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Check whether your hotel rate includes breakfast or not. Generally, hotels in the USA never include breakfast, whilst most European and British hotels do include at least a continental breakfast, except for some of the really deluxe hotels, which are usually on a room only basis.
The highest category hotel overseas is Deluxe. The second category is First Class (Superior) and is usually far more expensive than its South African equivalent.
If you cannot afford travel insurance, you cannot afford to travel!!! Baggage insurance is very expensive and claims are limited to articles valued at R500,00 or less.
Please lock your baggage with a key or small padlock. Don’t make it easy for the would be thief! In case the outside label should become lost, place an adhesive label with your home address inside the suitcase.
If you are leaving your home unattended during your absence, it is not a bad idea to ensure your baggage label is protected against prying eyes at check-in counters, by only having your ONWARD destination on it. I always take an extra supply of labels along with me and each time I take another flight, I change the destination on the label accordingly. This also makes it easier to trace you, if your baggage should happen to go astray.
Always carry a change of underwear, socks, and if possible, a shirt in your overnight bag in case you and your baggage get separated.
If you wear glasses, keep a copy of your lens prescription in your wallet. It is a lot easier to simply replace glasses than find a good optician to test your eyes.
You should also take along with you, copies of relevant pages of your passport, air tickets and some extra photos. These should be kept in a separate place to the original documents, e.g. in your main suitcase. With these photocopies, you should also keep, separate from your actual travellers cheques, the slips giving the record of the serial numbers of your travellers cheques. You would not be the first person to be mugged whilst overseas, and it is not much fun to be stranded in a strange country with no air ticket, no passport, no travellers cheques and no credit cards!! And no proof of whom you are!!
When re-confirming your onward flight, which you should always do at least 72 hours prior to your departure, check on airport departure tax. This tax, particularly in the Far East, is usually paid in that country’s local currency. Imagine spending your last few bits of local currency before leaving for the airport, only to find that you have to cash in a large denomination of travellers cheques, just to pay a few Rands worth for airport tax.
Because all your flights are on computer, it may well happen that if you are a no show for one flight, the computer will automatically cancel all the subsequent flights on your itinerary. It is thus in your own interest to let the airlines know your plans.
Whilst it is tempting to drink yourself into a stupor on a long international flight, remember that alcohol dehydrates you and where there are big time changes involved, it is more likely to cause “jet-lag”.
Please remember that there is a difference between DIRECT and a Non-stop flight. The former simply means that you do not physically disembark to change to another flight; however, the plane may stop once or even twice en route to its destination. The latter is what it says, i.e. no stops.
When you travel, keep a supply (about 20-30) of $1 bills on you. They are useful for tips, the occasional cup of coffee whilst in transit, the odd phone call from the airport etc. If not legal tender wherever you are, it is easier to change a few dollars than a travellers’ cheque in a large denomination, when you only need a few rands worth of local currency.
If you are relying on purchases at duty-free shops at international airports, remember that often many of these shops close relatively early in the evening. For example, Geneva duty-free closes at 22h00 and Rome is also ‘toegesluit’ before midnight. If therefore you are to depart late at night, make sure you have not left your important gift or other buying for the last moment. Make sure by buying your essentials in town before travelling to the airport.
If you are travelling on business, ask your travel agent to check public holidays in the countries you are visiting. There is not much use arriving in a city whose business’s are all closed.
When money and time permits on a business trip, use the weekend to try and get out of the city, to either a nearby resort area or even take some full day or half day excursion; apart from giving you a little R & R, you get to see more of the country than just another big city.
When it does happen that you have to cancel a flight, a hired car or hotel accommodation, always make a note of the date, time and the name of the person to whom you spoke, in case of a later claim that you failed to advise of your change of plans.
It is now perfectly legal for South Africans to hold a foreign passport, in addition to their South African one. Forms for permission may be obtained from our office or the Department of Home Affairs. If you are lucky enough to be eligible for this, it obviates the hassle of visa’s. If you are not one of the lucky ones, and particularly if you travel frequently to destinations requiring visa’s, apply for permission to hold two South African passports; thus, if your passport is away for 2-3 weeks getting one of the more difficult visas, and you have to make a sudden unexpected trip, (albeit to Swaziland), you still have a valid travel document at all times.
For those travelling Economy Class, remember that most fares are seasonal, based on your departure date. Thus, if you have to go on business, and your appointments are fairly flexible, you may save money by travelling a few days earlier or later. Also, if you are going to be away for less than the required minimum stay needed on the cheaper fare, try and stick to only one airline. They are often prepared to waive the minimum stay provided no other airline is involved and no-one else knows.
Nowadays, most countries require that when hiring a car, you produce not only an International Drivers Licence, but your local one as well. A certified copy from your ID book will suffice.
If you are a frequent traveller, keep a little medical kit constantly packed at home, in a small cosmetic purse or similar. Place in it, any medication you take regularly, contact lens equipment, plus emergency items such as Panado, Band-Aids, medication for diarrhea, decongestants, etc. If you have a sensitive stomach, make it a rule to only drink bottled water when away from home, no matter where. It is not that the water from other cities is bad, it is just that it’s different. Avoid eating lettuce in very hot climate.