One of the most important elements to the perfect vacation is planning. To help you prepare for that next getaway, we have asked professional travel blogger Mike Shubic of MikesRoadTrip.com, to share some of his very best travel planning tips.
As a full time travel blogger, I have developed a sense for what is important in the travel planning process. So, here are my top 12 travel planning tips to help you have the perfect vacation from start to finish.
1) Establish a budget for your trip, starting with the trip’s duration. Consider these areas of the planning process:
- Transportation (to the destination and while there)
- Miscellaneous (add 10% to the budget)
Just the Essentials
2) Pack just the essentials; everything else will likely not be used. 90% of travelers use only 40% of the things they bring on a trip. Extra items can lead to extra baggage fees and schlepping frustration. This comes with practice. Even with all of my experience, I still end up taking things I don’t need or end up not using. Packing cubes are a great way to help keep things organized.
3) Make two photocopies of your passport and driver’s license, leaving one with a friend and the other tucked in one of your bags. Taking photos of each document and store them on your smartphone is also a great idea. Having copies of these crucial travel documents can prevent a lot of unnecessary heartache should they become lost or stolen. I also use the travel app Tripit to store this information in a password protected area of the app.
When to Book
4) Plan ahead. Booking air travel for a Tuesday or Wednesday is often the slowest and cheapest time of the week. According to a recent Wall Street Journal study, Sunday appears to be the best day to buy an airline ticket. And, the sweet spot is 26-29 days ahead.
5) Track your reservations, confirmations, and receipts. Downloading and using apps to your smartphone like Tripit and Evernote help ensure a smooth trip. Tripit tracks your reservations and confirmations, and is accessible even when you’re offline. Evernote tracks important travel information and receipts. Both apps make vital information available at a touch of a button.
Peace of Mind
6) Buy travel insurance…especially for more expensive overseas trips. Buying insurance covers you against illness, delayed or lost baggage, and theft. This coverage provides peace of mind when making such a large investment. While I thankfully have never had to use my travel insurance, my go-to company is Allianz Travel Insurance.
7) Store money and credit cards in more than one place, including on your person and in a hotel safe. Having your money and other valuables in more than one place minimizes being left high and dry should a loss or theft occur. Also, be sure to contact your credit card company and let them know you will be traveling, that way their fraud department doesn’t limit access to your card.
8) Use your legal name on all travel documents. By not using your legal name across all documents, i.e. airplane ticket, hotel reservations, visas, and even on booking websites like Travelocity, you may be denied entry into your destination country upon arrival, or be delayed when you travel home. This just happened to me recently. Someone else had booked my flight under Mike verses my legal name of Michael.
Put It Back
9) Put everything back in its place. Putting everything back where you found it minimizes your frustrations when looking for your passport, lip balm, memory stick, ear plugs, iPod and other travel accessories you’ll have with you.
10) Don’t exchange currency before you leave. Use an ATM for foreign currency instead of a currency exchange or bank (before you depart). Using a local ATM machine at your destination almost always yields the best exchange rate. ATMs are often at the airport, car rental areas, hotels, train stations and shopping malls.
11) Bring a basic first-aid kit for minor cuts, stings and inflammation. Having access to some rudimentary medical supplies could be the difference between pain and pleasure. Good choices are Ibuprofen/aspirin, decongestant, tweezers, bandages, hydrocortisone, ear plugs, and some antiseptic.
12) Take a water bottle with you. A collapsible one is even better. Having a water bottle/container lets you fill up after you’ve been through airport security. It’s also a great thing to carry while exploring a city or sitting on the beach. Dehydration while traveling can be debilitating.
I hope these travel planning tips are helpful the next time you plan your perfect getaway. If you have any additional travel planning tips, or questions, please leave a comment below.
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