This post is sponsored by Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company) and I have received financial compensation. However, all thoughts, opinions, and grammatical errors are my own.
Some people find the process of traveling overwhelming, especially during the holiday season, but it doesn’t have to be. Implementing these smart travel tips will help streamline your trips and help provide peace of mind whether your trip is to celebrate the holidays with family or to explore exotic destinations.
Smart Travel Tips
1. Research your destination. Google “Where’s the best place to eat in (name of destination)“ or “What to do in (destination).” Be sure to check out the destination’s CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) for more information. Check weather.com to see what the forecast is so that you can pack appropriately.
2. Book your trip early. You can often save money by booking early and will have an easier time getting that room or flight that you want.
3. Insure your trip. Remember Murphy’s Law? Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Or at least it seems so when you are NOT prepared. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 18.93% of fights in the United States were delayed in 2018 and 1.88% were canceled. With the holidays coming up, delayed flights tend to be more common. Can you imagine what you would do if your trip was delayed several hours or canceled and you did NOT have insurance?
SmartBenefits from Allianz
Allianz launched SmartBenefits in 2018 and has revolutionized claim payments for flight delays. SmartBenefits are included with enhanced plans that are available through trips booked with Allianz travel agency partners.
What makes it different? Allianz actively monitors customers' flights and automatically files a claim for customers for qualifying delays (three to five hours, depending on the policy benefit). Customers can receive fixed payments of $100 per person impacted by the delay within minutes of entering payment details or opt for direct deposit or a get a check in the mail.
There are options for travel and bag delays, too. The best part? No receipts are necessary. But those who do provide receipts may qualify for a higher daily amount of reimbursement. Claims are filed online or through the TravelSmart app to verify coverage eligibility. Customers are notified of their claim status typically within 7 days.
4. Install these travel apps:
- Google Maps – you can use this app to help navigate your way around the destination. You can even use maps.google.com and create maps beforehand of the places you want to visit.
- Google Translate – this handy app will help you translate spoken and written languages.
- Allianz TravelSmart (IOS) - a quick way of filing a claim, accessing local emergency numbers during travel, finding emergency and assistant facilities around you, and reaching the Allianz assistance hotline in case of emergency.
- Mobile Passport - use this app to fill out customs info when arriving in the United States. It will speed up your re-entry.
- Uber and/or Lyft - These apps let you know upfront how much it will cost to get from Point A to Point B. I used the rates to negotiate a cab ride in Mexico.
- Weather.com - Is it going to rain? Do you need a jacket? This app will help you plan your day at your destination.
5. Pack wisely. Take a moment to think about what you will really need on your trip. Many people tend to overpack. That means that there is just more for you to have to keep track of and to lug around. Most hotels have laundry services available or machines for you to use, so there is no need to pack a ton of extra clothing.
- Pack a few empty plastic zip-top bags in your luggage. They come in handy for wet items or for items that might leak en route.
- Be sure to charge your phone and camera batteries and pack portable chargers.
6. Bring a carryon with you. Keep your electronics, batteries, makeup, medications, computer, camera, and anything else of value in your carryon. Pack one change of clothes in your carryon in the event that your luggage gets lost.
7. Keep electronic copies of your trip itinerary, insurance policy, and ID (driver’s license, passport, health insurance card). Email a copy to a family member or friend as well. I like to email a copy of my documents to myself to make it easy to find should I need them.
8. Share your itinerary with your family. It’s always good for your loved ones to have an idea of where you are.
9. Get TSA PreCheck. The security lines at airports can take longer than expected. Getting TSA PreCheck will get you through the security lines faster. Plus, you won’t have to remove your shoes or take your electronics and liquids out of your bags.
10. If traveling internationally, be sure to bring local currency with you. Do NOT exchange money at the airport where you will be assessed a fee and get a lower exchange rate. If you are traveling to popular tourist destinations, you will probably stand out as a foreigner and locals will notice when you are at an ATM getting cash. You don’t want to become a target.
11. Carry small change with you. You might like to place everything on your credit card to keep track of expenses, but there will be times that it makes more sense to have some small bills, like for tipping at hotels, drivers, or if you want something out of a vending machine.
12. Stay hydrated. Whether you are traveling by plane, car, or boat, it is always a good idea to be well hydrated. While you cannot take a bottle of water through security at the airport, you CAN take an empty bottle and fill it at water fountains.
13. Use a VPN (virtual private network) when using wifi on the go. Hackers are everywhere and they are always on the prowl. Avoid checking bank accounts if at all possible.
14. Postpone posting your trip whereabouts on social media. You don’t want to advertise that you are not at home. Posting later will enable you to be more in the present. Later you can edit your pictures and share them with friends and family.
15. Book a food tour. It’s a great way to explore several restaurants at the destination for one price. Try to book it for the first part of your trip so that you can go back again to those restaurants that you really liked.
16. Be flexible. Try to go with the flow when things don’t go as planned. Just because something does not go as planned does not mean that the trip is ruined. Flight delayed? Explore the airport – check out the art installations, explore the gift shops, or go for a walk.
Picture of me in Puerto Vallarta. I purchased an Allianz policy and was able to chill knowing that I had things covered.
The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page. St. Augustine
What travel tips would you add?