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• Before leaving on your trip, make two copies of your passport, the credit cards you are taking with you, and your itinerary. Take one set with you and leave the other with a responsible adult at home. You’ll find this helpful if you lose any of these important documents while traveling and it also lets everyone at home know where you’re plans will be taking you.

• Remember that U.S. Passports generally need to be valid for at least six months past the date of your return to the States. Check the expiration date and renew in plenty of time if necessary.

• When going out of the country, you can register your travel plans with the U.S. Department of State. Set up a STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) Account. You can receive alerts on the countries you’ll be visiting and you can readily be reached in case of emergency.

If you ask me that question, my one-word answer would be “value.” It’s not unusual for someone today to feel they don’t need a travel consultant to plan and book their trip. There’s so much information available on the internet and if they’re savvy enough, they can do it themselves. What they don’t realize is that the services of a qualified travel consultant rarely cost any more than booking online or directly with the company yourself. But, it’s not all about the bottom dollar when you’re traveling.  

• You want to make sure you get the most out of your travel experience. Working with a dedicated travel professional will help you decide on the best type of vacation for your interests, time allotment and budget.

• Your agent will also assist you in selecting the best cruise, resort, tour and flights and offer suggestions on special promotions. Agents have connections with preferred suppliers that result in amenities for their clients that may not be available to the general public.

• An agent will help you sort through all the information overload you may read online and if a personalized itinerary is what you want, he or she will provide the necessary expertise to ensure the best possible experiences for you. 

• Many clients say they enjoy the planning and that’s great. Your travel consultant will listen to your ideas and direct you accordingly. If you prefer, you can sit back, relax, and let your consultant take it from there.

Working with a qualified travel consultant will put your mind at ease that you've:
• chosen the proper flights to get you to your destination on time
• selected the best time of year for your vacation; that the tour, resort or hotels you've decided on are suited to your likes
• properly insured
• your passports and visas are in order

Perhaps most importantly, a professional travel agent will be there for you before, during and after your trip. You have backup if you need it and that alone makes your travel agent worth her weight in gold and when you add the expertise and amount of time and money you save with a professional, you will agree that a consultant is invaluable.

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Special Tips for Travelers with Disabilities

1.  Give yourself plenty of time the day of travel and plan ahead.  Two hours for domestic and three hours for international flights just might not be sufficient.  Make all your ground transportation arrangements well in advance.

2.  Whenever possible book direct flights.  If connections are necessary, make sure you allow enough time between flights.

3.  Know your traveler's rights and exercise them.  Check with the airline, hotel and destination to be sure you can access all that you want to.

4.  Bring appropriate medical information, including written prescriptions, with you.  (Always keep these with you - never put in a checked bag.)  Depending on your situation, check with your US doctor for recommendations for physicians where you will be traveling should the need arise.

5.  Insurance is not an option.  Travel insurance is always recommended, but for travelers with disabilities it is a MUST.

6.  Work with a qualified local travel agent who knows your needs and understands your situation.  He or she will be sure you have transportation within the airport, flights that work well for you, hotels that can accommodate your needs and that your destination is one that is accessible.