The Creole Poet Vacation Travel Tips

DRIVERS LICENSE for travel within the USA ONLY: Drivers Licenses from 9 states won’t be valid for domestic flights starting in 2018. Residents of Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington will need to use alternative forms of ID starting in 2018 such as military ID, permanent resident card, or passport.

Cell Service: Prior to your trip, check with your cell phone company before you leave to see if you will have service where your are visiting and what rates apply. Text messages are usually cheaper. You may need to set you cell phone to regular text message and not on iMessage to send and receive text messages. IMessage does not always work outside the US.

Credit Cards: Also let your cr. card company know that you will be making purchases in another country to help with allowing your charges to go through.

TSA: review this site before your trip to know what the to expect at the airport at the TSA checkpoint  http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/what-know-you-go

Passports/Travel to other countries: Visit  www.travel.state.gov  for the latest info on passports and travel to other countries.  Make sure your passport is valid for  at least 6 mos past your travel dates  for most countries and that you have more than 2 blank pages for customs stamps .

All international passengers regardless of age must present a government issued, non-expired, U.S. passport upon flight check-in and for U.S. customs re-entry.

Validate that your passport expiration date is acceptable for entry into the country you’re traveling to. Some countries require passports be valid for a certain period of time before and/or after your vacation.

Travelers with passports that are found to be washed, mutilated, or damaged may be refused entry.

Travel advisories are a new program recently rolled out by the State Dept. Review the destination advisories at travel.state.gov website. 
It seems that many popular destinations have a level 2 advisory (exercise increased caution) and not a level 3 reconsider or level 4 do not travel. Click here to search and view the advisories by specific destination https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html

U.S. citizens should be aware that countries can deny foreigners entry if they have been charged or convicted of a serious crime. For more information on entry requirements review the information on www.travel.state.gov or contact the consulate for the destinations you’re traveling to.

Children under the age of 18 traveling with only one parent or someone who is not a parent or legal guardian should travel with a notarized letter of consent. For more details, please visit U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

It is the traveler's responsibility to provide the correct documents and failure to do so may result in being denied boarding for the flight. Regrettably, we are unable to refund unused flights, hotel, or add-ons because of denied boarding situations.

Visa: Also, check www.travel.state.gov  to see if a visa is required for your travel to another country. Visas if required need to be applied for well in advance of travel.

Traveling with minor(s) under age 18: require parent(s) permission to travel: 

Child traveling with one parent or someone who is not a parent or legal guardian or a group   Click here for important US Customs requirement info
Minors under 18 years of age traveling to another country without their parents Click here for important requirement info https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/449/~/traveling-with-children---minors-under-18-years-of-age-traveling-to-another

Criminal Records: 
CANADA: From http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/canada.html
Please Note: Anyone with a criminal record ( including misdemeanors or alcohol-related driving offenses ) may not be able to enter Canada without first obtaining an approval for rehabilitation well in advance of any planned travel. To determine whether you may be inadmissible and how to overcome this finding, please refer to the CIC website .

This may also apply to other countries, including not being able to travel to a country based on a criminal record , please review details on this for the country that you are traveling to at www.travel.state.gov  or the country's tourism web site to check on this prior to booking your vacation. 

Prescriptions: Keep prescription medications in the prescription bottle in case there is a question about your prescription.

On Line Check-in: 24 hours prior to travel, check in on line for your flights at the airlines website, use the airline confirmation number provided on your e travel doc to check-in,  view/change your plane seats.

For international flights you usually cannot print a boarding pass on line. They must be obtained at the airline counter at the airport.

Day of Travel: Plan to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours or more prior to travel . Allow enough time to park, check your luggage at the airline counter (no curbside check in for international flights), go through security and arrive at the gate in plenty of time for your flight.

If you have carry on bags  only  let the airline rep know at the beginning of the check-in line and they will usually let you check in at the shorter 1st class or a kiosk check in counter. The lines for checked bags are usually long  even for early morning flights.   

Language: For most destinations, the people that you interface with in the travel industry speak English. 

Shuttle: See the end of your travel doc for your ground transporation instructions (where to meet the shuttle, their contact info in the country you are visitng, etc). The shuttle representative will provide instructions on how to make arrangements for your return shuttle.

Tourist Card:   MEXICO  Before you arrive in Mexico, the airline may give you paperwork to complete on the plane. One paper is your tourist card that you keep while in Mexico. Keep it in a safe place like inside your passport book as you must surrender the tourist card when you leave the country. If you do not have the tourist card to surrender you will be fined.
This may also apply to other countries. You will need to check the country that you are visiting tourism web site to see if this applies.

NEW Online Mexico Tourist Card: 
MEXICO online tourist card please complete prior to travel to avoid delay at customs. Since the card is available online the airlines may not provide them on the plane. Click here for instructions and a link to the online form 
https://www.mexicotouristcard.com/instructions.html

“To ease the immigration entry process you can now fill out the Mexico Immigration Forms online prior to travel. Go to https://www.inm.gob.mx/fmme/publico/en/solicitud.html to complete the online forms. 
You will need your passport, flight information, address or name of the hotel where you are staying and a printer to print your completed tourist card(s). 
Please note that the tourist card must be completed for every person travelling, regardless of age and how long you are staying in Mexico.”

Tourist Card:   PUNTA CANA If you are traveling to Punta Cana, when you enter the airport terminal you will be directed to a booth where you will pay $10 USD for a tourist card.  You will need to have exact change  per person. Click here for info about the tourist card and how to purchase on line if you prefer to do so. This is collected separately by the Dominican Republic Government at the airport in Punta Cana and  is not  included in your air/hotel package. 
UPDATE: You no longer need to buy this card at the airport. The airlines are applying an extra $10 to your plane tickets on behalf of the dominican government,

http://dgii.gov.do/tarjetaTuristica/EN/about/Paginas/default.aspx or
https://www.dgii.gov.do/Tturistaweb/

Punta Cana Airport: The airport is an open air thatched roof facility.
When you get off (and on) the plane  at the airport it will be by stairs directly onto the pavement. You will either walk or a shuttle bus will take you to the nearby terminal. You may want to keep your carry on light as you will carry then down the stairs exiting the plane. This may be true of many island and remote destinations.

Weather: Check the online weather sites for the average temps during your travel. The sun feels stronger near the equator than it does here in Houston. Bring sunscreen, hat, etc. A light jacket may be needed if you get cool in air conditioned areas. 

Electrical: Check the online tourism site for the country that you are visiting to see if an adapter is required. If it is 110V (60 cycles) as here in the USA, adapters  are not  required. If an adapter is required, make sure that it also converts the current down from 220 to 110. 

Portable Cell phone/iPad charger: you may want to bring a portable charger to re charge when an electrical outlet is not available.

Insect Repellant: bring a lotion repellant just in case.

Zika Virus:  Please review this US Government CDC site regarding the Zika virus. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices

Bring a lotion repellent or suntan lotion that includes mosquito repellent if you prefer..

What type should you use click here  http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites

Currency: Some countries take US Dollars (except Europe will only take Euros, you should bring Euros with you to Europe. Some hotel front desks can exchange dollars for Euros if you need more Euros while in Europe). For the U.K. take pounds. You can exchange dollars for currency for the country that you are visiting if you like at the airport money exchange window near the airline gates for your departure. Use the other countries money for tips to locals or souvenir shopping during your excursions. Also, Chase bank can provide the foreign currency to you within approx 48 hrs. of your order. Check with your bank to see if they provide this service.

BARBADOS:   Click here for info about Barbados, weather, electrical, currency, etc. http://www.bhta.org/index/barbados.html

TURKS AND CAICOS:
Currency is the US Dollar.  

CANADA:  
Currency: most businesses take US Dollars but  change will be given in Canadian currency and note that business set their own exchange rate (meaning you may pay more than you wanted) View this article about using currency for visits to Canada  http://traveltips.usatoday.com/use-money-canada-15630.html

Cr. Card: Use your cr. card only at established businesses.  Book your excursions through the hotel only to avoid undesired cr. card issues. As in any foreign country do not go off on your own. Stay with your excursion group.

CDC Health Information for travelers click here  http://wwwnc.cdc.gov

Customs:   U.S. Citizens -  For specifics on what you can bring back and the corresponding fees, download the invaluable free pamphlet  Know Before You Go  online at https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/know-before-you-go  (click on "Travel," and then click on "Know Before You Go"), or contact the  U.S. Customs & Border Protection,  1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20229 (tel.  877/287-8667 ), and request the pamphlet.

Read more about the country you are visiting at:  http://www.frommers.com

IMPORTANT Please Note:  JAMAICA, BARBADOS, BELIZE -  The wearing of camouflage or military apparel  is illegal and clothing will be confiscated and persons charged accordingly . This may also apply to other countries. You will need to check the country that you are visiting tourism web site to see if this applies.

Departure Travel Tip: Allow plenty of time when you leave to return home to go through customs before your departing flight. You may need to complete a form/pay a departure tax to present to customs at the airport before you leave the country. 

Departure Tax:   Note: COSTA RICA - Your Costa Rica departure tax (approx $27)  is included  in your air fare and you  should not  have to get in line to pay for this at the airport for your return flight home. From united.com for your flights click on taxes and fees to see that is it already included.  You may want to print and bring that page with you tothe airport to show you have already paid for it. If flying with another airline, check their site for this same info. This may be true of other countries. You will need to check the country you are visiting tourism web site to see if this applies.

Dining : For Europe and some countries you visit, dinner is in the late evening. Meals can take 2 hrs. or more. For some countries there is no rush. If you send something back because an order is wrong and it took 1 hr to get your meal, it may take another hour to get the corrected meal. Most restaurants have menus in English that you can request from them for placing your order.    

Hotel Washcloths: Some hotels in foreign countries do not provide washcloths. You may want to bring disposal washcloths, shower pouf, sponge or gloves for bathing just in case. 

Bags/Backpacks : For Europe and some other countries you visit, most buildings that you tour do not allow bags/backpacks and you may have to store those items in a locker for pick up after the tour.

Return to the USA:  you will go through US customs. Note that some USA customs offer a no checked bag line which is much shorter than the line for passengers with checked bags. Those lines can be very long.

Please note on your return to the USA to expedite processing for some airports that customs has one line for kiosks now that you will use to provide your info, scan your passport, and receive a photo receipt that you take to another line for a customs agent to review before you leave the customs area, View more info at:   http://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/automated-passport-control-apc  

If you can get by with carry on bags  only  for your trip. You can usually get through customs faster.   

Customs/Immigration Preclearence: Please note that some Caribbean airports: the Bahamas (Nassau and Freeport), Aruba, Punta Cana (May 2017) have or will have Preclearence facilities for US Travelers enabling them to avoid Customs and Immigration lines when they return to the US. Visit the US Customs website or the country that you are traveling to online tourism site to see if they have Preclearence facilities.

Travel issues: If there are any travel issues, please  bring them to the attention of the airline, hotel, ground transportation company  during travel  so they have an opportunity to address them during travel . There is also a 24 hr travel supplier contact number on your e travel docs and you may also call, email or send me a text if you need assistance.  (note: send texts by regular text message, iMessage may not work for international text when in other countries outisde the USA).

FAA Ban: Ban all Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphone devices from air transportation in the United States. Individuals who own or possess a Samsung Galaxy Note7 device may not transport the device on their person, in carry-on baggage, or in checked baggage on flights to, from, or within the United States. This prohibition includes all Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices. The phones also cannot be shipped as air cargo. The ban will be effective on Saturday, October 15, 2016, at noon ET

Have a  great vacation!

Denise Labrie
Owner, The Creole Poet
281-436-0405 (ofc)
713-560-3284 (cell)
deniselabrie@sbcglboal.net

The Creole Poet is an IATAN accredited travel agency. Denise Labrie US Mail Address 13165 W. Lake Houston Pkwy #422 Houston, TX 77044 Ofc 281.436.0405 Cell 713.560.3284 Fax  281-436-0406. Email deniselabrie@sbcglobal.net Website www.deniselabrie.com 



The Creole Poet 
An IATAN accredited travel agency 
Denise Labrie 
US Mail Address 13165 W. Lake Houston Pkwy #422 Houston, TX 77044 
Ofc 281.436.0405 Cell 713.560.3284 Fax  281-436-0406. 
Email deniselabrie@sbcglobal.net Website www.deniselabrie.com