Angel Castellanos Dispenses Helpful Travel Advice at the LA Travel Show
Helpful advice regarding travelling is always welcome, especially for attendees of a travel show. At this year’s Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show, which took place at the Long Beach Convention Center, Angel Castellanos of Angel’s Travel Lounge led an informative and upbeat presentation on just this topic. In his session, entitled “Travel Skills, Tips & Tricks: Know Before You Go”, Castellanos covered advice on packing, communication, luggage, and more.
Starting off with luggage, Castellanos stated that “travelling through an airport should be easy”, so, rather than taking a bunch of big bags, since “you want a good degree of mobility with your luggage”, one should take a rollerbag and walk beside it, along with a smaller bag. However, he also pointed out that, sometimes, you actually can’t bring luggage with wheels and you need duffel bags, but make sure that they are easily transportable.
Before travelling, he advised calling one’s credit card company: “if you’re travelling internationally, you should definitely call your credit card and your bank.” However, if you are speaking with customer service, you they are not going to be as helpful as someone in the fraud department: “you want to make sure you’re speaking with someone in the fraud department and give them as much information as possible”, such as with layovers. And, when calling your bank and/or credit card company, it helps if you make that phone call from your mobile phone, so that number is already in your phone. He also recommended making a photocopy of one’s credit card, especially the back side where there is information about where and whom to call.
Another item he suggested making a copy of is one’s passport, especially the whole front page, especially in color, since it’s more legible. And, “the first thing you should do if you lose your passport is to immediately contact the US embassy or consulate.” Another thing to pack is some copies of passport photos, “which makes the whole process a lot easier” in case one loses one’s passport.
Medical documentation is also another category of documents to have and have copies of. If you take prescription drugs, it’s a good idea to take along a medical note from one’s doctor in case of need of refills. And having one’s medical information, such as medical conditions, is also great to have. If travelling to third-world countries, it’s a good idea to bring along immunization records, as well; Castellano keeps it along with his passport.
A good place to store all of these documents is in an RFID-blocking travel wallet. A radio-frequency identification-blocking device – prevents radio frequency scanners that can digitally steal your information. Importantly, copies of documents should be absolutely separate from the originals.
Once you get to the airport, you should be prepared for airport security. If you have to take out a bunch of personal and sensitive items, put them in your carry-on or personal bag; it’s a lot easier than emptying them out of your pocket and having to put them back in. Castellano also recommended having someone waiting for your valuables on the other side of security: “it’s a good habit to get into.” Castellano also made mention of the 3-1-1 rule, with which travellers should be familiar.
Since the most common color for bag is black, “you should have a colorful identifier” on it to distinguish it. When putting information on it, Castellano recommended one’s name, email and phone number on bag, but nothing more, since “anything else is too much information.” In fact, Castellano specifically advised the audience to not put one’s address on it, since “you don’t want to advertise to people that you’re not home.” And, in any event, you’re going to have to fill out your address on forms if any luggage goes missing. Also, “if you’re travelling on one of the main domestic air carriers”, you should always double-check the website of your airline, especially about the handbag requirements.
Once he gets through security zone, he likes to wash hands or purify hands. He also does this once he gets onboard the airplane: he wipes down the trays, buttons, and more with wipes that he’s bought before the flight (from a drug store), since the airline doesn’t have the time to properly disinfect the airplane. “Plus, you don’t know what the previous traveler was doing” (e.g. maybe they put their feet somewhere) or if they were sick.
The first thing he does once he arrives in a foreign land is to get the local currency from a bank-owned ATM, since this is “where you’ll get the best exchange rate.” Otherwise, if you use a foreign exchange ATM, you’ll get charged high fees. He withdraws about $500 when he arrives, so that he doesn’t have to keep going back, which reduces his transaction fees. He likes to use credit cards with a zero foreign transaction fee, which requires no explanation. Regarding pickpockets, he likes to use an undercover belt – money belt – meant to be worn underneath clothing, where he puts passport, credit cards, and lots of cash, making it, essentially, a walking “safety deposit box”.
He recommends downloading some apps for communicating, which can allow the traveller to stay in touch with people back home. Although it should be pretty obvious, he recommended turning Airplane Mode on and WiFi on, so one doesn’t have extra charges for data, etc.
When visiting places of interest, when you see a line of people, most of the time, people are waiting in line to purchase tickets. He advised to see if there is some sort of pass that allows you to go to multiple sites, museums, etc. And, importantly, “ask yourself what sort of experience you want”: “travel is not about spending time in line; there is a better way to do it.” When thinking of places to stay, he likes to “stay in the middle of town because, then, I have access to all of the things I want to see, especially after all of the tours leave.”
For packing, he recommended that one differentiate between travel clothes and everyday clothes. One’s travel clothes should be the biggest and heaviest clothes. He also said that, when you have packable jackets, this goes a long way for your space and what you can bring. He advised being flexible with wardrobe – pick color schemes, using basic color schemes which one can easily mix and match. With shoes, he advised separating into three different categories: walking, evening, and flats – wear walking shoes onto the plane and pack the latter two.
When packing clothes, he likes “to fold and roll my item.” He also recommended having something to compress items. When packing clothes, start with trousers and dresses first. Some compressive travelling items have instruction boards with them, which is helpful. For medications, he advised bringing them in small baggies, but make sure you keep labelling with it. Finally, “always bundle up all of your electronics and put them in a kit in your carry-on bag.” If you pack them in your check luggage, “it’s a red flag for the TSA” for them to check your bags.
It was a great presentation that Castellanos made, with plenty of visual items, such as luggage and an on-screen presentation that kept those in the audience enjoyably educated with some helpful travel tips.