Plan in advance. Booking earlier helps ensure there is still space on the trip, ship, and lodging that best fit your needs. Specifically, spaces in the Galapagos, Antarctica and on the Inca Trail fill up quickly. We have been known to work magic, but travelers can avoid unnecessary headache by planning in advance.
Plan far in advance for Holiday Travel. This is particularly important when arranging your international flights. Air travel expenses begin to skyrocket for the holidays in October – last year, we saw international flights go from $1000 to $2500+ almost overnight. The earlier you can book your travel plans, the more likely you will be able to find reasonable flights. For holiday trip ideas, click here!
Check your passport expiration date. Make sure passports are current. Think of what a nightmare it would be to show up at the airport only to find they have expired. Passports should be valid for at least 6 months after your departure date. But we recommend that you check with the consulate in your country for the most up-to-date visa and passport information.
Make photocopies of important documents. Passport, visas, tickets, credit cards, drug prescriptions, and other critical documents should be photocopied, and the copies carried separately
Know the number of your credit card company. If your credit card is lost or stolen, you should contact your credit card company immediately. Have their telephone number readily available. And make sure you get an alternative to a 1-800 number, as these numbers do not work outside of the US.
Break in your shoes. New shoes, especially new hiking boots, can be trouble and can result in a lot of blisters and tears. If you buy new shoes for your trip, be sure to give them a good breaking in.
Prepare for altitude sickness. If you are going to venture above 8,000 feet, be sure to prepare to feel the effects of the altitude. Almost anyone venturing above 14,000 feet will feel some level of degree of altitude sickness. Altitude sickness is fairly common. Symptoms include headache, nausea and a general feeling of malaise. Diamox is a popular prescription for altitude sickness.
Travel Insurance – a good idea. Travel insurance can safeguard you from delayed or cancelled flights, weather disruptions, lost luggage, medical emergencies, last minute cancellations and more. Keep all your receipts. It will make submitting a claim so much easier.
Pack light. Less is more. Yoy will want life to be as effortless as possible during your vacation, and packing light is any easy way to simplify. Packing lists are a helpful guide and will usually include (or exclude) items that never crossed your mind. But if you think that you can live without it – even if you think you can probably live without it – leave it at home.
Keep a journal. Keeping a journal will not only be a precious keepsake of the destination and details of your travels, but it will also be a reminder of the way your trip made your feel. Your travel journal is a personal story of a time in your life when you were able to venture out of the "everyday." Trust me – if you do not keep a journal, not matter how limited, rambling or full of spelling mistakes, you will regret it.
Vaccinations. Know what vaccinations are required and which are recommended. Some countries may require re-entry vaccinations. Consult your physician for the most current health precautions for the area you will be visiting. The U.S. Center for Disease Control is also an excellent source for detailed information on travel-related illnesses. Visit www.cdc.gov or cal the National Immunization Hotline at 1-800-232-2522.
Sunscreen. An essential to any packing list. A nasty sunburn is nothing to take lightly and can be extremely painful. Sunscreen is very expensive to purchase locally; it is primarily a tourist product and not commonly used by the local citizens.
Money. Taking money out of local ATM machines is the cheapest way to convert to the local currency (even with an ATM service charge). Travelers checks are going out of style in Latin America and may be difficult to exchange – especially in off-the-beaten path locations. It is better to find an alternative. And carry small bills. Because of counterfeit problems, $100s are particularly a bad idea, and are flat out unaccepted in many locations.
Medications. Make sure to pack an ample supply of all your prescription medications. You will not want the worry of running out. It is also a good idea to bring your back-up pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses.
Traveling with children – helping hints. Many governments enforce specific rules at entry/exit points that often require notarized documentary evidence of relationship and permission for a child to travel from the parents or guardian not present. So come prepared. When it comes to mealtime, encourage your children to explore something new on the menu. While the majority of our family-friendly trips can be very accommodating, even to the most sensitive pallet -- if you have a picky eater, packing a few bags of trail-mix, or a small jar of peanut butter are a good idea. For more information on family travel, click here.
Do not forget these items: Flashlight, earplugs, snscreen, synthetic/quick-dry clothing, disposable face-wash cloths or wipes, zip-lock baggies of various size to protect your cameras or such from water, or to separate wet clothing from the rest of your luggage.
Camera. Always bring twice as much film or memory cards as you think you will need. There are endless opportunities for incredible pictures, and you should be equipped with as much film ... or close to it. Purchasing film locally can be quite costly. When your memory card is full, or roll of film complete, take it out of your camera and put it in a safe place. If your camera is lost, your precious photos will still make it home.
Utilize the storage facilities at your hotel. Souvenirs are a part of any travel, but no one wants to hull "gifts for grandma" on the Inca Trail or across the wilds of Torres del Paine. If possible, plan your shopping for the end of your trip. But in cases when this is not realistic, so be sure to use the storage facilities at your hotel. Patrons should have no trouble keeping souvenirs or extra luggage at the hotel while they are off enjoying their adventures.
Be flexible and expect the unexpected. Some of the best stories come from the unexpected, so be open to the adventure of travel. Flexible travelers are the happiest travelers; they realize that unpredictable experiences are what make adventure travel so unique and so rewarding.
Be wary of online "experts." In the world of the web, everyone’s a critic and everyone’s an expert. Online forums can be very useful, but take their comments – both the positive and negative – with a grain of salt. If you have uncertainties, rather then relying on the opinion of an online stranger, contact the travel company that you trust. Rest assured, we have well researched all the details of our tours including destinations, hotels, lodges, excursions and more.