This article was published on January 22nd, 2017
Travel can be stressful, frustrating, and full of pitfalls. Your vacation can be ruined by a bedbug infested hotel room, food poisoning at an overpriced restaurant, wasted time from trying to figure out transit and ending up getting lost on the way to the attraction you wanted to see, or being stuck in the middle seat on an overnight flight. While you cannot plan for everything, you can avoid many mishaps and having a smoother trip with some simple travel planning before you even leave home. Get started planning your next trip with these 9 essential travel tips.
- Research your destination
A quick Google search and you can learn a lot about the destination, including climate, neighbourhoods, attractions, culture, population, and more. It’ll help you plan your itinerary and to pack appropriate clothing based on the types of activities you’ll be doing. For LGBT travellers, research if the destination is LGBT friendly or if there are travel warnings or laws against homosexuality.
- Figure out where you are going to stay
A hotel in the right neighbourhood is important. You could be wasting valuable time and money if you’re stuck on the wrong side of the city, or paying too much for a comparable hotel a block away. A good LGBT traveller tip is to find out where the gay village is and to check for hotels in the area.
- Plan and book transportation
Pre-booking transportation in advance, especially flights, can save a lot of money. Maximize your time at your destination by knowing how are you are going to get to each stop and location. In some cases, hotel concierge desks may have discounted tickets or offers for some transportation services, or can give you helpful advise to best get to your next stop without breaking the bank. It’s also important to know good air travel etiquette.
- Make an itinerary
Sketch out your entire trip so you know what activities you are going to target each day. This will help you maximize your time and ensure you don’t miss out on attractions or activities that are on your priority bucket-list. In some cases you may want to pre-purchase admission passes and tickets online to get discounts or special privileges.
- Use a packing checklist
Novice and seasoned travellers alike should always use a packing checklist. Forgetting medication, camera, passport, TSA Pre card, or laptop cords. As long as you have the essentials, if you do forget to pack something, like a bathing suit or deodorant, it’s not a crisis. You can always purchase items when you arrive at your destination.
- Photograph important documents
Before you leave home, take photographs of your passport, TSA Pre, visa, credit cards, and other travel documents before you go. Store them securely online, on a cloud storage or cloud email service. Put them in a password protected zip file. Do not keep copies of your documents on your smartphone or luggage, in case it is lost or stolen. For extra security, provide a copy to a family member.
- Plan your outfits
Most people over pack, taking extra clothing and personal items that will either not be used or are not required for the trip. Pack articles of clothing and accessories that can be mixed and matched into multiple outfits. Use the power of colour to pack smart. Always wear your heaviest and bulkiest items on your travel days to keep your suitcase light, especially if you have to check a bag; you don’t want to have to repack an overweight bag at the airport check-in counter.
- Strategically pack your carry-on and luggage
Putting the right articles into the right bag is the key to successful travel. Know what you should have in your carry-on luggage versus your checked bag. Strategic packing can help avoid travel nightmares.
- Be flexible and spontaneous
While an itinerary is important to keep each day of your trip on track, and helping you get all the items on your list checked off, it can be rewarding to be spontaneous and flexible. It’s easy to meet new friends along the way, especially locals, that can show you the hot spots. The concierge may have special offers or discounts, or know of a great event. Or you may just be too tired and need a relaxing afternoon nap from being jetlagged.
- Get a roaming phone plan
You need the world at your fingertips. Having access to data, texting, and phone are crucial for today’s traveller, especially when travelling out-of-country. It’s your lifeline, ability to make/change reservations, keep in contact, and post photos and updates on our social channels while on the go. Contact your carrier in advance to arrange a roaming package. It can save you a significant amount of money in fees, and avoid the frustration and waste-of-time of constantly having to find free WiFi. TELUS offers a number of travel plans and packages. Easy Roam from TELUS is just $7 per day in the U.S. or $10 per day to over 100 international destinations, which allows you to access your entire phone plan just as you would at home in Canada.
Do you have additional essential travel tips you have found help make your trip smoother? Leave your suggestions in the comment box below.