International and Domestic
Travel/Tour Planning Checklist, v11

Planning Process:

If desired, details and information about a helpful Planning Process.

International and Domestic Travel/Tour Planning Details Checklist:
Designed and Used by Terry Struck, MD

Record Keeping:
1)  Always keep records of who, when, what (establishment and telephone number).  
2)  Always get a confirmation number or written confirmation message and bring
    a copy with you.  Destination sites will fulfill obligations that you can 
    prove. Very often the person managing a hotel or site is not the person or 
    manager with whom you communicated.  One proof of statement may save an 
    entire vacation.  Please note that generally, personal integrity means 
    more outside of the US than inside the US, just be smart about your 
    record keeping!

Initial Trip/Tour Planning Session(s):
[ ] Passport: Obtain and validate current for trip time
[ ] Visa, Permission Paperwork, and/or Fees, check if required
[ ] International Phone Codes, Learn for visiting country(ies)
[ ] Know/Learn how to call a foreign destination from outside the country and 
[ ] Learn how to call a foreign destination from inside the country 
[ ] Start gathering written medical prescriptions for any medication
    that you will carry into and out of the destination country/ies.
[ ] Use your physician to determine current or worrisome 
    immunization issues.

Know Latest Health Risks:
[ ] CDC: Check for any known health risks, diseases, vaccines:
FYI: Visiting the USA: This is a Commercial Company that helps people for a fee.

[ ] Obtain Schedules: Bus, Ferry, Train, Boat, Air, ..., as apropriate 
    for Hours, Days, Days of Week, Holiday, Season
    Flight Issues: While some flight legs may have less cost(s) 
    with other carriers, the convenience and assurances of using one carrier
    all the way usually outweighs any savings.  
    Single Carrier Strengths:
    1) Checking luggage all the way through to the final destination without
       having to pick it up at interim airports and walking it through 
       security for each of two or three flight legs.
    2) Connecting flights of the same carrier will often wait for 
       passenger/flight delays or make consideration adjustments.
    3) Lost or Delayed Baggage arrival is better managed in your interest,
       especially when the luggage dissapeared on an interim flight leg.
[ ] Perform flight bookings. Your options are:
    1) IF round trips from the same start/end point can be achieved 
       using the same carrier, THEN go online with the carrier.
    2) IF the flight involves routing other than a straight forward 
       round trip, THEN call the airline(s). Communicate directly with 
       airline booking agent(s).
    3) Hire/use a travel agent
    4) Sign up for a Tour (or Tours)
    5) Mix the Methods
    In this post 9/11 world we are trying to get three hours scheduled 
    between flight legs. Get four or five hours if you are making an 
    international flight change. Also, it is becoming wise to not book 
    any activities for destination day one, thus allowing for traumatic
    delays, and if everything is on schedule, do the city walking tour
    and just pay as you go leisurely about your own [relaxed] pace.
[ ] Purchase Ahead: Tickets, as is appropriate
[ ] Accommodations: Places to stay, book in advance, as appropriate
[ ] Tours/Events: Learn times (Hours, Days, Days of Week, Holiday, Season)
    book when/if/as appropriate, balancing risk of being there at a
    certain time and date against how busy it is and popular/available the
    attraction/event. Make sure they are open when you plan to arrive.
[ ] Schedule Car Rental(s) - [called Car Hire outside the US]
    AutoEurope is very reliable.

International Holidays:       
     Foreign Holiday dates and customs can be found at 
     Holidays (Earth Calendar) and Info About Countries (USA State Department).
Driving and Drivers License:
[ ] Obtain or validate necessity for such, by country.  
[ ] AAA is particularly good place to start for knowledge about 
    individual country requirements.  In fact we find our AAA membership
    to be rather helpful and justified for such matters.  Also, many 
    countries give discounts to AAA members and in some cases it may 
    be a discount in a country for which AAA has no connection 
    (no maps, no brochures)- for that matter, We always carry my AAA 
    member card.

[ ] Car Rental Insurance:  
1)  If you put your entire car rental on some credit cards (like VISA), 
    then you may have certain types of coverage for up to XX Days - Ask.
    Maybe for Collision Damage Waiver, Collision Damage, or Theft.
    This may apply to some foreign countries, Ask.  And in some cases,
    just not having to buy all parts of the vendor supplied insurance
    may save some travel expenses. Reasonable renter expectations 
    always apply, like not leaving a car unlocked or leaving the key 
    in the car. Note that other expenses may be required to be put
    on the Credit Card, such as purchases of Fuel and Oil.
2)  You are pretty much stuck with buying their coverage.
3)  Between credit card coverage and rental car coverage 
    you should have full coverage for most countries
4)  Obtain your "Proof of Insurance"
    before reaching your destination.
    If you are using your own insurance, then the 
    renting agent will likely ask for proof of insurance.
    Not many people carry their policy with themselves, but
    that is one solution. Many insurance companies, if asked
    can issue a credit card sized paper or plastic wallet
    sized document (some look like a credit card) that serves
    as proof of insurance. 
[ ] Trip Insurance:
1)  AAA and AARP both provide good travel insurance  
    (or access to good insurance).
2)  Some form of Travel Insurance or Purchase Protection 
    may already exist if a certain type of credit card is used.  
    Ask your card carrier(s).

[ ] Check for allowances of items into and out of each country.
    US Customs and Border Protection
    USA 1-877-227-5511
    We find USA turnaround time to questions to be about 60 days.
    We find most European turnaround times to be about 3 days.

Travel Information:
[ ] Locate travel information and read for analysis and ideas to
    evolve a plan.
1)  Fodor's gives good travel/visit ideas, 
2)  Frommer's gives good advice on places to stay. 
3)  Book Stores
4)  Library
5)  Friends
6)  Search Online - Google is not good with foreign destination breadth.
    Eventually you will come across a search engine that is good for the 
    country or area(s) that you want to visit.
7)  Oddly, one of the more interesting online sources comes from the CIA's
    World Fact Book. It gives overviews of language, religion,
    geography (with simple maps), government, and history.

1)  Always learn basic words and phrases: hello, good morning-afternoon-evening, 
    excuse me, please, thank you, yes, no, and do you speak English?
2)  Always start with a kind greeting!!!  If you don't know anything, the
    word "Hello" is known internationally and commonly used as a telephone
    greeting and is acceptable, but know the language terms for item number one.
         [We were bicycling through a village in post 
          communist Hungary when a three year old kid 
          saw us and loudly stated "hello" to us 
          from his front porch.]
3)  It is considered Rude to just bluntly start talking without a greeting.
4)  Americans are considered loud and boisterous by most of the rest of the world.
    [I.e., Don't be like that.]
5)  Talking to someone across a room or across a line is considered rude.
6)  Any Country Courtesy Discovery. We have come to learn that any attempt
    to use local language words are met with a smile of appreciation and helpfulness,
    no matter how badly we spoke.
7)  The word for 'tap water' is becoming a language requirement for us and we 
    are pretty good at drawing the concept of tap water on paper.  Everyone wants
    to sell bottled water and for the most part, most tourists only want bottled
    water, but a person can still drink ground water in a good portion of the world.
8)  Another cycling word that we have to deal with is 'AIR'.  Everyone understands
    the pantomime of pumping a standing pump; most Latinized language countries
    understand the word 'Atmosphere'.
9)  Carry a Pencil and Paper.  Discover that most people are good at Pictionary.
10) English Speaking people are good at ignoring accents on letters when they 
    copy words, names, and addresses, but to the rest of the world's languages, 
    the presence or absence of an accent mark on a written word is the difference
    between night and day.
11) Most of the world uses a person's name and using or implying someone's name
    while talking to them and not saying their name is considered poor manners.    

[ ] Get Country and major City Maps (as appropriate) beforehand!
    Hint:  Never count on obtaining a map-chart at the destination.
    Rumor: Even Columbus arrived with some maps or area sketches 
           of some coastal locations in the Americas.
1)  In the USA start looking for maps through AAA.  
2)  Michelin maps seem to be universally useful and available for auto 
    travel but not for bike travel or hiking.  
3)  British Ordnance Maps are great for biking in the UK main island.
     Similar but slightly better than USGS topographic maps for biking
     1:50,000 called Landrranger Maps(), 1:25,000 called Explorer Maps
     Long Distance Trail Maps (not necessarily for biking, investigate)
    USA topographic maps
4)  Major USA Bike Maps (and Bike Association)
    USA National Forest Maps
    Colorado, mostly City and Urban Maps (online or order)
    Colorado, most locals use National Forest Maps, OR in
    Colorado, also use Adventure Cycling Maps
    Massachusetts and some New England area
5)  Major Bike Touring Clubs or Associations  
    - Adventure Cycling (USA - Touring - We are Life Members)
    - Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC), since 1875 (UK's Largest Bicycling Organisation)
6)  If a map store is not available to you:  NOT for Biking or Hiking Detail
7)  Where appropriate, some map / key area locations can be printed / downloaded:
    Select Map menu choice, then enter the lookup name / word is  particularly good outside the USA.

Route Planning Notes:

-   Day Distance Calculation Metrics:
     Touring Mountain Bike: a 50-60 mile day on a bike with
      panniers and/or a trailer makes for a very arduous day. 
      5.5 miles an hour is a good initial planning metric.
      40-45 mile days allow for sight seeing, investigations of
      opportunity, pictures, side trips, and getting to know the 
      local culture, people, or travel acquaintances. Sometimes 
      there is no choice for a particular day, but an entire 
      route of 60+ mile days (on a mountain bike) is NOT about 
      touring or culture.
     Road Touring Bike: fully loaded, 65-80 miles a day
      is a push. Use 7.0 miles an hour for a planning metric.
      55-60 miles a day is comfortable.  
-   See Bicycle Touring Checklist for a list of items and bicycle
    touring issues to consider.
-   See Bicycle Camping Checklist for a list of items and bicycle 
    camping issues to consider.
-   See Bicycle Touring Tips, Tricks, and Survival Secrets 
    in the Bicycle and Touring Checklist.
-   See Bicycle Rental Issues, also in the Bicycling Checklist.
-   It is wise to plan the bike route to allow for the prevailing winds.  
    Generally this is west to east, but some places are known for
    trade winds that are east to west and in some cases north or 
    south bound.  Also, some winds are seasonal.  For biking, this 
    issue is especially worth investigating.
-   In 8,000+ Foot Mountains, going over one pass a day, valley 
    floor to valley floor, fully loaded, can represent a full days
    workout, energy wise. Two passes in a day, fully loaded, 
    can leave you bonked and cause physical energy depletion problems.
-   Don't confuse Miles with Kilometers: 1 Mile 1.609 Kilometers,
    and 25 Miles is 42.3 Kilometers. For more distance or 
    measurement comparisons see Measurements & Conversions - 
    Scroll down for Distance Comparison/Conversion.
-   In hot climates, there is a reason for Siesta's.  It can be 
    dangerous to be out in the mid-afternoon sun. This can be a 
    good time to be out of the sun, but note that some smaller 
    businesses are virtually closed during siesta time.
    [more in next section]
 Motor Vehicle:
-   Routes in countries without traffic signals or with lots of 
    'Round Abouts' (traffic circles) require additional enroute
    planning time, like 20-30% more time than the time based 
    on just the distance alone.
Bicycle Tour, Planning Issues:
[ ] Rent at Destination or Take/Ship Personal Bike(s). We got 
    so dissatisfied with rental bikes, that we now ship/carry our own 
    foldup bikes. BUT, see the next item for the one of two Bring Your
    Own Bike Counter Issues (The other issue being break-down and set-time
    time, about three hours total for a full tour set-up or pack-up).
    See Bike Rental/Hire Issues.
[ ] How Much Luggage? Our personal limitation is four pieces of luggage 
    (for two people) and two carry-on briefcases (one each). Two pieces 
    of luggage are the bike suitcases. One piece of luggage contains the 
    biking paraphernalia (helmets, all travel clothing, handlebar bags, 
    cameras, extra bottles, toiletry kits, medicines, ...) - This is 
    usually bulky space robbing gear but not heavy per se. That leaves one 
    other bag for the conference, the good clothes to be left behind with
    the briefcases (and the legal reason for the trip that makes the 
    flight trip portion become a business expense). So since four pieces 
    of luggage is all that we can handle (plus a strap on briefcase each)
    then the only variable is the weight - if a bag is over weight, 
    we pay for it, we can't redistribute into a fifth bag as it usually 
    is not allowed or we could not manage it if we were allowed, but we 
    have redistributed between two bags (one over weight and one under 
    weight). This is why we often leave travel books behind and why a 
    good five page home made itinerary pays for itself. We are usually 
    right at the weight limit for the grand total. (Some commercial 
    airlines are nicer about this than others, oddly the more 
    enjoyable airlines seem to be more strict.) 
[ ] In each Packed Case/Suitcase/Briefcase/Carry-On:
[ ]   Copy of passport (or picture ID), remove/blackout any display of 
      Social Security Number (or such).
[ ]   Copy of Itinerary that allows a Lost/Recovered Baggage Manager
      to find the bag owner on X Date, at Y Location, at Z Telephone Number.
[ ]   Name, Home Location's Address, and Telephone number. There is some
      wisdom in listing the address, and telephone number of the work or 
      travel agent (as long as they agree and will represent your needs 
      when called).
[ ] Bike before or after a conference in a foreign location?
    For foreign travel, based on attending a conference (or other 
    business purpose), we are starting to bike before the conference 
    rather than after. The reasoning is based on "Jet Lag." While we 
    can more easily overcome Jet Lag with bicycling work, we cannot 
    overcome Jet Lag while sitting in an air conditioned room while 
    sitting in a comfortable chair, where the lights are turned down 
    for a projector presentation. We have evolved to taking the bike 
    tour first and then attending the conference (and we attend serious 
    heavy weight conferences). 
[ ] Food Issues and Pre Ordering Food: Because of International bans 
    on shipping or carrying food, particularly meat and cheese, we 
    sometimes order food/packed meals from the country that we are 
    visiting and have it shipped to the starting point (usually a 
    B&B or a Hotel). The typical military or civilian MRE 
    (Meal, Ready to Eat) is NOT legal to carry into most countries. 
    So the food pre purchase gives us an immediate source of food 
    or an emergency food reserve. This food pre purchase is done so 
    that we can start bike touring immediately and not have to spend 
    our precious time making local trips for food and food markets. 
    We make pre-arrangements with a B&B or Hotel to hold our food 
    delivery and excess luggage for us. If they won't hold our food 
    or gear for us, we will look for another place to stay. So far, 
    with one exception, the B&B's were quite willing and no Hotel 
    has ever denied such a request. 
[ ] There is a separate Bicycle Touring Checklist and an associated
    list of Bicycle Touring Tips and Ticks located on the same web page.    

Map/Route Marking: 
[ ] Mark your map route using one or more colored highlighter pens.
1)  Once a route is determined, mark the map with a highlighter pen.
2)  Complete all highlighting and ignore any mistakes (remove mistakes later).
3)  Remove/erase mistake.  Mistakes can be erased, on most published maps,
    by dipping a cotton swab into a drop of Clorox/Bleach and lightly applying 
    the tip to the highlight.  Be careful as only a tiny amount is needed.
    Wait for it to dry before doing any further work. 

Telephones and Numbers:
Note: Once you are out of a major city, finding a phone is problematic.
[ ] Cell Phone: Bring or Rent International Cell Phone for trip, can get USA based
    telephone area code number or visited countries international telephone number
    (USA if more US people will be calling, Foreign if more foreign calls 
    will be made)
[ ] Know how to make international calls - we pre-rent international 
    telephones that are set up for the country or countries that we are 
[ ] Bring a list of destination telephone (places to stay and tour sites)
[ ] Bring a short list of Family/Friend/Office people telephone numbers

Correspondence and Supplies:
Purpose: To purchase exotic post cards and postage stamps in foreign locations
         and mail greetings to friends back home who are interested in your 
         trip or your welfare.
[ ] Pre-made labels for post cards 
[ ] Pre-made label check boxes (wishing you were here, 
    having a great time, ... )
[ ] Email addresses (lots of cyber cafes and many allow direct notebook hookup,
    in fact, Dennis has been known to grade homework assignments and tests
    online but out of the country!). For many of us, if we can get online,
    our own service will provide the same information as provided at home.
[ ] Address/Telephone Book, or at least a paper list of key people

Currency & Foreign Money Exchanges:
[ ] Obtain for country(ies) to be visited, always get some small bills and coins, 
    even if you need to buy an item at the airport gift shop to do such.  
1)  Large bank systems often have a currency service for free or very low costs.
2)  Small banks can't afford to offer currency exchange services:
3)  There are online foreign currency exchange services.
    We use ICE, International Currency Exchange, and like most low cost exchanges, 
    they don't usually have small bills or coins.
    International Currency Exchange, ICE
    ICE almost always has the lowest overall cost - beware of low exchange rates 
    but big shipping fees and not one website publishes its shipping fees.
    Its usually better to call (888-278-6628 - ICE toll free) and if you have 
    time, a faxed or mailed check will save costs over a credit card 
    transaction quote. ICE is not a 24/7 business.
[ ] Banks are the safest and always the most legal method of exchange, 
    keep all receipts, street exchanges can be illegal and are often corrupt. 
    Validate your exchange on the spot, once you leave the exchange counter
    your right to adjudication or recourse probably ended.
[ ] Dennis uses a special travel wallet that is different than his home
    wallet. See details at Wallet and What to Carry.

Credit Card Company:
[ ] Notify your credit card company(ies) when you will be out of the country 
    and specify where you will be.  Use this same call session to validate 
    rental car coverage and rules - sometimes using a specific credit card 
    company for all car rental expenses gives you additional coverage.
NOTE: This is mentioned elsewhere, but while in contact with your credit card company, consider asking about special coverage advantages for: vehicle rental, trip insurance, purchases, reservations, health, and flights/transportation. Learn any destination emergency telephone numbers. This action is associated with the next Note.
NOTE: Beware that credit card types vary in their coverage. When we first had a "Gold" card, twenty years ago, the gold card automatically gave its holder extra travel coverage for purchases, theft, robbery, traffic/accident caused displacement, emergency money, and things of this nature. But over the years these coverage's migrated up to "Platinum" and "Premium" type cards. We actually traveled abroad for three or four years thinking that we had Credit Card Company special coverage when we, in fact, did not. This was all clarified in a short credit card company telephone conversation which ended in our request for the credit card type/coverage upgrade which was freely granted upon our request (new cards, best coverage, and new card numbers). We were lucky to dodge a bullet on this issue.
[ ] Prescription (actually have the paper prescription and/or the
    original pharmacy container and label)
[ ] Preventive Medicines, Minerals, and/or Vitamins
[ ] Reaction Medicines (Allergies, Bites, Rashes, ...) 
    Always carry on or have rapidly available for known issues.

First Aide Kit: 
[ ] Create as is appropriate for your needs, remoteness, and activities
[ ] Basic:
[ ]   Pain reliever, over the counter
[ ]   Allergy Med, over the counter
[ ]   Antacid, over the counter
[ ]   Band Aids
[ ] Prescription Meds:
[ ]   Bring enough, then extra, just in case ...
[ ]   Personal Medical Reference Card (Index card, by person):
[ ] List of Prescription Meds, trade and generic names, doses, regimens
[ ] List Physicians, name and phone number
[ ] Write any significant medical condition
[ ] Carry at all times

Travel Essential List (adjust as needed, for us it is):
[ ] Sunglasses
[ ] Sunscreen
[ ] Chapstick / Lip Balm with Sunblock
[ ] Itinerary (see next)
[ ] Vitamins * **     
[ ] Citrucel/Fiber Supplement 
[ ] Medicine **
*   Our Family Joke: You know that you're old when you 
    carry a seven by two Vitamin Box for him and for her!    
**  Usually you need Medical Prescription copies to carry 
    medications and it is wise to carry medicine in their 
    Labeled Prescription container.


Recognize Three Different Travel Itinerary Needs:
  1. Summary (One Page, Fast Read, Date, Day, Address, Telephone Number - Always Carry On Person)
  2. Detailed (Many Pages, What to do or see in Each Place)
  3. Special Interest Watch List (Usually One Page, a list of Culturally interesting things, foods, beverages, or events to watch for - we learned the need for this the hard way)

Create Itineraries as Follows:

  • Itinerary Summary Example, Click for a Blowup1) Overview Itinerary (Single Page): Make a Page at a glance. A calendar layout works very well. Include Time Frame of travel, Days of Week, Months if appropriate, Date, All nightly places of stay names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Where appropriate, Country name and telephone dial code. Include all/any travel connection times and connection ID information (like Flight#, Bus#, Track#).
    This itinerary supports two important needs: One is for the traveler to know where to be when based on a folded document in a pocket or purse. The other is for a lost bag to find its owner in a relatively short period of time.

  • Itinerary Detail Example, Click for a Blowup2) Detail Itinerary: List the things that matter to you. List, for instance, by Date: Mode of travel, Travel Route, Tour Interest (name of place or event, time/hours of operation, whether it's cash only), History (relevant to you), Accommodation (Name/Owners Name(s), Address, Telephone Number, whether its Cash only), anything else of similar interests.
    Twice, we have traveled to a very important village (important to us) and not really know why we were there until after the journey. This is particularly important to people who are traveling very light on travel documentation, like bicyclists.
  • Make Itineraries: Day, time, location and possibly address, route, destination, telephone number(s) - you will be very disappointed if you get to X town or village, or pass through, and forget why it was a scheduled visit.
  • List things in towns that you want to see, otherwise you may go to a listed town and not remember why you wanted to go there.

  • Itinerary Watch List Example, Click for a Blowup 3) Special Interests/Watch List: (This list is separate from the detailed itinerary, and it is usually one page): Just for you. Because of the weight and space of books, we are often forced to leave the travel books behind. We have discovered that it is wise to write down things of special interest, like special/local food dishes to experience or special events such as a (local) County Fair. Thus you can keep an eye out for an opportunity that probably cannot be planned for a particular day. This list can also include certain plants or animals or even a wine - Anything of Interest to You!
  • For example, usually we have a list of Food Specialties (regional cuisine). Before ordering a meal, we consult our Special Interests list to see if there is a listing match. We don't go nuts about testing everything at once but usually, by the end of a tour, we have tasted everything on the list. Yum!

  • Copy the Itineraries
    • Summary:
      • For each suitcase or shipped item (like a bicycle or wine), briefcase, carry-on
      • For neighbor, relative, peers, employer, office staff, as appropriate
      • Keep Original Itinerary (for yourself). Carry at all times on your person, usually in a pocket.
    • Detailed:
      • One for the touring group. Optionally make copies for everyone that wants to carry their own copy;
        usually this is one per each Traveling Adult (kids as is applicable - let them decide).
      • Parents and/or Really Good Friends who are living vicariously, for this trip, through you.
Home Care Arrangements (for when you are gone): 
[ ] See the Leaving the House Checklist

Baggage/Luggage Packing Tips:
[ ] Place a copy of your passport picture page, drivers license, 
    and itinerary in each piece of luggage, to include carry on luggage 
    and brief case.  
    - The passport photocopy allows you to expedite replacement through a 
      US Embassy.  
    - The itinerary may get lost luggage to you, and the 
      license can help with lost identification or lost luggage.
    - Be careful that your Social Security Number is not revealed.
[ ] See our Luggage Type Information
Travel Tips:
The highlights are here, but visit our more detailed Travel Tips and Experiences 
    web page (trip saving information in there).
[ ] Passports: Some countries require that the Hotel keep your passport
    over night and it is actually to your advantage.  If a country's hotel
    does not require keeping a passport, you should consider leaving your
    passport there as well as any other valuables for safe keeping.  
[ ] Carry a passport photocopy of the picture page and leave a copy with
    a stay at home friend who can get a copy sent to you in a hurry.
[ ] Wallet / ID:  Carry your Wallet or IDs next to your body 
    and NOT in a coat pocket or in a detached purse.  The best place, 
    other than a hidden body pocket is in a front pant pocket or 
    clothing inside pockets.
Pickpockets and Photographs Do NOT Mix.
[ ] Pickpockets: 
    1)  They are brazen and don't even care that you see them.
    2)  They are deliberately taking advantage of built in
        security response delays. 
    3)  They are taking advantage of surprise and 
        what they believe will be a non physical response.
    4)  Professionals use kids as perpetrators or as decoys or both.
[ ] If you see a kids playing around you, be on guard -  
    In fact, that's a good time to take a picture 
    (or act like you are taking a picture, beforehand).
    Age, Sex, and Race do NOT matter.  
[ ] If you hear or see a ruckus in a crowd, that is another time 
    to be on guard (and take pictures).
[ ] VAT Refunds (Value Added Tax):
    Scenario: You pay the country's tax for an expensive object. Since,
    you are not a citizen of the country, you may not have to pay a 
    sales tax at all. You may be intitled to a refund, if you have the 
    appropriate paperwork.
1)  Get/Request the retailer to completely fill out the Retail Export
    Scheme form (or what ever it is called)
2)  Get/Request a stamped address and envelope from the Merchant
    (if appropriate).  Sometimes the paperwork can be handled at 
    the country's international airport.  Allow time for such an event.

Travel Safety:
Note: If you get into trouble, contact the nearest Embassy
      US Embassy:
Note: A general image of Americans is that they are Loud and Rude 
      (no local greeting, just speak without introduction, 
      always yelling across rooms or are the loudest voice in a room, 
      ignorant of local customs).  Sometimes, it's a well earned stereotype.
Note: Foreigners can spot an American a mile away.  
Note: Sometimes just being an American implies a relative wealth.

[ ] Travel Warnings, State Department: 
    This is the USA State Department web site for International Travel 
    Information (it's a busy listing).  Look at both the Travel Warnings 
    and Consular Information Sheets.  All government web sites are subject to 
    web page renaming and organization reordering - Use a Google 
    (or similar search engine) if need be.
[ ] Local Laws and Customs, familiarize yourself with local laws and customs. 
    Travel books handle this topic very well.  So do web searches by country,
    e.g. “Hungary local laws and customs”. 
    See Generalized Travel Tips and/or Tips by Country. General web searches
    without the country tend to find documents that only tell you 
    to “familiarize your self with local laws and customs” 
    but not what the actual different laws or customs are.
[ ] Do NOT leave luggage unattended and don't accept packages from strangers.
[ ] Travel Registration for Danger Notification:
    USA State Department:
[ ] Avoid being a target of crime by
    - Not dressing flashy
    - Not wearing expensive jewelry
    - Not carrying excessive amounts of money
    - Not carrying unnecessary credit cards
    - Not going through dark unlit streets or alleys

Just Before Departure:
[ ] Confirm flight times and flight numbers, and check for latest 
    restriction changes, baggage, carry on, and weight allowances.
    Since 2001, there has always been a change for every single one
    of our flights.

Take on the Flight, Specifically:
[ ] Face Mask: take on plane, staves closed quarter germ sharing
[ ] Small Fan: Accordion Style (non electric) and/or Battery Type, 
    for menopausal women

Take or Pack for Destination(s):
[ ] Bring a couple different colored pencil sized highlighter pens on the trip.
    Good for many different uses.
[ ] Always have a pen and pencil handy.
[ ] Carry a little pocket sized spiral flip note pad
[ ] Carry business cards, your boss or spouse's business cards, business
    friends/relations, and/or personal cards - you never know when a new 
    client or business will come a knocking.
[ ] See Suitcase/Vacation Packing Checklist.
[ ] The Travel Tips page addresses many nuance differences between the U.S. 
    and other countries - be famiiar and feel free to share unexpected 

List of Usefull Telephone Numbers and Email Addresses
(used by us)

                     FAA US Carriers Email Addr's
                     World Air Carriers Database

QANTAS (Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service):         
                     - Round trip and one way   011 800 0014 0014 (toll free)
                     - Round trip with stopover 1-888-256-1775 (toll free)
British Airways:     US: 1-800-AIR-WAYS (247-9297)
                     United States
Northwest Airlines:  US 1-800-225-2525  
United Aitlines:     US/Canada, 1-800-241-6522     

Amtrak: US/Canada    1-800-872-7245
Via Rail: Canada     1-888-842-7245
Scot Rail:           08457 48 49 50

                     John Cletheroe's List of Rental Car Co's

Budget:              US,Canada 1-800-527-0700               
National Car Rental: US/Canada 1-888-227-7368                   
Dollar Rent-A-Car:   US/Canada 1-800-800-3665                   

Best Western:        US, Canada 1-800-780-7234                   
Embassy Suites:      US, Canada 1-800-362-2779                     

Credit Cards         VISA: 1-800-VISA-911 (1-800-847-2911)
                     - US: 1-800-MasterCard (1-800-626-8372)
                     - Outside: call collect 1-636-722-7111. 
                     USAA: 1-866-550-LOST (5678).

Lost passport:       1-877-487-2778 (TTY 1-888-874-7793),
                     7 a.m. to midnight, ET, Monday-Friday, 
                     excludes Federal holidays.
Worldwide USA Embassy List:

See our Travel Tips ... for Weather, Measures, and Hints.