Frequently Asked Questions
Based upon reader’s questions, interactions with other travel writers, and my own travel experiences, I’ve compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions. I hope you’ll find this helpful. Let me know if you have questions that aren’t on this list and be sure to sign up for the PullOverandLetMeOut.com newsletter so you’re always up to date on the latest travel news, tips, and inspiration.
FAQs - Documentation
1. How do I find out what documentation I need to travel from the U.S. to Mexico and Canada?
A: The best bet is to check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. Click the “Travel” tab then choose Canada/Mexico travel.
2. When does the new federal Real ID requirement go into effect?
A: Starting in October 2020 the federal Real ID requirement goes into effect and will be necessary to get through TSA security.
4. Should I let the U.S. State Department know when I travel outside the country?
A: The U.S. State Department offers a program for registering your trip abroad so the embassy or consulate can easily find you should there be a natural disaster, civil unrest or other such issues. The program is called STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). It’s not a bad idea and doesn’t take long to complete the online registration.
FAQs - Trip Planning
1. What are the best websites for finding deals on vacations?
A: Dunhill Travel is a great site that scours the Internet aggregating a list of the top travel deals. I’ve used them and had success. You can click my affiliate link and check out the latest travel deals.
3. What tool do you use for building your itinerary?
A: My favorite site for building an itinerary online that I can share with friends and loved ones is Trip30. Trip30 allows you to add as much or as little detail as possible and you can create a shareable link to your itinerary.
4. Do you use third parties to book hotels?
A: I’m a big proponent of joining hotel loyalty programs and accruing points to earn free stays when you book directly. That being said, from time to time I do use third parties. Booking.com is the one I like.
6. Do I need a pass to visit the U.S. National Parks?
A: Passes aren’t required, you can pay upon entry. However, a pass will gain you access to 2000 federal recreation sites. If you’re planning on visiting multiple parks in a year, it’s a big cost-saver. Children 15 and under get in free. Learn more here.
7. What are your favorite road trip apps?
A: I use several apps when I’m road tripping. Google Maps is my go-to for navigation. Uber for when I need a ride. Snapseed for photo editing. Shutterfly for downloading my travel pics. GasBuddy is great for finding the best gas prices and iExit tells you what’s ahead when you’re on the road. And a new one I’ve recently started using, TripScout. TripScout is a trip planning app that features great travel articles and videos.
8. Do you recommend purchasing a CityPASS?
A: If you’re planning on visiting one of the many CityPASS destinations, you can definitely save money. The key is knowing how long you’ll be visiting and how many attractions you’ll realistically visit. If you plan to visit multiple attractions the cost of a CityPASS is definitely worthwhile.
9. When should I plan for myself and when should I use a travel agent?
A: The Internet has changed how we make our travel plans, however, there are times you may want or need the assistance of a travel agent. Today, they’re considered travel consultants and many have areas of specialization such as cruises or specific countries. I suggest consulting a travel consultant if you’re uncomfortable planning a trip yourself. Oftentimes, travel agents have contacts in the industry and are able to tap into resources the average traveler doesn’t have access to. You’ll also have a contact back home should you need assistance or run into issues while on your journey.
FAQs Travel Gear
1. What’s the best carry-on luggage?
A: With so many choices and styles finding the best piece of carry-on luggage is a highly personal decision. Some folks prefer soft-sided bags or duffle bags because they expand. Others prefer hardshell. My best advice is to do your research, know the airline size requirements, and consider what’s most important to you when you travel. Websites like eBags or Amazon offer a wide range of choices.
2. Do I need to take a power converter when traveling to Europe?
A: Yes, you will need a power converter for international travel. The best choices are universal and offer multiple ports. The EU and the UK are different from Asia and the US so be sure the converter you purchase will work in the country you’re traveling to.
4. What’s a good piece of travel clothing?
A: I love my SCOTTeVEST. It’s great for carrying things and remaining hands-free. It’s also a terrific layering piece and it’s lightweight and water resistant. They run on the small side so you may want to go up a size. Another travel must for me is a scarf. A scarf is multi-functional, it can be used for warmth or to change the look of your outfit. On the plane, it’s a great little blanket.
5. Where can I find travel-sized toiletries?
A: You can always raid the local drug store for travel-sized toiletries but you may not find all you want or need. You can also find a number of travel-sized products on Amazon. Another fun site, AllTravelSizes.com is dedicated to being a one-stop shopping experience for specialty travel-sized products.
FAQs This and That
1. Should I purchase a VPN?
A: A VPN (Virtual Personal Network) is a great idea if you plan on using public WiFi when you’re on your trip. Basically, a VPN hides your IP address and encrypts the data you send and receive protecting your identity and information. A VPN is an added layer of security and reliable VPNs can be found for a minimal cost. Read more about VPNs and choosing the right one here.
2. Do I need to purchase additional insurance when renting a car?
A: Probably not. Your personal auto insurance plan and or your credit card you’re using most likely already cover you. However, it’s always good to check with your plan before you travel. Furthermore, if you’re renting a car internationally, not all insurance companies cover international rentals. Check with your plan provider. Here’s a good article for more information.
3. Should I prepay the gas tank when renting a car?
A: Most car rental companies are having you pre-pay the entire tanks so unless you’ll be returning the car with a completely empty tank, it’s not going to work to your advantage. The Full to Full Fuel policy is the most common with rental companies. You’ll need to return the car with the same amount of fuel it had when you picked it up. Here’s a good post with more info.
4. Do I need trip insurance?
A: Life happens. If you’ve invested a chunk of your savings into a trip, it makes good sense to insure the trip. Most plans are relatively inexpensive. Here’s my affiliate link to InsureMyTrip. This is an aggregate site that helps you find the best plan for your needs.