Make sure to give yourself enough time to get the visas. Embassies and consulates honor the national holidays of the countries where they are located and their own national ones. This means that they have more holidays then you probably do.
Most embassies and consulates do not accept personal checks. They only take money orders or cashiers checks. Some may accept credit cards. Check with the consulate for instructions. If you want them to mail your passport and visa back to you, follow their mailing instructions carefully. If they say to bring a post office return envelope or a FedEx one, don’t come with a UPS one. They may not accept it.
I had to rush to get my Chinese visa in February 2008 because the Chinese consulate was closed for a few days during Chinese New Year. I wanted to save myself the trip to San Francisco to pick up my Chinese visa and asked a friend to get it for me. When my friend got home from the consulate and opened my passport, he called me and told me that the Chinese had re-baptized me and given me a new surname. I had to take a day off work and go up to San Francisco to fix the mistake and get a new visa.
Small, lightweight immersion heaters are inexpensive and available in dual voltages, though you may still need a plug adapter. You can buy a new immersion heater locally in most developed countries. Better-quality versions of these have thermostatic shut-offs. If you purchase a cheaper one, be sure that the coil is immersed in liquid whenever the unit is plugged in.
www.letravelstore.com Check here for immersion heaters and other travel products.
While traveling in Kiev in 1997, I had a travel pouch on my stomach. It was raining outside. The moisture on my skin seeped through the travel pouch and got the gold eagle paint on the outside of my passport wet. The gold paint went through the material of my passport and stained my passport photo, making it look fake. This was a disaster as I was leaving later the same day and had to go through customs with a suspicious looking passport. Lesson learned. I always keep my passport in a re-sealable (Ziploc) bag inside my travel pouch.
Airlines say that you can’t get bonus miles more than once with their credit card partners. This is not always the case as I’ve closed cards for which I got many bonus miles and then opened new ones with the same airlines and still got the new bonus miles.
The American Express Gold card lets you accumulate points that you can then use to pay for part of or all of your plane fare.
I have had credit cards from several airlines and have always paid my balance in full each month. I never carry a balance. If you are unable to control your spending and are afraid of running up credit card debt by getting a new card to fund your free travel, then don’t get it. I don’t want to encourage people to get into debt. We already have a horrible savings rate in the US as it is. Be responsible.
www.americanexpress.com Look for Gold Card information.
List of airline and travel credit cards with interest rates and mileage credit policies.
While traveling in Chicago in June 2008, I got food poisoning and didn’t have my usual first aid kit with me that I bring on international trips. I had to pay one of the bellmen at the hotel to go to the nearest pharmacy at 1am to get me Tylenol and Pepto- Bismol. I realized that the same precautions I take for travel in foreign countries should apply to domestic trips.