Posts Tagged ‘customer service in the travel industry’

100 Travel Tips

September 1, 2011

This is an extract from my FREE E-Book, 100 Travel Tips which is available for download  as a FREE E-BOOK from  Smashwords in most reader formats, iTunesReader Store and Barnes & Noble.

This book is divided into 3 sections:

Before the trip

At the airport and on the plane

At your destination

Here I will add the first section, and you can download the rest of the book on the link above.

BEFORE THE TRIP

RESEARCH

Firstly you need to plan your trip. Where do you want to go do and how much do you want to spend. Ideally do searches on the Internet and visit various travel agents to research all the options available to you.

Once you have reached a decision, you can book the trip. That’s only the start, now you have some preparation to do…

PASSPORTS

The most obvious! Make sure your passport is valid of at least another 6 months after your return.

Always, always, always have at least two copies of your passport and travel documents. One set you keep at home and the other in one of your suitcases. If your passport is lost or stolen, you cannot prove who you are or even visit your consulate in a foreign country without identification. Like this at least you have a spare copy on you, and if all else fails, another copy safely at home.

In most cities you can buy a holder for your passport. These are really practical as you can store your frequent flyer and boarding cards in them as well. Thus everything to do with your flight is in one holder.

Visas. The requirements change daily! Check whether you need one and leave ample time before the trip to apply for your visa.

BOOKING YOUR HOTEL

Some hotels, especially family hotels, offer a fully inclusive package with meals and certain beverages included. Often they have facilities and events to keep the children occupied during the day as well. There are great deals out there, but you need to look for them.

Package tours are often advertised at good prices, however you need to remember that you do not have much freedom to do your own thing. There are set times and set activities. If you want freedom, you have to plan your own thing.

If you are a light sleeper and sensitive to noise – NEVER book a room next to an elevator! Also, give preference to inside facing rooms and not rooms facing the street – this will reduce car and highway noise. Always have a set of earplugs on you.

Some hotels don’t offer free coffee and tea in the rooms and have no kettle. Check for this when booking. Or travel with a small heating element so you can make coffee in your room. Also carry some coffee, milk and sugar sachets with you. This saves a lot of money.

Booking through and agent, or specialist Internet sites is often cheaper than booking direct. These agents get special rates.

Booking anything, from flights to hotels, is much cheaper ‘out of season, than ‘in season.’ Good to know if you are on a tight budget.

A central hotel may be slightly more expensive than a hotel on the outskirts of a city. But when you add the travel costs into the equation to get to all the sights, it may be cheaper at the end of the day to book the central hotel.

Few hotels have an iron and board in the cupboard. Some will let you use one by phoning the ‘House Keeping’ department. Most hotels don’t have this and charge you premium rates for ironing. Check this beforehand. Alternatively pack a small travel iron.

Few hotels have an umbrella available. If you are going to a city where the weather will be bad, pack a small collapsible umbrella. It will be cheaper to buy it at home than from the peddler outside the hotel!

Many hotel rooms have strong air conditioners that dry out your skin and nose. Make sure you have packed a moisturiser.

YOUR AIR TICKET

Choose the seat you want when booking the flight ticket. Never leave it for the day you check in at the airport.

Check in on-line if you can 24 hours before – this is much easier and saves you standing in queues at the airport.

Today some airports let you download your boarding pass on your phone – find out about this, it is very convenient.

Be very aware that when booking an economy air ticket, many airlines have a price that includes full ‘air-miles’ (for people that collect air miles) as well as a non air mile price. Guess what? The non air mile price is usually MUCH cheaper. In fact, according to my calculations, you pay much more at the end of the day for a ticket redeemed on air miles, than you would just paying the cheapest fare. However, you need to remember that the cheaper fare does have limitations and restrictions on it. If you fly business or first class – it doesn’t really make a difference. This mainly applies to economy/coach class.

Also, be aware of the restrictions on a cheaper ticket. If there is a chance that you may need to change your ticket, rather pay the extra cost when making the original booking, as it will cost you much more to make any changes at a later date.

If you are booking a flight with a stop over, check the time between flights. If it is too short, you may miss the connection. If it is too long, are you prepared to sit in an airport for 8 hours? In this case rather book a hotel so that you can relax.

FOREX

Always order small denomination local currency before you leave. This is useful for tips, train rides, short taxi fares, cold drinks etc. There is nothing worse than arriving in a foreign city and having no cash on you. Often Bureau De Change’s run out of small notes – so order it a few days before, especially if you buy from a Bank!

Your credit card WILL NOT always work in a foreign country. Plan to phone your bank or credit card company well before you leave and get them to authorise foreign use. Also make sure you have a pin no if you need to draw cash in a foreign city.

Take only the bare minimum credit cards and other bankcard you need. If anything is lost or stolen, at least you have something left at home.

PHONES

It is often cheaper to buy a pre-paid SIM card in a foreign country and use this, than pay the foreign roaming charges on your own phone. Be very aware about foreign roaming costs – many people have been shocked at the bills on their return home from a holiday. Remember that even if someone phones you from home, the phone company charges that call to you! Find out via the net before you leave, what options are available to you in that country. Thus go for a local SIM card.

BAGGAGE & PACKING

Pack spare toiletries and essentials in case you cannot find any at your destination. Always bear in mind the fluid and spray can limitations for hand luggage – 100ml.

Always carry a universal adapter with you. Plugs vary in foreign countries and on the plane. These can be bought in most electrical stores, or even at the airport at a premium price.

People actually complain that 20kg baggage is too little. As a frequent traveller my family and I only travel with hand luggage. That 20kg luggage allowance is more than ample. Stop packing unnecessary items. Also, if you look at the cost of excess baggage, it’s way cheaper to buy a T-shirt or clothes in the foreign city than paying the excess baggage costs!

If you really have tons of little items that take up space and fill your hand luggage, consider buying one of those photographer’s jackets or waistcoats. They have tons of pockets and you can store many items here, saving precious baggage space.

Always have a change of underwear and socks in your hand luggage if you check in your main bag. Imagine it gets lost for a day or two and you arrive in a foreign city after a 12-hour flight and have no change of underwear? Need I say more?

Always have a bag pre-packed with most items you need, ready in your cupboard. Thus if you have a last minute flight to catch, all you need to add is one or two items of clean clothing. Everything should be in there already, from toiletries to your passport. You will be amazed at how much time this saves.

Keep your hand baggage within the size limitations and weight. Airlines will pull you aside if they suspect it is over weight or too large. Also, an aluminium case may look smart, but it also looks heavier than a leather case. Odds are you’ll be pulled over with an aluminium case – just a thought!

If you roll your clothes in the suitcase, you can literally get in twice to three times as much.

Pack minimal clothes. Many people work on three sets of clothes and every night they return to the hotel room they wash everything in the bath or shower, giving it a day to dry. In this way you rotate between the three sets and can travel with minimum baggage. This is ideal for short business trips.

Put a business card or hand written address card inside your baggage in case it gets lost. Name tags on the outside of a bag ALWAYS get ripped off. In this way, at least when they open the bag, they can identify who it belongs to. Add the hotel details as well when checking in on an outbound flight.

Pack small items in your shoes – this saves space.

Stick a colourful sticker on your bag, or highly colourful tape around the handle so that it stands out and you can identify it. Yes, buying a bright red bag helps, but other people buy them too. Make a point of doing something to your bag that it immediately stands out from the rest and enables you to identify it straight away.

Ladies handbags! Re-pack them before going on a trip in case you have fluids and non-friendly security items in it. There is nothing worse than having to empty your handbag in front of everyone.

Be aware of the culture of the country you are travelling too. If you end up in a conservative country where most women are covered up, you will get into trouble if you walk around in a T-shirt and shorts.

Similarly, from a business perspective, make sure you are aware of the business etiquette in a foreign culture. One mistake on your part could ruin a huge deal!

Always leave space in your baggage when you leave. Often you will but souvenirs, receive gifts, or have extra items on your return. There is nothing worse than having to buy an extra bag, or being over-weight when returning home.

Video and still camera’s take up huge amounts of packing space, and can be stolen. Most people focus so much on taking pictures, they never really enjoy the environment they are in. Today mobile phones have advances so much and many come complete with built in HD video cameras, high quality still picture cameras, and access to the Internet. These phones can fit into your pocket and do everything your laptop, video and still camera can do. Plus, by using your mobile phone you will save tons of space!

YOUR HOME

If you have pets, have you arranged for someone to feed them, or booked them into a pet care centre?

If you are away longer than a month, it may be worth your while to stop cable fees and other services during that time. You are not there anyway, so why pay for it?

Has the garden service, pool service been informed of your absence. Have you made alternative plans?

Switch off your hot water cylinder before you leave. Again you save costs on electricity. Also, should something go wrong with your hot water cylinder while you are away, how will you handle coming home to a flooded house because the water cylinder burst?

Arrange with a close friend or family member access to your home. Also supply them with all the important telephone numbers in case of an emergency, i.e. fire, theft, etc. so that they can notify the respective insurance firms/authorities if something happens.

Whoever is looking after your home, give them all your contact details at your destination. You never know if there is an emergency and they need to contact you.

Some people buy timers for their lights. These they set at predetermined times so that the lights in their home switch on and off while they are away – giving the impression that someone is at home.

If you have live plants, place them in container with water so that they don’t die while you are away. For longer periods of time, organise for someone to do this for you.

 GENERAL

Make a checklist before you travel which you can tick off before you leave. Believe me, one people always forget something. This covers you and should include everything from contact lenses to universal adaptors.

Check your travel insurance as well as medical insurance. Some credit cards only cover basic travel insurance when you buy the ticket through them. You may need to top this up.

Travel with a basic medicine kit, especially painkillers, plasters and hay fever tablets. Try finding a tablet you are familiar with in a foreign country! Almost impossible!

If you are going on a sea cruise, most ships only need you to have a visa (if applicable) for the arrival and departure port. Check this beforehand.

Before going on a cruise, find out whether you get seasick and take medication before you leave for the cruise. There is nothing worse than staying in bed on the ship for two days while recovering from seasickness after the on-board doctor has supplied you with over-priced medication.

Is your driver’s licence valid in the foreign country? You may have to get yourself an international licence. The AA usually does this for you.

If you have an itinerary planned (business or social) have it summarised on one sheet of paper that you can carry with you. It simplifies things.

If you must take your special brand conditioner with you, back it in the checked in luggage. Remember you are limited to 100ml liquids in carry-on baggage. Alternatively visit your local drug store or pharmacy and purchase some smaller travel bottles. Decant everything into these.

Yes, many countries have unique souvenirs – don’t buy them all. Most are made in Taiwan anyway. Odds are you will find the same souvenirs back home. Obviously there will be occasions where you can by a once off unique item. That’s fine – but be aware of all the tourist junk out there too.

For some or other reason people feel the need to bring back gifts for their entire social circle after a trip. It takes time, money and baggage space to buy these gifts. Many people spend their whole holiday looking for gifts to take home, rather than actually take a break and enjoy their holiday! Focus on what is important!

You can download the rest of the book for free by clicking here.