Sunday, February 27, 2011

Travel Planning Tips

This photo was taken in the Madrid Airport last summer by a man who wanted to prove to his wife back home, that just because you are an artist you don't have to hall two huge suitcases full of stuff all over Europe! 

I know my limits!  I am not strong enough to lift a large suitcase onto a train, so I travel with my Rick Steve's backpack and this 22" carry-on roller bag.


In the past few days I have been contacted by several people interested in my watercolor workshops and we have been discussing travel plans.  Since I know that many of you that follow this blog are travelers also; here are some tips I have been sharing with my students.   

PASSPORTS:  There is a slight possibility that the Federal government may temporarily shut down due failure of congress to agree on a budget.  If this happens the Passport Office will shut down as it is not considered an "essential service".   If you need a passport go to the post office and obtain your application form and go on line to the governments website at to follow the instructions.  There are websites that are privately run and offer to expedite the process but you will pay extra for their speedy service above and beyond the cost of the passport.  If you have your passport, check the expiration date.  Some countries will not let you enter if your passport has less than 6 months to expire. 

DISCOUNTS:  Most tour companies and cruise lines offer discounts for early booking, so stop procrastinating and get planning now!  

My "CREATING WATERCOLOR MEMORIES OF THE CINQUE TERRE" watercolor workshop on the Italian Riviera is not until September 2011; however, if you book now you can save $100.00.  The Early Bird Discount deadline for this trip was February 28, but I did not publish a reminder of this deadline until a couple of days ago.  Therefore, the tour company Toscana Americana has graciously offered to extend the deadline for the $100. discount to March 15, 2011.   To learn about this workshop click here , then click on "Italian Riviera & Cinque Terre" on the home page and you will find a gallery of photos of the Cinque Terre.  At the top of that page is the link to all the details about my workshop.

TRAVEL INSURANCE:   If you are planning to travel check to see if your health insurance covers you where you are traveling.  If not, make sure the Travel Insurance you purchase covers health insurance and health related transportation. 

Even if you are covered for health problems I recommend you purchase travel insurance to cover the entire cost of your trip if it has to be canceled for any reason.  Also, cover the cost of having to change or cancel flights for any reason.  You may be young and healthy, but you can't predict natural disasters, political unrest, or health alerts.  I had to cancel a trip to Bali due to Sars disease several years ago.  You just never know.  I have used the trip insurance offered by AAA and also Travel Guard.

FLIGHT DEALS: is my "go-to website" for searching for travel deals.  I love the "Travel Alerts" feature which allows Kayak to send you email alerts.  Months ago I set up a weekly Travel Alert for a round trip flight from Sacramento to Paris this May and June.  Each week I received an email notice of the best price on the dates I wanted.  The price started around $1,600. and stayed around that price for the first couple of months, then it suddenly dropped to $945.00!  Wow!  I checked the details for overall length of trip, departure times, layovers, etc.  It looked good, so I went to the website where Kayak found the flights and booked it.   Two days later the price started going up, last time I checked it is around $1,300. still good but not fantastic.  Here is the interesting part, my search was for flights from Sacramento to Paris and Kayak found this bargain using Icelandic Airlines website.  I would never have thought to search Icelandic airlines!  And the bonus:  the longest leg of the flight is only 7 hours from Seattle to Iceland.  No 9 hour to 11 hour flights this time....whoopee!

1 comment:

RSA Certificate said...

Excellent tips. I think it's VERY important to make sure your passport is always current. (I sure hope congress gets their act together, personally I find the passport office to be rather important)