’s an excellent chance it will be accepted nonetheless.

Think about it, your driver’s license may or may not be valid outside of your state, but a passport? A passport can work worldwide!

Passports are Empowering

No, really. Think of it this way, you may not be planning to travel abroad anytime soon, but having a valid passport turns this into a “want” situation as opposed to a “can” one. Now, you can say you don’t want to travel to Europe, instead of saying you can’t travel, because having a passport gives you the gift of choice.

Speaking of gifts…

Passports Can Help You In Good and Bad Situations

Wouldn’t it suck if you won an all-expenses-paid trip to Bali that you have to skip be-cause you don’t have a passport?

Traveling Abroad With Your Dog

More and more people are choosing to travel abroad with their dog in search of new adventures, but while this can be a fantastic bonding experience, it can be pretty
tricky if you’re not prepared.

Dogs have gone from being man’s best friend to being part of the family and, which means traveling without them is falling out of style. While taking your dog along when running errands or even letting them join you at  work is commonplace, taking them abroad is a whole other ballpark.

Luckily, things are getting more manageable in this respect, but there’s still a lot  you need to consider. If you’re thinking about traveling abroad with your dog, you should consider these  things:

DO YOUR RESEARCH
Let’s cut right to the chase. Not all countries are as pet-friendly as the United  States.

While pet culture is spreading around the globe, a lot of countries still consider them “just animals,” which means your dog might not receive a warm welcome.

A quick research on how dogs are treated in your destination is a must, as you want  to know how easy (or hard) it will be to find dog-friendly places.

If the country, you plan to visit doesn’t have a dog culture you might even have to consider leaving your dog behind. After all, traveling all the way to a new country only to stay in a strange room all day long can be scary for any dog.

GET A PET PASSPORT
Yes, dogs need passports too.

Dog passports are issued by specialized veterinarians and contain proof that your  dog is healthy, vaccinated and meets all requirements to travel abroad.

Ask your vet about getting a passport. If they can’t issue one, chances are they know someone who can.

While you’re at it, get your dog a checkup and, if he isn’t, make sure to microchip them, as that’s another requirement your dog needs to meet.  Plan Accordingly

PLAN ACCORDINGLY

We’re not talking just pet-friendly accommodations here. We’re talking the whole vacation.

Your dog is traveling with you, so make sure they have fun too!

Make a list of nearby parks, pet-friendly restaurants and cafés, pet shops, dog parks and anywhere else your four-legged friend would like to visit.

Sure, your dog will be happy to be by your side no matter where you go, but who doesn’t like being treated to fun activities now and then?

PLAN FOR THE WORST

Yes, that seems a little dramatic, but it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Yes, a new country means adventure, it also means unique flora and fauna, some of which can be dangerous for your dog.

The stress of the trip and the new environment can also lead to some problems you  weren’t expecting and if that wasn’t enough, well, let’s face it: Accidents happen.

While a positive mentality and a can-do attitude can take you very far, it pays to have some contingencies in place just in case things don’t go as planned, so we suggest you find a vet well in advance of taking your dog abroad.

Knowing a vet in the country you’re visiting is also a fantastic way of ensuring your  dog has fun during your vacations, as no one is more familiar with the best hang-out spots for dogs than those who work with them.

6 Tips for Cheap Airfare

Traveling by plane is expensive, but there’s plenty you can do to cut on airfare prices.
Follow these six tips to get cheaper flights.

 

Airfare is often the most significant expense when it comes to vacations, and it also tends to be the one thing you can’t skip.

Airlines are well aware of this and are often looking for ways to maximize their profits, which can lead to even more expensive airplane tickets.

Because we believe money should be spent in experiences, we’ve compiled a short list of tricks you can use to keep your airfare as cheap as possible.

 

Flexibility Pays
Sure, it’s more comfortable to travel in the late morning or early afternoon during a weekend, but most people feel the same way.

High-demand can drive prices up, so try looking for flights that leave at inconvenient hours or days; Those are almost always noticeably cheaper.

 

Avoid High Seasons!
The previous advice applies to entire seasons as well, except this time it pays off even better.

Are you going to the beach for the summer? You’ll pay more.

Are you going to the mountain in the winter? Same deal.

Try switching things up and visit popular destinations during the low-seasons; This won’t only save you money on airfare, it will make your entire stay a lot more affordable.

 

Choose Your Airport
It’s always more convenient to depart from your local airport and arrive at the closest one to your destination. However, looking for alternative destinations can save you some serious bucks.

Don’t be afraid to look for nearby cities where you can rent a car in or even choose completely alternative destinations.

Going with the flow is more comfortable, sure, but it’s also a lot more expensive.

 

Flying Direct Can Be More Costly
This isn’t always the case, so this one is not a “one solution fits all,” but sometimes it’s a lot more affordable to choose flights with layovers than to choose a direct flight.

Splitting your trip between two or more airlines can also help you save money, even though it might seem counterproductive.

Say you’re traveling from Washington to Cancún.

Is it cheaper to take a direct flight or is it more affordable to take an international flight to Guadalajara and then a cheap national flight to Cancún?

Compare prices and see the difference for yourself!

 

Look for Budget Airlines
Let’s be upfront: Budget airlines aren’t the most comfortable out there.

They’re small, they’re cramped, and they have some draconian laws when it comes to luggage and carry-ons.

They’re also budget friendly, and a round trip on a budget airline can be much cheaper than a flight with the Big Names.

While we’re all for comfort when it comes to long trips, if your flight is only a couple of hours long, you should seriously consider the budget option.

All that money you’re spending on a movie’s worth of comfortable air travel can be better spent in a delicious meal or a fun, touristic attraction in your destiny of choice.

 

Take Advantage of Discounts!
Student, elderly, veteran, etc. Ask your airline what sort of discounts they offer and use them.

 

 

Staying Clean On-the-Go!

Staying clean can make a huge difference both in your daily life and on vacations. Follow these tips to stay clean on-the-go!

Long-haul plane travels are often the start of a wonderful adventure, but they can also be challenging, particularly if it’s your first time on one.
While paying attention to your itinerary and knowing how to pack are crucial aspects of traveling, people tend to forget a pretty important one: Personal hygiene.
Believe it or not, staying clean while traveling can not only help you stay fresh and comfortable, but it can help you avoid getting the kind of diseases that could ruin your experience.

Luckily, staying clean while traveling is very easy. You just have to follow these tips.

 

 Keep Your Hands Clean
While they may look bright and shiny, airports aren’t the tidiest places out there. Thousands, if not millions, of people, walk those halls every day, and no amount of cleaning will ever keep an airplane spotless.

Wash your hands with soap and water whenever possible, particularly after you’ve been in contact with surfaces like desks and tables.

While on the airplane, wash your hands after using the restroom and considering using a paper towel when opening the door.

You should also carry a travel-sized hand sanitizer, which can help you clean your hand and sanitize surfaces, like the airplane’s food tray.

 

Mouth Wash is Your Friend
Nothing beats brushing your teeth but doing so while on a long-haul flight can be challenging, if not downright impossible.

Carrying around a travel-sized bottle of mouth wash can help you with this problem; It won’t ever replace a thorough brushing, but it can help you stay fresh in a pinch.

You should also consider avoiding strong smelling foods before boarding the plane. It might not do much for your comforts, but other travelers will thank you.

 

Wet Wipes Can Help a Lot!
Wet wipes are some of the most versatile and useful things you can have in your carry on.

Not only can they be used alongside hand sanitizer to clean surfaces, but you can use them on their own to freshen up on the go.

You can use them to clean hand sanitizer residue from your hands or to wipe away that grimy feeling you get after too many hours traveling.

You can also use them to clean up any spilled liquids or any food stains you may get on your clothes.

Trust us, keep them around and you’re guaranteed to find a use for them.

 

Keep a Change of Socks with You
If your trip is particularly long, keeping an extra pair of socks on your carry-on can make a huge difference, as they’ll help your feet feel refreshed and may even help you take off your shoes during the flight with confidence, which is not only more comfortable but can also help prevent clots, which are an all too common side effect of intercontinental air travel.

 

Just make sure to change them while you’re in the restroom or before boarding the plane, not while sitting next to someone else!

Preparing Your Car for Long Term Storage

The big day is here.

You’ve bought your tickets, packed your bags, left your pets with a trusted friend, and triple checked that all your papers are in order.

Now all you need to do is drive to the airport, leave your car with us and get on the plane…Right?
Not quite.

Leaving your car parked for an extended time, even in a lot with 24-hour surveillance and lighted parking areas like ours, requires a few preparations to make sure everything goes well while you’re vacationing.
Don’t worry. You can do most of these the night before your flight or maybe even right before leaving.

Clean It
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised just how many people forget.
You can do this yourself, or you can take your car to the car wash, as long as you make sure your vehicle is clean both inside and out.
Pay particular attention to the inside and leave no corner unchecked, particularly if you frequently eat in your car.
No one likes coming from a long vacation only to discover something went bad inside their car.

Fill the Tank
Filling the tank achieves three things:

For starters, it will ensure you can get back home after your vacations with no interruption.
Second, it means that, in the event of unexpected vacation expenses, you’ll have plenty of gasoline in the tank once you return. No need to fill a tank while you’re juggling an expense you hadn’t planned for.
Third, topping off your tank can prevent moisture from gathering inside it, which can lead to rust.  This is usually only necessary if you’re traveling for more than a month, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

(If you’re leaving for even longer, adding a stabilizer is always a good idea.)

Find a Storage Location
When leaving your car for an extended amount of time, it’s always a good idea to park it somewhere you trust.
In San Diego’s Park, Shuttle & Fly we offer 24-hour lot access, surveillance and airport shuttle, making us both a safe and comfortable spot.
We even have shaded parking at no additional cost, so there’s no need to worry about the sun!

Make Sure the Battery is Fully Charged
Returning from a long trip only to find out your car has run out of battery is a sure way of burning through all your vacation-born good vibes.
Like keeping a full tank, fully charging your battery ensures you can get out of the airport and back home with as little fuss and as fast as possible!

Service Your Car
If you’re planning to leave for an extended time then this is your best bet; It may seem like an unnecessary additional expense before a long trip, but it’s the perfect way of ensuring your car is in top shape when you return.

The service shop is also an excellent place to get more tips on this subject, so don’t be afraid to ask!

 

5 Easy Tips to Sleep on a Plane

If you’re a frequent traveler, chances are you’ve seen them — those mythical travelers who seem to fall asleep the moment their heads hit the back of their seat.
It almost seems like magic how they seem to be in command on when they sleep while the rest of us twist and turn for the duration of our flight.
We may not be able to explain why some people find it so easy to fall asleep, but we can give you some tips that will help you sleep on a plane.
Who knows? With enough practice, you might even become one of those airplane unicorns.

Go for the Window Seat
Window seats may be more cramped than aisle seats, but the wall and window can be leaned-on, and that’s a much more comfortable position than trying to sleep while sitting straight.
Window seats also tend to afford more privacy. Sure, there might be a stranger sitting next to you, but that’s only one stranger, as opposed to the two you’ll be getting if you sit in the middle seat, or the crowd you get when sitting on the aisle seat.

Keep Your Face Covered
Eye masks, oversized hoodies, a small blanket, etc. Any item that can keep light away from your eyes and create a barrier between you and the rest of the plane will go a long way when it comes to achieving sleep.
It might not be as dark as your room, but it will be a lot better than the brightly lit interior of the plane.
Extra points if the object you’re using is one of your favorites. The extra comfort our favorite items give us is always a big help.

Get as Much Feet Space as Possible
This can be remarkably hard considering planes seem to be shrinking, but unless you’re exceptionally tall, keeping your carry on on the overhead compartment can earn you at least a couple of inches.
Leaning your seat back slightly can also help you be more comfortable, and by doing both things, you’ll find it easier to get in a position you can sleep on.

Wear Headphones
Wearing headphones is a great way of adding an extra layer of privacy to your flight.
You may not be able to leave your seat, but soothing music or ambient noises can make a world of difference.
Believe it or not, strange noises can play a more significant part in sleeping problems than loud noises, so if you like listening to rock’n’roll to relax, then go right ahead.
What matters is that you give your brain something familiar to listen to, as opposed to unfamiliar plane noises.

Ask Not to Be Disturbed
There’s nothing more frustrating than finally achieving sleep only to be woken up by the flight attendant offering you peanuts, so if you plan to sleep –or at least attempt to– for a portion of the flight, then make sure to ask the attendant, and your row mates, to avoid waking you up.

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