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travel_homespun_7_28RISMEDIA, July 28, 2009-Members of Priority Pass, one of the world’s largest independent airport lounge programs, recently gave their top travel tips in response to a survey.

The wide-ranging advice is a useful check-list for anyone preparing for a trip, and covers tips to save money, avoid stress, protect yourself and your belongings, and much more.

1. Protect laptops and essential business documents. A stolen or damaged laptop can ruin more than just a business trip. If vital documents are on it, it can be a commercial disaster. Make sure vital documents are backed-up and ensure that any sensitive information on your laptop is securely encrypted. If you are making presentations on a trip, then it’s wise to take them on a USB stick. Don’t check your laptop into the hold of an aircraft, unless you are not really bothered about seeing it again.

2. Get adequate insurance. If you travel frequently, it can be easy to get blasé about insurance, but having adequate coverage for all eventualities can be the wisest investment you will ever make. For frequent flyers, an annual policy makes sense, but don’t choose the cheapest without comparing deals.
it again.

3. Think about medication, glasses and more. Unless you’ve been stuck in a foreign land without the right medication, it may not occur to you how important it is. If you have prescription drugs, make sure you take enough with you, and it’s always wise to have a mini-medicine cabinet of essentials at hand. Less obvious are glasses and contact lenses. If you’re one of those people who would really struggle without your glasses, then take a spare pair with you- and maybe the prescription too. Losing or breaking glasses may not happen often, but if it does it can be highly inconvenient. If you’re travelling to more exotic destinations, don’t forget to check what immunizations you need- and whether you need certification of that with you in order to enter the country.

4. Control the cost of keeping in touch. If you don’t plan ahead, it can cost a fortune to stay in touch while travelling. Expensive roaming charges on your mobile phone, wi-fi charges to check your emails using your laptop, even just receiving calls and texts on your mobile- they can all add up to a lot more than you expect. Make sure you have selected the best mobile tariff for international calls, and plan ahead for wi-fi access if you plan to use the Internet a lot. You can save a lot of money by signing up to a global wi-fi access deal.

5. Overcoming jetlag. Priority Pass members find jetlag one of the most negative aspects of long-distance travel- and also one of the most difficult to overcome. Just as jetlag affects everyone differently, it seems that everyone has a different theory on how to get over it. The most common advice is that you should set your watch to the time in your destination as soon as you start your trip.

6. Avoiding airport stress. More than ever these days, airports are an ordeal rather than a pleasure and Priority Pass members had a number of suggestions to minimize the stress levels. Online check-in, when available, is one obvious solution, and ensuring that you know the airline’s baggage limits is another. With many no-frills airlines getting tougher on the weight of bags, it can come as a nasty shock if you have to get your credit card out at the airport, and you may find yourself paying more for your baggage to travel than for yourself.

7. Avoid excessive charges on foreign exchange and credit cards. It’s always a good idea to think about how you will pay for things on your trip. Does your bank charge a fee every time you use a card abroad? Will your card work at all when you are abroad? Another banking query that arises more these days is that you will be offered the opportunity to settle your bill at a given exchange rate so you can see the amount in your home currency. The general advice is not to do so, as most reputable banks will beat the rate offered by shops or restaurants.

Finally, if you are changing money, watch out for “commission free” deals that can actually work out to be very expensive because of the terrible exchange rate.

8. Getting an upgrade. Upgrades happen, but it seems not to be something you can plan for. Our feedback is that dressing relatively smartly and being friendly and polite at check-in helps, and it doesn’t do any harm to ask gently if there is any possibility of an upgrade.

9. Don’t be selfish – think of others. This is not exactly a tip, but a plea. One of the biggest complaints travelers have is selfish behavior of others; things like talking loudly on a mobile phone, or playing loud music through headphones.

10. And finally – enjoy yourself. This may sound daft, but sometimes the stresses of a journey can almost hide the pleasures, especially if it’s a business trip. But a lot of Priority Pass members made a point of saying that those who are fortunate enough to travel on business should ensure they appreciate how lucky they are. Yes, airports can be a pain, delays can be very frustrating and jetlag can leave you feeling wretched. But seeing new places and cultures is a thrill that not all can enjoy, and is something to be savored. Even on a business trip, try to leave a little time to explore your surroundings.