Travel can feel really stressful if you aren’t prepared. For over a decade I’ve traveled on a monthly basis. Sometimes it’s just a few hours away for the weekend and others are longer trips involving multiple types of transportation and hotels. I’ve found that if I stick to the following list I’m sharing in today’s post I have a better time during my travel and thus, lower stress levels. Today’s post is constructed in a chronological order of the things I do leading up to my next trip. I really hope this post is helpful for your upcoming plans for a getaway.
Shop the Look:
As Soon As Trip Dates Are Finalized
Start with Pinterest. As soon as I know when and where I’m going I immediately look up places to visit and inspiration on Pinterest. I’ve found so many other blogs and trip iteneraries this way! It’s nice to hear an unbiased opinion of other adventurers about their experiences when they visit the same destination. I try to find all sorts of activities from family friendly to outdoors to even local restaurants. My goal with most trips is to experience the destination so I prefer to find small businesses or unique attractions that make the destination interesting.
Research climate conditions. You can’t even begin to have an idea about packing without knowing the climate. I made a mistake years ago of not bringing enough heavy items when I traveled to Europe. I was visiting in May and June coming from Southern Texas where this time of year is HOT. I use apps like Accuweather to give me a reasonable prediction but I always pack for multiple climates with lots of layers now.
Make arrangements for work, pets and/or children. Some of my vacations I can bring along my dog and others become family fun with the kiddo, but not every trip. Sometimes I travel for work and others for fun. As soon as I know my travel dates I immediately find childcare if needed and pet care. I also put a backup in place. People get sick and accidents can happen so I make sure this isn’t a last minute tragedy.
Finalize lodging and transportation. If I need to rent a car, I go ahead and do this as soon as possible. If there is a big event going on sometimes car rentals are sold out. If I’m not renting a vehicle, then I’ll book my flights, trains or other transportation now. I alto not so book my accommodations. I really love booking.com for accommodations because they have an option for many hotels where you don’t have to pay up front and if you give them enough notice, you can cancel a few days ahead.
A Week to a Few Days Ahead
Consider all transportation needs. At this point, I research everything from subways to how I’m planning on getting to and from the airport or train station. I try to take a ride share to the airport if possible so I don’t pay for parking and can leave my car in a place I feel comfortable with. I also look at how I am going to get to my living accomodations once I land. I make phone calls to see if the hotel has a shuttle and also familiarize myself with transportation options available at the destination.
Pull outfits. I don’t pack until the day or two before but I do start reserving space for pieces I may want to bring. I use Pinterest again for outfit ideas. I try EVERYTHING on to make sure it fits before leaving. I also like to make sure I have enough variety that can mix and match. Although I will be packing in outfits, I make sure I can wear items different ways depending on the weather and the climate.
Manicures, Hair or Color Before You Leave. I don’t like to worry about these things on a trip. I prefer to get them out of the way so I look and feel refreshed without worrying about adding something else to the schedule. Get your hair cut or colored if you are due or go get a manicure a few days ahead. I like to get a powder dip manicure so I don’t chip it during packing.
The Day Before
Reserve Time to Pack and Tidy Up. I have found to decrease stress I need a day to get myself packed, my home in order and any last minute errands completed. If it’s a short trip I may only need a few hours, but for longer trips I make sure I give myself a full day (or two half days) to get everything organized.
Charge all devices. If you are bringing a tablet, back up battery, laptop or any electronic device now is the time to plug them in and get a full charge. Also, don’t forget wireless headphones if you plan on listening on board. It’s awful to finally make it on a flight and pull them out to listen to relaxing music only to find they are dead and you have no way to charge them. Another thing I charge up is a backup battery. That way if I’m in a pinch or my battery on a device drains I have a backup
Download playlists, podcasts, e-books and shows. While your devices are charging now is a great time to go ahead and download things to keep you busy on the road, waiting for check in or during a flight. I always bring a hardcopy book and notebook, but usually also have a few downloads available too. The worst is being bored and not able to fall asleep on the plane.
Make sure you have medication and prescriptions filled. Because I have medication that I must take daily I usually let my doctor know if I’m traveling soon so they can refill anything I need in advance. I also make sure to discuss a plan in the event medication is lost during the trip. Walgreens is a really good resource for travel due to the fact they can transfer prescriptions throughout the country if you fill it in your hometown. Another tip is to separate your prescriptions into two sections in the event something is misplaced you can buy yourself a day or two.
Prepare your home. If you have time to arrange a housekeeper it doesn’t hurt before you leave. It’s so nice to come home to a clean space after a long trip. At minimum take out trash, make sure there is nothing in the sink and clean sheets so you can crash when you get home. Also, I recommend having a quick meal or two on hand in the freezer so you don’t have to look for something to eat as soon as you return. I also like to make sure the house smells good so I leave plugins on low throughout my home when away.
Pack your suitcase. I try not to pack too far in advance or too last minute. Packing the day of can be super stressful. A day or two before I try to get my suitcase completely packed and I sit what I’m bringing on a trip by the door. Unless I’m camping or bringing a ton of things, I do not pack the car yet. I put everything in a space near the door and do a final inventory the day I’m traveling.
Pay bills. Any upcoming bills that are not already auto drafted need to be considered now. You don’t want to come home to a bunch of things you have to take care of.
Set up out of office notifications if needed. If you’re in sales, business for yourself or a blogger make sure you leave an out of office reply on your email and notify readers and/or followers if you are going to be in a remote location. This is also when I schedule a few blog posts so if I can’t make it to internet there’s some activity going on. If you work in a corporate job make sure to let team members know and also make sure to inform your backup of any information or resources they may need while you are away.
The Morning or Day Of Your Trip
Get yourself ready first. Take a shower or bath. When I travel it can be a while from the time I land to the time I can get to a shower so I always take one right before I leave. I usually focus on skincare so I pack my toiletries after I take my bath and get ready.
Do your hair, but skip the makeup. I mentioned this in January’s post on How to Perfect Your Flying Routine, but I do not wear makeup on flights. I try to rest if I’m not driving somewhere and I don’t want to arrive with racoon eyes. Instead I pack a few makeup items for when I’m landing or arriving and do my makeup at the destination instead of where I’m leaving. I have found that wearing my hair up for long periods of time makes me uncomfortable so I usually fix it in soft curls so that I can wear it down.
No coffee after you leave and eat breakfast. It’s easy to forget to eat. When you don’t feed your body nutrition or hydrate then it leads to unwanted stress. Nobody wants to deal with hangry you so have a good breakfast or meal before you leave. Avoid salt or too much coffee.
Pack your carry on. After getting my toiletries together I go ahead and pack my carry on. I always bring a notebook, pen and book but I also usually pack at least an outfit, pjs and swimsuit so that if luggage is lost I have something to change into. I also put my jewelry in my carry on and print flight tickets. I like having hard copies because electronics fail sometimes.
Check your flights, rides and arrangements for delays. I like to know if something is behind during travels. Inclimate weather can cause major delays. Also, check the weather to make sure your route is safe and be aware of traffic.
Lower or raise thermostats. If I’m traveling with others I go ahead and let them load into the car or wait outside while I lock up. I’ve found the fewer distractions during the last few minutes, the better. I do a quick sweep of the house to make sure things are in order and then lower or raise the thermostat to a low cost temperature but I do not turn it completely off.
Relax. Once I get to my travel transportation whether it’s a flight or car I relax. I use the time for skincare, rest and reading. I try to create the best environment possible full of comfort and serenity. So much of having a centered experience begins with being aware of how we feel inside. Sometimes I’ll put on my favorite song or a meditation to clear my mind before I leave.
Well, there you have it! A complete list of how I prepare. Although not every trip do I accomplish everything on this timeline, I use it as a framework and checklist to make sure I am prepared. At the end of the day, remember you can always buy something you forget to pack. Relax and enjoy the trip. Open your eyes to new experiences and have fun!