Top Tips From Our Travel Consultants
Our travel professionals offer you some of their favorite travel tips. Whether you’re traveling near or far, we know you have questions. Below you’ll find answers to some commonly asked questions about traveling. Read our staff and client’s travel stories. And become prepared with travel tips.
Traveling to a Non-English Speaking Country
Visiting a country where English is not the primary language can be an adventure. And don’t we travel for the adventure and to explore outside our comfort zone?! Most major cities around the world have people who speak some English. Especially those popular in tourism. You’ll likely find that the more remote you travel, the less English speakers you’ll find.
Don’t let that scare you though. 93% of our communication is nonverbal. It’s amazing how much you can say without using your words. Try using hand gestures or pointing. Getting creative while traveling often creates great memories.
Learning a couple of basic terms in the native language of the country is always a good idea. Not only is it respectful, but knowing the words for things like “bathroom” comes in handy when you’re out-and-about. Plus, the locals will be happy to see that you’re trying.
Driving in another country can be quite intimidating. We’re happy to answer our client’s questions about obtaining an International Drivers License. Don’t assume the laws are the same here as they are anywhere else.
It’s a good idea to arrive in a country with some local currency. If you haven’t left yet, then your bank or credit union are probably the best places to exchange money.
If you are abroad and in need of local currency, then a great place to head to is an ATM. Check the details of your credit cards for the foreign transaction fees. Some even offer international ATM fee reimbursements.
You can usually find an ATM in any airport and often inside convenience stores (make sure to bring a spare card in case a machine eats yours).
Prepaid cards in the local currency are also an excellent way of paying for your expenses. Couples traveling together should have individual cards for some extra peace of mind.
One tip when it comes to tipping abroad: Some restaurants will include a tip automatically. Be sure to check your receipt to avoid tipping twice.
Travel with Common Sense
This is a very important trip tip: Take your brain, street smarts, and intuition with you. Just like you do at home, exercise some precautions while traveling.
Sexual harassment and assault are not limited to one region or culture. It’s important for all travelers to maintain a degree of awareness about behavior, clothing, and overall etiquette.
If you’re not sure, check with your travel consultant. If you’re already on your trip, then talk to your hotel’s staff; they are a good source to learn about neighborhoods you should avoid while exploring. Of course, there are still taboos no matter who you are or where you go.
Just like anywhere else, you’ll want to use your common sense while walking around. You may want to err on the side of caution in some countries when it comes to public displays of affection.
Be aware of your surroundings, don’t totally trust strangers, and watch out for pick-pocketers.
You want to consider leaving your valuables tucked away within your accommodations while you explore; your room safe or a safety deposit box are good options.
Only take the minimum such as your ID, cash, and key, and cell phone. Most importantly, trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, leave. We want you to explore the world, but please be safe while you do it.
What If I Miss My Flight?
What if the Airline Loses My Luggage?
What if My Passport is Stolen?
What if I Need Emergency Medical Help on My Vacation?
What if I Get Caught in a Natural or Man-Made Disaster?
6 Tips Before Leaving Home
1. Make your home look lived in. Adjust your blinds to make your house appear occupied. Have your lawn cut if you’re going on a trip longer than a week or two.
Arrange to have your mail held at the Post Office and cancel all deliveries.
3. E-mail a copy of your itinerary to yourself, keep a copy in your luggage and leave a copy with a family member or friend.
4. Put identification both inside and outside all luggage. The name on your luggage should match the name on your airline ticket.
5. Pack charging equipment for your technology in your carry on, including a battery pack. multi-outlet power strips are helpful when needing to recharge an item while in an airport.
Reconfirm your flights 72-hours prior to departure and check in online within 24 hours of flight departure.
How to Pack
- Research the weather forecast for your destinations so you can pack appropriately.
- Combine your luggage with your travel partner’s in order to cut down on checked bags.
- How often will you be navigating airports, rail stations, and hotels? Maybe splitting your one large suitcase into two smaller ones will work better. Look at your itinerary and decide what will work best for you.
- Prescription medication should always be in its original container with the prescription attached. If you don’t have the original bottles then, at the bare minimum, bring your prescription with you. Ideally, your medication should go in your hand luggage, for easy access and safety.
- Include any activities you’ll want for your flight in your carry on. We also suggest packing a change of clothes (including underwear), your medication, and any chargers for your electronics. Maybe pack your swimsuit if you’re going somewhere warm and want to get in the water asap!
5 Tips While Traveling
Keep your wallet with you at all times and avoid carrying large quantities of cash.
Lock valuables either in your room’s safe or the hotel’s safety deposit boxes.
Refrain from making any jokes about security issues. Remarks about bombs or violent action will be taken seriously and in certain cases could lead to an arrest.
Only use recognized ground transportation services. Be wary of solicitors offering “low-cost service”. It may turn out to be unreliable, expensive, and uninsured. Let your Willamette consultant book a transfer for you in advance.
Always carry cash, medicine, and valuables on the plane with you; don’t place in checked luggage. Best practice? Don’t take anything with you that you would be sad to lose.
The first step in achieving your travel dreams is getting a passport. The U.S. Department of State has a full list of required documents and steps to take.
If you already have one, make sure to check the expiration date.
You’ll need to renew it if the expiration date is within 6-months of your U.S. departure date and your return date. Otherwise, you may be denied entry to your country of choice.
Homeland Security is changing the rules of domestic travel in May 2025.
Make sure you have correct identification before you travel.
Beginning May 2025, Homeland Security will begin enforcing the new Real ID Act which was passed back in 2005. This means that you will need a Real ID compliant driver’s license in order to fly within the United States. You won’t be permitted through the airport security without it or another form of TSA approved identification. Acceptable identification for domestic air travel will include passports, passport cards, enhanced driver’s licenses, military IDs and trusted traveler cards, such as Global Entry. The state of Oregon may not be in compliance with real ID in time, so a trip to the DMV to get a passport card may be a safe backup!
Check your license for one of the symbols below. If you have one then you are good to go, if not, you should check with your state’s DMV.
Any travel magazine or social media post can place visions of idealistic vacations in your mind. Our job, as your travel consultant, has many responsibilities. One is to arrange the different pieces of your trip, another is to prepare you for the realities that come with it. Our travel stories come directly from our clients and staff. They’re authentic accounts of real trips they’ve taken. And a great way for you to get fresh ideas and provide you with a glimpse of the true magic traveling has to offer.