Travel Planning Tips

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1.  I use Google docs to keep all my travel plans in one place.  I start with a simple table and add columns for day/date, Place, Place, Arrival time, Departure Time, details, and price.  Then I add the details and edit as plans are confirmed or change.  For instance, on the first day, I list the airline info, confirmation code, airline, flight #, and time in the appropriate columns.  I also list any transportation plans from the airport etc.  

For the following days, I add accommodation information, tour plans, etc.  I make sure to enter any hotel or tour confirmation numbers, or cruise reservation numbers etc.  I want everything in one place with easy access.  (I file emails pertaining to each trip in my Gmail account so I can easily reach them as well.) 

I can easily access Google doc from my phone, iPad, or laptop wherever I am.  I won’t have to go through papers!  There are apps like Tripit that you can use, it’s quite personal.  Whatever works best for you.  

 

2. Pack Smart. I do the things that all the packing sites recommend, like picking a color scheme (black, brown or blue) so you can match tops and bottoms easily, limiting the number of clothes you have to pack. I also am strict about the old pack everything then take half out! Before closing my suitcase I really scrutinize each item asking myself ‘do I really need it’, ‘could I get along without it’? It’s amazing how many things get tossed out. This is especially important when traveling by trains and buses.  See more comprehensive packing notes under “Travel Tips” on my Home Page 

3. I always pack a small bottle or package of laundry detergent. I can wash out lightweight clothes, roll them in a towel to get all the moisture out, give them a good shake and hang them either in the closet or over the shower curtain. When I spent 2 weeks in Peru living out of a carry on size the ability to do laundry was a godsend. We were in very dusty areas and clothes I would regularly wear a few times were a mess after one wear. I ended up washing a few things every night.

4. I keep a bag packed with travel toiletries, PJs, and a few other items I always need when traveling. Great for frequent travelers and for last minute overnights or weekends.

5. If possible book your airline seats when you book your flight. For long flights check Seat Guru to make sure the seat you choose isn’t on the “yuk” list (near a busy area, doesn’t recline etc.). Check in to your flight as soon as online check-in is available and check seats again, very often airlines release better seats and you can grab one.

6. Before you go check to see if there is a City pass that makes sense. For instance, if you’re arriving in Paris there is a Paris Museum pass that can save you a lot of money and get you “skip the line” entrance to museums and attractions.  Many cities have them.  Also check for city transportations passes for buses and subway.  

7. If you’ve had an overnight flight, didn’t sleep, and are arriving in the morning, stay up until at least 8 pm to start regulating your internal clock.  Checkin to your hotel or apartment, leave your bags if possible (if your accommodation isn’t ready) and go out.  If its a new city or unfamiliar area – head to a local watering hole or coffee shop and ask locals for good suggestions on what’s happening or what is a must see or do. Skip the guidebooks and go where the locals go.  

Hop on a HOHO (Hop-on Hop-off) and make the tour (so you know what to return to the next days) or if you aren’t too tired hop off and go explore.  

8. Before you go check deal sites for possible coupons and deals at your destination, things you want to do anyway – like eating out, or activities that look cool. Groupon, for instance, has deals in cities around the world, check and you may be surprised what you find.

9. Call your credit card company before you go. If not you may find yourself without credit card access due to a security block. Check with your cell phone provider, more and more companies are adding affordable international plans for phone and data.  

10.  Leave downtime in your schedule, you’re on vacation, don’t come back so tired you need another vacation!

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