How many times do you lean back at the end of your first day on a trip and marvel at how smoothly everything went? Quite few, huh?
Most of the time, you’ll have had to deal with a thousand things that had to be changed at the last minute.
Cajoled some service provider to accept payment in your home currency because you couldn’t find your credit card.
And probably paid more than you would have originally. Plus three other incidents that still make you grit your teeth.
As much as traveling is exciting for the most part, it can also be draining, especially if you overlook some small but crucial things. Below are tips to ensure that only the good kind of events happen on your next trip.
1. Confirm your visa status months before
You’ve obviously been planning this trip for months. So, there’s no reason to leave the checking of your visa for the last day and at the airport for that matter. The visa should be one of the things you check when you begin making travel plans, right along with your passport.
If you’ve had to apply for the visa for the first time, this probably doesn’t apply to you. But if you’re revisiting a place and banking on the visa you used the previous time, check to ensure that it is still valid. If your reason for visiting this time round is different from last time, you may require a different visa. And depending on where you’re going, it can take a few weeks to process the visa.
Or the visa guidelines may have been updated. Check early so that you can do what’s required to have a valid visa.
2. The carry-on luggage is the only luggage you have full control over throughout your trip because it’s with you all the time. You have no control over your checked luggage, so avoid putting valuable items in it. Airlines lose luggage all the time, and this time, you may be among the unlucky passengers who cannot be reunited with their luggage on landing because, somehow, your bags were hauled onto a different aircraft.
If your luggage is to get lost, at least ensure there are no valuables that would cause you sleepless nights. It’s okay if you lose a few of your best clothes, but grandpa’s old watch? How would you ever get over that?
Keep all your medications and medical cards with you too for the same reason. There is no telling when you’ll get your bag back or if at all it’ll be recovered. And you need to take your medicines on time, remember?
Have a change of clothes in the hand luggage too, just in case.
3. Book early morning or late night travel times
Book early morning and late night trips, especially if your trip isn’t very long. This way, you have the rest of the day to do things that are more enjoyable than getting through the airport. If on a longer trip, a night trip allows you to sleep for most of the journey, so you’re not too tired and sleepy and cranky when you arrive.
4. Avoid short connection times
It’s tempting to go for the flight plan that gives you the shortest connection time because then you won’t have to spend countless hours waiting for the next flight. But what if you got late and missed your first flight? Or your flight got delayed? You have to worry about missing the connection flight and what it means for all the plans you had made on the other side.
Longer layovers ensure that even if your flight is a few hours late, you can still catch the connecting flight without any trouble. The only time you should worry about a long layover is when traveling for an emergency. Take it easy the rest of the time and get through the traveling routine more slowly.
5. Confirm credit card/debit card usage
Some cards may not be accepted in certain areas, so make sure the card you’re carrying will work at our destination. This should be part of your due diligence when choosing where to go. But even if you didn’t do it at those very early stages of making the decision to travel, ask your travel agent. They’ll advise you on what works and what doesn’t work.
Still on your ATM cards, make sure you notify your bank that you will be traveling. Or they’ll block your card as soon as you attempt to use it in a foreign land. This can cause a lot of inconveniences, assuming you do not have an extra card with you. Trying to resolve such an issue with the bank will involve long phone calls, which will be expensive. It’s just too much trouble, so get your affairs in order before boarding the plane.
6. Double check your travel and accommodation plans
Confirm that your flight and accommodation plans are what you think they are. It’s not unusual to get the days confused. For instance, you may be preparing for a Thursday flight even though the correct day of travel is Wednesday. Checking the dates again can avert a crisis situation. You’ll also know if the flight has been rescheduled.
Do the same with your hotel. Might you have been booked in on a different date, perhaps? Check your receipt and confirmation email. The earlier you find out, the quicker you’ll get it resolved and won’t wait hours as the hotel staff deal with it after you arrive at the hotel.
7. Only carry what’s necessary
A lot of us pack stuff that we don’t use at all during the trip. Pack only what is absolutely necessary to have, and limit your clothes to a few essential pieces. A lighter bag is easier to shuffle from destination to destination.
It’ll also take a shorter time at the check-in, which can be precious if you’re running late.
Good planning makes for a great trip. Don’t forget: Like with most things, the little details do matter.