Here's 6 trip preparation tips to make sure your next trip is nice and smooth:
Think about what to pack well before your trip
Packing (and shopping)
One of the last things you'll do before you leave on vacation is pack. But it should be one of the first things you think about because you may need to purchase some things ahead of time. There's the easy stuff like packing a bathing suit and making sure it still fits. But if you're going to the tropics, you'll want to pack DEET insect repellent and probably some sun tan lotion. If you'll be tromping around Europe in the Spring, you'll want to have a water proof jacket. Taking a trip to Iceland in February to see the Northern Lights? Make sure you have warm mittens.
We always make a list before we actually pack. And if you're trip is on the longer side or you just don't want to check luggage, determine if you'll be doing laundry during the trip. If so, you can pack for half the number of days.
You'd be surprised at how much good information each of the travel suppliers provide in their travel documents. And you'd be equally surprised to learn how many of our clients don't bother to read the documents. So for goodness sake, take time to read the information. You'll learn about the destinations, logistics, what to do in an emergency, key contact information, product information, and additional services offered. Your documents may come electronically or physically but in any case - read away!
Hopefully you bought travel insurance when you purchased your trip. (See our posts on insurance here and here). But in any case, you should review what coverage you have. Check your travel insurance policy. And make sure you check the terms and conditions of your credit card as that will likely have some coverage. Also, check your driver's insurance if you'll be renting a car. Call your travel agent if you have any questions about travel insurance.
Take care of things at home
There's always things to take care of at home when going on vacation. Set your lights on a timer so they go on at certain times of the day and night. Suspend mail or newspaper delivery. Make sure you yard and garden needs or snow removal is attended to in your absence. Ask a neighbor or friend to check on the house or start your car if you'll be away for an extend time. And of course, deal with any pets you may have.
Getting to the airport on time
Getting to and from the airport
Chances are you'll need to get yourself to the airport. Consider and investigate the best options. You could drive and park at the airport or any number of private parking areas that surround many airports. You could take an Uber or Lyft or a cab. Some airports offer public transportation. And of course you can also have a friend drop you off at the airport. You could take a Super Shuttle or similar ride service. Some hotels offer park and stay options where you can park your car for two weeks for the same price as staying at the hotel the night before your flight. Your travel agent can give you specific information on this approach. Each of the above have costs and benefits and you'll need to consider each before you leave.
Make sure any bills that come due while you are away are paid in advance. Typically we will only bring a small emergency stash of US cash and get local currency at an airport ATM when we arrive. But that's because we like to charge as much as we can so we keep track of our spending. So make sure your credit card has no foreign transaction fees if your traveling abroad.
Visas and passports
You will definitely need a passport when traveling to a foreign country and it has to expire at least 6 months from the date of your trip. And many countries also require a visa as well. You won't need any for the EU but you'll need a visa for Brazil, Argentina and China for example. You can check your needs on Visacentral.com. Remember - if you need a visa you won't be allowed to even board the plane if you don't have the appropriate one. On many cruises, as long as you stay with a cruise provided tour, you won't need a specific country visa. This is the case for Russia for example. Your travel agent can help you with this.
So there you have it: six tips about how to prepare for a trip. Follow these tips and chances are you'll have a smooth trip. Our clients ask a lot of questions and this is a really good one. Just like lots of things - preparation is the foundation a successful trip.
Be sure to check out the other posts on this site. And let us know what trip preparation tips you might have.