Does a worry-free vacation sound like a good idea?
Traveling takes you away from the comforts of home but allows you to experience new surroundings.
In order to fully enjoy your time away from home, how do you plan a trip to minimize any issues?
There are many things necessary to get together before actually starting the trip.
This process is amplified for my household because we are very particular about every detail of our experience.
Traveling ranks high on my list and my budget.
That’s exactly the reason I take a proactive approach to prepare for the unknowns that are in my control.
From the itinerary to the timing, and everything in-between, there’s a place for it on my to-do list – and I’m sharing them here today!
Let’s get started!
Travel Tips: Plan A Worry-Free Vacation
Here Are My Travel Tactics For Before, During, And After A Trip, Divulged
#1 – Research.
When doing your research, sometimes the hardest part is figuring out where to look. You’re in luck – I’m going to break down what I use to minimize surprises during travel!
Here’s my step-by-step research process to book activities, flights, hotels, and restaurants.
To get a great deal, I always check if CityPASS is available in the city I’m visiting. (I will be writing a more in-depth blog post for this service – stay tuned!)
CityPASS is the best value if you want to take advantage of the main attractions when you travel. It’s available in most of the major cities in the U.S. and Toronto.
For all other activities, I use a combo of TripAdvisor and Viator to do my research.
Using Tripadvisor, I find the best places to get free and food-related tours, as well as can’t-miss places.
For combo deals, I’ll peruse Viator’s app to see what they have available.
When it comes to flights, I use Hopper. It’s an app that has a cute bunny that tells you about price drops.
Simply download the app. →
Enter your prelim search without dates. →
A calendar comes up with a range of prices so you can identify right away when the best time is to book. →
At that point, if you select a date range then it will let you know the price AND whether or not it’s a good price. →
You can then decide whether or not you want to book or “Watch This Trip” to set up a price alert. →
When I travel, I want to stay in a hotel/apartment that is highly-rated. The main reason is that the place I stay determines if I’m going to have a good trip or not. Hopefully, it’s not just me!
I’ll book based on review first and price second. TripAdvisor is the #1 place I do research for hotels. I can sort by good and bad reviews to get a sense of what the hotel is like and what the visitors liked and didn’t like.
PRO TIP: Another search I like to do is for “bedbugs” within the reviews. It seems kind of odd, but these critters can mess up a trip and even worse, they may even come home with you!
Of course, if I use an apartment service like Airbnb, I’m going to read many of the reviews there as well!
For travel, I use a combo of Yelp and TripAdvisor to find highly-rated restaurants. If I’m feeling up to it, sometimes I’ll check out Groupon for any deals that coincide with the restaurants I add.
I’m generally never dissatisfied when I vet restaurants and have been to some really great ones as a result!
#2 – Reservations.
During my research, if there’s an activity, event, meal, or even a certain amount of exploration time, it gets scheduled.
Reservations are important because it ensures you get your spot – wherever that is.
This also goes for almost everything you schedule for travel.
Some places you have to book months in advance to get a spot.
Always be aware of this prior to adding it to your itinerary.
#3 – Transport options.
Are you renting a car or taking public transit?
To understand the transit system in the location you are visiting, saving an area or public transit map is helpful.
I’m terribly bad at directions, so my husband knows that one of the travel areas he is responsible for getting familiar with the public transit system.
This means locating stops next to the hotel, transit to activities, and other areas that may be of interest.
The key here is to just get familiar with the transit routes prior to the trip.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you plan in advance, determinations can only be made once you get there.
#4 – Checklists.
If you tend to be forgetful like me, this is just a must in life!
I have checklists for everything, so it’s not any different for travel.
The list ensures I have the essentials – it can range from a charging cord to my favorite pair of socks.
Also, it includes areas of the home that need tending to prior to the trip – stopping the mail, watering the plants, and so on.
Let’s face it – the things I am likely to forget may never be as extreme as what happened in the “Home Alone” movie.
Though, not having the things you need may put a damper on the trip that a checklist could have easily prevented.
As a matter of fact, I created a travel checklist just for my readers – that means I can use it too! Sign up to get it at the end of this article.
#5 – Phone Storage & Data usage.
Before you travel, check your phone storage to see if it needs to be tended to. I’m always running out of storage space on my phone and it can lead to headaches during travel.
This has become a recent necessity that I discovered when I visited Paris. I could barely take video and pictures because my storage was overloaded!
For data usage, if you’re flying outside the U.S. (or outside your home country), plan on adding the international data option to your plan.
It’s a one-time cost for a specific span of time. It will save you the headache of a HUGE cell data bill when you return home.
#6 – Informing the right people.
I’m not recommending you announce it to everyone that you’ll be out of town, but definitely, let the right people know.
This means the bank, credit card companies, and the people that need to know your itinerary.
This can be tricky with social media if you plan on sharing your trip while you’re gone.
Be very wary of this, otherwise, there may be unnecessary worries while you’re away!
When traveling internationally, make it a priority to notify the bank and credit card companies. They may reject your request for funds if you don’t notify them first.
Lastly, if you don’t normally use your debit card but plan on taking it with you, check if your PIN number is what you remember.
#7 – Travel insurance.
As I get older, I find that insurance is necessary for the times that you least expect it – including when you travel.
Until recently, I hadn’t considered travel insurance. Though, on my last international trip, I got injured. It definitely wasn’t life-threatening, but it was very scary getting hurt in a different country!
With travel insurance, oftentimes it includes trip cancellation and interruption, medical protection and evacuation, and baggage loss. It may be worth it for you to ensure a worry-less vacation!
Depending on where you plan on traveling to, check to make sure you have the money you need. If you plan on using credit cards, plan ahead on which ones you want to take with you. 2-3 cards max makes it simpler if you have to cancel them due to theft. Also, if you’re traveling internationally, consider getting a credit card with “no foreign transaction fees”.
#8 – Carry-on luggage.
I have willingly checked baggage twice. Unless I’m flying international on a longer timeline, I try to never check baggage.
It’s a major hassle that does not add to my enjoyment of traveling.
Due to this, I always try to use carry-on luggage – 1 for me, and 1 for my husband. This is enough for our usual 5-6 day trips within the United States.
When flying internationally, I might do just fine with 2 carry-ons for a shorter time horizon, but the last trip length to Paris was 9 days. Of course, my first time in Paris meant I needed all of my cutest outfits. Right?!
#9 – Aware of timing.
I always try to account for the time needed to be somewhere, whether it be the airport, activities, or dinner. I’m always on time or early.
What’s worse than missing your flight? Ding, ding, I know – missing your flight because it’s your fault you didn’t pay attention to the time.
This is why I account for delays by showing up at the airport wayyyy ahead of time. This is a must when traveling through a busy airport.
Also, I almost learned this the hard way the last time I was on a trip. If you use your phone to tell time, make sure to set it to automatically set when moving through time zones. Go to the date and time settings on your phone to check if this is enabled.
#10 – Secure belongings.
What’s worse than missing your flight?
That might be – missing one of your belongings. I’m always proactive in trying to ensure that I have all my possessions accounted for and secure.
When you’re roaming the city, always be extra aware. Sometimes situations can occur that come out of the blue. Next thing you know – your wallet, jewelry, or phone is gone.
Also, important documents such as passports should be within reach and never left behind in the hotel room/apartment.
#11 – Receipts.
I collect receipts for two purposes.
First, it helps with the last tip in this article.
Secondly, for sentimental reasons and because I want to have access to certain information.
I’ve had discussions in the past and wondered where exactly I did/ate/ordered something, and it just helps to have a backup for this.
Nowadays, certain receipts can be sent directly to email, which adds to the convenience factor.
#12 – Backup photos.
So, you traveled all across the globe and had once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but then you forget to move the photos from your phone to a backup file.
Subsequently, the phone falls, breaks, and the tangible memories are GONE. At this point, did you really travel to ____, ____, and ____? Hey, I believe you…
I procrastinate, trust me, but I take tons of photos because I know that my memory will give way at some point in time – where photos may be the one thing to bring the memory back to me.
Due to this, I find the time to back up the photos in a couple of different places to ensure that I have done everything I can to protect them.
#13 – Credit and debit card activity.
And here we are, the final tip to ensure the trip went according to plan.
Being mainly a personal finance blogger, I would be inept to not add this final task that happens to be a big deal.
Reviewing credit and debit activity is always a must when returning from a trip.
Though you may have been extra careful with your credit/debit cards in the city you were visiting – it’s always a good idea to check this information when returning home.
There are 2 reasons why.
#1: When you visit a restaurant and leave a tip on your credit or debit card, it does not register until a few days later. Reviewing the activity and comparing it to your actual receipts can catch any undue errors.
#2: E-pickpocketing can run rampant all over the world, and unless you have RFID protection (and sometimes even if you do), unsolicited charges can wreak havoc while you are out and about on your trip.
Now that you have my full list of travel tactics to employ – it’s time to start planning!
Rest assured, if you have an itinerary and plan for any potential issues, then your travel can be spent enjoying the sights and the local eats that you have traveled a long way to experience.
Remember, one of the best parts about traveling is that you bring back life-long memories. Consider these travel tips for your next worry-free vacation both regionally or abroad. Safe travels….!