Seasoned travelers have developed strategies and adopted habits after years of travel to make their journeys easier .
Planning & Packing
- Make a calendar of your travel days. I find this very useful when planning any trip. Make sure to note the dates and times of each reservation. I also include prices and locations of hotels, ports, car rentals and/or train schedules. After the trip is over, I keep this calendar in a file with receipts and tourist information I gathered during our vacation. I can’t tell you how many times I have referred back to my files when planning future trips….or just to remember what we did!
- Make a checklist. This will make packing soooo much easier. Don’t forget items like sunglasses, passports, sunscreen, any medications you may need, or special items you want to take. Start brain storming as early as possible prior to departing…think about the activities you are planning, possible weather and what types of clothing you will need. Check off the items as you pack them. Nothing is more frustrating then arriving at your destination and realizing you have forgotten something!
- Take a photo of your passport and email it to yourself. Even if something happens to your phone, you will be able to access your email on a public computer.
- Purchase a travel wallet. I have found this to be one of the most useful items in my carryon. I keep boarding passes, passports, money, pen and my credit cards here.
- Contact your financial institutions and inform them you are traveling. If you are planning to use your ATM and/or credit cards, your bank needs to know you will be making purchases outside your home area. If you don’t, they may put a “hold” on your account and you will not be able to access your funds until you contact them. If you are traveling out of the country, this can be difficult and expensive….not to mention frustrating.
- Mark you bags. There are many fun, easily recognizable luggage tags available. When it’s time to purchase new luggage, find suitcases that are not just black or blue….find some that are a little different….maybe a bright color or a fun pattern. Even then….attach something to your luggage that helps you locate them easily. We use luggage tags that are specific to our college football team….I guarantee not many people have those and they really stand out!
- Bring ear plugs or invest in noise-cancelling headphones. Air travel is noisy. If you are trying to watch a movie, read or sleep, these are invaluable. It will also help to discourage a talkative neighbor!
- Get access to an airport lounge. You can purchase a day-pass to most airline lounges. Consult the website of the airline you are flying for information. If you have a long layover, this is a quiet place to wait and they offer complimentary food, beverages, magazines, newspapers and Wi-Fi. Some even have showers or rooms where you can catch a few ZZZs. Check out https://thepointsguy.com for excellent information on credit cards that offer lounge access. And remember, if you are flying first or business class overseas, you automatically get free access!
- Don’t overpack. Make your packing checklist….and then cut it in half! Well….maybe not in half, but don’t take ALL of it. 🙂 I have found that I NEVER wear all the clothes I take. One or two nice dresses, skirts or slacks are fine for evenings. Dress up your outfits with jewelry, shoes or sweaters/wraps for more formal evenings. Same with shoes….a good pair for walking, poolside shoes and a dressier pair are fine. And for the gentlemen….a pair of nice slacks and few collared shirts are all that are needed for evenings. Check with your cruise line to see what the attire rules are or read cruise forums such as http://www.cruisecritic.com to see what fellow cruisers are doing. Many cruise lines are getting away from the full formal evenings.
- Use over-the-door hangers for the bathroom to organize your toiletries. We use a bag from LL Bean, but there are other options available at your local store. Some people use the clear, plastic ones made for shoes.
- Bring magnetic hooks for the walls. Ship cabins have metal walls, so this is an easy way to provide more storage.
- Traveling to a foreign country? Try to learn a few words in the local language. Picking up a few words or phrases goes a long way…..as does a smile!
- Talk to the locals. Ask them where they like to go to dinner or what they like to do for fun. You may find yourself doing something you never expected to do….like we did in Scotland. We were invited to the local ceili that evening! We danced the night away with a whole roomful of new friends!
- Don’t over-plan. It’s good to know where you are going to stay each night and have an outline of things you want to do. But give yourself some leeway. You never know what might present itself. Spontaneity and adventure are part of the fun of travel!