Over 2.5 million people have passed through TSA checkpoints so far this year. Travel is back in full swing, and popular destinations around the world are crowded enough to prove it.
Planning a trip is a skill, and not everyone has it. Depending on your travel style, you may forgo this altogether. However, it’s important to have some planning in place to ensure that you travel smart and make the most of your time at your destination.
Travel Planning Tips
There is no right or wrong way to do this. Use these recommendations as guidelines to help prepare, plan, and budget so that you can have the most fun while you’re away!
1) Create an Itinerary
Not every minute of the day needs to be planned, but you should have a general idea of what you’d like to see or do, plus maybe some activities you have signed up or prepaid for. Some items that should be planned out:
- Dates of arrival and departure
- Place you’ll stay
- Activities you’d like to do
- How you’ll get from the airport to your lodging
Keep track of everything by creating your own Excel spreadsheet, or look for travel planner apps to help you stay organized.
To plan activities, you can check your destination’s tourism board website, or websites like Tripadvisor and Viator are great resources. You can review activities and book tickets directly through them
2) Plan Your Travel Budget
No matter your budget, you can likely go anywhere in the world. But beyond the cost of transportation, you need a budget for spending while on vacation.
Most people travel with credit cards nowadays. Be sure that yours does not have foreign transaction fees. Consider using one that has good points for spending on travel-related purchases. This allows you to save money even after the trip!
Cash is another solid option for planning your travels. You can do a currency exchange when you arrive or use your ATM card to withdraw cash in local currency. You will be charged a fee for doing this.
Now that you know how to obtain cash/funds while you’re abroad, you need to plan how to spend them wisely and make them last. Some things to consider:
- Estimate the cost of food and local transportation per day
- Budget how much you’re willing to spend on souvenirs
- Calculate the cost of activities while you’re there
- Research the cost of transportation between cities if you’re on a multi-city trip
Read blogs and forums for where you’re going and see if people have recommendations or feedback about cost of food. Often, a Google search will give you the average cost of a taxi or subway card, for instance; thus, you can make your calculations before you go!
If you’re going into a dangerous area or planning to do serious physical activities on your trip, consider travel health insurance. This can protect you in event of an emergency abroad. Your carrier may already provide some coverage, but you can also purchase additional if needed.
Regarding travel insurance via airlines, this is not recommended. The coverage often doesn’t account for most travel-related or personal delays. Plus, the process of getting your money back can be complicated and drawn out.
3) Enroll in TSA Precheck and Global Entry.
At $100 each for 5 years, you can skip all TSA lines when trying to leave the country and skip the customs line when trying to get back in. In other words, you can save a lot of time and energy by having these.
4) Keep Your Important Documents Safe
Keep a specialized travel wallet to put all of your important documents together. This is for your passport, credit cards, cash, international SIM cards, and anything else you deem important to take with you.
5) Pack Lightly
No matter how long you’ll be away, you should plan to pack lightly with just a carry-on suitcase and backpack. The last thing you want to do is lug around a huge suitcase in an unfamiliar city. Plus, some taxi services may charge you for putting large bags in their trunks!
Also, by not having to check anything in, you will save time at the airport by bypassing the wait at the baggage claim.
6) Some Safety Essentials
Create a small first aid kit for yourself. Even if you plan a trip to a well-equipped area of the world, many of these items may be super expensive, and how awful does it feel to buy a whole box of something when you just need one?
Some of the basics to take:
- Band-Aids, alcohol wipes,
- Emergency medications—e.g., Tylenol, Advil, Dayquil, Benadryl, Dramamine, antibiotics (get a prescription from your doctor), Immodium
Other travel safety tips include having a list of important phone numbers (e.g., the US embassy), or at the very least, bookmarking them on your phone. Additionally, plan to touch base with family and friends regularly so they know where you are.
Be Prepared to Have Fun!
Not every trip needs to be planned to a T; however, having an idea of what you’d like to do can help save money and hopefully find better deals. Plus, planning ahead helps ensure you have what you need to stay safe and make the most of your trip. There are so many fascinating places to see in this world. Start planning with these tips, and get on with your next vacation!