Travel Tips & Transportation

Documents & Papers

 Travelers have needed various documents to travel. Whether you are visiting the U.S. or an American citizen traveling abroad, it is vital to have all your papers in order.

Passports & Visas: For a new passport application or renewal, contact the nearest Passport Agency or a U.S. Post Office that accepts passport applications. Visas are available from the embassy or consulate of the country you will be visiting or from a “visa service” which will get your visa processed for a fee.  Apply for your travel documents in advance to avoid delays!  For more information, check the U.S. Department of State, Travel Information website.

 Your passport is your most valuable travel document when you are in a foreign country. Keep a copy of your passport number in a safe, separate place and immediately report the loss or theft of your passport or visa to the U.S. embassy or consulate and the local police authorities.  Make copies of your passport, traveler’s checks, credit cards, itinerary, airline tickets and other travel documents. Leave one copy with a relative or friend back home and carry one copy with you. 

Be sure your passport is signed and fill in the emergency information page of your passport.  Check the expiration date. Many countries require that it be valid for six months after your return date. You can find out a country’s entry requirements by going to and clicking “Travel Information by Country.”

Certain countries may require an “International Certificate of Vaccinations” against cholera, yellow fever and other infectious diseases before you are allowed to enter.  You can check with Centers for Disease Control:  for up-to-date information on epidemics or unsafe conditions in your planned destination.

Holiday Travel

To maximize holiday happiness and minimize the grief, follow these helpful tips.

> Contact us in advance to secure the best-priced airline seats, hotel rooms and rental cars that usually sell out quickly for holiday travel. Be aware that prices generally escalate during the holiday season, as demand is higher.

> Avoid peak travel days. The busiest days to fly are those immediately before and after the actual holidays.

> Take the worry of getting to the airport completely out of the equation by staying at an airport hotel the night before an early flight. The additional sleep is well worth it. In some cases, hotels will allow guests to leave their car in the hotel lot for the duration of their trip.

> If you drive and park at the airport lot, do not leave any valuables in plain view. Remember to put jumper cables in the trunk in case the battery dies during your trip.

> Check in early. Domestic travelers should arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure, while international travelers should arrive three hours in advance.

> To get through the security checkpoints smoothly and quickly, remember the 3-1-1 program: Liquids, aerosols and gels must be in containers three ounces or less. Items must be put in a one quart, clear plastic zip-top bag. Only one zip-top bag per passenger. For more information, visit the TSA website.

> If you do not send your gifts ahead, then do not wrap them before the flight. With safety a priority for all airlines, security personnel will need access to all items. Pack collapsible gift bags to be used as wrapping upon arrival.

Keep a positive attitude, but also be mentally ready for setbacks. Delays happen, and airlines do the best they can to keep their schedules on time.

Important Links

 Fly-Rights – A Consumer Guide to Air Travel: Guide to passenger’s rights from the Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the U.S. Department of Transportation

International Health and Vaccination Requirements: A list of countries and their health requirements or warnings from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Also, find a list of cruise ship and aircraft inspection scores.

Passport Information: Apply for a Passport, International Travel for U.S. Citizens, Passports for U.S. Citizens (Status, Renewal, Applications/Forms, Lost or Stolen Passport), Visas for Foreign Citizens, Children & Family for U.S. Citizens

State Department Travel Warnings: Travel warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid a certain country, view the list of countries.

Track-A-Flight: You can track the status of any flight arriving or departing the United States or Canada.

Transportation Security Administration – TSA: Things you should know: prohibited items, travelers with disabilities and medical conditions, watch list, traveling with children and more.

TSA, Airport Security – 3 -1-1 for Carry-Ons:  Prepare for take off, know and be prepared for 3-1-1 for carry-ons.

TSA, Major Airport Security Checkpoint, Wait Times:As a customer service initiative, TSA is providing security checkpoint wait time information to assist travelers in planning for their next flight, which offers wait times at major airport security checkpoints for each hour of the day.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Embassies and ConsulatesWeather Channel:  National and local weather forecast, radar, map and reports.

World Clock & Time Zones:  Current local times around the world.

Worldwide Fact Book – Central Intelligence Agency

Cruising Tips

Every year more and more people discover why cruises are the ideal vacation. A cruise ship is basically your giant buffet of wonderful experiences, with a wide selection of cuisines and cultures, activities in the sun and spas to pamper your every indulgence, destinations to exotic locales and a million ways to relax. You can do it all or do absolutely nothing—the choice is yours.

To book the perfect cruise for you and your family, simply follow these helpful guidelines compiled by the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA). Some of the most travel-wise people in the world.

Chart Your Course! Pick the Cruise That’s Right for You
Your first choice is the most enjoyable, for it allows your mind to wander around the globe and back again, revisiting every destination your dreams have ever taken you to. Where in the world do you want to go and for how long?

The length of your trip largely depends on how much you can afford. Cruises offer everything from one or two-night excursions out to sea and back to journeys that take you around the world in 100 days. Three-day weekend, four-day midweek, week and two-week cruises are the most popular.

With 70 percent of the planet covered in water, the next question should not be where to go to but where to go to first. Cruise ships visit more than 1,800 ports around the world, providing you with rare glimpses into many cultures all in one eye-popping vacation.

Many first-time cruisers choose the Caribbean or Mexican Riviera, where you pleasantly float from one island paradise to the next. Soak up the sun, learn a water sport or discover a new flavor of margarita-the tropics never disappoint.

Airport Security

To insure passenger safety, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has imposed strict security procedures at our nation’s airport. Here are some tips to help you comply with the new regulations.

 » Arrive at the airport at least two hours before flight time. You may encounter long lines at check-in counters and airport screening stations. 

» Curbside baggage check is being reinstated on an airline-by-airline and airport-by-airport basis. Check with the airport to see if your airline has been approved for curbside checks. Otherwise, proceed directly to the check-in counters. 

» If you are traveling with a tour group or cruise group, you will no longer be allowed to check in for flights at hotels or at the cruise terminals. You must check in at the airport. » If someone is dropping you off at the airport, they must stay with the vehicle at all times. They should not leave it unattended, even for a moment. 

» You must have a picture I.D. such as a driver’s license, passport, or government-issued identification. Insure that you make your reservation in the exact name that appears on the identification you plan on presenting at the airport. If your name has recently changed and the name on your ticket and your I.D. are different, bring documentation of the change (e.g., a marriage certificate or court order). If traveling with an e-ticket, you must produce a copy of your e-ticket receipt when you check-in. 

» The FAA also requires all non-U.S. citizens boarding international flights in the United States to show evidence of admission into the United States. Evidence of admission can consist of visas, I-94, parole letter, admission stamp, alien resident card, etc.


To enter the secured area beyond the security screening checkpoint, you must show a valid picture I.D. and one of the following boarding documents indicating a flight departure for the current date:1) A receipt for an electronic ticket;
2) An itinerary generated by an airline or travel agency confirming an electronic ticket;
3) A boarding pass; or
4) A paper ticket.The FAA says receipts and itineraries MUST have ticket numbers on them.If you do not have a boarding pass, ticket, e-ticket receipt or printed confirmation, an airline-issued boarding document must be obtained at the ticket counter prior to clearing security.E-ticketed passengers with no receipt, agency or airline-issued itinerary must first go to the airport ticket counter to obtain a boarding pass.Passengers who do not have baggage to check and already have an approved boarding document, as outlined above, may proceed through the security checkpoint directly to the departure gate.

Although no curbside or skycap check-in is permitted, wheelchair assistance from curbside will continue to be provided.Provisions will be made for parents who need to meet unaccompanied minors, for disabled persons and persons with special needs who need to be accompanied by healthcare assistants or guardians and for medical personnel who need to respond to a medial emergency beyond the check point.All passengers should check with their airline or airport, or visit the airline or airport web site for additional information.

» Keep your identification handy, as you may be asked after entering the gate area to produce it for airport or airline personnel.

» TSA’s 3-1-1 for carry-ons means:
   ▪ Liquids, aerosols and gels must be in containers three ounces or less
   ▪ Items must be put in a one quart, clear plastic zip-top bag
   ▪ Only one zip-top bag per passenger

» Consolidate bottles into one bag and X-ray separately to speed screening.

» Be prepared. Each time TSA searches a carry-on it slows down the line. Practicing 3-1-1 will ensure a faster and easier checkpoint experience.» 3-1-1 is for short trips. If in doubt, put your liquids in checked luggage.

» Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula and food, breast milk, and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces and are not required to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint.

» Come early and be patient. Heavy travel volumes and the enhanced security process may mean longer lines at security checkpoints.

TSA working with our partners. TSA works with airlines and airports to anticipate peak traffic and be ready for the traveling public.

 » Keep your luggage and carry-on bags with you at all times prior to arriving at the airport and while in the terminal. Unattended bags will likely be confiscated – and even destroyed – by airport security. 

» The FAA has recommended that passengers be allowed one carry-on bag and either a purse or briefcase. Airlines have the option of following the FAA’s recommendation. Check with your travel agent or airline for information on carry-on luggage restrictions. Since you will likely encounter longer waits and more thorough inspections at screening stations, ASTA recommends that you minimize your carry-on items so you can be processed more quickly. 

» Do not accept any packages or materials from strangers. 

» Do not carry any sharp instruments (i.e., letter openers, knives, box cutters, scissors, etc,) in carry on luggage. They will be confiscated at airport screening stations.

» If you see any suspicious activity or see unattended bags, contact airline or airport personnel immediately. 

» Carry medications in your carry-on bags.

International Travel

Here are our quick tips for international travel planning…

Airport Security, Follow the 3-1-1 Rule
Pack smart to get through the airport security checkpoint faster. Be sure you’re following the TSA’s 3-1-1 rule: 3-ounce containers; a 1-quart clear plastic zip-top bag; one bag per flier). 

When in doubt, leave it out.If you’re not sure about whether you can bring an item through the checkpoint, put it in your checked bag or leave it at home.

Check Your Passport
Make sure you have a signed, valid passport and visa, if required, and fill in the emergency information page of your passport.  Check the expiration date. Many countries require that it be valid for six months after your return date. You can find out a country’s entry requirements by going to  Leave copies of your passport data page and visas with family or friends, so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.

Call Your Credit Card Companies
Contact your credit card companies and let them know before you go. You don’t want your credit card frozen or ‘declined’ for suspected fraudulent use while traveling abroad (or even out of state).

Blend In
Blending in will help you avoid being targeted by pickpockets and unethical taxi drivers. Do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money.  American travelers are usually identified by their white sneakers.  Keep your wallet and valuables in your front pockets or in a security pouch.  Choose a cab with a meter and make sure it’s running, or set the price before you get in.  Do not accept packages from stranger or leave unattended luggage in public areas.

Converter/Adapter Kit
International converter/adapter kits for use on most U.S. travel appliances, usually include a converter and polarized adapter plugs for use in almost any foreign country. Converters keep your 110-volt appliances like a curling iron from burning up in countries that use 220/240-voltelectricity.  Adapters change prongs to fit international outlets.

Simply plug your appliance into the converter and then plug the converter into the wall or use one of the polarized plug adapters ensure a fit on most foreign outlets. Remember: adapter into the wall, then converter/transformer, then the appliance.  Converter/Adapter kits are available at travel stores or online, check it out before leaving on your trip.

What is Value Added Tax (VAT)/Refund?
Value Added Tax (VAT) is a form tax is much like the sales tax paid in the United States.  The European Union, Japan and some South American countries assess VAT at a rate of 15-25 percent.  The main principle of VAT is that governments do not charge the tax on exports of goods to other countries.  They extend this principle to include purchases made by foreign visitors when they take goods back to their country.  Tourists can apply for VAT refunds on merchandise, but not services.  Custom officials must validate this merchandise to prove that the merchandise is indeed leaving the country.

For the tourist, reclaiming a VAT: get documentation when you make a purchase, stipulating the amount of refund due.  Allow extra time at the airport to get your sales tax refunded.   Show the documents to customs officials upon leaving the country to claim your refund. Most countries specify a minimum amount you must spend in a particular shop to claim a refund. Another way to reclaim VAT is by purchasing items at stores participating in the Europe Tax-free Shopping program.  When your buy from these merchants you show your passport and get a Tax-Free Shopping Cheque showing the amount of refund owed to you.  When you leave the country, you show your purchases to an appropriate customs official, who stamps your checks.  You then claim your refund from a Europe Tax-free shopping desk on site, or have the refund mailed to you.

Designer jewelry, clothing, handbags, watches and accessories at discount prices?
Most of us know there’s no way you can buy a real Hermes scarf for two bucks or a Seiko watch for ten.  Did you know that the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) works tirelessly with intellectual property rights (IPR) owners to prevent such goods from being imported?  The international trade specialists in CBP’s Office of Strategic Trade work as a team with other internal offices to prevent counterfeit goods from entering the country.  Beware when buying the $100 Rolex watch.  Customs and Border Protection can seize counterfeit copyrighted and trademarked articles when you come back into the United States.  For more information, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website at:  

Register your travel plans with the State Department through a free online service at:  This will help the State Department contact you if there is a family emergency in the U.S., or if there is a crisis where you are traveling.  In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts will not be released to others without your authorization.Check your overseas medical coverage.  Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation.  If it does not, consider supplemental insurance. 

Airport Departure Tax
Returning home, don’t’ be surprised, be ready to pay a fee at the airport.  In many countries a departure tax and an airport security tax must be paid at the airport.

Jet Lag

After crossing several time zones, many travelers suffer from “jet lag.” Although there is no way to completely avoid jet lag, there are a number of ways to help your body adjust to a new time zone.

» Try to go to bed a little earlier a few days before you leave and get as much sleep as you can during your flight.

» Many side-effects of jet lag are the result of dehydration, so avoid alcohol, coffee, tea and other caffeinated beverages and drink plenty of water during your flight.

» Eat lightly on your flight and forego rich or exotic foods on the first few days of your trip so that you can use your energy to adjust to your new surroundings rather than to digest your food.

» Exercising on a long flight will help alleviate such common discomforts as backaches, swollen legs and feet and general fatigue. Stretch at regular intervals and walk up and down the aisles of the plane from time to time to prevent dangerous blood clots from forming.

» Finally, take it easy on the day you arrive so that you can take advantage of your trip at a leisurely pace and establish a routine in sync with the local time.

Get In touch

Carrie Kitzberger – Your Travel Professional

Phone (763) 497-7728 or 1-888-798-9087


Saint Michael, MN