Packing up the family for a little holiday travel to another country can be educational as well as loads of fun. Kids read books about other countries year round but when school lets out for summer vacation and baseball season is winding down, there's nothing like a little hands on cultural experience to broaden a child’s view of the world as a whole. But many would be tourists don’t know how to plan a vacation overseas especially when holiday travel is involved.
Travel agents tell me that regardless of the economic environment, their 4th of July and Christmas vacation packages are their best sellers. I suppose that overseas family vacations during the holidays are common. Some take this opportunity to visit family that still resides in the old country and to squeeze in some sightseeing while they are there.
Regardless of the reasons behind the vacation, what you need is a simple plan for your vacation that will take as much worry, stress and chance of failure out of the mix.
Planning the vacation and getting a good deal on a vacation package with lots of extras is a great kick off, but by no means is the job of preparation complete at this stage. Traveling outside the United States requires some extra planning and holiday travel can be even trickier to pull off than at any other time.
Everything seems to take three times longer than normal during this time because employees in the travel industry also like to take their vacations when they can extend them by attaching them to a long holiday weekend.
Here are some tips on ways to get a jump on your holiday travel plans so that you will be ready for your family vacation in July far in advance.
PASSPORTS and PHOTO IDs
Every traveler over the age of 12 is well aware that you have to have a passport to get in and out of the country. What many people do not know is how long it can take you to get your passport. You may be surprised to learn that it takes anywhere from one to three months after you finally drag yourself down to the United States Postal Services to actually have your passport in your hands. There is an option that will bump your passport onto the expedited list, but it’s expensive and even this method takes longer close to a holiday. The best travel advice I can give is to apply for your passport long before you need it and to keep it current from that point forward.
Once you have your passport and your tickets for goodness sakes, hold onto them. Put them in a safe place and don’t take any chances on losing them or letting some loser ruin your holiday travel plans by snatching your purse with all of your necessary documents inside.
DO NOT WAIT TO VACCINATE!
Leaving the country is like starting school in a way, you have to have the proper vaccinations. Once you decide which country and have your holiday travel and vacation ideas mapped out, you should find out which vaccinations are required and which may be optional.
Discuss your vaccinations your family physician so that he can tell you how far apart the vaccinations will be spaced in the series. You will need to have all of the required vaccinations administered well before your time of departure, so timing is everything. Don't wait until the last minute or you may not be leaving the country.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MONEY….MONEY!!!
Sing it with me now! Oh yeah, you knew that your holiday travel plans were going to take a bite out of your pocketbook, but it’s a good idea to get a fair portion of it exchanged at your bank before you fly beyond our borders. It’s not required to take care of this before you reach foreign soil, but why waste your vacation days standing in long lines at a foreign bank where the language barrier could make things more complicated and difficult?
TIME TO GO
Get to the airport early…VERY EARLY. I have gotten to the airport as early as three hours ahead of time only to have to sprint to the plane at the last minute. Computer glitches, luggage problems and other screw ups can take hours to untangle so don’t assume that you can waltz in and take a seat at the last minute. There are more things that need to be verified, stamped, tagged and inspected than you could ever imagine and that all takes time. Take it from me; get there early and don’t take a chance on your holiday travel plans being trashed over a missed flight.
Please make plans to visit us again soon to find more cheap vacation ideas and advice for how to put together a simple plan that will keep your holiday getaway from becoming a travel nightmare.
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