Anyone who has been writing for IGO for a while knows that at one time there was an actual overview that included an overall look at what you did on the trip as well suggestions and ways to get around. Since my overview took up all 1500 words to tell you all about the fun things I did, this is the follow up. Enjoy!
No matter where my travels take us, my first suggestion is take a look at the visitor’s websites. They are a wealth of information. You can get the 411 on everything the city and surrounding areas have to offer, take advantage of discounts and hotel packages, and check out itineries You can either get an on line version or have an actual guide sent to your home. I use both. But I still love my glossy guides in my hands. I can flip back and forth with ease and I found them easier to read. And I can scan it and find a picture of something I like it. When I opened up my Orlando guide for a fall trip, I immediately saw a picture of something I want to try. I am also a scrapbooker so I save everything. What doesn’t go in my scrapbook goes in my memory box. And I love having my visitors guide in there and often use them for multiple trips. The websites I used were:
www.sunny.org Ft. Lauderdale
And don’t forget apps and social media. All three cities have their own free apps for smart phones and have Facebook pages.
One of my favorite websites for organizing my travel plans is Trip It. You can have all your plans in one neat place. It is a free site and if you’re plans are emailed to you; it will go ahead and go to your Trip It plans. Just go to www.tripit.com. They even have a phone app.
Got a smart phone? Then use your apps. I use my CVB apps. Then I have apps for travel journals, travel planning, finding resturants..parking..wifi and more. With the exception of a few apps..all mine were free.
Make use of social media as well. I found out about this trip from my friend David who I met on Facebook and then got the information on Facebook. I was able to keep up with updates and everything that was going on through the cruises website. Someone set up a page for people going on the cruise and we vented our frustrations there. I also got to meet lots of great people on the page before the cruise. Were still staying in touch for next years cruise and an upcoming concert that allot of MOR people will be attending.
Here is a great idea for my favorite souviner. It is the squished or elongated (its technical term) penny. It is cheap (generally 51 cents), doesn’t take up luggage space (I keep mine in the change area of my wallet until I get home), and you can add them to your scrap pages. Not a scrapper or digital scrapper? They actually have a collector’s book for them. They are found at state parks, museums, malls, theme parks, restaurants (all the BBQ restaurants in Lexington NC for example have them), events, and just about anywhere else. And they can be found all over the world. It is a great hobby for the whole family. Here are some links you might find helpful:
www.Pennycollector.com includes a machine locator. I always use this page for my trip planning.
www.presscoins.com just for Disney coins (they have a butt load of them)
www.Parkpennies.com for theme park pennies
www.pressedpenny.com all about collecting pressed pennies.
In addition to having my travel plans stored in varies apps and websites..I also like to keep manual copies just in case my computer crashes or something. There are plenty of travel planners out there. I found a great one on Amazon (www.amazon.com) that is beautiful and found it for 82 cents..used. It looks like brand new and doesn’t have a mark in it (except mine..of course).
Also I went to my local Hobby Lobby and found an adorable box that is a bit bigger than an index card. It was decorated and was a blue color. On sale for $2.50! Then I went next door to Office Max and got index cards in the same color and got a pen in a darker blue. I record all my information in there as well and have it as a souvenir when I am done!
As soon as you book your plans, grab the travel documents you will need and put them somewhere safe. As soon as I came back from this trip and unpacked my luggage, I put our documents for the next cruise right back in my jewelry box even though it is more than a year away. Then I went to my calendar app and my cruise planning folder and made a note after the first of the year to renew my passport. And check the expiration dates on visas and passports. One young lady was denied boarding because her visa expired. They make no exceptions these days.
Not a frequent traveler and not sure what you need to travel and what you can bring with you? Then check BEFORE you go. Here are some websites you might find helpful:
www.tsa.gov Tells you rule and regulations for flights
www.state.gov passport info, travel warnings, and travel requirements for US citizens.
If you are a non USA citizens then you with your countries embassy for travel requirements.
Also check with your cruise line for what you are allowed to bring on the ship. Cruise lines generally do not have a luggage requirement. But it will tell you what is accepted and what isn’t. And use your common sense. While waiting to board we saw a woman crying and pitching a fit because she was not allowed to wear her $200 bullet belt!! Well DUH!!!!!! Bullets are not allowed on a ship..even on a belt.
When planning a road trip like we did, give your self plenty of time to plan. Make your plans in advanced. Book your hotel as soon as possible. And check deposit and cancelation requirements before you book. Next years cruise will be in March, and Florida is a prime spring break destination. In some cases you may have to pay a nights deposit or cancelations may be longer (a week vs. the day of before 6). I planned this for about 9 months and already make plans for next year’s trip. And get a folder and keep all your information together so that you can take it with you. When Walmart has their folders on sale in the fall for 10 cents, I stock up. I use one for each trip and make copies of all my confirmations and itins and then bring them with me on each trip.
If you are cruising from Ft. Lauderdale (also known as Port Everglades), Ft. Lauderdale airport (FLL..www.fll.net) is about 2 miles away. Most of the hotels near the airport offered free airport shuttles. Our hotel also had the park and play hotel. If you stayed at the hotel then you could leave your car parked at the hotel and take the shuttle to the cruise port. So check with your hotel to see if that is offered.
You can pick up rental cars at the airport. If you are planning to be here for a few days, you will want to get out and enjoy all the area has to offer and remember you are less than an hour away from Miami and Palm Beach. You are also 2 hours from Tampa and 3 from Orlando.
In the days of GPS systems and using your phone for directions, I still like my AAA trip ticket. They are great when your battery dies, bad weather interferes with your cell signal, or something goes wrong with your nav system. Nick uses the nav system while my job is to keep up with my trip tkt and I get to see what’s ahead. If there is something ..like say lighthouses..that I want to plot along my travels..I can do that. Can’t do that with gps. It also makes a great souvenir for my memory box. Again smartphone users..there is an app for that.
Speaking of AAA. I suggest joining them especially if you have a major trip coming. AAA offers a variety of services as well travel services. I booked my hotel with AAA and then I used my AAA card for savings for all my Hard Rock purchases. AAA towing is for the person, not your car. This is different than the towing services that come with new cars. They also offer discounted attraction tickets. They have several phone apps and you can go to www.aaa.com to find your local AAA.