While planning a vacation abroad, we try not to think about various possible troubles such as illnesses or accidents. What can happen within 2 weeks? It would seem that the probability of getting ill just right when you go abroad is very small. However, tour operators consider the issue more seriously and sell health insurance together with the tour. Continue reading “What to do if you got ill while traveling”
You planned a trip to the sunny Maldives or want to discover mysterious Montenegro but do not want to leave your pet at home alone or do not trust your neighbors to take care of them?
Then the only option possible is to take a pet with you. What to do in this case, what documents to issue and how to transport animals – this is what we are going to shed light on today. Continue reading “How to travel with a dog”
My favorite part of visiting a foreign country is absorbing the local culture and asking about the day-to-day lives of the locals. Talking with the citizens of where you’re visiting is the best method of discovering those local spots that so many tourists would die to know and it’s a great way to make friends. After all the lovely chats I had with the native Irish men and women, while also observing some norms through my own embarrassing mistakes, this is what I’ve learned about Ireland. Continue reading “Culture Corner – Ireland”
Planning a trip to one or more of the islands in Hawaii? The Hawaiian Islands are known for some of the most dense jungles and awe-inspiring views you’ve ever seen. There is a never ending list of things to do outdoors and it’s only fitting that’s where you should spend most of your time. Keep reading for fun adventures to check off your bucket list. Continue reading “17 Things to Do While in the Hawaiian Islands”
For most people, vacations are often a chance to escape the daily confines of your diet, work routine, household chores, and every other thing you don’t want to do. But skimping on your health while you vaca-it-up drinking margaritas, sun tanning, and eating cannolis like daily vitamins can result in some pretty nasty side effects. If you’re one of the guilt-free travelers and damn proud of it, I applaud you (and I’m secretly jealous of your super powers). However, for people like me who are sick for days from too many scones, get jet lag, dehydration, swelling of the legs, and headaches when I don’t keep my health up, here are a few of my tricks to keeping your mind and body in mint condition for all of life’s greatest adventures.
Stay hydrated. The human body is made up of about 55% to 60% of water so think about whether you’d like to be a dried out raisin or a juicy grape. I’ll be a grape any day of the week.
Get your fruit and veggies. One of my favorite things is going to the local farmer’s market. You get to experience a piece of the local culture and try some of the native fruits and vegetables. You’d be surprised by the variety of produce you’ve never tried before. Continue reading “How to Stay Healthy On The Move”
The “personal item” is a handbag, briefcase, or small bag that goes under the seat in front of you. If you don’t pack it right, you may be that person digging through their suitcase looking for their 3-1-1 bag of toiletries, or the guy who drops stuff on people’s heads while aimlessly searching through the overhead bin.
With new regulations strictly enforcing the 2-bag rule, you can no longer squeak by with your handbag, weekender bag, airport purchases, AND your roller suitcase. It needs to all fit into a total of 2 bags! For those over-packers, I feel your pain. So by following and modifying this list to your traveling needs, you’ll reduce that feeling of anxiety going through security, getting settled in your seat, and prevent unneeded rummaging through the overhead bins. Continue reading “Packing The Perfect “Personal Item””
Some people think you need to be a millionaire or billionaire to be able to travel the world. If you’re one of those people, STOP!
You can be a recent college graduate, making barely any money and still afford to travel. Being smart, savvy, and determined will get you far. You just have to be willing to sacrifice the normal every day luxuries to save some moo-lah. Continue reading “22 Tips to Traveling on the Cheap”
Exploring the island of Bali in Indonesia was a whirlwind. Many of my expectations were immediately thrown out the window and I learned so much about this new culture in the short time I stayed there. Here are some travel tips for your next trip to Bali! Continue reading “28 Culture Tips For Bali”
The story of how my dog ate my passport and I worked tirelessly until I got a new one 9 hours later.
***If you are in this emergency and need the quick version, scroll to the bottom. This is specific to U.S. Passports only and I have NO IDEA if it pertains to other country’s protocol for emergency passports.
“Help! My dog ate my passport.” I left for Bali at 12pm on a Monday and the Friday morning before, my dog Cooper did not approve of my upcoming trip. I guess he just loves my belly rubs, he couldn’t stand to be without them. He was also hungry that morning and craving a United States passport for breakfast. I came out of the shower to see passport shreds all over the couch and my upcoming itinerary torn to bits. I immediately began to panic.
After the initial shock of “OH MY F#*&ING GOD, COOPER!!!” (and more unmentionable choice words) I screamed and cried and ran around the house like a complete crazy person. I finally calmed down and called the United States passport office after some intense Google searching of what to do. I had a melt down on the phone, despite my greatest attempts at keeping my composure, and explained the situation in between sobs and cracked words. “I need to get a new passport ASAP because my dog just polished off my old one and I leave Monday morning”, I pleaded. The woman on the other end laughed a few times and then transferred me to the appointment making system. Luckily, there was a Passport Agency right near where I lived.
*Note: In an emergency, you can’t just go to a post office for an expedited one. You need to get it made at a federal office.
The next available appointment was on Monday at 1:30! An hour and a half after I was set to depart. I freaked out for the third time in a 30-minute span. I had more meltdowns, freak-outs, and crying fits than I have had collectively in my life. My passport was my life line and my dog killed it. I called back and requested an emergency appointment this time to make sure I could go in later that day. I was able to secure an “Emergency Life or Death Appointment” for the same day. It was the last available appointment of the day. The passport Gods were looking out for me! It felt weird getting a life or death appointment because it definitely wasn’t life or death but it’s all they had, so I took it.
Now I needed some passport photos of my bloodshot eyes, and puffy face. I rushed around unsuccessfully trying to get passport photos done at Long’s Drugs, CVS, and FedEx Office due to “down equipment” and oversleeping printing technicians. I ended up taking a super awesome #selfie against a white wall and printing it on photo paper. I did NOT think it was actually going to be suitable but I cut it up to a 2” by 2” square and they ended up accepting it at the appointment. SCORE!
I gathered up all my documents and headed to the office downtown. If your dog ever eats your passport, you’ll need these too…
1) Proof of Travel Plans like an itinerary, flight tickets, or anything with a date and location on it.
2) Identification (Driver’s license, state ID, military ID, etc.)
3) Original Birth Certificate
4) Original Passport, if you still have it.
5) A signed Letter stating what happened to your old passport.
6) The filled out DS-11 Passport Application
7) Passport photos or a 2”x2” selfie on photo paper.
8) Payment. They accept cashier’s check, credit cards, and exact cash. The price ranges from $180-$225.
At the office, the process was fairly easy. I had my appointment, presented all my documents, stated my case, and politely pleaded for urgency. The woman behind the counter laughed, actually all of the people I spoke to laughed about my dog predicament, and they told me to return at 2pm. They closed for the weekend at 3pm and said they would try to have it done by then. TRY?!?! TRY? I freaked out again thinking I would miss my flight, leave my sister-in-law stranded on a foreign island, and weeks of excitement and planning were flushed down the toilet.
I went to Whole Foods, gorged on some much needed stress foods and returned at 2pm. I waited until 2:40pm and watched Ghostbusters on their waiting area TV until they finally called my name. I’ve never jumped up so fast in my life! I RAN to that passport counter even with the best scene of the movie commencing. That’s right, the giant marshmallow man was attacking the city. MY PASSPORT WAS FINISHED AND I WANTED IT IN MY HANDS. I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT!!! I was never going to let that passport out of my sight again. I have never felt such a sigh of relief in my entire life. I told them thank you at least a dozen times and said that we all deserve to go to Bali after the day we’ve had! They agreed but only if I paid for all of their trips. That was my cue to leave and go home to finish packing.
So the short version of what to do if you lose, ruin, or need an emergency passport within a few days of your trip is to follow these steps…
1 – Stay as calm as possible. Or freak out if it makes you feel better. I screamed and cried more times than I could count.
2 – Call the United States Passport Agency office at 1-877-487-2778 or 1-888-874-7793 for outside the USA. In a real after-hours emergency call, 1-202-647-4000.
3 – Make a regular appointment if you can afford the time of 5-8 business days. Make an emergency appointment if you need it the same day, or within 1-2 business days. You must request an emergency appointment because they won’t give you one automatically.
4 – Go get passport photos done immediately.
5 – Get all your documents together. Don’t forget the signed letter!
6 – Head down to the office early. You don’t have time to waste.
7 – Present all your documents and explain what happened.
8 – Request it for the same day if you need. Make sure they know the date you need it by if it’s not the same day.
9 – Go blow off some steam and come back hoping your passport is finished.
10 – Keep it away from your dog.
11 – TAKE FLIGHT!
If you want the website to delve in further, check it out here!
Being raised to be extra cautious has made me a bit of a control freak. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I like being able to control when, where and how I go places. I also like being able to control what happens to my body and specifically what doesn’t happen to my body. When I travel, people always ask me “Are you traveling by yourself?” and when I respond “yes” their faces drop and I usually get a response like “Wow, you’re brave for being in this city all by yourself. It’s scary/dangerous/sketchy/violent in this country. Be safe!” I get the feeling they don’t actually believe me when I say “I am”. Even my family emails me every day to make sure I’m still alive. (Not that I don’t love your emails Adam, Mom and Dad)
Well not to freak you out about traveling abroad because believe it or not, traveling alone IS safe. I KNOW! IT’S AN AMAZING CONCEPT! If you practice extra caution and use common sense, you’re destined to stay alive. Hopefully this list will provide you with extra tips on how to stay safe in the jungle we call life.
- Check for adequately working door locks in hotel rooms, car doors and restrooms.
- Check your room for secret cameras, microphones and peep holes.
– Check your surroundings. Don’t keep your eyes locked to your phone, computer or camera.
- Stay alert. Distracted and tired looking travelers look vulnerable.
- If you have a rental car, lock the car doors right as you get in.
- If you’re in someone else’s vehicle, keep the window down in case the doors only open from the outside and you need to jump out.
- Always know the local emergency number in the country you’re visiting. Check here for a quick reference.
- Send your itinerary and travel information to at least 2 people.
- Social media: check in on Facebook, post pictures of locations, tweet about your experience. Stay on the grid and pave a trail of your locations.
- Create an emergency word that can be used in every day sentences if you feel you’re in danger in someone’s company.
*Asking a vegetarian “How did you make that chicken piccatta again?”
*Or use a phrase of a food you would never eat. I hate olives so I would say “I’m craving some olives right now. How about you?”
Making up codes sounds silly but it’s gotten me and friends out of potentially dangerous situations. Make sure to agree on these with people you trust beforehand. This also works from abroad. I called my mom one night when I was really scared in Germany and used the code word we had set up nearly 10 years beforehand. Thank god she remembered it.
- Pretend you’re with a group. This is a surprisingly easy way to get people to back off. Walk fairly close behind a group of people and it looks like you’re with them.
- Always layer your clothes and use a belt on your pants. This is more so for women but men can take cautionary procedures too. Sexual assault happens to both genders.
- Wear your hair down and unwrap your scarf. This decreases the opportunity for someone to grab you by your hair or strangle you via cashmere scarf.
- Keep flashy things hidden like jewelry and technology. Robberies can quickly escalate to more dangerous scenarios.
- Always have a person (real or fake) that you’re planning to meet up with later. If no one is expecting you, no one will realize you’ve gone missing. If I’m obviously by myself, I will say “My friend decided to stay at the hotel. I’m meeting her for lunch later.”
- Walk with confidence and strength. Never appear to be the weakest link even when you feel like it.
- Never allow yourself to be in a corner. Stand near the exit and always map out possible running routes for a quick escape.
- Keep your bags close to your body. Flailing around trying to coordinate your bags makes an easy and distracted target.
- Use your car keys or house keys as weapons if necessary.
- Use your camera’s tri-pod or Go-Pro attachment stick as a weapon.
- If someone is bothering you, at first be polite not to agitate them, if they continue harassing you, be more stern, ask for help and then leave the situation immediately. Be prepared to run.
- Always ask for help if you feel unsafe. Your best bet will be police officers, tour guides, and shop owners. Try to go somewhere where security cameras are present.
- When all else fails, scream, kick, punch, and draw as much public attention to yourself as possible. Even if no one rushes to your aid (they’re D-bags if they don’t), someone may call the police, witness the crime or the attacker may get scared off.
Now that you are fully equipped with traveling safety tips, book your ticket to that place everyone says you shouldn’t go to. Always stay on your toes, keep your eyes open and trust your gut. Your gut becomes that little voice when your mind is too fogged to panic.