Planning a vacation – no matter what time of year – comes with many challenges. However, many of these challenges could be potentially avoided with proper planning. For example, have you ever gone to a foreign country and had your credit card declined, without having a backup? Either because of the bank placing a hold on your card for fraud protection or because they suspect your stolen identity, this can not only cause embarrassment, but frustration in not being able to make a purchase.
Therefore, a word to the wise vacationer, it’s always better to plan these things in advance than to fly by the seat of your britches. This is a list of 10 things you can do to plan for a stress free vacation:
- Research Interesting Places. You may have a couple of places in mind that are beyond the “normal”. If so, dig a little deeper to find the coolest, best places that other travelers have been. You can use TripAdvisor, Google or photography-inspired websites if you want to get lots of reviews or advice. Also do some digging to make sure your trip does not coincide with a conference, trade show, concert or some other big thing happening in town, as this could cost you more in travels and make your stay less fun when waiting in lines.
- Narrow down the accommodations. First thing you need is a place to stay, right? Always read the reviews. No matter what the pictures look like on the hotel website, these can be deceiving. Also you should call and make sure the hotel has amenities you need, such as Wi-Fi or a swimming pool for the kids. Not every hotel has free internet (surprising, but true) so for some people who need to stay connected for their jobs, this can be disappointing!
- Update passport and vaccinations. Airlines are stricter than ever, so if your journey is planned overseas, make sure you have these things up-to-date. Not every destination requires vaccinations, but some do and it is wise to be “in-the-know” when it comes to any health current events in your chosen place of travels.
- Make a checklist. Hey Santa does it, so why not you? Make a list and check it twice. When you travel and need to buy those little extra things (like toothpaste or socks) this can be a lot more expensive at the airport or places you are going. Also having these things ahead of time will save you from going crazy on a shopping spree a day or two before your trip, so you can actually start throwing things in the suitcase as you think of them, rather than waiting until you are in a frenzy.
- Bring basic supplies for unforeseen circumstances / illnesses. A few Band-Aids, aspirin, Tums for tummy-aches, sunscreen, eye drops, antibacterial ointments and other such necessities may not be used, but will be appreciated if the need is there.
- Use Apps to Help You Get Around. Technology is wonderful and you can find a lot of apps that give the best reviews for restaurants, museums, activities, and other random things that will make your trip more enjoyable.
- Call Your Bank. As I mentioned, if you go on a trip, it is a good idea to tell your bank ahead of time so they will not turn off your debit or credit card unexpectedly. Let them know your expected arrival and departure dates, just in case.
- Get Copies of Everything and Jot Down Numbers of Everything in Your Wallet. If your wallet were stolen, would you have access to the numbers on your credit cards to report them lost or stolen? And how would you get back on the airplane without some kind of identity? Always keep one of your ID in your hotel (such as your passport) and your Driver’s License on your person, so in case your purse or wallet was lost or stolen, you can still get on the plane to get home. Also jot down the numbers and keep them in your suitcase. It does happen, so be ready and hope that it never does.
- Email Your Itinerary and Info to a Relative or Friend. Even if you are going with someone, it is smart to alert someone close to you of the plans you have. In case of emergencies, people can find you that way. Include details such as flight itinerary, accommodations, local emergency numbers or travel agent info.
- Pack Properly. In another article, I talked about the best way to pack for travel. It pays to be organized and common things people forget include their phone chargers, some toiletry items and other things. Or they bring too much. Read my Packing Article here.
You can’t always prepare for every little thing, but you can do your best by starting early. Some people wait until the last minute, which leads to a more chaotic trip than you might be bargaining for.