Whether you travel for business or pleasure, it pays to be prepared and organized. There will always be something that will not go as expected during your trip but these hiccups can be minimalized. Fewer problems equal less stress and a better experience.
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Quick Links to Info Below
- 1 Before Making Travel Reservations
- 2 After Making Travel Reservations
- 3 One Week Before You Travel
- 4 The Day Before You Travel
- 5 Day of Departure
- 6 Before Coming Home
Before Making Travel Reservations
Do A Little Homework
Before making any reservations, you should do some research on your destination. Here is a list of things you should consider doing before booking any tickets or getting the car packed:
- Check the area’s weather for the time you will be there. While a tropical vacation in the Caribbean sounds divine, be prepared for the possibility of a hurricane between the months of May and November. Consider getting a refundable ticket if there is a chance mother nature could ruin your plans.
- Request city brochures/guidebooks to help with scheduling activities and finding proper accommodations, food venues, and more.
- Create a budget to make sure you can afford to travel. Add a ‘buffer’ amount to your budget in case something happens or if you tend to splurge occasionally while away.
- If staying at a hotel, check to see if they have anything available during the time of your visit. Even small cities can find themselves completely booked if a convention happens to be passing through their town.
- If traveling internationally:
- Check for the type of currency you will need to use as well as the exchange rates.
- Familiarize yourself with a country’s laws and above all, customs.
- Learn the language. Invest in a traveler’s dictionary or apps that can help with translations.
- When ready to make reservations, ask the travel service for regulations regarding such things as luggage weight, pet allowances, and other special accommodations or requirements.
- If traveling by train or going on a cruise vacation, ask about cabin size so you don’t overpack.
After Making Travel Reservations
Once you’ve made your reservations for transportation and/or sleeping accommodations, it’s time to prepare for your trip and the earlier, the better.
If you are traveling internationally, make sure you:
- Have a passport. It takes 6-8 weeks to process an application.
- Check your passport’s date of expiration and renew if necessary.
- Click here to see other documents you may need other than a passport and have them ready.
Other Travel Considerations
Other things to consider before your trip:
- Research different travel insurances and purchase, if needed. Click here to compare rates.
- Shop for items you may need:
- Wrinkle-free clothing, if possible.
- Clothing that is appropriate for the weather indicated at your destination.
- Ziplocs to protect documents and to prevent spills in your luggage.
- Adapters and chargers for any tech you bring.
- Extra batteries and SD cards for the camera.
- Forms of entertainment like puzzle books, books (audio and/or paper), and DVDs.
- Money belt.
- Travel size toiletries and laundry needs.
- Large bag for dirty laundry/shoes.
- Small portable cooler (for car trips).
- Lastly, make arrangements for:
- pets, if you are not bringing them along on your trip (kennel, pet sitter/walker).
- plants, if they need constant watering.
- home, if you are worried about its security (house sitter, neighbor)
One Week Before You Travel
Reconfirm Travel Reservations
As your trip gets closer it is necessary to do a quick check of your travel plans to make sure everything is taken care of before you arrive at your destination.
The first thing you want to do is to reconfirm your housing arrangement. Call the hotel or Airbnb and make sure that they have the dates correct for your stay.
Also, confirm the type of room/home you have requested. Ask whether you will need special adapters like plugs for electronics. You may also want to ask about laundry facilities so that you don’t overpack.
If staying with family or friends, ask them if there is anything you need to bring with you. It’s possible they have an extra car seat or stroller for your child.
Get a Head Start
Call your credit card companies and let them know that you are going on vacation. I always forget to do this and end up having to deal with my cards being rejected at the register when I go away. Avoid the embarrassment by giving them a heads up.
Check the weather again. If it looks like a monsoon is heading your way, you still have time to cancel and/or readjust your travel plans.
Begin packing items that you will need for your trip. As you do so, record all the items you are packing and taking with you on a sheet of paper.
I usually do this in Google Docs so that I can print out the list and take it with me on my trip. This prevents me from leaving anything behind as I check off items when I repack.
If traveling by car, give it a good clean. Click here to get your car decluttered and organized for your trip. Having a roomy, clean, and nice-smelling car will make your drive more pleasant.
Make sure you have available in your vehicle a first-aid kit, jumper cables, jack/spare, and a couple of throw blankets, just in case.
The Day Before You Travel
The day before your trip is all about packing all your stuff properly. Again, you will want to make sure that you are documenting all the things you are bringing with you onto a packing list as you pack.
To Launder or Not to Launder
Before you begin packing clothes, ask yourself two questions.
- Will there be laundry facilities at your destination?
- Do you really want to do laundry at any time while on this trip?
If you prefer to pack light then plan on doing some laundry unless, of course, you will only be away for a couple of days.
Ask your hotel if they have laundry facilities (most do). This way you don’t have to pack a lot of clothes.
Also, be honest with yourself. Do you really think you are going to do laundry while you are there?
If your schedule is packed with lots of activities, you may not have the time to do laundry or you may be too exhausted to really want to do it.
The “Just In Case” Travel Rule
I used to pack my luggage to the brim whenever I traveled. Seriously, my closet and dresser drawers were practically empty for the most part once I packed my bags.
I counted the days I planned to be away and made sure I had an outfit for each of those days. Then I would add one more day’s worth of clothing, “just in case”.
Once I returned from my vacation, I ended up having to rehang and refold all the clothes I didn’t wear. Turns out that some of the clothes I brought with me were clothes I didn’t care to wear.
Instead, I ended up wearing pieces of outfits that I did like by mixing and matching with other pieces. Those ‘8 days’ worth of outfits’ I brought along were actually a month’s worth of clothing options.
So, here is what I do now and I advise you do the same to keep your packing light.
- only bring clothing you are absolutely going to wear
- choose clothing that can easily be paired with other pieces
- follow the ‘just in case’ rule only for items like underwear or socks especially if you will not be doing laundry while away
Another Option to Minimize Clothing
To make sure you only bring what you need, lay out a day’s outfit (including shoes) and take a picture of it. Then swap out no more than two items of the outfit before taking another picture.
Once you have taken enough pictures of outfits to last the time you will be on your trip, go ahead and pack them.
By the way, here are some tips to follow:
- Keep those pictures you’ve taken so that you can easily pull out those pieces of clothing when getting dressed.
- Bring along a travel-size sewing kit and Tide-To-Go pen in case you have to sew on a button or fix a small stain.
When it comes to actually packing your clothes, there are many ways you can do so to save space and bring less baggage with you.
I advise looking on Pinterest. There are many visual pins showing you the proper way to “roll” or fold your clothes to optimize roominess and prevent lots of wrinkles in your luggage.
There are also many travel bags in the market now that help with cutting down on wasted space and preventing luggage from exploding with clothes at the airport.
Lastly, I can’t say it enough. Place all your shampoos, lotions, and any other liquidy stuff into Ziploc bags to avoid spills. I like packing these items on the outside pockets of my luggage for another layer of protection.
Traveling By Car
As you finish packing your things, go ahead and start putting them into your car.
If your trip is going to be a long one, have entertainment ready for you and the kids. These include movies, puzzle books, magazines, and even an electronic trivia game.
You may also want to check the balances on your toll passes and add funds to them if they are low.
And don’t forget the phone charger for the car. If you are using the GPS system on your phone to help navigate your ride, you will need to keep it charged.
Below is a list of items you should pack into your carry-on:
- A change of clothes, if nothing else, a change of underwear.
- Medications, in case your luggage goes missing.
- Expensive tech like a laptop or camera that you don’t want to be damaged or stolen.
- Traveling documents (place them in a Ziploc to keep them dry).
- Some cash.
- Cell phone with charger – have important numbers saved on it too.
Day of Departure
Before you leave your home, here are some things you may want to do or adjust:
- Kennel your pet
- Water your plants
- Adjust your thermostat
- Set your home alarm
- Turn on your porch light
While not applicable to road trips so much, make certain that you arrive at the airport, train station, dock, or bus station early. These modes of transportation run on tight schedules and will not wait for you.
Most places require bag inspections and then a brief check-in process with an agent. Arrive at least an hour or two before your departure so you don’t risk getting left behind.
Before Coming Home
As you repack all your items before returning home, use the packing list you created earlier. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left an item or two.
However, if this does happen at a hotel, notify them immediately. This is a daily occurrence for them. They will mail your items to your home like they did for me when I left my phone charger one time.
Let’s Get Going!
If you are ready to book your holiday or just want to go on a road adventure, remember to prepare as much as possible to avoid snags along the way.
Remember, do a little research on your destination. Then check your traveling documents and make sure they are up to date.
Confirm and reconfirm any reservations. Shop for all your needs and pack your items well. Above all, arrive early.
Finally, have fun even if it’s a business trip.
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