Planes, Trains and Automobiles…However You’re Traveling This Holiday Season, Our Tips Will Make It Painless
The key to stress-free travel is to start planning early. Then plan some more — spending a few moments now can save hours later. Start by creating a to-do list, which you can store online so you can share your notes with the family or friends who are traveling with you.
At the top of your to-do list: gather all of the official documents you and your family will need. Of course, if you’re heading out of the country you’ll need passports, which can take weeks to order, so make this a priority.
But even if you’re just taking a trip to grandma’s house, you’ll want to double check that drivers’ licenses, health insurance cards, car insurance and auto club memberships are in order. Once you have everything together, it’s a good idea to make second copies, or better yet, take a photo or scan them to your mobile device for safe keeping.
Next up: Plan out your itinerary with as much detail as possible. Once you’ve created a comprehensive list of activities and locations, you can then assess what equipment you may have on hand and what you may still need…beach towels are cheaper to carry from home then rent at a resort.
While you’re assessing your stuff, be sure to set aside the items you no longer need for donation to the VVA by scheduling a free pickup with Pickup Please – your old snorkeling gear or hiking boots could be put to use helping America’s veterans!
The clothes you’ll use on your trip can be a big source of travel pain, as packing too much can lead to impossibly heavy luggage or extra baggage fees, while too few outfits can leave you feeling uncomfortable. Use online weather apps to see how much winter weather wear you’ll need, then plan on wearing layers of clothes in order to stay comfy through the course of the day.
Before packing up your toiletries, check with your hotel or Airbnb location to see if they already have everything you’ll need; there’s no point in lugging your hair dryer across the continent if one’s waiting for you in your room.
Pro Tip No. 1
Use your clothes planning time to clear out the unwanted items from your closet. Have your donation boxes and bags ready to load up with the clothes, shoes and other items that you no longer need. Donating to a worthy organization, such as the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), is a heartfelt and fun way to start your vacation.
The importance of planning is showcased when it comes time to pack. Keeping your suitcase organized is key, and since you’ve made the effort to closely plan your trip, you can pack items by the day, depending on what’s on the agenda. Consider using plastic bags to keep clothing types separated — you will save time and aggravation looking for that special T-shirt! Be sure to include a few extra plastic bags, which will allow you to keep your worn items separate from your “freshies.”
If you’re traveling on a train, plane, or bus, keep in mind that you’ll want a separate, “just-in-case” carry-on bag to keep with you. It should contain your medicines, eyeglasses or contacts, and anything else you can’t live without…just in case your checked bags are misplaced.
Traveling with young children can be both a special delight and an increased challenge – often within a minute or two! Some special tips for parents include:
When you dig your luggage out from its storage location, you may decide it’s time to treat yourself to that new suitcase with four wheels, instead of the older model you’ve hauled around for several summers. If so, donate the old luggage to VVA by scheduling a pickup with Pickup Please.
- Just because your baby’s under the age of two, don’t assume that she’ll fly for free; some airlines now charge up to 75 percent of a seat ticket for children who’ll be sitting in laps. So check with your airline when you book your flight;
- Many rental car agencies have car seats and hotels have pack ‘n plays for rent, so before you load up yours, check to see if you can get one when you arrive at your vacation spot;
- Swap your old over-the-shoulder or duffel-bag carry-on for a backpack version…so you can wrangle the kids with both free hands. Then, instead of storing that old bag in the back of a closet, recycle it by scheduling a free donation pickup;
- If you suspect your little ones might be a bit unruly on that long flight, bring with you some treats to hand out…not to the kiddos, but to the passengers around you! Your gracious act will help bring smiles back to your fellow travelers’ faces;
- Planes have been known to remain on tarmacs for much longer than expected…so keep a big supply of handy wipes at hand for those sudden emergencies that may require a quick clean-up.
On the day of departure, there’s still time for more planning. Start by reviewing your itinerary and travel docs to double-check that everything’s in order. If you have extra copies, leave them with a trusted neighbor or family member, and make sure they know when you’ll be returning home. And finally, shortly before walking out the door, take a moment to assess your surroundings and your luggage. Do you have your keys? Wallet? Glasses? Phone charger? Youngest child?
Pro tip No 2:
Take a video of the inside and outside of your house, so that should you later worry that you didn’t turn off the lights or close the garage door, you’ll have photographic proof to ease your concerns!
Whether you take a plane, a train, or an automobile, your vacation is going to be full of fun memories for a lifetime, but to make sure tears aren’t also included, plan and organize well in advance. If that planning includes a donation of your unwanted clothes, luggage, and adventure gear, you can leave town knowing that not only do you have an epic adventure ahead, you’ve also have helped others in your community. Happy travels and have a safe holiday season!