(VIDEO:The Statue of Liberty)
Nothing is worse than having your credit card declined, especially when you’re trying to buy your family subway passes at a kiosk under Times Square surrounded by early morning commuters.
Don’t get me wrong, the people around us were very understanding, if misguided in assuming we’d run up our line of credit. I think someone did offer to help pay our fare in the confusion, but just about everyone else was focused on catching their train.
It didn’t help that when you’re that far below the ground cell service is sketchy at best, we had plans to visit Lady Liberty and a set boat departure time.
And in the end it was the cell phone that had caused the problem. Sorta. We missed a call from our bank confirming that we were in fact in Manhattan, New York, about 1,000 plus miles away from our home in Orlando.
Had we answered the initial call, the cards wouldn’t have been put on hold. Yes, my debit card was affected as well.
Yet I can’t blame the bank or the phone company. It really was all my fault. I neglected to let the bank know I would be out of my local area and I should have known better. I mean, we have our own family travel blog and are constantly out of town.
I’ll tell you how we fixed the problem in a minute. First, I want to share seven more commonly forgotten details that could ruin your trip.
Papers, please. Carry your identification. If you’re traveling with kids bring their IDs. Carrying passports or birth certificates if traveling in the US or both if headed abroad will ensure gatekeepers that you are the proper guardian and avoid any possible misunderstandings. If you’re traveling separate from your spouse or the kids are off with other family members or friends, a notarized document with permission will go a long way. Make sure you give them permission for medical authorization, too.
Prescriptions on your person. If you’re going to be away for 30 days, pack 35-40 days worth of meds in your carry-on. Why? This way if anything happens to your luggage or something keeps you from returning home you have a little wiggle room. Plus, you won’t want to use the pill that accidentally falls next to the toilet. [Should we also say, ask you dr. for a prescription so you can get it filled if you lose the pills?]
Check your connectivity. Call your cell and data provider in advance to be sure you will have coverage. Believe it or not, there are still some places where cell service does not exist. This is also especially important if you will be traveling internationally or simply to a city near an international border. Let your provider know where you’re going and ask what the best plan is for you. They’re pretty accommodating. Did you know it is possible to switch to data or cell service only for the duration of your trip?
Power play. Travel with a multiple outlet strip and don’t forget adapters if headed overseas. I used a small three outlet strip on a recent flight on American Airlines to keep the kids devices charged for the long flight from Hawaii to Dallas. Yes, we had a plug between our seats! It was also especially handy on our Nickelodeon Cruise on NCL and our Adventure by Disney. During that tour I was happy to immediately make friends and share one of our extra adapters with a fellow family traveling in Rome.
Weather forecasts are important. Instead of packing for every eventuality, check the expected weather conditions for your destination – and the stops in between. This is not only useful for packing but for staying out of harm’s way. So don’t forget to check temperatures and weather patterns along your flight route/stop-overs, roadside pit stops and secondary destinations. We drove through Hurricane Irene on our way to Montreal and just missed sleet and freezing rain when driving home from Breckenridge, Colorado this fall.
Cash on hand. You don’t need much, but it doesn’t hurt to have a few bill or coins just in case. Somewhere between 5 and 20 bucks should do. I could have used a Euro when my daughter needed to use the toilets at Mt. Vesuvius and a dollar or two when my kids were begging for water in front of a street vendor in Salem, Mass this summer. Helpful when facing toll roads as well!
Double check your dates. If you’re traveling across the country be sure your dates overlap. For example if you’re driving from Central Florida to visit friends in Biloxi, Miss., Tuesday through Friday make sure you have a place to stay Monday night through Tuesday morning on the way out and Friday night through Saturday on the way home. Believe me, this happens too often and to everyone at least once, a few extra times for me.
And if you’re wondering what happened in New York, I should let you know that I have one of those great banks that really pays attention to me and my activity. It only took a brief call from a location closer to street level and answering a series of amusing verification questions to have the cards in working order again. The attendant at the subway entrance – who was entertaining the kids by doing push-ups in his booth – made some great recommendations and we were able to catch our boat to Liberty Island.
My favorite part of that trip happened later that day. On the way back to our Broadway hotel we caught the lights in Time’s Square, were captured on an interactive billboard and serenaded by the not-so-Naked Cowboy. How New York is that?
(VIDEO:A busker sings on the subway. Another fun moment from our trip to Manhattan.)