It’s finally time for that vacation you’ve been looking forward to for months. Needless to say, the thought of getting away from monotony of your work life is exciting – and you’re staring at a week (maybe even a month if you’re that lucky) of a trip that can’t seem to subside your wanderlust.However, from the days leading up to the trip till the day you unpack after the holiday – traveling can also come with headache-inducing stress and several opportunities for things to go wrong. To avoid any potential vacation ‘horror stories’, here are a few travel hacks to help you prepare for your next adventure.
Do your homework
Even the most spontaneous of travelers can’t do without a little homework before embarking on an adventure. It’s highly advisable that you gather plenty of information on your destination – the culture, people, local customs and etiquette, native foods, road conditions, weather – the logistics of getting acquainted with a new place needs to be taken care of to avoid any glitches or “surprises” that could mar the memory of your trip. While bookstores and travel blogs are a great start, online travel sites and forums can give you ‘insider’ information from fellow globetrotters, locals, tour operators and those who are familiar with the area you intend to visit. Map out your itinerary and learn as much you can about everything you are planning to do during your visit. By doing this, you’ve already reduced your inconvenience, while gaining confidence to explore unfamiliar territories…and have fun while at it!
Have a checklist in place
You’re less likely to forget something if you make a list of everything you need to bring with you and what you plan to do on your trip. It’s also a good idea to prepare a checklist of documents you are carrying with you – hotel booking confirmations, flight ticket printouts, identification documents, online booking receipts, guidebooks and the likes. Taking some time out to prepare a comprehensive checklist will save you time and tension as you near your vacation dates. If you’re short on time to make a detailed list for yourself, use the internet to source printable checklists for every type of traveler/vacation.
Prepare a smart carry on
For long-haul flights, your carry-on bag is your best friend. Always pack a pair of spare clothes and undergarments in your carry-on for emergencies, and ensure that your mini case of toiletries comply with airline regulations. It’s also a good idea to keep your passports and travel documents in a separate pouch or folder in your carry-on to avoid digging through your bag at the check-in or immigration line. For those traveling with children, stash a few granola bars in each bag to curb cranky hunger pangs during transit.
Zip it up
Ziplock bags are a great way to optimize your luggage space while packing for a long trip. Small zip pouches are great for toiletries and medicines; the medium-sized bags work great to hold wires, chargers and USB cords. Large ziplock bags are also a great way to organize and pack undergarments to save space – and if the fellows over at customs ever decide to go rummaging through your luggage, you’ll be rest assured that your underwear won’t be on obvious display for everyone to see!
Tag your luggage
This one is a no-brainer, really. Use stickers, ribbons or a colorful luggage tag to make it easy to identify your bags at crowded airports or railway stations. Most often, you end up spotting a traveler with bags similar to yours, so it’s a good idea to ensure that luggage is easily distinguishable to you to avoid confusion. Before leaving for the airport, snap a picture of all your luggage (including your carry-ons) on your phone. If you misplace your bag or struggle to recall what it looks like, the photograph will come in handy. This particularly works for families with kids, where packing light isn’t much of an option.
App your way to easy travel
No matter where you’re heading and what you plan on doing, there’s an app out there to help you. As soon as you’ve finished planning your trip, hit the app store on your smartphone and download programs that can optimize your itinerary better than a brochure. There’s no denying that technology makes traveling easier – and having a few handy apps can help you plan and document your trip, select convenient transportation options, help bridge the language gap, suggest popular food and entertainment options, help you meet fellow travelers and backpackers, keep a tab on your shopping expenses, and help you keep in touch with friends back home. Tech-savvy globetrotters travel with a wealth of information in their pockets, making their vacation a little easier, or at least more fun.
Back up essential information
To avoid the paranoia of losing important documents during your vacation, it is a good idea to scan your passport, visa, ticket and hotel confirmations and email them to yourself. Better yet, email a copy of your travel itinerary to a trusted friend or family member foreseeing an emergency. If you decide to carry hard copies of these documents, ensure that you store them away from the originals. Carry a small notepad with the contact information of your hotel or guesthouse, in case your phone runs out of battery. Simply knowing that you won’t be completely stranded in an unfamiliar place is benefit enough.
A little preparedness goes a long way. That being said, happy vacationing!!