Airfare, hotel accommodations and rental cars may be the holy trinity of travel preparation, but nailing down these aspects of your vacation is only the beginning of the trip planning process. If you want to achieve a smooth, headache-free trip (and who doesn’t?), taking care of essential tasks like researching activities at your destination, managing your finances and getting your home in order is key. Don’t leave home without accomplishing the following 10 tasks!
1. Passport and Visas
Make sure you have your passport and necessary visas. If you don’t have a passport already, make sure you apply for one 2-3 months in advance of your trip. Waiting for a visa can take up to a month in itself, so get your application in early.Give someone close to you a color photocopy of your passport and visas. If something happens to your passport (or you), it’s good for someone at home to have all of your identifying information.
2. Travel Agent
There are many benefits to using an agent. They can save you hours of time surfing the web and still not finding what you want. Many specialize in certain areas or types of trips. They offer sound advice and can be a great resource if something goes wrong during your trip. When you find an agent, be clear on your budget, discuss your plans, and ask about their fees. Also, ask if they have an after-hours or emergency phone line.
3. Plan Your First Day
If you are not going to use an travel agent then try to plan your days alone! The first day of your trip is often lost to logistics and unfamiliar surroundings. First you have to haul yourself and your stuff to a resting place. Then you have to figure out exactly where you are, what attractions are nearby and how best to use your limited time. Planning ahead will help you make the most of that first confusing day.
4. Online maps..Google it!
You may want to search for an online map (maps.google.com) so you can find exactly where you going to stay and sketch out a walk near your hotel, which can help you get oriented as well as shake off travel fatigue and jet lag. Also, check out any nearby amenities like a rooftop lounge nearby, a restaurant, a balcony with a choice view or a beach for maximum chill-out at the end of a harried travel day.
An online map could also help you if you are going to rent a car. You can map out your routes and spot the places you are going to visit. Mapping out your routes will save you time and anxiety so…print a page showing your map spots before you travel!
5. Someone to Watch Your House & Mail collecting
Have someone-maybe a friendly neighbour- checking on your place and collect your mail or arrange for your local post office to hold your deliveries for the duration of your vacations.
6. Pay Bills
Depending upon the duration of your stay, you may want to pay your bills in advance, or set up internet accounts so that you can pay from your checking account remotely.
7. Call Your Bank
Call your bank or credit card company and let them know about your travel plans. Most banks and credit card companies keep track of spending patterns and may interpret an unexpected overseas purchase as credit card fraud. Your bank or credit card company could lock your account if you use your card in another country without notifying them
8. Contact Information
Give contact information to appropriate parties. Let others know what email address they can reach you at, what hotels you may be staying in, and the duration of your stay in each location.
Electronic communication is the most time-efficient way to tell everyone you are safe. If you choose to mass e-mail friends, you don’t want to miss anyone in the high-energy flurry of your messages–so prepare your list in advance. The internet cafes are fairly user-friendly, but you may have trouble navigating programs designed with native speakers in mind.
10. Check the Weather
The weather is the single factor most likely to affect your trip positively or negatively, and one of the things many people most take for granted. Of course it is going to be warm in Key West during the spring — but there are always exceptions to prevailing weather patterns, especially during transitional seasons. A weather forecast can guide your packing strategy, and failure to check the weather can result in unprepared, unhappy and very soggy travelers.
Have a nice trip!