Travel can be a wonderfully exciting and rewarding experience. It can also be stressful, overwhelming and even confusing at times. And while there’s never a guarantee that everything will go off without a hitch, there are plenty of things you can do to make things go as smoothly as possible.
From more thorough planning to more extensive research, you can make your upcoming travel much more enjoyable and seamless, even if you do end up hitting a snag here or there. Here are five ways to go about it.
1. Study Your Destination
When it comes to travel, deciding on where you’re headed is a huge piece of the puzzle. However, your focus on the destination shouldn’t stop there. Spending plenty of time researching where you’re headed will be more than worth it.
Not only will studying your destination ahead of time ensure you get the most out of your trip, but it will also help you to know what to expect as well. Whether you’re headed on an Eastern Caribbean cruise or a skiing trip in British Columbia, that extra preparation will go a long way.
As far as research goes, be sure to learn all you can about where you’re staying and the surrounding areas. Pay attention to other important pieces such as local transportation, currency and important safety measures. Once you’re familiar with the ins and outs of where you’re going, you’ll be able to relax and focus on the fun parts.
2. Pack Lightly
Packing for vacations can be a tricky thing. Chances are you’ve found yourself mid-process, questioning if you’re under or overpacking, or if you’re even packing the right things.
If there’s one rule to follow when you’re loading up your suitcases or bags, it’s that less is always more. Not only will lightening your load make traveling easier from a physical standpoint, but it will also help to simplify things when you’re at your destination. Focus on items that are easy to hand wash and dry if needed or pieces that can be worn multiple times without washing. Investing in a few travel-specific pieces might also be a good idea, allowing you to stretch your wardrobe without the extra bulk.
It’s also important to upgrade your luggage. If you’re struggling with a bulky duffle bag, consider swapping it out for a smaller bag or suitcase with a handle and wheels. Luggage has come a long way, making stowing it overhead a snap. Even if you check your baggage, a good quality and easy-to-handle suitcase is worth its weight in gold.
3. Get Your Documents in Order
A big part of successful travel lies in how organized you are. And everyone who has traveled knows that juggling multiple documents can be cumbersome.
Between passports or other photo IDs, medical and insurance cards, boarding passes and rental car paperwork, there’s a lot going on. The question here is, how will you keep it all together? Now’s definitely not the time to be fumbling through your wallet or backpack to locate a boarding pass or your passport, so having a plan is a must.
Don’t forget about going paperless. Many companies, such as rental car agencies and airlines, have made a lot of progress in cutting down on paperwork. Showing your documents can be as easy as pulling up a screen on your phone or doing the majority of your work through pre-check-in online. Research your options and streamline whenever possible.
This is also a good time to create backups of important documents as well, just in case you need them. While it might seem like you’re overdoing it, you’ll be glad to have them if necessary.
4. Adjust Your Mindset
Are you typically anxious or have trouble adjusting to change? If this hits close to home, you might want to think about ways you can loosen up before your next trip. Don’t worry, you don’t have to throw all caution to the wind and scrap your thoroughly planned travel itinerary. What will help is working on how you can be more flexible and resilient.
For instance, maybe it will be changing plans at the last minute when your spouse suggests checking out a different attraction than you’d originally planned on, or maybe it will be as simple as scrapping your plans for the day and relaxing on the beach instead.
However, allowing yourself some leeway is a must when it comes to managing the inevitable stress that comes along with travel. There will be times when things happen that are out of your control and how you choose to handle it can and will set the tone for your trip. So, if your flight is delayed or if your luggage becomes lost, do your best to not let it ruin your time. Adjust, make decisions that need to be made, and move on with your day.
5. Prepare for Your Return Home
When you’re heading on a trip, it’s only natural to focus mainly on the excitement of what’s to come. But paying attention to your return is important too and rest assured you won’t regret any of it, especially if you’re jet-lagged and exhausted when it happens.
Think about what things would make your life easier and less chaotic. Taking a photo of your parking spot in the airport’s garage will cut down on time spent searching for your car. Cleaning your home before leaving for vacation will provide a very warm welcome upon your return, making the transition back to reality a smooth one.
Commit to starting laundry right away when you get home, instead of letting it sit for longer than it probably should. Scheduling a grocery delivery will mean one less thing on your to-do list, and you’ll have a stocked kitchen again in no time.
Even though you can’t control everything during travel, there’s plenty you can do to help things go smoothly. There’s also plenty you can do to proactively handle hiccups along the way. Everything you can do ahead of time will pay off. What will you do to make your travel experience better for your next trip?