by Jody Kerzman
Ten years ago, Renee Loh caught the travel bug. She’s been busy seeing the world ever since.
“I’ve been to most of the major cities in the United States and I’ve been to Europe twice. The first trip I went to Rome, Florence, and Venice. The second time I visited London, Paris, and Nice,” says Renee. “I would go back to Europe in a heartbeat. It is so beautiful. I especially love Italy.”
She has the photographs and the stories to prove that. Renee’s eyes light up when she talks about the places she’s been and the things she’s seen.
“You can’t visit Europe and not think of God. There are buildings there that were there before Christ and they are just gorgeous. It is so inspiring to see those buildings.”
Renee’s first trips were business trips to places like Washington, DC and Portland, OR. Then a group of friends decided to book a trip to Europe. That’s when Renee fell in love of traveling for fun.
“I just realized that life is a journey and an adventure, and if I didn’t travel outside of my home state, and outside of my comfort zone, I’d be missing out on a lot,” she says.
Renee has a group of friends she calls her “travel group.” The travel group plans vacations together, with help from a travel agency. Renee says their travel agent has been key in making their trips go smoothly.
“Travel agents take care of so many details for you. We’ve had drivers waiting for us at the airport when we land, we’ve enjoyed meals at five-star restaurants, and other perks thanks to our agent.”
“Other tips that I’d offer, many that I’ve learned the hard way, include keeping your passport and some cash in a fanny pack. That way you always have those things with you and they are so much less likely to get stolen or misplaced,” advises Renee. “Always be early to the airport. I’ve seen people get left behind because they were one minute late for their flight. And, when it comes to packing, use travel size bottles, and don’t over pack. I always leave a little room in my suitcase so I have room to bring home treasures from my travels.”
The American Society of Travel Agents has other helpful tips for travelers. They advise making two sets of important travel documents – one set for the trip and a second set for a friend or family member to keep at home. It’s also a good idea to do your homework before you arrive at your destination, especially if you’re traveling to a foreign country. Know the customs and have an idea of what you want to see when you arrive. And there’s another reason for packing light – the ASTA says if you over pack, you’ll look weighed down, which could make you an easy target for pickpockets.
“I always recommend traveling with two credit cards,” says Cheryl Fenster, travel consultant at Northland Travel, Inc. “That way if one card isn’t working, you have a back up. It’s a good idea to call your credit card company prior to your trip. Let them know where you’re going and how long you’ll be gone. Otherwise they may suspect fraud and could put a block on your account.”
Fenster has helped Renee plan many of her adventures, including trips to Alaska, Kentucky, and California’s Napa Valley. Renee is already planning her next journey.
“I haven’t been to Hawaii yet, so I might go there,” she says with a smile. “But I think I’d really like to go back to Europe. But one thing I know for sure, wherever I do go next, it will be an adventure and I’ll have memories that will last forever. Traveling has been such a great way to make new friends, meet new people, and just love life.”
You can find more travel tips at www.travelsense.org.