Travel Tips From A Pro

Bob Cook is a member of and consultant to the YMCA Alumni Travel Club Committee. He is Director of Sales for GO TRAVEL, our Travel Club’s agency and advisors. Email Bob.

I have accumulated a wide variety of travel tips, thoughts and hints over 30 years selling travel. All are designed to make travelling easier. Travel has changed dramatically in those 30 years, but these tips remain true throughout.


  • Buy Travel Insurance: You can  buy travel insurance just to cover medical issues abroad for $30-50 per person even if you are travelling on points. Don’t assume your insurance will cover you while abroad.

  • Cross Pack: Do not have a “yours and mine” suitcase. Bring two “our suitcases” (always with wheels.) If one goes astray, you have something to wear in the other suitcase.

  • Patience Is A Virtue: Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t control. Call your travel agent and they can help make things right. Remind yourself it could be worse.

  • Get Up Early: Rise at sunrise to have the best attractions all to yourself. Fewer crowds. Besides, the shadows and sunlight cast such interesting colors.

  • Always Carry Cash: U.S. currency is king around the world. I recommend having $200-300 available, but in small currency: singles, fives and tens. I always keep some in my sock. Use the hotel safe as well.

  • An Umbrella: Pack a small, portable umbrella for each person.

  • Watch Day-To-Day Life: Spend a few hours sitting in a park or on a bench watching the day-to-day scene.

  • Back Everything Up: Do it before you leave home or use the Cloud. If your camera has Internet capability, back up your photos daily.

  • Have Digital And Physical Copies With You: Your passport, visas, driver’s license, birth certificate, health insurance card, serial numbers of devices, and important phone numbers. Always travel with two extra copies of your passport photo.

  • There Is No Macy’s in Paris: Leave unnecessary credit cards home. Advise your credit card company of your destinations in advance, so your card is not blocked.

  • Take Lots Of Photos.

  • Smile And Say “Hello.”

  • Keep An Open Mind: Don’t be judgmental or arrogant.

  • Pack Ear Plugs.

  • Get Lost On Purpose: As your hotel front desk staff for a hotel business card and to write down the name and address on the back in the native language. Then, go out the door, turn right for two blocks; left three blocks, and then right four blocks. I took the most beautiful pictures of Venice that way. No worries. You have the address so anyone can help get you back to your hotel.

  • Don’t Plan Too Much: Don’t schedule every minute of everyday. Allow time to go with the flow.

  • Stay In Touch With Family Back Home: They want to know how things are going.

  • Never Eat In A Restaurant Where The Menu Is In Six Languages.

  • Don’t Post To Social Media Until You Get Home: Why advertise you are away. Facebook and Instagram have reach well beyond your trusted circle.


Have a great trip. We hope to see you on a YMCA Alumni Travel Club experience soon.

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Objective: To provide YMCA Alumni members the opportunity to have travel experiences with past YMCA colleagues, families 

and friends at a reasonable cost.

© 2023 by YMCA Alumni.. Edited and produced by Craig Altschul + Associates.