How I travel smart by Johnny Jet

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Almost everyone I know loves to travel – especially me. However, people who don’t travel a lot sometimes have no idea where to start. These tips can help motivate you to plan and make your travels become a reality.

Sign up to newsletters

The best way to find the biggest deals is to get as much information as possible. I recommend signing up to as many travel deals newsletters as possible. This includes all of the airlines, hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines. This will help you stay on top of the deals which might also help you choose where to go.

Use Twitter and Facebook

If you haven’t already done so, create a Twitter and a Facebook account. It takes about two minutes and you don’t have to put any of your personal information out there. Your goal is to follow all the airlines, hotels, cruise companies, car rental companies and travel experts that you are interested in because sometimes they offer Twitter- or Facebook-exclusive deals.

Get the right credit card

If you’re planning on going to Europe, I highly recommend getting credit card that does not charge foreign transaction fees.

Make phone calls

Before going away be sure to call your credit card company and bank before leaving to tell them your travel plans. This will save you a headache if they decide to put a hold on your card or ATM due to suspicious use. If you get a newspaper delivered call them to stop it too and if you are going away for a long period inform the post office to hold your mail.

Pack for the weather

In Europe, they say “there’s no such thing as bad weather—only inappropriate clothing.” It’s true. So do a little research and know what you’re traveling into. Check the weather forecast in advance and pack accordingly so you won’t be surprised and can fully enjoy your trip.

Pack light

Most American travelers pack way too many clothes. Not only is it going to cost more money (if the airline charges bag fees), but it will be a real pain to schlep around if you’re making multiple stops. The best way to save time and money is to pack light with only a carryon to avoid waiting at baggage claim and easily take public transportation. If that’s not possible, be strategic about the clothes you pack in your checked bag.

Pack an Extra Bag

If you expect to do a fair bit of shopping the next time you travel, pack a thin, lightweight duffel bag in your carry-on or checked suitcase. That way, if you have too much stuff coming home, you can check an extra bag. If you purchase expensive items, then put your dirty clothes in the checked bag and carry the more valuable items on the plane.

Check Your Passport’s Validity

If you’re planning to travel out of the country, verify that your passport is valid several months in advance. Many countries require that your passport be valid for at least three to six months after your arrival date before they’ll grant entry to their country. Before the summer crunch hits and you have to pay to expedite the process, renew or apply for a passport now.

Get Travel Insurance

I highly recommend getting travel insurance and getting it from a third party. Let’s say, you buy insurance for a cruise from a cruise line and they go out of business; what happens then? Nothing, you are out of luck. When you buy from a third party, financial default is one benefit you can find in comprehensive plans that will reimburse your covered trip cost. The first place I look for travel insurance is InsureMyTrip.com since they have hundreds of plans from 25 trusted providers.

I hope these tips will help make your travel plans and more importantly travels smoother, safer and more enjoyable.

 Johnny Jet is a money-saving travel expert who visits around 20 countries a year and co-host of  on Twitter.

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