Before we know it, summer (and thus vacations and traveling) will be upon us. Since I like to travel before the major summer season begins, I’m in the process of planning and finalizing my vacation plans … so I thought I’d share some tips and reminders to help everyone plan and leave for their destinations without being entirely stressed out before arrival!
(credit: Michael Loudon via Flickr CC)
#1: Have a general plan in place
Sure, spontaneous travel is awesome, but there are some things you just need to have in place before you go …
Reservations — if your traveling during peak seasons or popular destinations, hoping to find a room for the night might not be a gamble worth making. Unless sleeping in your car is perfectly a-o-kay with you. 😉 Also, is there a popular attraction you want to visit at your destination that you can make reservations for? Or — if an amusement park — can you get a park hopper pass? Do so — that way you don’t have to hope for a cancellation or wait in line for hours that you could be doing something else!
Basic itinerary — even if you want to be somewhat spontaneous, having a basic plan of where you’ll be each day comes in handy if there’s an emergency back at home and family/friends/law enforcement is unable to reach you on your cell phone. Leave an itinerary with a friend or relative — include hotel contact info so messages can be left for you just in case.
Going abroad — Does your passport have enough pages and not about to expire? Will you need visas? How far in advance do you need to request them? Try to avoid paying penalties and expediting fees by getting these out of the way early — save that money for activities or splurging on a nice hotel during your travels!
Money — do you have enough cash in case a place doesn’t take credit cards or if cc machines are down? Abroad? Did you make sure to notify your credit/debit card issuer to let them know that its really you that will be making those charges.
Backups — Make copies of all your important documents & IDs … store a copy somewhere else in your carry-on + scan a copy and either email it to yourself or store it online on a site like Dropbox. Also make sure you have access to toll free or collect call numbers for your credit cards + embassies/consulates in case you need to report a lost or stolen credit/debit card and/or passport — email them to yourself or write them down and store them separate from your wallet.
#2: What’s your mode of transportation? Car, plane, train …
Roadtripping? Make sure to have your car maintenanced ahead of time — check the oil & other fluids, the air filter and wipers, tires, battery, spare tire, and have a basic tool set for simple repairs stored away in the car.
Renting a car? Ask when it was last maintained and if there’s a tool set in case you have to change a tire or tighten something under the hood. Did you get insurance at the rental agency on the car in the event of scratches — or worse, a wreck? You credit card may or may not cover it …
And for both of these, a membership with AAA or another roadside assistance program is worth the peace of mind if you break down miles from the nearest town.
Plane or Train? Do you have travel insurance in place in case your trip is canceled and/or you have to return early? Are you able to fly standby on your way back if need be?
#3: What about yourself?
Are you fit for travel? Any recent health issues a doctor might need to give an okay on?
What about prescription medications? Make sure you have them in their labeled bottles, especially if they are controlled narcotics.
Be prepared for intestinal illnesses, especially if you’re traveling abroad to countries where sanitary standards aren’t like you don’t think twice about here at home or if you plan to try new foods that you’ve never had before. Have laxatives, antacids and diarrhea medications with you just in case — why be sick and miserable AND trying to track down some Pepto Bismol when you can pack a small travel sized bottle in your suitcase!
Make sure you pack your insurance cards along with info for next of kin in your wallet as well as copies somewhere else in your luggage in case something happens to you, especially if you’re traveling solo.
Going abroad? Will your current health insurance plan cover you? If not, look into travel health insurance — here’s one case where it came in extremely handy! Also, do you need any vaccinations before you travel abroad?
#4: What about your home?
Snail mail — Did you make arrangements for the post office to hold your mail or have a neighbor/family member/friend pick it up daily?
What about pets and plants? Are you boarding the pets or will someone come by daily to check on them/walk them and water the plants?
Newspaper delivery — put it on hold or have someone hang on to it for you.
What about home security? Alarms set? Do you have cameras you could check remotely while away if necessary? Valuables out of the line of sight if a would-be burglar sneaks a peek in your windows? Have valuables not worth the risk of being stolen … take them to the bank to be stored in a safe deposit box or ask a trusted friend/family member to hang on to them while you’re gone (this is what I do with my extra gear I don’t take + my external hard drives)
Adjust your thermostat so you don’t have a high electric bill upon return, especially during the summer months. Also, invest in a few timers to have lights kick on in the evenings in the rooms that you commonly have lit up.
#5: Taking electronics with you?
Do you have the various batteries packed? What about battery/device chargers — wall and car varieties?
What about a portable charger that’ll allow you to charge your phone or iPod when outlets and car chargers aren’t available? Mine has been a lifesaver, when traveling and when out of the office in training when everyone is battling for a limited number of wall outlets.
On the road and need to work? Look into getting a power inverter so dying batteries aren’t an obstacle + a mifi device so you’re able to connect when you need to be able to do so.
Going abroad? Do you have converters so you don’t mess up your device(s)?
#6: Pack snacks.
Traveling with kids? I’d think this is an essential for happy kiddos in the event of delays of any kind!
Have health issues (i.e. low blood sugar) that require eating regularly or special dietary concerns (i.e. celiac or other various food allergies/intolerances)? Pack a few things just in case you have difficulty finding something to eat when you need it (or that you know is safe to eat). No point spending travel time sick or in the ER due to anaphylactic shock due to low blood sugar or eating something that your body is allergic to/unable to tolerate.
Here’s some healthy options to choose from if roadtripping … there’s no point in having a hangry travel companion if you can prevent it!
What else would you include on this list? Share in the comments below …