So my bags are packed and I’m ready to go. This afternoon, I’ll be on the road again. One of the parts of my job I have loved as a professional genealogist is the travel. I have travelled across 38 states and around the world conducting the business of family history: presenting, researching, business development, and more. Having taken all of these trips, I have some general travel tips for you.
1. Save Suitcase Space
Are you taking an extended trip? I’m often gone for ten to fourteen days or more. Work clothes, relaxing clothes, shoes, computer equipment. This can take up tons of space. Now, when I pack, I cut back on the clothes. I bring enough clothes for four or five days. Then I do laundry while I’m on the road. Many hotels have laundry rooms where you can wash your own clothes. If not, there is probably a laundromat nearby. A last resort is to have the hotel launder your clothes for you. When choosing the last option, I try to find their rates online first so I can budget for it appropriately.
2. Plan for Getting Stuff Home
In the old days, I remember taking trips to Salt Lake City and making reams of photocopies. I would ship an entire box of paper home (Although there were times I carried the paper onto the plane with me and shipped my clothes home!). Nowadays, there is far less paper and far more electronic products. Last year when I was in London I was faced with a dilemma. I had packed my suitcase so carefully to get there and was very proud of myself that everything fit. Then came the time to pack to fly home. I was faced with a bunch of photocopies, used books, souvenirs for my nieces, and other items. And zero space in the suitcase. I had to borrow a suitcase from my friend Audrey. This year, I’m intentionally bringing an extra suitcase. Packed very lightly for the trip over. But when it is time to come home, there should be no problem with bringing stuff home.
3. Bank Fees
Banks can charge exorbitant fees nowadays. ATM fees, especially can add up. Not only does my bank not charge me ATM fees, they reimburse me the fees that other banks charge. This saves me lots of money when I’m on the road. When travelling internationally, I use the ATM when I arrive to obtain cash in the local currency. Even paying an ATM fee is often less than getting currency from a bank at home. And I put as much as possible on my debit card, which usually charges no fees at all.
4. Supermarket Run
Think about how much money you spend on your trips, running into convenience stores for bottles of water or soda, snacks, and more. Whenever I arrive in Salt Lake City, the first thing I do after checking in is run to the local supermarket. I buy snacks, fruit, and a case or two of water. Over the course of the trip, I end up spending far less money than I would have otherwise for such items. The case of water alone usually saves $20-25.
5. Get Your Passport
Percentagewise, fewer Americans have their passports than most European countries. People often think an overseas trip is so expensive. While the expenses can add up, having your passport frees you up to take advantage of last-minute deals from airlines, hotels, and travel websites. These can save you hundreds of dollars or more. But you won’t be able to wait months to get your passport. And if you pay the rush fees, you will soak up much of your cost savings.