Taking the Stress Out of Travel
The trick to successful and stress-free travel is planning ahead. Challenging, though it might seem, your goal is to think of every possible contingency that might come up, and take action before it happens. What will you do if your luggage is lost? If you get sick? If you forget your blue pumps? Being PROACTIVE will reduce the possibility of a serious crisis occurring during your trip.
BUDGETING FOR YOUR TRIP
Travel doesn’t have to break the bank — not if you are willing to plan ahead for your vacation spending. Decide first how much you can AFFORD, then make your travel plans. Start searching early for travel deals — talk to your travel agent, look for internet specials, and check with travel clubs for discounts. You can find some great bargains in package deals that combine hotel and airfare at a discounted rate.
If vacations tend to get you in trouble on your credit cards, consider starting a savings account just for travel — where you put away a small amount each month toward your next trip. You should also plan to use traveler’s checks instead of credit cards to stay within your budget. It’s amazing how easy it is to go overboard when start handing out the plastic! And be sure to keep track of how much you actually spend — as compared to your budget — throughout the trip. You might keep a small pad of paper with you for recording expenses and tallying up your total for each day.
If you can’t seem to make it happen on your budget, consider COMPROMISING on lower priority expenses in exchange for the higher priority ones. When my husband and I travel, we are always willing to stay in a budget hotel so we can afford to eat out and attend cultural events. We decided that expensive hotels are wasted on us because we spend very little time in our room, and we would rather spend our money elsewhere. Where are you willing to trade off?
PACKING MADE EASY
Have you ever been away from home and suddenly realized that you forgot your toothbrush, your shoes, or your bathing suit? Having to rush around replacing items that you left behind not only wastes time and money, it also reduces your enjoyment of the trip. And sometimes, you might forget an item that isn’t so easily replaced — like your checkbook or the report you were supposed to present at tomorrow’s meeting. But you can save yourself a lot of heartache by taking the guesswork out of packing.
Start by developing PACKING LISTS for both short-term travel (from one to three days) and longer trips. You can even create different lists for different kinds of travel — camping, business, foreign travel, trips to the beach, cold-weather travel, etc. Try to include any and all generic items that you might need — clothes, toiletries, alarm clock, night light, whatever you like to take with you. Then use these lists as memory-joggers as you are packing for each trip. You can also cut down on the time you spend preparing for travel by keeping a “pre-packed” toiletry bag with duplicates of the items you use in your home. Fill your kit with samples of shampoo, soap, lotion, cosmetics, toothpaste, and shaving cream — even miniature toothbrushes and razors. These travel-sized items take up less room in your suitcase, and you will be less likely to leave something important behind.
And don’t forget your important documents – especially if you are travelling overseas. You should plan to bring proof of citizenship, an official government photo identification (driver’s license or military ID is fine), a state-issued birth certificate with a raised seal, and a passport. Remember that children and infants are also required to have a state-issued birth certificate for travel.
LESS IS MORE
If you can get away with it, try not to check your luggage. I purchased a very roomy pullman carry on that will accommodate up to a week’s worth of clothes — that way, I never have to be concerned about losing my bags. If you pack “mix-and-match” outfits and plan to do some washing along the way, you don’t need 15 different outfits for a one-week trip. And if you have to check a piece, be sure to keep those items you couldn’t live without in your carry on — toiletries, a change of clothes, clean underwear, medications, maps, travel confirmations, and any materials you might need for an upcoming business meeting. But try to take no more than one medium-sized and one carry on bag per person. Remember, you can always remedy underpacking, but not OVERPACKING! However heavy your suitcase is when you start out, it will be twice as heavy when you come home.
If you plan to do any shopping while on your trip, you may decide to bring along an extra bag for carrying your purchases home. Put your filled suitcase inside a slightly larger empty one — or, get a collapsible tote that will take up very little space in your bag. But the easiest option (although perhaps not the cheapest) is to have each store ship your treasures directly to your home. This is a