Traveling can be stressful but there are things you can do way ahead of time that will make it so much easier. Don’t go nuts at the last minute, just follow this simple to-do list.
LISTEN: It pays to have a to-do list, as Rick Seaney learned the hard way.
1. Firm up your dates
While this sounds incredibly obvious, we know people who planned to fly to Europe but still hadn’t figured out exactly when they wanted to go (or if they could get off work!) until about five weeks before their vague target date. They paid for this procrastination with higher airfare.
2. Get your tickets
Purchase your tickets in plenty of time: At least a month ahead for U.S. trips, and at least a month-and-a-half before international flights. These resources will help with shopping/planning strategies:
- Summer Travel Guide
- 4 Ways for Non-Picky People to Save on Flights
- 5 Creative Ways to Avoid Airline Fees
- Travel with Kids – Pack This, Not That
- The Deals Blog: Airline Sales (and Inspiration)
3. Check your documents
If you don’t use your passport much, check to be sure it hasn’t expired. Some countries require that a passport remain valid for another six months after your visit so even if it’s still good, check those dates. Also, if you know your driver’s license will expire soon, renew it early. Bonus: Those TSA airport security lines will seem a breeze after the DMV lines.
4. Check your medications
Make sure you’ll have what you need in terms of prescription and over-the-counter medications before you travel. Bring along the actual prescription, too, in case someone questions your medication.
5. Check your glasses
If it’s been awhile since you last saw an eye doctor, do it now; no point in seeing blurry natural wonders. Consider bringing a second pair and if you’ve been dying to get prescription sunglasses, now’s the time.
6. Take a good, hard look at your bag
Is the zipper or handle broken? Get it fixed or get a new bag. If plan to use a carry-on, be sure it’s the appropriate size because if it isn’t, United (and others) will start charging you a fee.
7. Check your clothes
We’re with Thoreau on this one: “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” However, you have to wear something so check to see if your favorite khakis still fit and aren’t too worn or that expensive polo top didn’t develop holes over the winter. Limit the number of shoes you’ll bring (most folks can get away with two pairs but one is better). Be sure any footwear you bring is unequivocally comfortable or you’ll be sorry (trust me).