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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?
I have compiled a list of the things that I do in order to have a worry-less vacation. This includes taking risk-averse travel tactics to minimize any surprises.
There are many things necessary to get together before actually starting the trip.
This process is amplified for my household (hubs and me) because we are very particular about every detail of our experience.
When we plan a trip, I take the lead in the process which could take upwards of a couple of months of off-and-on planning to finalize.
From the itinerary to the timing, and everything in-between – there’s a place for it on my to-do list.
In order to enjoy the trip that may come around once a year, I carefully manage all aspects that are under my control.
Here Are My Risk-Adverse Travel Tactics, Divulged
#1 – Doing research.
Here is my step-by-step when I do research. It’s simple.
I always check if CityPass is available in the city I am visiting. (I will be writing a more in-depth blog post for this service – stay tuned!)
The CityPass is absolutely the best value. It is available in most of the major cities in the U.S. and one city in Canada. You get a discount on the tourist attractions all in one package. Visit CityPass to learn more!
I also visit the following:
- Hopper (mobile app)
Nowadays, I can’t plan a vacation too far in advance, so I use Hopper to analyze the best times to buy and save. This is definitely the way to go to see if you can save some money on flights if you are somewhat flexible with dates.
Kayak is a general search site for all things airfare, hotel, car. If you have used Travelocity, it’s a lot like that – but I like Kayak better.
TripAdvisor and Yelp for reviews and information on local touristy activities and hidden gems.
I tend to only book hotels, activities, and restaurants that are highly rated. Also, the reviews need to align with the experience that I am seeking.
If I plan on spending extra money on a nice restaurant then it should live up to my standards. There is a considerably higher chance of a good experience if there has been proper vetting procedures. Yes, I’m so serious about this!
One of the only splurges I will do for a trip is the hotel. I go first on the ratings and reviews, and second on price. I won’t spend over a certain amount on a hotel, though it is still the highest cost of the trip. Why?
It adds to the travel experience when the hotel has exceptional customer service, a top-notch location, and great accommodations.
For instance, if anyone has ever been to Seattle, the best hotel to stay at is right in the heart of Pike’s Place Market. I have fond memories of my second visit to this lovely city, based in large part to the hotel experience.
It’s not to say I won’t look for deals. When I book the hotel I always go to their deals section. Oftentimes, I have been able to score a FREE night just for staying a few days.
If you aren’t as selective, you can search hotel deals through Kayak or Trivago.
#2 – Scheduling reservations and activities.
During my research, if there is an activity, event, meal, or even a certain amount of exploration time, it gets scheduled. A reservation is made and either noted or printed.
This past summer when I visited NYC, one of the excursions we did was a night boat tour on the Hudson River. Ya know, the normal touristy things. When I scheduled this activity, it gave me mixed messages as to how I could redeem the tickets.
Due to this, I decided to email the company. This assured me that I would receive actual feedback from one of the representatives of the company.
If something happened that would necessitate it, I would have an email message as backup. The activity went off without a hitch – except it being a crowded vessel.
Those are the circumstances that I cannot control at this point. This is where off-peak travel sounds SOOO nice.
#3 – Backup plans.
Have you ever shown up somewhere on your trip and found that it is temporarily closed?
I tend to see this with restaurants in particular, so I make sure I have backup plans. If it is a restaurant I am really excited to try, I will sometimes take it a step further by giving the establishment a call to confirm availability.
Let’s say you end up on the opposite end of town for some reason and you need restaurants for that area. I make a list for possible backup options for each area of the city that I plan to spend any amount of time.
You may be asking, why not use Yelp when that happens? You definitely could do that, but I just choose to add a few extra places to my list, ya know just in case.
#4 – Knowing your transport options.
Are you renting a car or taking public transit? In order 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 (maybe I should add this to my list to master?), so my husband knows that one of the travel areas he is responsible for is getting familiar with the public transit system – prior to the trip.
This means locating stops next to the hotel, stops for our activities, and other areas that may be of interest.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much you plan in advance, determinations can only be made once you get there.
We have found ourselves relying on Uber and Lyft an increasing extent during our more recent vacations, but only if it makes sense at the time. It’s so much more convenient!
If you are wondering if Uber or Lyft is better. I prefer Uber!
#5 – Creating checklists.
If you tend to be forgetful like me, this is just a must in life – having checklists.
I have checklists for everything, so it’s not any different for travel. This list ensures I have the essentials – it can range from a charging cord to my favorite pair of socks. The checklist also includes areas of the home that need tending to prior to the trip.
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 – and I can use it too! Sign up to get it at the end of this article…
#6 – Preparing for data usage.
Clearing my phone data and ensuring there is enough storage for pictures. 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!
If you are flying outside the U.S. (or outside your home country), ensure that you have added the international data option to your plan. It is 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.
#7 – Informing the right people.
If it’s necessary, I’ll inform the people who need to know about my trip in terms of the bank and credit card companies. This is a must when traveling internationally, as the banks will reject your request for funds if you don’t notify them first.
#8 – Primarily using carry-on luggage.
I have willingly checked baggage twice. Unless I am 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?!
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#9 – Always being 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 change when moving through time zones. Go to the date and time settings on your phone to check if this is enabled.
#10 – Securing belongings.
What’s worse than missing your flight?
That might be – missing one of your belongings. I am always proactive in trying to ensure that I have all my possessions accounted for and secure.
Important documents such as passports are always within reach and never left behind in the hotel room.
The risk of leaving important documents in a hotel room is that you can never be sure as to how vigilant housekeeping is to not let a stranger into the room.
I have learned through past stories I have heard that even items left in your hotel safe are not 100% secure.
#11 – Saving 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 backup for this. Nowadays, certain receipts can be sent directly to email, which adds to the convenience factor.
#12 – Moving photos to a backup file.
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.
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#13 – Reviewing credit and debit card activity.
And here we are, the final tactic 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 cards out there in the city you were visiting – it’s always a good idea to check this information when returning home.
There are 2 reasons why.
Uno: 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.
Dos: 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.
Related article: City Travel: 15+ Awesome Tips On How To Save Money
Now that you have my full list of travel tactics to employ – what are you waiting for?
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 risk-adverse travel tactics for your next trip both regionally or abroad. Safe travels….!
Coming up soon – my tips and tricks on my travels to San Francisco, Seattle, and Paris.
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Readers, do you have anything that you do in order to prepare for a trip to avoid foreseeable complications? If so, please share in the comments below!