Travel can be many things. It can be an obligatory visit to your relative’s home for the holidays. It can be a quick one-night getaway to the city to see a show and do some shopping. Or, it can be a week-long toes-in-the-sand vacation where you escape from everything just for a little bit. Whether you’re packing the car or boarding the plane, travel planning requires some dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s. You’ll never be able to control the long line at airport security, but if you follow some general guidelines, you will be able to shape your next trip. Here are ten tips for trouble-free travel:
1. Set a Budget
Sit down ahead of time and determine what fits with your budget. Nothing spoils a great trip more than flying blind and then getting the bill (and that sinking stomach feeling). Knowing your budget helps keep you in line while dining out and hitting up the gift shop.
2. Map it Out
If you’re just planning a visit to parents or relatives, then you won’t need as much planning, but figure out everything you need ahead of time and then make the reservations accordingly. Flying? How will you get to and from the airports – both at home and at your destination? Travel planning goes far beyond picking a hotel. Make a master list of all of your needs.
Figure out what can be delegated, whether it’s making dinner reservations or packing suitcases, and then do it. All the planning and organization should not fall on one person’s shoulders. If you have children, rest assured that kids can help pack, too. Just give them a list and let them check off the items. Make sure you take a glance, just to be sure your four-year-old hasn’t packed just pajama bottoms and no tops.
4. Live the Trip Before You Get There
Sketch out the trip in your mind. What do you want to do while you’re there? What can’t be missed? This will help you figure out what needs to be booked ahead of time and it will also help you when it comes to packing.
5. Charge Everything
Nothing is worse than seeing a blinking no battery light just when you found the perfect photo op. Charge your electronics before the trip and then bring all of the accompanying cords and devices in a large Ziploc bag so you won’t be caught midway through the trip with no power.
6. Document Folder
Get a large folder or envelope where you will store all of your travel-related documents, from passports to reservation confirmations. You don’t want to have to rifle through your purse with a security agent glaring at you, so having it all together in one spot can be a lifesaver.
If you take prescription medicines, pack them in their original bottles from the pharmacy. While it rarely happens, it’s comforting to know that you have all of the information right there. Also, while you don’t need to bring the contents of your medicine cabinet, it does help to have a small just-in-case supply of medicines (Imodium, Tylenol, etc).
8. Pack with the 80/20 Rule in Mind
It’s tempting to want to pack every favorite pair of shoes and every one of the favorite outfits in your closet, but remember that you can’t bring it all, especially with today’s ever-growing charges for baggage. Typically you wear the same basics (khakis, shorts, walking shoes) every day. Force yourself to pare down by trying to create as many different outfits from two basic pants/shorts/skirts and two or three different shirts.
9. Happy Kids = Happy Parents
If you have children and you’re bringing them along, don’t let them bring every stuffed animal. That said, it is important to bring a stash of toys, games, or books that will keep them busy and entertained while traveling. Bring a small coloring book and crayons for the plane or a portable DVD with never-before-seen movies and you’ll keep them calm and relaxed.
10. Pack for the Kids
We don’t mean that cute sailor dress for your toddler, either. We’re talking car seats, strollers, and other gear. Just focus on the essentials, but you’ll need to know whether you’re bringing the car seat or renting one from the car rental agency.
About the Authors
We are the co-founders of Buttoned Up, inc (@getbuttonedup)., a company dedicated to helping stretched and stressed women get themselves organized and co-authors of Everything (almost) In Its Place. We welcome your thoughts! Please send ideas and questions to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.getbuttonedup.com