A little preparation can go a long way when it comes to traveling. Although many people think they do their best work (even if that “work” is packing) under pressure, the reality is you increase the odds of missing something when you don’t plan ahead. Before leaving for your next trip, think about your last getaway. What did you wish you had to make it better? From being able to utilize voice commands on your phone with a helpful app to having the right midsize SUV instead of that little two-door couple, learn from your past travel mistakes.
One week before traveling:
• Double check your itinerary. You may have missed a flight change notification or not realized that you never chose a seat assignment. Be aware of baggage weights and fees if you’re flying because you may be able to consolidate bags and save money. Have your itinerary printed out and/or readily accessible on a mobile device (whichever you prefer).
• Make sure you have soft copies of your passport stored in the Cloud. If you’re traveling abroad, it’s surprisingly easy to get a temporary passport at your local embassy if yours is lost or stolen—but only if you have a soft copy available.
• Make a list based not only on what you’ll be doing while you’re away, but of your daily needs. There’s nothing worse than paying for essentials that you know you have at home.
• Ensure your car is maintained if you’re taking your own vehicle on a road trip. This includes checking tire tread and a quick maintenance check at your mechanic. If you’re unsure about your car’s integrity, a quick trip to a trusted car service center.
The day before traveling:
• Pack as much as you can, rolling clothes to avoid wrinkles. Check your bag weights if you’re flying. Have clear plastic bags available to pack carry-on liquids.
• Ensure you stop your mail and there aren’t any red flags that you’ll be away. This can attract vandals and burglars. Ideally, have someone stop by regularly to check on the house and remove door hangers (a giveaway that nobody is home).
• Check your packing list against what you have in your suitcases. Conduct a final itinerary check. Check in early if possible and enjoy the best odds of getting a preferred seat.
Day of traveling:
• If you’re flying, it never hurts to ask about complimentary upgrades. These are often on a first come, first serve basis at the desk where you board, not where you check in.
• Plan for an extra 30-minute buffer for traffic. Check the prices of extended stay parking at the airport. Many are surprisingly affordable and can cost even less than a rideshare service.
• For air travel, do your best to prepare your body for time zone changes. This includes staying hydrated, avoiding excess screen time, and if you plan to sleep bring a carry-on pillow that’s thick enough to provide support.
Triumphantly traveling can take practice, but most people have already made some blunders they can learn from. With each trip, you have a chance to better understand your unique needs for a smooth travel experience.