Check the alarm upon arrival – Hotel tip

I don’t know if it’s the maid setting the room’s alarm clock as a prank, or the occupants prior to my stay. In any case, too many times I have been abruptly awakened to a blaring alarm or loud music booming at my head from the nightstand.

Not the best way to start off a relaxing vacation.

Therefore, it’s become my custom to check — and turn off! — the room-provided alarm clock when I first arrive so there will not be any surprises at dawn. Or worse: at pre-dawn.

[Photo: Flickr | Robert S. Donovan]

Amex is Abandoning Prepaid Traveler’s Cheque Cards

Travelers cheques are a pain. Well, not that I’d know. I’m a child of the ATM era and I’ve always had access to one, except in Laos and Cambodia, and I carried cash there (to be honest, I don’t know if my guesthouse proprietors there would know what to do with a traveler’s cheque anyway.) Using your debit card at ATMs can get expensive if you use them too often, but I’m a budget traveler so I never really had much of a problem. Have you?

Anyway, Amex has decided to abandon it’s Travelers Cheque Card, which allows you to load your card with cash and use at will along your travels. There were several unattractive features of the card — initiation fees, ATM withdrawal fees and foreign conversion fees to boot — and I guess consumers decided it was more of a hassle than it’s worth. I foresee another problem too: while American Express is widely accepted in North America and Western Europe, I have an Amex credit card and I’ve came across a lot of businesses in foreign countries that don’t accept it.

If you have an Amex Travelers Cheque Card, don’t worry. The program will be discontinued as of October 31, and Amex will refund any balances on customer cards left over after that.