Surprises Aren’t Fun When Passports Are Involved

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Do you know when your passport expires?  Most don’t.  It’s just not one of those things we feel like needs to be top of mind and in most cases, it doesn’t   Yet, there is nothing worse than deciding or having the opportunity to take a last-minute trip and finding that you don’t have 6 months of validity on your passport.

(Note:  Many countries require 6 months of validity beyond your scheduled return and airlines can deny boarding for less than 6 months of validity on a passport.)  Staying on top of your expiration lessens the frustration, anxiety, and cost of last-minute renewals (Wizard of Odysseys does this for you once an international trip is booked).

Recommended renewal is 9-12 months before international travel.  There are several reasons in addition to the requirement for 6 months of validity for renewing at this point:

  • The State Department generally estimates renewals can take 6-8 weeks for passports eligible to renew by mail. NOTE:  During periods of heaving volumes, e..g. Jan-May each year, limited staffing, e.g. budget cuts or pandemic, or during any time when passport requirements or policies are changing, renewal times can take significantly longer.  (Average processing times are noted on  Keep in mind that this is for those that meet the following criteria:
    • Your current passport is in your possession
    • Your passport was issued within the past 15 years
    • Your passport is in good physical condition with only normal wear and tear
    • Your passport was issued when you were 16 years of age or older
    • Your passport was issued in your current name or you can document any change in name
    • For those not meeting the criteria above, renewals must be done in person. Should you need to apply in person, the average renewal time starts from the date of submission of your passport at the passport acceptance facility
  • Some tour companies/travel advisors require information from a valid passport to complete a booking. Otherwise, you must sign a waiver of responsibility for any costs associated with differences between the passport used and your new passport.  NOTE:  Your picture will be different, the passport number will change with your new passport and there is no guarantee that the passport will come back with the same information.  Errors do occur and changes in policies have resulted in changes in the past.
  • Should a country you plan to visit require a visa, some countries require the passport have up to 6 months of validity at the time of the visa application. Applying early allows for sufficient time to obtain any necessary visas.

Obtaining a passport can be done in less time with expedited service or walk-in service for eligible reasons but at considerable time and/or expense.

Wizard of Odysseys monitors your passport expiration giving you one more level of assurance that you don’t need to spend unnecessary time or money.  Isn’t that what a trusted advisor is supposed to do?  I want you to have fun and relax thru the planning and during your trip.  Give us a call about your next trip today, but first, please check your passport.

Pat Ogle-CollinsSurprises Aren’t Fun When Passports Are Involved
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A Total Cultural Adventure Awaits in Lyon!

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Are you a culture vulture? Do new food and the arts in different forms get you excited? If this is you, then Lyon is the perfect place!  The amazing and glorious Lyon, the French heart of gastronomy comprising world-class cuisine, rich history in silk, stunning architecture, and the birthplace of cinema, all contribute to the many reasons you should add Lyon to your travel wish list.

Overlooking Lyon from Notre Dame de Fourvière

Lyon is frequently referred to as the world’s Food Capital. Acquiring this glorious title did not just happen overnight for Lyon; it evolved with more than eight decades of perfecting the mastery of presenting amazing and scrumptious meals. Lyon is positioned on the banks of the Saone and Rhone rivers. This unique location will make you not only enjoy their food but also take in the scenery, with the foothills of the Alps near enough to accentuate that Alpine vibe, burgundy to the south and the Beaujolais to the north.

Inside a Lyon bouchon

Lyon is famous for its world’s popular Bouchons and the superior quality of its chocolatiers, patisseries, and boulangeries. When touring Lyon, you won’t want to miss the Paul Bocuse (the founder father of lyonnaise cuisines) Food Hall and the Lyonnaise signature specialties such as Rosette de Lyon (a kind of cured sausage common in the region) Coq au vin (a traditional braised chicken dish that originates from French peasantry), and pistachio sausage, served with mashed potatoes and a cream sauce.

As you stroll the street, you will be passing among the homes and restaurants of a number of the best chefs of France. While you would think world-class meals would cost more than your groceries for a week, you can experience most meals at pocket-friendly prices.

Coq au vin, a Lyonaise classic dish

Just when you thought food is the only thrill you will get from Lyon, boom! There’s more! The city is known worldwide as the birthplace of cinema, with more than a century of history. After the first cinematograph was invented by the French inventor Leon Bailey, who later sold it to Lumiere’s brother who was more financially stable.

Institut Lumière that chronicles the contributions the founders of cinematography

Your trip to Lyon would be incomplete without visiting the Institut Lumiere.  Here you can see classic photo reels with prototype cameras and a reproduction of the famous Photorama, Louis Lumière’s invention that let viewers see images projected in 360-degree panoramic images to a height of at least six meters.

While you are in the cinema history mood, make your way to the Museum of Miniature Film Sets, located in the former “Maison des Advocats” or Lawyers House, a famous sixteenth-century building currently under UNESCO protection. Two floors of at least a hundred miniature film sets that were used as scenes of actual movies before the wonders of technology were available.

Silk shopping in Lyon

It will be a shame to pass on the deep heritage of silk weaving in Lyon. Lyon’s illustrious silk industry is vivid in its industrial architecture and beautiful previous silk weavers’ homes. These remnants of Lyons’ glorious silk industry can still be found today, with several heritage locations providing insight into the silk industry’s history. The Maison des Canuts and L’Atelier de Soierie in the Croix-Rousse, are among the most popular sites to learn more about the silk industry in Lyon.

Finally, as a little extra – don’t overlook La Fresque des Lyonnais, rue de la Martinière, the home to Lyon’s most attractive murals depicting life in the city.

By TGV, the high-speed French train, you arrive in Paris in a mere 2 hours so combining with the City of Lights makes for a delightful week in France.  Or add a few days to the start or end of a river cruise on the Rhone and Saone rivers.  What are you waiting for?! Contact us today to help you perfectly plan your trip to Lyon.

Pat Ogle-CollinsA Total Cultural Adventure Awaits in Lyon!
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The Unexpected Does Happen!

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Never in recent memory has travel insurance been such a hot topic.  Last year it was all the talk because most travel insurance policies exclude claims related to epidemics/pandemics so the policies did not cover cancellations due to covid.  Also, these policies do not cover concerns about traveling unless the policy has “Cancel for Any Reason” coverage.

This year the talk is all about coverage for covid, quarantine costs, and mandatory health insurance requirements by an increasing number of countries.  These are key questions, but there are so many other incidents that can occur that can significantly impact travelers.

I frequently hear “I am going on this trip no matter what.”  My response “I am sure you are, but it’s all the other things that can happen that may cause you to cancel or some other unfortunate event.”  Still many doubt it could happen to them.  Covid has shown that the unexpected does happen.

To illustrate, the following is a list of incidents that have occurred to clients for which there was or could have been a significant cost had they not had travel insurance.

  • Death of traveling companion/spouse before or during their trip
  • Death of an immediate family member before departing for their trip
  • Diagnosis of cancer or other serious illness of traveler after booking and before departure
  • Broken ankle with no weight-bearing movement a couple of weeks before departure
  • Rail strike (in Italy)
  • Air traffic controllers strike in France
  • Airport security incident canceling all flights for 6 hrs with flight then canceled
  • A rogue wave hit a shark watching expedition boat and cameras destroyed (others on the boat lost glasses or other possessions or broke bones)
  • Back injury requiring medical evacuation
  • A family member required emergency surgery requiring a family member to cancel their trip
  • Emergency return home because toilet leak caused ceilings in the home to fall
  • Snowstorm in the UK caused hundreds and hundreds of flights to be canceled and a backlog of passenger meant the client could not get another flight for 6 days (paid for a hotel, meals, telephone calls, incidentals)
  • Lost green card requiring a trip to the consulate, temporary documents for travel, and a replacement of the lost card
  • Emergency room/doctor/dental visits (asthma attack, suspected heart attack, infected hand, a broken tooth)
  • Volcano eruption canceling flights
  • Baggage delays (who hasn’t had a bag not arrive with them)
  • Missed connections due to customs/immigration delays
  • Stolen cell phones

Costs with these ranged from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars.  Not exactly the way most want to remember a trip. And if you trip has be cancelled and no insurance coverage is available, rescheduling is usually significantly delayed since savings were reduced to pay for the original trip.

Other insurance or credit cards may provide coverage.  Always check the details of that coverage to understand what is covered and the amount of coverage.  And call Wizard of Odysseys, I can assist by providing you options that address any particular concerns.

Give yourself the gift of a fun and relaxing vacation by reducing your risk of a financial burden caused by an unexpected event.  When bad things happen, you will be glad you did because you never know what may happen.

Pat Ogle-CollinsThe Unexpected Does Happen!
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Enjoy travel more. Pack less!

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When packing for a trip, how often do you find that you add items even though you have sufficient clothing for your trip?  Do often find you bring home clothes you never wore?  Are your bags so full there is no room for purchases you made while traveling?  Overpacking – we all do it.  What can you do to prevent this?  Some strategy, some planning and a little bit of discipline is all you really need.

First, the strategy.  Two key strategies can make a major difference.

  • This is your vacation and vacations are meant for doing things differently than you normally do.
  • Other than traveling companions, others you meet will probably never see you again.

Keep these in the back of your mind as you read.

Next, some planning.

  • Select your wardrobe around 3 colors (nor more than 4) for a 2 week trip. Reduce for a shorter trip.  So for shirts/tops and pants/shorts/skirts/dresses all should be of these 3 colors only.
  • Pick at least some clothing that is easily handwashed.
  • If you plan on shopping while traveling, include items that you would/could give away or discard during your trip.

Put everything you plan to take on the bed or a table.

Now to packing.

  • With all your clothing on the bed or table, before placing anything in your luggage, remove half. If half seems like too much, take away one third.   Keep in mind shopping and washable items  when selecting what to remove.  Remember the strategy these people will never see you again?  If you now have only 4 pair of pants, no one will ever notice that you wore the same pair of pants 3 or 4 times.  Even if you are traveling with the same people, when rotating, most will never notice when you are pairing with different shirts/tops and accessories.
  • Now pack what is left.

As you travel:

  • Wash a small item daily, leveraging time in the shower. If traveling to another hotel, wait until arrival or place washed items in a plastic bag to hang up when you arrive.
  • Remember that vacations are for doing things differently strategy. Treat yourself.  Allocate some money for hotel laundry just in case an item gets soiled or needs freshening.  Many would not think twice about stopping for coffee,  ordering dessert or having another glass of wine.  Depending on the item $6-$12 really isn’t a lot when comparing to these other splurges.
  • If you brought items to discard while traveling, consider leaving behind in the room either in the trash or with a note so that the hotel does not think it was left in error. Staff may take if desire.  If leaving behind for staff, item(s) should be in good condition and not heavily soiled.

This may feel radical.  However, all change takes some adjustment.  You might just find that having less luggage and fewer items to deal with and keep track of will allow you to enjoy your travel more.  One last benefit – with less you might be able to avoid the baggage carousel so you can start and your trip immediately and get home faster on your return!

adminEnjoy travel more. Pack less!
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