How to prepare for travel

August 19, 2017
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Preparing for travel can be daunting. There are a lot of things to consider especially if you are flying to another country. Details are the key to a successful and headache-free trip. From packing to booking flights and hotels to changing money and travel documents, all these need to be in order. If you are new to traveling, some concepts could be new to you such as luggage getting lost or ATM cards getting frozen in a foreign country. Having things in order will go a long way to you enjoying your vacation or business trip. Knowing how to be efficient and saving money will also cut down your travel costs, and you don’t have to be flustered and out of money after every trip. Here is what you need to do;

Leave these things in order

If you are going away for more than a week, you should leave your house in order. In the event you have pets, call the kennel and book some space in advance. You are not assured to get space on the day of departure and might end up paying more for emergency placement or find another kennel if it is full. Call the day before to confirm everything is fine. Put a stop order to any subscription services you have. These include newspapers, mail, magazines and so forth.  You can put a stop order on the company’s website most of the times. Mail and newspapers piling up can alert burglars that the house is empty. If you have other activities that do not involve the worker getting into the house (such as landscaping) pay in advance and have them continue working while you are away.

Banks, credit cards, and documents

Flying to another country means you have to transact in different currencies. Inform your bank that you are going to be travelling abroad. They will arrange bank documents to allow transactions from outside countries. Using a credit card or ATM card in a foreign country will often be misinterpreted for fraud by the bank leading them to freeze your cards. Carry important documents in a carry-on bag. These include travel documents, passport, ID card, driver’s license and a student ID card if you have one. Email yourself copies of these documents, and you can retrieve them if they get lost.

Packing

Packing should start a week before the departure date. Decide what you want to carry and pack enough clothes for the whole trip. Clothes should include shirts, socks, pants and shorts, t-shirts, belt, pajamas, sunglasses and a pair of comfortable walking shoes. If you are planning other activities such as hiking or camping, your packing will, of course, be more difficult to pack. Consider getting a packing planner which has compartments and zippers to pack your stuff neatly.Here are some things you should pack;

  • Carry mobile device – A mobile device with GPS is great for mapping out directions to and from the airport, hotel, Don’t forget the charger.
  • Headphones (noise canceling for plane and train)
  • Camera, memory card, and charger.
  • Adapters and converters- Finding your electronics can’t plug into the hotel room sockets can be a bummer. Carry an adapter and an extension cable.
  • Swimsuit, trunks or hiking gear (holiday)
  • Hands-free device- A Bluetooth earpiece can help you avoid tricky situations. Holding your phone to your ear on the road can get you arrested, and different laws apply for driving when speaking on the phone.
  • Ziploc bag and small containers
  • Travel guides, maps and language guides

 

When looking for a luggage bag, try using one that is light and not bulky. If you can get bags that can be rolled up and carried like a duffel bag or rucksack, carry them along.

Carry-on bag

A carry-on bag is a small bag used to carry personal belongings. It is a bag you can carry on your person, like on the airplane or train. In it, you can pack hand sanitizers or wet wipes, documents (ID, passport, boarding pass, etc.), a change of clothing and personal effects (toiletries, towels, soap, perfume), jewelry and so forth. This bag needs to have your essentials in case your luggage gets lost on the way. Also, you can carry things for comfort on the plane or train. A blanket or neck rest and headphones should be put in this bag. If you have prescription medication, put it in your carry-on bag and remember to put them in their original pack.

Two to three days before

When it gets to two days before the departure date, there are some things you should double-check. Check the flight departure time and if your ticket is in order. Check the website or call the airline to confirm this. If you have pets, call the kennel to confirm there is space for your pet. Your driver’s license and ID should not be expired. Call the hotel you booked to confirm your room is empty. This is the time to ask for cheaper rooms because hotels don’t like having empty rooms.Buy some snacks and bottled beverage to take during the journey.

Take photocopies of your documents and have scanned copies which you will email yourself. These are backup copies in case of emergency. Check the currency exchange rates and update your budget accordingly. Also, know which fees you are going to pay; car rentals, toll booths, luggage fees, ATM charges, etc. Failing to plan on spending will have you running out of money before the trip is over.Confirm the departure time for your flight as well as the hotel check-in time. If you are taking your car to the airport, arrange for parking in advance and confirm two days before. This is also the right time to arrange for transportation from the airport upon arrival.

Plan for the first day and the last day

The first day is very important, and you should plan everything. Check-in time, flight schedule and transport to the hotel should be planned to avoid confusion. Put your travel documents in the carry-on bag for easy retrieval. The last day is equally as important. You will be tired and jetlagged and what you don’t need is more confusion at the arrival section. Other than your documents have your house keys, and car keys packed in a Ziploc bag and labelled “HOME”. This has all the things you need when you get back home, so you don’t have to unpack your luggage at the airport as you look for your car keys.

Upon arrival

When you get to your destination, you probably have an idea of where you are going to sleep. If you are on a loyalty program from international hotels like Hilton and Ritz Carlton, take advantage of it. You can even get a free room or free upgrade when you use their services often. On your mobile device or rental car GPS, input the hotel name and map out the route. Taking a taxi is also a good option as most cab drivers know every place in the city. A taxi driver is also familiar with the routes and can use routes with less traffic. Also, striking up a conversation with the cab driver can help you get inside information on the cheaper hotels, markets or cool entertainment spots.

Saving money when travelling

This question is asked countless times “Isn’t travelling expensive” or “How do I save money when travelling” is common rhetoric. Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive. Here is what you can do to save money when travelling;

  • Flying

You can save a lot of money on flights by taking indirect flights. If you don’t mind waiting at the airport for the connecting flight, you can save even a third of air fares. Also, mix up flight plan e.g. going with one airline but returning on another airline’s plane. If you have frequent flyer’s discount membership (which you should) use it to spend less on tickets. Some airports are also cheaper to fly from than others. Travelling during low season or midweek is guaranteed to get you some discounts.

 

  • Accommodation

If you are on a loyalty program, use it as it might come in handy. However, you can save money by trying local hotels. When you arrive, ask the locals to direct you to a good hotel. Most times, you will have them show you a decent but affordable place. Travel at night and sleep on the train or plane.This way you save on accommodation. Flying at night or odd hours is also cheaper.  Only take brunch and lunch at your hotel. Street food is cheaper, and hotels tend to overprice their dinners and breakfast meals. Guesthouses and hostels tend to be cheaper, and you can save some money. If you are on family vacation, rent an apartment where you can cook, sleep and relax and is still cheaper.

  • Financial

International transaction fees can be crazy. Apply for a prepaid travel card which freezes the exchange rate at the time of application. These cards are also charged less than regular credit cards. Use public transport as it is cheaper, easier to navigate and also an enjoyable experience. Also, when you go out for the night, leave your ATM at the hotel. When the cash runs out to go back to the room for the night. Having one too many and feeling cheery can lead you to overspending and regrets later.

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