Travel Tips for Port Calls

You have the opportunity to meet up with your partner in the middle of their deployment for a port call. Congratulations! This is an exciting opportunity that not every military spouse receives, so of course, you want to make the most of it. This port call might feel like a second honeymoon, but given the sensitivity of military life, it’s important to take certain safety precautions to ensure you are prepared for this grand adventure. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you are traveling to meet your spouse on a port call.

Invest in Travel Insurance

Many people fail to understand the importance of travel insurance until it is too late. You might not want to add on an extra expense after you purchase airfare and reserve a hotel, but travel insurance is a sound investment when it comes to port calls. The date and location are subject to change, so you need at least basic coverage so you don’t end up in a tricky situation. Make sure to research the policy before you purchase it, however. It can be tricky to get coverage for military reassignments. If you do need to file a claim, you will need a copy of military orders or a letter from a commanding officer. It can take several weeks to be reimbursed, so keep this in mind.

Decide on Code Words

You will need to talk with your partner at some point about the logistics of your trip. However, you will want to keep that information as tightly concealed as possible for military security, and email is vulnerable to hackers. Before your loved one deploys, make a list of code words to correlate with months and locations so that you can speak about any potential port calls without worrying about compromising security.

Keep It To Yourself

Speaking of military security, it is of the utmost importance that you are discreet, following the rules of OPSEC and PERSEC. It’s easy to inadvertently reveal more information than you should, so keep absolutely everything about this upcoming port call off of social media. It’s critically important that any troop movement is kept under tight wraps, so for the safety of your spouse and the entire military community, keep it to yourself.

Pack Light

Chances are, you will be traveling far to see your spouse on a port call. You don’t need to bog yourself down on an already stressful day of travel, particularly given that you will be going through a long line at customs. Make sure to pack only the things you absolutely need and include any essentials in your carry-on.

Roll Up Your Clothes

You can maximize the space in your suitcase by rolling your clothes instead of folding them. Not only does this strategy take up less space, it prevents wrinkles!

Keep Samples

Instead of using refillable travel bottles, which can leak all over your luggage, keep the samples you get from your favorite stores. This way, you’re taking up less space in your suitcase while making sure they are perfectly sealed.

Come Early

After a 15 hour flight, you probably won’t be feeling or looking your best. Think about coming a day early to get adjusted to the new environment. This gives you some time to recover from the journey and be refreshed and ready to see your spouse when they arrive. You might be able to split a hotel room with a fellow military spouse or two who also want to take advantage of this option.

Research Your Destination

Before you head out on a port call, you want to familiarize yourself with the social mores of your destination. This way, you won’t make a faux-pas. In particular, look into tipping culture to make sure you can travel without offending anyone providing you a service. This also ensures that you understand the expectations and are not vulnerable to being pressured into tipping more than you need to.

Prepare for Jet Lag

Jet lag is a dreaded inevitability for every international traveler. Crossing time zones can affect you for days, leaving you feeling fatigued. Prepare ahead of time so it isn’t so bad that it negatively affects this time you have with your spouse. Pack a sleep aid, ibuprofen, and something to help you with an upset stomach, such as Pepto Bismol or ginger candies.

Inform Your Credit Card Company

The last thing you need is for your credit card to be declined on your trip because the company flags it as fraudulent. Make sure you inform them of your travel plans so you have full access to the money you need.

Avoid Roaming Charges

If you need to use your mobile phone overseas, it is best to prepare ahead of time to avoid roaming charges. One way you can do this is by investing in a wireless mobile hotspot like the Sapphire MiFi. With this device, you can access wireless internet in more than 100 countries across the globe. This lets you connect with friends and family back home with a reliable, secure internet connection, regardless of the location of the port call.

Let Go

Military scheduling can be an adventure all on its own, and you have very little control over how it may change. Embrace the fact that you won’t be able to plan for everything, but what you can anticipate is seeing your spouse, and this is an experience worth putting up with some bumps along the road. Let go of the need to control and embrace the adventure in front of you!