In this guest post, Leona discusses five often overlooked but important pre-trip things everybody should arrange. I’ll interject from time to time with my own (often smart-assed) commentary.
Planning a trip takes time and patience. You’re busy booking accommodation, reading reviews for attractions, and daydreaming about all of the things you’d rather be doing than sitting in front of your computer planning a trip.
There are some people who love planning trips (Ed: One of my exes, for example), but most of us would rather just get out there and start having fun. While the temptation is there to throw caution to the wind and leap in feet first, it does pay to do a little pre-trip planning. You might have all of the big items like your plane ticket, your passport, and your hotel reservations – but have you forgotten anything?
Ed: When I went to New Zealand back in 2010, I somehow managed to forget to pack a single shirt. This meant either having to wear one shirt for 12 days or buying a bunch of tacky touristy ones. My girlfriend at the time insisted on the latter despite my protestations.
Everybody makes mistakes, but if you can tick off the items below, you can’t go far wrong.
Five Common Pre-Trip Mistakes
No travel insurance
“I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it”.
You may never need your travel insurance, but when disaster strikes on the road – you’re going to be glad that you have it. It can be a bit of a hassle to research different travel insurers (Ed: It’s a good thing there’s that helpful free guidebook linked on the front page of the site), but it’s worth it for the peace of mind it gives you.
Be sure to check what your policy covers, to declare any existing medical conditions that they might need to know about, and to look at additional insurance for items of particular value. Big ticket items may not be insured for their full value under the basic policy.
An airport strategy
It’s a pretty simple thing, but you don’t want to start your holiday in a mad, sweaty, and stressful rush to get to the airport on time. Having your travel to the airport arranged ahead of time can make it a seamless transition.
Ed: Personally, I like to have my taxi booked with plenty of time to spare. I’d rather be at the airport 30 minutes or so before check-in opens than be rushing through security drenched in sweat because I left it late.
As somebody who prefers to drive themselves, I personally book airport parking every single time. I try to avoid the use of public transport. It’s cramped, it can be unreliable, and it’s just not conducive to a holiday state of mind.
Vaccinations and Medication
If you have regular medications, make sure you have enough to cover you for the duration of your holiday, and that you can travel with them in your hand luggage, in the marked boxes. In some cases, it might be necessary to have your prescription with you. It’s best to check these things ahead of time.
Ed: I remember being taken aside to explain why I had six boxes of anti-depressants with me when I moved to South Korea back in 2011. If I hadn’t been able to show them a note, they were going to throw away my precious, sanity-saving medication.
It’s also worth checking to see what vaccinations (if any) you need for the country you’re headed to. Some of these need to be done a certain amount of time before you leave.
Ed: My Yellow Fever immunisation technically had to be done a week before I flew out, but I managed to squeeze through with a six day window.
Inform the bank
Very few things can be quite as frightening as trying to use your bank account or credit card overseas and being told you’ll need to contact your bank. It’s not just that you might need your money then and there, but that it can be a pain finding WiFi or a pay phone so you can phone your bank.
Save yourself the hassle and inform your bank ahead of time as to where you’re going.
Ed: My ex-girlfriend (actually, it’s the same one in every story in this post) had an issue with this in Cambodia. She’d told her bank she was going to Thailand, but they disabled her card when she tried to use it in Cambodia. With no cash on hand and it being after business hours at home, she had a long and hungry wait to resolve the issue.
Don’t forget your toothbrush
Sure, these are pretty easy to buy if you do forget them, but do you really want to touch down at your destination with fuzzy teeth and foul breath? I always pack roll on deodorant, a tooth-brush, and a change of clothes if I have a long flight ahead of me. I like to arrive at my destination feeling fresh.
Ed: I hate to travel without cotton buds. If I don’t have clean ears, I get antsy. I wish I was kidding.
Are there any small pre-trip rituals you never forget to do?
Got any horror stories from trips that were hindered by a lack of planning?