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Receipts, Pests & Paper Trails: Summer Travel Tidbits

While you're waiting to just start your vacation already, think ahead and don't forget these key ingredients to making your trip safe and easy.

Keep Receipts

You must declare everything you purchased abroad that you're bringing back into your home country. Be prepared for duty fees or restrictions that could prohibit you from having a certain item. For example, foreign-made non-FDA approved medications and products made in Cuba are not allowed in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Also, birds and bird products from any country may be restricted and/or quarantined.

Pests

The ever-pesky bed bug is re surging and possibly lurking in the depths of the bed sheets of even the nicest hotels across the globe, reports the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While these bugs are not known to spread disease, they survive on blood, like to stow away in luggage and take up residence upon your return home.

To avoid bringing these hitchhikers home with you, do a quick inspection of your hotel room by checking the mattress and box spring for small specks of blood or dark brown stains. Check for any signs of small exoskeletons in creases of linens, as well as within an 8-foot radius of the bed. Shine a light (your flashlight app) in crevices in and behind the headboard, suggests the Travel Channel. Be sure there are no signs of these pests, so you don't have to get rid of bed bugs upon your return home.

Paper Trail

Keep backup copies (electronic and paper) of your passport, applicable visas, credit cards and itineraries with a friend or family member at home. In addition, place this information on a flash drive, and consider it one of your valuables when traveling. Keep the flash drive, along with your other valuables locked in hotel safes at all times unless needed.

Reminder: Be sure your name matches all of your travel documents exactly.

Wi-Fi Hotspots

It's a great convenience that coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and Internet cafes offer wireless access. Just remember to be smart when logging in. Some steps to help your identity remain intact:
  • Turn on the computer firewall and turn off sharing to prevent hacks or malware from connecting to your information the same time you do.
  • Enter data exclusively on secure SSL websites (https://), which will encrypt your Web activity, from surfing to sending emails and entering passwords.
  • Turn off your Wi-Fi when not in use. The more you're connected, the easier it is for hackers to snoop around. 
  • Be aware of those around you. Shoulder surfing is a common way for thieves to get passwords and PINs. This is important when using your credit cards at stores and restaurants, as well as at ATMs.

Give Yourself Time

Whether boarding a plane or crossing a boarder by car, be prepared for backups, personal inspection and declaration forms that may hold you up longer than anticipated. Allow extra time when entering another country or boarding a plane, and don't be surprised if Customs or the TSA pull you aside to be scanned. Remember there is nothing you can do about it except follow directions. The calmer you are, the easier it will be to get through the inspection.

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