If you have plans to travel abroad, there are some things you can do to make your travel more affordable, enjoyable and less stressful. Part of our responsibility as travel agents, besides offering a seamless travel, is to remind our clients about some of the following hacks:
ATM or DEBIT CARD Charges
Do Not opt for Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) when using your debit or credit card: DCC applies to transactions in which ATMs or merchants abroad offer to convert your purchase or withdrawal amount to dollars making it sound like it’s out of convenience to you but in reality you pay an additional charge — up to 7% — on top of the amount you would actually pay if you allow MasterCard or Visa to perform the conversion. To avoid this trap, we suggest carrying a no foreign transaction fee credit card and debit card when traveling abroad to guarantee you get the best exchange rates on your international charges.
LOCAL CURRENCY CASH
When getting cash in a local currency, take the following into consideration:
Foreign transaction fees are a fixed percentage (anywhere between 1% and 3%) which are added to the total of any transaction.
Foreign ATM fees are a fixed dollar amount (between $2 and $5) on to every ATM withdrawal.
A lack of transaction fees does NOT necessarily make a form of currency exchange a good option since exchange rates vary depending on how you convert your currency.
Breeze through customs by downloading this app. This U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authorized app allows you to expedite entry process into the United States. Mobile Passport Control (MPC) will allow eligible travelers to submit their passport information and customs declaration form via a smartphone or tablet prior to CBP inspection. Just answer a few short questions, snap a selfie and you’re done. The app will allow you to even add one or more passports of your travel companions. You will specially love this when watch the long line of people waiting in line, while with app, you literally bypass the long lines. Download the “Mobile Pass” app and you’re good to go.
Global Entry or TSA Precheck which cuts your wait time to less than 5 minutes and you get to keep your shoes on!
To get your TSA approved, follow these steps:
• Make sure your U.S. passport is current.
• File an application for Global Entry for international flights ($100 application fee payable every five (5) years).
• Once the application is received by the Transportation Security Administration, they’ll contact you within a few days advising you to make an appointment.
• Make an appointment at a Global Entry Office at a participating airport (some states also have local offices).
• You need your passport during your “interview” and one other form of ID.
• Answer some questions which are very similar to the ones your filled out in the application.
• You will have your fingerprint taken (which is later used for verification at the kiosk) as well as a headshot.
• You will receive your card in the mail within a few weeks but you do not have to carry your card with you if you are flying (You do need the card if you enter the county by sea, car or train).
• The next time you land at a major airport after an international flight, you head directly to a Global Entry kiosk, scan your passport, let the machine take your fingerprint and a headshot and you’re done.
• For domestic flights, you may apply for TSA and pay $85 (5-year membership) and go through the same steps.
• If you have any immigration or customs law violations in the past, you are automatically disqualified.
If you travel more than two or three times a year, opting in for these programs is a great investment in your time. For additional information, visit:
Some trips deserve more than selfies. Occasions like honeymoons, anniversaries, family holidays, solo adventures and even surprise proposals are perfect moments to capture. You may even simply believe that memories are the best souvenir and connecting with a local is part of the magic of travel. When you sign up for a flytographer, a fun, friendly local photographer excited to capture your vacation memories will join you and show you around their city. Shoots are usually one hour. Your photos will be sent to your email within 5 days of your shoot. You will receive a beautiful online gallery that you can download, share and print. This is a unique, fun concept is actually very affordable. Check it out at:
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. This also helps family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
We also recommend making a copy of your passport and leave it with a trusted family member or friend back home.
Traveling abroad, especially for the first time
has its challenges, but with these hacks and a good travel agent by your side,
you will enjoy a hassle-free travel experience