Make sure you and your family have a safe trip, work with us to get as much information
as possible about the destination, especially if you will be traveling alone.
HOTELS: Stay in hotels on well-traveled streets in safer areas of any city. The more expensive hotels usually have better security. Stay on lower level floors in case of fire or need to evacuate quickly, acquaint yourself with the emergency exits. Avoid the first floor, as it may not be safe from burglars. When returning to your hotel at night, use the main entrance. Be observant before entering parking lots. Lock your hotel room door at all times. Do not answer your hotel room door without verifying who it is. If someone claims to be a hotel employee, call the front desk to verify. If you see suspicious activity or suspicious object, contact someone in authority immediately.
TRANSPORTATION: Transfers from the airport or port, can be arranged for you in advance, if necessary. Taxis or private car hires are recommended, as you are more insulated. Most airports, ports and train stations have areas clearly marked for taxis and car service pick-up. Do not enter any vehicle that does not have a proper license or does not pick you up from the designated area. If you rent a car, get maps in advance and clearly write out the directions from the airport to your hotel. If you need to stop for directions, go to well-lit public areas. Keep the phone numbers of your destinations with you. Lock your car doors while driving. Do not pick up strangers or stop for people you don’t know. Police cars will have blue and red lights; do not stop for cars flashing their high-beams.
KEEP A LOW PROFILE: Do not discuss your travel plans publicly. Maintain a low profile. Dress down, try and leave the expensive items at home. Do not display large amounts of cash. Do not leave your itinerary or other sensitive business information in your hotel room. Be alert for surveillance, especially in high-risk countries. Kidnappers and extortionists identify their targets and then watch their potential victims to determine daily patterns. Avoid disturbances and civil demonstrations. Seek safe shelter away from the disturbance as quickly as possible. Americans traveling abroad are usually identified by their white sneakers, blend in!
OUT & ABOUT: Keep your valuables, including passports, etc., in a money belt concealed under your clothes. Or, use the hotel safe to store valuables. Keep a copy of your passport with you, but separate from where you are carrying your passport. In high-risk countries, it is a good idea to check in with the American Embassy and provide them with a copy of your passport in case you need to have it replaced. Be aware of pickpockets especially near tourist attractions. When using your credit card, keep an eye on it and be sure it’s your credit card before storing it again. Ask for a card or matchbook with your hotel’s name and address. You can show the card or matchbook to a cab driver or police officer if you get lost. Before your trip, make up a list with key phrases in the local language. Going out at night, watch your drinks being poured and never accept a drink from a stranger. Ask your hotel concierge about reputable restaurants. Avoid being out on the streets late at night. Have your hotel arrange for car service or taxi service and know the addresses and directions before getting in the car.
Stay alert and have a safe trip. Ask us about travel insurance.
Thinking of international travel? Here are some tips on staying healthy.
• Get the recommended vaccines well before departure.
• Take a kit with medicines for common problems: diarrhea, colds, motion sickness, upset stomach, cuts, scrapes, bug bites, pain, sunburn, etc.
• Drink only boiled or bottled water or carbonated drinks from sources you trust. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. Wipe off the cans and bottles before drinking.
• Use bottled water to brush your teeth.
Don’t swim in stagnant or polluted water or after a heavy rainfall. Use googles and nose/ear plugs. Shower afterwards. Wash cuts with clean water and soap.
• Eat only fully cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled. Remember: boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it!
• Don’t buy food or drinks from street vendors.
• If visiting an area where there is risk for malaria, take malaria prevention medication before, during, and after your trip, as directed.
• Use insect repellent with DEET to prevent mosquito and tick bites.
• Wash your hands frequently with with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, especially before eating.Check your medical coverage. Most private insurers and Medicare don’t cover costs outside the United States. Consider TRAVEL INSURANCE!
For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Whom should you tip? How much? Do you need to tip at all? Never fear! With this simple guide to tipping, TravelSense will take the guesswork out of tipping and help you focus on more important things -
like enjoying your vacation.
AIRPORTS AND TRAIN STATIONS: Upon arriving at or leaving from the airport or train station, tip the standard porter rate of $1 per bag; more if your luggage is very heavy. Typically, a $1 tip for hailing a taxi is appropriate for doormen. However, you may want to tip more for special services, such as carrying your bags.
AT THE HOTEL: When you arrive at your hotel after a long flight, first things first: Tip the taxi or limo driver. Ten to 15 percent of your total fare is usually expected. If you drive your own car, give the valet parking attendant $1 to $2. If you take a shuttle van or bus, tip the driver $2 per person.
The bellman, who will be more than happy to assist you with your bags and the door, should receive $1 to $2 per bag. Tip when he shows you to your room and again if he assists you upon checkout. Tip more if he provides any additional service. The concierge, who can get you anything from dinner reservations to hard-to-come-by theatre tickets, deserves $5 to $10 for such feats. You may tip at the time of service or at the end of the trip. To ensure good service throughout your stay, add a $20 tip to the bill.
Add 15 percent of the bill to a room service charge, unless a gratuity is already added, then add no additional tip or simply $1. If you requested something delivered to your room such as a hairdryer or iron, tip $1 per item received. Typically, the maid deserves a $1-$2 tip each day, as well.
TOURS: If you’re taking a tour and a tip is not automatically included, tip the tour guide $1 for a half-day tour, $2 for full-day tour, and anywhere from $5-$10 for a week-long tour. Tip a private guide more.
CRUISES: When on a cruise, tip according to your comfort level and only on the last evening of your cruise. As a general rule, dining room waiters receive $3.50 per person/per day whereas the dining room busboy should receive $2.00 per person/per day, the dining room maitre d’ $0.35 per person/per day and the dining room head waiter $0.15 per person/per day . The room steward, for all his efforts, receives $3.50 per person/per day. Other personnel, such as bar waiters, bellboys and deck stewards may be tipped as service is rendered.
RESTAURANTS: Although excellent service calls for 20 percent of the total bill, most U.S. restaurants accept 15 percent as the standard tip. In restaurants where you sit at the bar or the waiter is a small part of the meal (cafes or pubs), 10 percent is also acceptable. The bar tenders, themselves, generally receive between 15 and 20% when you sit at the bar. If the food or service is unsatisfactory, speak to the manager - don’t walk out without tipping. And pay attention to lunch and dinner bills in Europe and Asia, as some restaurants tack on an additional 15 percent (usually listed on the menu or check as a “service charge”) and do not expect tips.
At fancy restaurants, tip the maitre d’ between $5 and $10 if he gets you a table - more when the restaurant is full and you have no reservations. Tip $1 when you check your coat, and another $.50 to $1 for restroom attendants. For personal service from the wine steward, opt for 10 percent of the wine bill.
These Tips on Tipping will hopefully give you a general idea of the standard tipping rate for different stops along your journey. You are always welcome to tip more when the service is excellent, and when you do, you are sure to see the red carpet treatment all the way. Enjoy your vacation, and don’t forget to tip!
For additional information, visit these Web sites:
By using your common sense and taking a few precautions while on the road, you can stay safe.
* Upon hotel check in, when registering, sign only your first initial and last name. It is harder to determine gender, marital status or profession.
* Hold on to your credit card and don’t leave it lying on the check-in counter while you complete your registration. Check to be sure the credit card that is handed back to you by the hotel clerk is really yours.
* Get two business cards or matchbooks with the hotel name and address on them. Place one by the phone in the room so you know where you are and keep the other on you when you leave so you know where to come back to. If you get lost or if you are in a country where you don’t speak the language, you can simply show a taxi driver the matchbook, and you’re on your way back to the hotel.
When you enter your room, examine the guest room lock and be sure it is functioning properly.
* Check to see that any sliding glass doors or windows and any connecting room doors are locked.
* Locate the nearest exit that may be used in the event of an emergency.
* Know how to make an outside call with your in-room telephone in case of an emergency.
* Keep the door to your room locked at all times. If you are inside the room, turn the deadbolt and fasten the security chain.
* When you leave your hotel room, pull the door completely closed behind you. Make sure the latch has engaged. Try the door and make sure it is closed and locked.
* Check all windows and doors in your room every time you enter it and leave it to make sure they are closed and locked.
When entering or leaving the hotel after dark, use the main entrance. Be aware of your surroundings, stay in well-lighted areas.
* Place all valuable in the safe provided in the room; store keys, wallets, extra cash and credit cards, jewelry, and other small valuable items you are leaving in the room. If no safe is supplied, check with the front desk. They may have locked storage available for your use. Ask if the locked storage is accessible 24 hours. If you have early check out and the locked storage is not available, you’ll be delayed.
* Don’t leave cash, travelers checks and expensive electronics and jewelry lying around the room.
* Leave larger expensive or breakable objects at home, if at all possible. If you must bring them, store them in the closet and out of the way of the cleaning crew
* Keep your room key with you at all times and don’t needlessly display it in public. Should you misplace it, notify the front desk immediately and ask to be moved to another room.
* Have the key/key card in your hand to avoid fumbling with it in the hallway.
* If you see loiterers in the hallway near your room, just pass by your door and turn around the corner or pretend you forgot something. Go to the front desk and report the incident.
* Do not invite strangers to your room for any reason.
* Do display large amounts of cash or expensive jewelry.
If you see any suspicious activity, notify the hotel operator or a staff member.