This time of year, many people are starting to get ready for their summer traveling, and not a moment too soon, especially if your journeys will take you out of the country.
Here are some tips that can make traveling more enjoyable and keep you from forgetting important items. This will be a two-part series, starting with trip preparation weeks out. The next column will be about preparation during the final 24 hours.
Paperwork: If you are leaving the country, do you have a current passport? You don’t want to find this out the week before you take off or, worse, at the airport. Check to see if your passport is still valid and, if it isn’t, get that handled immediately.
Do you need any other traveling documents, such as visas, birth certificates (usually for minor children), or copies of travel information? Get your paperwork in order first, to leave ample time for processing.
The Basics: What you ordinarily wear on your home turf will work when traveling as well, for the most part. Attend to specific clothing you will need (African safari attire, for example) early enough that if something needs to be purchased or ordered, you have time to receive it, and to exchange it if it isn’t quite right.
Decide on a color scheme for your clothes, add one or two other colors as accent, and keep it very simple. If there are particular items you want to remember to take along, write them down on your packing list, which you should start now in case something needs to be repaired or cleaned.
Toiletries: I have made it standard practice to have a toiletry bag packed, stocked, and ready to go at all times. I use small bottles that are the correct size for TSA (Transportation Security Administration) approval. You can get the travel size of the items you use most at your local drug store. They cost a bit more sometimes, but they are very handy.
My toiletry bag contains enough supplies for about two weeks. If you have a little bit of everything, you can handle just about any situation and not need to run to a drug store when you arrive at your destination.
Make it a habit, when you return from a trip, to restock your bag.
In addition, I keep an entire extra set of cosmetics stocked and ready to go.
Pack Early: Don’t leave the packing till the night before you leave. That’s only going to make the last 24 hours stressful. Get your luggage out a week or so prior, start gathering the items you know you will bring (check that list you started), and place them near the suitcase. This is important, because if you know what you plan to bring along, you can avoid wearing or using it the week before you leave, thereby eliminating the need to launder it the night before. The less you have to do to get ready in those last 24 hours, the better.
Begin a Day-Before List: All those little things you don’t want to forget? Jot them down. I have a travel category in my iPhone “Reminders” so I can list what I want to remember to do or bring — everything down to the empty water bottle. See next week’s column for what that’s about. Keep the list going and be sure to check it daily, so you can integrate the trip preparation tasks into your schedule.
You’re going on a trip! How exciting!
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