Credit Cards for overseas travel – ensure you have a PIN!

When travelling overseas, beware that most countries require a pin on credit card purchases – so you do not have the option to sign for payment. On a recent trip to New Zealand we found 95% of places would not accept a signature on a credit card payment and luckily we had a backup and could get money out with our eftpos card.

Note however in New Zealand you cannot use your Australia eftpos card in a shop, you can only use it to withdraw at an ATM as long as you have Cirrus or Maestro on the back of your card.

The UK and nearly all of Europe also require a pin on credit card purchases so make sure you have one (if you do not already) when travelling overseas.

We feel it is a good thing they are enforcing this as it obviously makes everything a lot more secure, but as we were not organised and did not check this before leaving we found it a major inconvenience. In some cases we were lucky we had cash, especially after filling up the car, otherwise we would have had a major problem trying to leave the petrol station!

In the United States, we have also heard that if a transaction is under around $50, your credit card only needs to be swiped and no signature or pin is required. The key issue with this is you need to ensure your credit card is stored very securely as, if it’s stolen, a lot of small transactions can be made which can add up to a lot in a short amount of time.

Let us know whether signature is accepted in other parts of the world.

Other posts you might enjoy reading:

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A few travel tips from our family trip to the USA

How to Avoid Lost Luggage..and be prepared in case it happens to you.

A few travel tips from our family trip to the USA

Mimi Mouse and the Family

The following post is courtesy of Hailee Meehan who has recently returned from an overseas trip with her family. She wrote a few tips about how they managed to get through the long flights during a trip to the USA with their 3 kids.

I thought I would drop you a line to say thanks for all the handy stuff I bought from you just before my holiday to the USA with my three kids. Jacob (6), Zara (5) and Tom (1) all had a great time and the products made my life so much easier.

I had the anti-bacterial wipes as well as the swipes case strapped to the outside of my nappy/day bag (AKA battle bag) and it was so convenient. The kids didn’t mind me wiping their hands with the anti-bacterial wipes, as opposed to the gels sold in the supermarket, as they didn’t leave a smell or funny taste. The envirosax bags were a godsend for storing jackets as we jumped states and climates. I even used the stuffed bag as a pillow on the flight home from LA!

Skiing in AmericaThe flight coming home was a nightmare with cancelled connection flights, snow delays and lost baggage. 30 hours of travel with three young kids is never easy. But we were able to keep our cool with good team work between myself and my husband and a tube of vegemite for our fussy eaters! I also took a lot of the ‘Rafferty’s Garden’ squeezy tubes of baby food as well. Tom was happy to suck the food straight out of the sachet without the need to carry around a messy spoon and bowl. It was also a lot lighter to transport and reseal than the cans or bottles of baby food, and I can report can also be convenient when feeding in the dark! (Sometimes I just can’t make sense of the food service times).

With having to go through several screening points coming home, I thought the baby sling from you guys was indispensible to keep wiggly, but not quite walking, Tom secure and off the dirty airport floor. Because we were travelling with baby food, we were required to submit to extra screening and testing of the food. I kept all items for testing in one large clip seal bag, so that I could pull all items out in one go and not have to rummage through the bag time after time. I learnt this through trial and error on the way over!!!

Family in AmericaThe older kids were mostly able to organise themselves for screening by learning to get their own tray and placing their ‘bobble art’ luggage trolley’s (also purchased from you!) up on the conveyor belt. I had packed in each bag; toys, a spare set of clothes, snacks and sticker books. This freed up space in the nappy bag, gave the kids independence and responsibility and saved me from having to constantly rummage through the bottomless nappy bag. The kids loved the option of carrying and pulling the bags when they felt they needed to.

All in all we had a great time, but I couldn’t say it was easy! But some organising, good gadgets and a willingness to give it a go made it possible. I’d do it again anytime, because at the end of the day, it was a fabulous experience. In fact we are going to the UK next year, with an extra one – will see you before then for some more shopping!


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How to Avoid Lost Luggage..and be prepared in case it happens to you.

Baby in SuitcaseSummer is just around the corner and while ‘tis the season to be jolly, ‘tis also the season for family holidays! For those flying this Christmas, it can be a challenge trying to fit everything you think everyone will need in a limited number of bags. So imagine what it would be like if you lost just one of your bags along the way…

Having almost done just that on a recent family holiday to the US (the bag I almost lost had all our passports, cash, and credit cards!), I am happy to share some tips on how to avoid lost luggage… and be prepared in case it happens to you!

Firstly, how to avoid it….

1. Check-in early. Whatever your booking confirmation says you need to allow for time to check-in, add an extra 45 minutes – especially in busy cities, and especially when travelling with kids. If there is a long queue or you encounter problems at the check-in counter, your bags – and your family – still have enough time to clear security and make it onto the correct flight.

Personalised Luggage Tags are a great way to label your bags

Personalised Luggage Tags are a great way to label your bags

2. Put proper identification on ALL your bags – both outside and inside. Check-in luggage, carry-on bags, kids’ backpacks should all have a sturdy ID tags on them for easy identification. Some useful information to include would be your name, physical address where the bags can be returned, a contact number or email address where you can be reached while you are away. Tip: If you have concerns about putting your home address on the tag, put a frequent flyer membership number (for the airline you are travelling with) instead. This way all your relevant information can be retrieved by airline staff if they need to.

3. Before you check-in your bags, make a note of how many pieces of luggage you have in total, including all hand-carry items, strollers, and car seats. This way you can do a baggage count each time you move from one point to the next making sure nothing has been left behind.

4. Remove airline tags from previous trips. These can cause confusion and result in your bag being loaded onto the wrong flight.

5. Ensure airline staff attaches the correct flight and destination details on your check-in bags. Double check this before your bag gets loaded onto the conveyor belt and heads off into the intricate world of airport baggage handling.

6. Arrive at Baggage Claim early. Being there to pick up your bags as soon as it comes onto the carousel reduces the chances of someone else picking it up by mistake.

If despite these precautions, you still find yourself in a ‘lost bag situation’, don’t panic. Be prepared for it by taking a few simple precautions before you leave.

1. Take photos of each bag. Keep a printed copy of photos with your passports. If you need to report a lost bag and identify it, a picture is worth a thousand words.

2. Split pack in each bag. Rather than having one suitcase for each person, or doing the ‘one for adults, one for kids’ suitcase split, make sure each suitcase has a few outfits for everyone. That way, should one of your bags go missing, everyone still has something to wear.

3. Split your cash and credit cards. If you are travelling with another adult, split your cash and carry your own credit cards.

4. Keep all medication and valuables in your carry-on bags. Be aware of airline rules for declaring sharps and other items allowed on board and have them with you at all times, especially prescription medication which may be more difficult to replace.

5. Have a ‘Do Not Lose’ bag. This is the bag you guard with your life and keep with you at all times. It would typically have things like your passports, cash, credit cards, itinerary and booking confirmations, travel insurance documents, and any essential medicines such as allergy, asthma or prescription medication.

6. Keep your check-in luggage stubs. Airlines normally attach this to your boarding pass. While most of the time you may not even notice they are there, you will need them to track down any missing bags.

7. Travel insurance. Know what you are entitled to claim for lost baggage and how to go about it. Keep travel insurance documents in your ‘Do Not Lose’ bag.

Realising that one of your bags is missing can be quite stressful. By taking these simple precautions, if you do find yourself in this situation, at least you can make sure it doesn’t take the fun out of your holiday.

This post is courtesy of Cindy Matias, the creator of  The Bag Tag Studio and a fantastic range of personalised luggage tags and bag tags.


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The importance of using luggage tags when travelling!

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The importance of using luggage tags when travelling!

Cindy with John, Bea, Katrina and baby Miguel

Cindy with John, Bea, Katrina and baby Miguel

The following post is a real life story from Cindy Matias, the creator of  The Bag Tag Studio and a fantastic range of personalised luggage tags and bag tags.

We all know we need to put ID on our luggage when we travel. Personally, I used to do it out of habit (now I do it as an excuse to make myself another tag from my favourite designs). It’s just something that I’ve always done as far back as I can remember. It wasn’t until a recent trip a few months ago that I really saw the benefit of this habit.

A few months ago, I set off on a 5-week family adventure to the US with my husband, John and 3 kids – Katrina, 9, Bea, 5, and Miguel, 3 months. Our itinerary involved moving through 5 cities (New York, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, Florida, Boston) in a span of 5 weeks. Friends thought we were crazy to attempt this trip with a 3-month old. I thought it was great!

Travelling light was not in our vocabulary. We had 8 check-in bags, plus 5 on board bags – each bag had one of our personalised luggage tags with our surname, frequent flyer number, and address on it. I had all our passports and cash for the trip in my backpack. My husband had his camera gear and laptop. The kids had their own backpacks with their stuff to keep them busy on the plane. I carried our 3 month old in a Baby Bjorn pouch in front of me, with the backpack on my back. This is how I went through Sydney Airport and onto the plane.

After a long flight, we finally got to the other end – a stopover in Los Angeles. We had to change planes for our onward journey to New York. Everyone gathered their bags, and I put our 3-month old back in the pouch as we got off the plane. As we waited by the baggage carousel for our check-in luggage, my husband turned to me and asked for his passport. I turned around so he could get it out off the backpack on my back. The expression on his face changed as he asked “Where’s your backpack?!”. I stared at him momentarily and went cold, then uttered a few expletives. I thought I had my backpack on me but it was the weight of the baby in the pouch that was pulling down on my shoulders. There was NO backpack! I had left it under my seat on the plane!

Cindy and family in New York

Cindy and family in New York

Our passports, our cash, our credit cards… EVERYTHING was in that backpack! We just knew we had to get it back. My husband raced through the airport to find the relevant airline personnel so he could hopefully get back on the plane to get the bag. It wasn’t an easy task as US Airport Security is very tight – even tighter when you have some tired, unshaven gentleman without a passport wanting to get back on an empty plane to get a backpack!

After much confusion, explaining and convincing, an airport staff member at the arrival gate asked my husband to identify the bag he was looking for. He did this as well as providing them with all the details on the luggage tag. They checked his NSW Drivers’ License (which he luckily had in his camera bag) against the details on the luggage tag and, once convinced that he was the owner of the backpack, turned it over to him.

Heaven only knows what the rest of the trip would have been like if we had lost that backpack so early into our trip. It was definitely an experience and only one of the many stories that we brought home with us from that 5-week family adventure.

Written by Cindy Matias
The Bag Tag Studio

Other posts you might enjoy reading:

Plane travel with kids – tips and packing carry on luggage

International travel with kids – some travel tips

Tips when planning a family holiday

Travel Checklists – forms to help when travelling with kids

Girl making checklistPacking up for a holiday, especially one with kids, cannot be done 5 minutes before you leave, it takes time and careful planning.

The Travel Forms below are designed to help you get ready for your trip, as well as when you are en route.

Things to Do/Things to Take List
Helps you organise your trip with ease and less stress. Keep it on the fridge while getting ready for your holiday and when you think of something you need to do or take, fill it in.

Download  Things to do, things to take form

Important Information – Leave at Home – Take With You Form
If you are travelling overseas, going away for a period of time or interstate this form will help you keep in one place important information like passport numbers, flight details, hotel information, insurance details and so on. Take this with you and also leave one at home with your next of kin, family or friend.

Download Important information – leave at home, take with you form.

Arrival Card and Details Form
Use this form to keep your passport, visa and hotel information in one place – great for when you are completing landing cards or travelling to your hotel.

Download arrival card and details form.

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