Over the years I developed a to-do list for them so they are ready to get the best out of the experience. The to-do list helps me as well. I want to know they are having a good time and that they are safe and know how to navigate their travel environment.
Because there is a great difference between travel destinations, we are lucky to have the internet to research the attractions and safety issues of just about any venue.
Here is an email I sent our son when he was getting ready for a week's vacation to an island in the Caribbean.
Good morning. We’re very happy you’re going on your trip. That’s so cool.
Pack as lightly as possible. Figure out what clothes you will need for each day. Pack that plus an extra day. Find out if the hotel has self-serve laundry facilities. Avoid using the hotel's laundry service. The rates are very high. As in, $5.00 for a pair of underwear. $3.50 for a pair of socks. $18.00 to launder a shirt.
If you don’t need your laptop, leave it at home and just bring your camera, phone and iPad. Remember to pack your adapters and extra batteries.
Take a look at the articles about your destination I emailed yesterday. Even if you don’t go off the resort property, they had good tips for dealing with crime and how to deal with people who approach you. Like the articles say, don’t wear jewelry, openly carry your electronics or pull money out of your pocket.
In my experience, an airport ATM that supports your bank's card is a good place to get local currency.
When you are in the hotel, keep your passport and credit cards locked up in a safe. If there is not an in-room safe, usually the front desk has a safe available for guests.
To protect against pick pockets, always carry your wallet and passport in your front pocket never your back pocket or backpack.
When you call the phone company, ask what you have to do to activate your phone for roaming. For some carriers you have to enter a roaming code before you leave, turn off your phone while you travel, then when you arrive at your international destination, you turn your phone on, enter and send a roaming code.
When traveling internationally, only use roaming in emergencies or infrequently to use Google Maps and check for urgent messages and emails. The cost to roam is very high. Sharing one or two photographs, emailing and surfing the web can cost hundreds of dollars. Some carriers like Verizon offer discounted roaming plans, but even those do not solve the problem.
Once you have activated your phone for roaming on arrival, immediately turn off Cellular Data in Settings and only turn it back on as needed.
We use iDPhoneCard which has dial-in numbers in most countries in the world. The rates are usually very low. Go on line to find others and compare. See which one you want to use. The way they work is you set up an account and make a deposit. Then when you are traveling, you can call in to the US for a low per minute rate. With iDPhoneCard there is no charge for making a call other than the minutes used. Some phone cards charge for each call + the minutes used.