If you’re heading out on an adventure or a relaxing vacation, being well prepared is important. Use these seven tips to prepare like a pro, reduce stress and make your trip its best.
- Do your research and store digital copies on your phone – Understand the culture of your destination, how the people look, dress and travel. Being mistaken for a local is a huge compliment. Download maps, public transportation guides, local hot spots and any itineraries to your phone so you have them with you. As a precautionary measure, take pictures of your luggage, both inside and out, and store a digital picture of your passport on your phone, laptop and any other device you bring. Before you leave, store most of your current gallery on your personal storage or upload it to the cloud so you have plenty of memory for new pictures and video.
- Stash paper copies in your bags and leave a copy behind – As a precautionary measure, make a copy of all your maps, guides and itineraries and keep a copy in your bag (since phone batteries can die). Also make multiple copies of each proof of identity, such as passport and license. Stash one copy in the pocket of a piece of clothing in each bag you bring (if your bag is lost or stolen, it helps prove identity). Finally, provide a copy of everything (itinerary, identity, reservations) to a loved one that is not going on the trip with you. If anything happens, you want someone at home that knows where you are and has copies of your important documents.
- Personalize your luggage and make it bright - according to statistics while the number of travelers has increased over the years, the number of lost and mishandled baggage claims has decreased. That’s great news for travelers in general, but statistics don’t really matter if it’s your bag that isn’t there when you arrive at the airport.
One step you can take is to opt for a unique bag, based on color and pattern and find ways to personalize it. Dark color bags have a greater chance of getting lost, not only because they can disappear into less lit areas, but since they look similar to so many other bags, they may be mistakenly picked up by the wrong person. Bright colors will keep your spirit up, draw attention and have higher chances of arriving in the same airport as you do. As a bonus - they are also easy to spot on the carousel and are less likely to be stolen.
- Wear your heaviest clothing when you travel and layer – Jeans and coats tend to not only be bulky items but also heavy. Instead of packing them, wear them on the plane, along with your biggest and heaviest shoes. It may be a little inconvenient at security, but if you apply and pay for TSA Pre-check, you can save time and stress.
As a general travel rule, shirts can be worn twice and pants can be worn three times while on a trip, so find ways to mix and match your outfits and pack fewer items for the same number of days. If laundry services are available where you are staying, you may be able to wear items more and have clean clothes when you go home.
- Pack extra luggage – If you’re planning to do a lot of shopping, make sure you will have somewhere to put all those souvenirs for your trip home. Packing an extra carry-on or a suitcase inside your luggage will provide you with additional room and bags to bring home special gifts to all your loved ones.
- Every ounce counts – Make sure you know what your luggage weighs ahead of time. Use a floor scale or invest in a luggage scale. It will save you some stress and maybe some cash. Also, ask your travel agent, resort or cruise line if they offer any special programs for luggage. They may offer ways to ship your bags or extra items directly to the airport or to your home. FedEx provides the benefit of shipping your luggage directly to your destination so it’s there when you arrive.
- Live by Santa’s mantra – make a list and check it twice (at least) – Your list may change before you leave, depending on the weather, new adventures you join, new items you buy, etc. However, the basics will most likely stay the same. The best way to start the list is to walk through your day and write down everything you need (get up, brush teeth, shower, put in contacts, get dressed, etc.) Cross out items that will be made available at your destination (hotel will have soap, shampoo, etc.)
List the events you will have each day and the weather highs and lows so you can plan your clothing choices. Run a trial day where you put everything in your bag that you plan to pack and label items that will be available at your destination. For one day, live only out of your suitcase and with the labeled items, even though you’re at home. Did you forget anything? If not, you’re set.