As you’re trip gets closer, it’s easy to forget the simple things. Here are some of our travel tips before leaving home. These travel tips before you leave home will make sure you have a worry free vacation.
Keep Your Home Secure
If you’re going to be gone for more than a couple of days, think about stopping your mail delivery. Also let others know if you’re having packages delivered while you’re out, so they don’t sit near your front door for a long period of time. You may also want to think about calling your home alarm company and letting them know that you’ll be away. That way, they can send emergency responders quickly should your alarm go off, without calling you for confirmation first.
Make sure you have your airport transportation arranged both to and from your home airport. If you’re taking a shuttle, car service or other transportation that may require a reservation, make sure you do that far in advance of your departure. It’s also a good time to make the reservation for your return.
Don’t forget to make arrangements for transportation when you get to your destination. If you’re taking a shuttle, make sure you know where to pick up the shuttle and how often it runs. If someone is picking you up, predetermine where. (Most airports have detailed maps of pickup locations on their websites.) If it’s a taxi, make sure you know what “legitimate” taxis look like vs “hawkers” at the airport. Most travel guides will give you information on finding authentic taxis that operate in the area.
Before you head for the airport make sure you check the status of your flight. There’s no need to head to the airport if you’re flight is delayed. Also check your seat assignments. Many times, airlines will change the type of plane on your itinerary, but may not have notified you. It will be easier to change your seat the day before you leave. Many airlines prohibit you from changing your seat on day of departure, unless you stop at the airline counter.
[box type=”note” ]Make sure you sign up for text or email updates from your airline. That way you’ll always be in the know on your flights during your whole trip.[/box]
While you may think that it’s lame to make a list of things to pack, it can be a great way to make sure you don’t leave something simple behind. Things can get unexpectedly hectic right before you leave and having a checklist to pack from will make sure you have everything you need for your trip.
[box type=”note” ]Weather is crazy these days. A day or two before you leave, check the forecast at your final destination. If something unexpected is happening at your final destination, you’ll be able to adjust what you pack to be ready for it.[/box]
Once your bags are packed, weigh them before you leave home. If you don’t have a baggage scale, then use a standard bath scale. While it may not be 100% accurate, it will give you an idea of how close you are to airline baggage weight limits. If you have an extra collapsible bag (like a backpack or good size duffel bag), throw it in if your close on weight. That way if you buy souvenirs or more clothing while on your trip, you can use the extra bag to carry on or check without exceeding the weight limit.
[box type=”note” ]Once your bags are packed, take a photo of each bag with your mobile phone. That way, you’ll have a photo of each bag should the airline lose or misplace them. It will make it easier for the airline service agent to try to potentially find your luggage.[/box]
Just like your checked luggage, make sure your carry-on is of the right size and weight for the airline you’re flying. The last thing you’ll need is to have valuables in your carry-on, only to find out the airline will choose your flight to weigh and size your carry-on before boarding and make you check it. Foreign airlines are much more strict about carry-on bags than US domestic airlines. Also make sure you’re carry on has a luggage tag. Many carry-ons look alike and this will help make sure someone else doesn’t pick up yours by mistake.
Do you have everything you need in your 3-1-1 or “ziploc” bag? If you travel frequently, make sure that you have enough of everything in the bottles/containers inside your bag. It’s easy to forget you’re almost out of toothpaste or shampoo after your last trip. If you’re taking along medications on your trip, make sure you pack a couple extra days worth. You never know when an unexpected flight delay may force you to spend an extra day or two away from home.
[box type=”note” ]If you’re taking along medications on your trip, make sure you pack a couple extra days worth. You never know when an unexpected flight delay may force you to spend an extra day or two away from home.[/box]
Itinerary & Confirmations
Make sure you leave a copy of your itinerary, along with contact numbers, with a family member and/or another person you trust. That way, if there’s an emergency at home while you’re gone, someone will be able to reach you. Take a copy of your reservations confirmations with you. That includes airline, hotel or activity confirmations. That way if something isn’t exactly right, you’ll have proof of your reservation.
[box type=”note” ]If you use a cloud-based service such as iCloud or Dropbox or even your smartphone, put copies of your confirmations there. That way, you’ll also have your confirmations available via the web if you lose your paper copies.[/box]
Don’t forget your passport if you’re headed out on international travel. That can bring a quick end to your vacation before it even begins. Also, if you have any Visas that are required for travel, make sure their in your passport.
[box type=”note” ]Keep track of your passport expiration date. It can sneak up on you. Remember that most countries require your passport to be valid for six months BEYOND your arrival date. Waiting till the last minute to renew your passport can potentially ruin your trip.[/box]
One Last Check
Before you leave, check the US State Department website to make sure there hasn’t been any changes in travel warnings for your destination. Changes can occur rapidly. Safety first.
The day before you leave make sure you have all of your electronics (camera, laptop, iPod, iPad,phone) fully charged. Don’t forget your chargers!
Leave for the Airport Early
Find out if your departure airport has a website. Most do. Most will update them regularly with security wait times. Waiting time at security varies widely everyday. Plus, you never know how long you’ll be waiting at the airport counter check-in before you even start your wait in the security line. To be safe, you should plan on being at the airport around 90 minutes early.
[box type=”note” ]Check to see how long before departure your airline will accept checked baggage. You would certainly like your baggage to go with you on your flight.[/box]
As you walk out the door….
Have your airline itinerary, passport and credit card you purchased your ticket with, handy. That will help speed things up when you’re at the airline counter. If you can, print your boarding pass before leaving.
Last modified: January 4, 2014