December 26, 2009

An Ounce of Prevention . . .

Travel should be fun and exciting and filled with joy not stress.  At most the only aggravation you should suffer is telling your family, 'There will be no whining, you WILL have fun!'  The last thing you want to deal with is loss or theft.  Either can ruin a trip.  So I thought I'd reiterate some wisdom I've heard through the years and throw in some of my advice with the hope it saves you some grief should any of this ever happen to you.
Always, always, always pack a couple outfits, clean underwear and your medication in your carry-on bags!  Nothing says disappointment like spending the first days of a trip in your hotel room waiting for your bags.  Chances are you'll get them back but at a minimum the same clothes for one or two days really stinks!  As for medication most insurance companies don't want to pay for early refills or replacements.  If it's dire such as heart medication they should give you an "emergency supply" to get you through the trip without much hassle.  If they insist that they won't cover the expense don't order a complete refill instead order just enough to cover the number of days you are away.  A helpful hint - should you need medication check to see if the hotel you are staying at has a pharmacy that will deliver to your hotel (Disney World's hotels do).
Next check your identification's expiration date.  Do you know what year your ID renews?  This actually happened to my husband.  We left a few days before his birthday and when we got to the airport the security person said, "Your drivers license is about to expire."  This is a problem if you are planning to get back on a airplane to come home after your birthday.  Luckily, we had our passports.  A helpful hint - mark your calendar with a future expiration date reminder so it notifies you in advance.
There's not much worse than lost or stolen identification but the absolute worst is a missing passport.  Why? Because you are in a foreign country having to prove your citizenship to get a replacement and you can't get home without it.  The process is much less painful if you carry a photo copy. It makes replacement much easier and faster (this advice might just as easily be applied to a driver's license or photo ID).  You could also email yourself a copy.  If you are paranoid about identity theft (as I am) do not make the reproduction color and write "copy/not for reproduction" all over it.

If you don't have a passport plan on ordering it well in advance of your trip (months) since it takes about eight weeks or longer for it to process.  I've heard a few horror stories from folks who didn't realize this.  There are some quick turn around sites like but you will pay for the rush (starting at about $99). A helpful hint - try going to a smaller passport office you may not have to wait quite as long because the passport office of origin has fewer applications to "pre-process" on their end.  It really is a good idea to just go ahead and get one. Things have changed a lot since 911 and you and your children will need it for any destination out of the country including Canada and Mexico.   You can fill out or download a passport application form on the US Dept. of State website.
Last of all, if you travel with your laptop (actually even if you don't travel) LoJack for Laptops is a good investment.  It's available for both PC and MAC and it promises to aid police in the recovery of your laptop should it get stolen.  According to the FBI, over two million laptops are stolen every year.  They're valuable and potentially contain information about you that you don't care to give to criminals. Reports are the police like this product a lot because it has led them not just to the recovery of your laptop but to car theft rings and drug houses.  No kidding! Installation is easy and the premium version comes with a guarantee.
I hope this information helps you travel safer and hassle free.

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